OPINION

The Recluse, Part 187434 of 8745948758: Terrified of Being a Muslim in America, My Own Country

August 24, 2006
Zehra Rizvi

OK, I admit it. I haven't left the house in about a week, mebbe more (what day is it today? what month? what year?). I have no idea what fresh air smells like (unless it's through the bathroom window) even though my parents have about an acre of land, a closed swimming pool and a lovely deck. I have felt no need to go outside and instead, hang out with my mom, where the two of us pitter potter around. When she asks me what I am doing, I tell her I am writing a book. I say the same thing to my sisters, both of whom, I think are convinced I am depressed or have lost it.

I feel great. The hunter in the house, my dad, goes out everyday to work and brings us, the gatherers, groceries. It's tons better than Fresh Direct since I don't have to wait for them at home (moot point since I am home all the time, but what I mean more from that is that I don't have to answer the door, or shower, or change my clothes or make my hair, which I am now despairing about. The stupid thing will only grow 6 inches in one year!!). My mother has decided to share her cigarettes with me, the one reason I would have to leave the house, and in a recent conversation last week when I was planning on leaving the house, to buy cigarettes, she said, oh don't worry, I have another carton. Great. We never have to leave.

I have been in NYC for the first two and a half months of being home and I felt, frankly, a little lost there. My friends were no longer there and I was so NOT into the idea of meeting new people and being friends with them. I like the friends I have. If you don't have to offer what they have to offer, fuck off and leave me alone. I was tired of answering stupid questions about Sri Lanka and what I really wanted to do was sit on a couch and read or write and not do anything but when you do that in NYC, a vibrant, lively, wonderful city with a million and one things going on every second, everyone, including yourself (peer pressure) thinks you are a loser. Also, everyone talks about themselves, they will ask questions but not really listen to answers, which pisses the shit out of me. Everyone should shut up, listen to me and ask prescient questions having only to do with me.

I came to New Jersey to hang out with my parents, I thought for about three or four days but then realized, OMG...these two people will lavish all sorts of attention on me and I don't have to do shit in return. Genes rule and I don't ever have to leave NJ. I feel cocooned like the twin babies of my friend.

I have been home (USA) for about three months. In Sri Lanka, working the hours I was and with the intensity with which I was, I felt as if I were living under a rock. A whole WORLD was happening out there and all I really knew about was the intricacies of housing policy or lying, cheating, bastard fishermen in the East of SL. Hurricane Katrina took place and I had no idea what the fuck was going on and thought, it's the US, they will take care of it. I suppose, we have, in the manner that we are taking care of everything else in the world at the moment.

I came home and was glued to alertnet.org. I passed a quiz they have on current events with flying colors. I felt all proud of myself to be caught up with the world. Watching American news shows has just become less painful. Well, with the JonBenet Ramsey case opening up again, it is still painful. Watching Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld is now less painful since I know I will see them at night on the Daily Show with John Stewart, which I watch religiously every night since it gives me relief.

What I have decided however is that I know nothing about the world. I suppose more precisely, the world that I live in. That right now is the USA.

We will treat this post as a choose your own adventure since I have two veins in which to take this conversation. First is the political rant and then I will get to the other one at a later date using the same intro. Spoiler: Neither is leading you to any light at the end of any tunnel.

This is my country. I love America. I feel like I have to say that all the time now in case people get the wrong idea. I hate what our current government is doing and I am shocked that Americans will not get up and pull out their hair and scream and shout. I don't and just bide my time since I am leaving soon. That is no excuse. Another more plausible excuse is that I am terrified of speaking out. I have been wanting to write about this for a while.

I am indeed terrified of being a brown (macaca), Muslim, an American of Pakistani descent living in America. I feel terrorized by America, my own god damn country right now. I need to go to London soon and I have no idea which sniveling passenger is going to decide that they don't want to sit near me, or next to me and thus force me off the plane which everyone encourages them to do. In the stories out here right now about planes being turned around or bearded men or arab looking men not being allowed to board planes because of fears of the other passengers, my question is....where the fuck are the people who will stand up and say, enough is enough?!?! That person, unfortuantely, cannot be me. I am (as in 'my people') the one being terrorized, harassed and marginalized so my standing up for this means shit. It's the others out there (basically you white, black, east asian, anyone not brown peoples) who have to stand up for my rights.

After 9-11, my parents, immigrants in this country (who the INS would come and beg for them to become citizens, and even then, my mom took her sweet time to become one), said to us, their daughters, stop protesting, stop yelling and shouting. They will lock you up and we will never be able to find you. I won't speak for my sisters but I recall, vividly, scoffing and saying with great confidence, *I* am a born and bred American citizen. No one can take away my rights away from me. If I see my country, this democracy doing something I disagree with, I will not stand by and watch this. In this vein, I took part, among various other forms of protest, in a NYC wide protest against the Iraq war on March 27th of 03 and was arrested for civil disobedience. At no point did I feel fear and I went through the whole entire process calmly and unscathed. I was proud of being part of a great American tradition, 60's style, of peaceful protest to bring about change. It didn't bring about change but it was an act that mattered to me.

I am afraid to protest now.

This makes me very sad.

I don't know if this is because I am out of NYC for the time being. NYC is a big ole bubble. I feel most protected there in a strange way. Stranger still, with all the protests going on in the whole world with Lebanon, I don't feel as if NYC represented in a big way. Maybe I am out of the activist loop but that too is a good perspective to have, especially in NYC where we feel as if the world revolves around us. If I, someone who does follow things like this, had trouble seeing that representation, forget about the rest of America and the rest of the world seeing it. That is problematic.

Besides not being in the bubble of NYC, I am out in suburban NJ where like most Americans, I now get an overexposed dose of the news. I don't even need to go into how terrifying that is, and in fact, after 9-11, I had written a piece for www.chowk.com that spoke about my parents watching news 24/7 and being terrified of going out. My mother wears a scarf and my father is a big (really big) bearded man. Again, I had written about this in some derision and implied that they were slowly going mad. Their sanity right now seems more intact than mine.

For someone who has just spent the last year and half advocating for change in another country, how hollow and false does my work now seem to me? VERY. I feel frustrated, helpless and a odds with what I should do with my feelings of fear and love for a country that is by all accounts, my country.

I hope to God to not find myself in a position to have to defend a fellow brown person from being allowed on a plane. I will do it. It matters to me (and chances are, he, and chances are it will be a he, has been quinteplet checked) I just don't know what the outcome will be. It seems almost pointless for me to be the one protesting now.

Why can't we as Americans just take the isolationist stance we had taken under....was it Wilson? All the problems would go away if we leave the rest of the world alone. It really is that simple.

Well, I would like it to be that simple.

New humanitarian worker. Lapsed (in random order) DJ, cook, writer, secretary, runner, party girl, travel writer, friend who actually stayed in touch and remembered birthdays.
eXTReMe Tracker
Keep reading for comments on this article and add some feedback of your own!

The Recluse, Part 187434 of 8745948758: Terrified of Being a Muslim in America, My Own Country

Article

Author: Zehra Rizvi

 

Comments! Feedback! Speak and be heard!

Comment on this article or leave feedback for the author

#1
Kishore
URL
August 24, 2006
07:23 AM

Its a riveting outflow of emotions, Zehra. With all the political imbroglia all around, the average human is the one that suffers the most, all for no fault of his.

#2
Mayank Austen Soofi
URL
August 24, 2006
07:26 AM

I do not what to comment. These are so sad times.

#3
temporal
URL
August 24, 2006
09:29 AM

Zeh'r:

wish i could agree...

isolationism that you referred to is akin to sticking the neck in the sand and hoping the problems will whizz past you

does not work

terrorism is a cancer on world body politic...more so on islam and muslim's

without treating and attacking this cancer the sufferings would continue unabated...the irony is no one knows the prescription...(there are asm any opinions as pundits - dime a dozen)...you cannot nuke them...isolate them....send them off to gulag...it is a living malignant cancer and needs to be removed...

#4
Zehra
URL
August 25, 2006
01:34 AM

Hey all,

Thanks for the comments. Like I said, NO idea what the hell one is supposed to do. I do want a give a shout out to a very brave woman, Talat Hamdani, whose son died in saving the lives of people at the twin towers. He was first suspected to be a terrorist. I saw her on TV today (her husband died recently as well), and there she is, toiling away, tring to get legislation changed and doing what she can.

I hate to say this, but after having a son accused of being a terrorist and proving to the whole world and getting all the media attnetion it did (Bloomberg was at the funeral among other notables, the story has been featured a million times in a million papers, one of the 11 stories Mira Nair made in her 9 11 movie, and a mention by Bush somewhere (state of the union or patriot act, I can't recall now), she is above suspicion. Still, realllllly brave for what she does, and I looked at myself and thought, Boo fucking Hoo Zehra. What are you crying about? Get out there and do something!!! Then my parents switched to Fox News and I burrowed myself deeper into the sofa.

#5
Sanjay
August 25, 2006
02:05 AM

I love the casual use of the phrase "we Americans"

Personally, I think the country's becoming a hotel.

Maybe I should get a job with America's largest company Microsoft. Then in my first week on the job, I can casually stroll upto Bill Gates, put my arm around him and say, "Hey Bill, I've got some great ideas on how OUR company should be run, that I think WE should discuss!"

It's all in how cheerily you say it. Yeah, sure.

#6
Aaman
URL
August 25, 2006
02:11 AM

Sanjay, you sound so naive if you talk about a culture you don't seem to have a clue about - Americans have always been an open melting pot, and generally first- and second-generation immigrants have been quick at adopting and then internalizing the American identity - may be not the culture, but the identity.

You've probably not seen the PSA (Public Service Announcement) that used to run in America around 2002-2003. It looked like the MJ Black or White video, and featured a wide variety of individuals of different ethnicities appearing on screen one after the other, and the simple dialogue, "I'm an American"

Good luck with that interview, and say hi to Bill from me.

#7
Sanjay
August 25, 2006
02:52 AM

Aaman, care to tell me where your expertise on American values was acquired?


"Hi, I just arrived last week! I can't name more than 5 states in the Union unless I use googlemaps, I've never fought a war for this country, I've never previously held any public office in it, nor have previously participated in any civic duty of any kind! But I'd first like to ask -- where's my Presidential nomination? Naughty, naughty! Please hurry up, or I'll have to file discrimination charges against you!"

Firstly, no country, society or economy can outrun a pyramid scheme, even if you enshrine it like a golden calf, as has been done for immigration.
Muslim activists in Canada decry the American melting pot as oppressive, and loudly tout Canada's fragile minority-biased mosaic as superior. Give an inch, and hear the clamour for a yard.

Nextly, the Ummahgrants and their Ummahgration lobby seem to think they can just flash their recently acquired citizenship cards as some automatic ticket to social credibility. After which, they compulsively resort to race-baiting, if society doesn't hop to.

Strange... are we talking about America, or India... or Britain, or France, or Canada, or Australia, or Germany, or Netherlands,or... or any number of countries being inundated by migrants with a missionary mentality mindset impervious to any and all introspection.

#8
Mayank Austen Soofi
URL
August 25, 2006
03:21 AM

After all said and done, inspite of its presidents and foreign policies, America is the best place on earth - a rich man's India. Period.

#9
Zehra
URL
August 25, 2006
03:52 AM

Dear Sanjay,

How long before I can say WE Americans?

My parents do not, as immigrants, though they should in a country where 99% of the country are immigrants or children, or grand children or great grandchildren of immigrants.

I, however, having born in the US of A, feel very much entitled to consider myself a member and citizen of the only home I have known.

But why dont YOU tell me when I can feel myself to belong to this country?

Meri jurat kahan say ayee, that I actually thought I could liken myself to a citizen.

MAS: Amen to that.

#10
temporal
URL
August 25, 2006
09:20 AM

zeh'r

should have introduced you
to the saffronista pack
who think the cure of all ills
facing this world is them muslims
send them to an island big enough
or find some final hitlerite solution
and the world will be safer, saner
stay here and you will ID them all

wingless birds splashing in waters
knowing not how delusional
their hatred makes them appear

learn and observe from other desis
give them a wide berth, let 'em splash
all they want - let them wallow
in their own hatred and misery

#11
Rehman
August 25, 2006
06:44 PM

I think muslims in America must learn from examples of African and Japanese Americans who in their time periods were once racially targetted and then were eventually accepted by the American society.

It's now muslims' turn to be targetted but if muslims unite and organize better, they will one day be accepted by the American society though after alot of sacrifices.

#12
Zehra
URL
August 26, 2006
12:36 AM

Rehman, You know I thought about that as well..Of course we love bringing up the Japanese and internment and blacks and slavery. All I can say is that I am glad Hollywood already made The Siege.

Two wrongs do not make a right (as in, they went through it so maybe we have to as well...we should have learned as a country from it to stop it not to perpetuate and condone this kind of behavior).

I hope someday to look back on this and tell my kids, yeah, I lived through the time when Muslims were under Siege in America. And they will think I am ancient. And that will make me happy.

#13
Sanjay
August 26, 2006
12:51 AM

Zehra, today one can instantly 'inherit' a country and all of its advantages and achievements by filling out forms and paperwork. Tomorrow, information technology will enable us to acquire 'citizenship' with a mouseclick. I'll be able to change my nationality several times during the same time it takes you to reply to this post.

Therefore, I want the right to call myself a Pakistani Muslim even though I eat pork, don't believe in Allah, and wasn't born in Pakistan. You should allow me that right, and simply recognize that I am a non-Allah-believing branch of Islam, and that I am a Non-Resident Pakistani.

Since I have then just now acquired Islamic status and Pakistani status through a few keystrokes, I think that WE as fellow Pakistani Muslims should engage in further discussion about how to reform the Islamic faith and the Pakistani culture. As a newly-declared Pakistani Muslim, I feel that it's necessary that this obsolete concept of Allah be discarded. After all, why is belief in Allah so essential to be Islamic? Can't WE follow the same practices without actually needing to be supervised and overseen by this alleged divinity whose existence has never been proven? Actually, I'm full of ideas on how WE can reform the faith by re-writing the Koran. As a fellow Pakistani Muslim (as of 3 minutes ago) I really think that I have a lot of fresh new thinking to bring us, and that my other fellow Pakistani Muslim brethren should grant me the requisite credibility and hear me out.

I've got lots of good ideas on how WE can change OUR community for the better. I hope you don't mind my using words like 'WE', 'OUR' and 'US' a lot, now that you've taught me their great value.

Ah, now that I've embraced Islam and Pakistan so fully, I feel enthused enough to celebrate by ordering a pepperoni pizza and posting more on the despicable support of terrorist attrocities by OUR govt.

#14
Aaman
URL
August 26, 2006
01:02 AM

She's American, you can keep your Pakistani passport and visit Kandahar

#15
Zehra
URL
August 26, 2006
01:04 AM

Sanjay,

What part of I was born in America and have lived here for my 28 years did you not understand?

And it now takes years to become an American citizen. And seriously, I would love to see you apply for Pakistani citizenship. LOL.

Good Luck with your new Muslimness. To be Pakistani, you didn't have to convert to Islam the same way soooo many Indians, are Muslim (more than Pakistan in fact, if I am correct..?). They are still Indian and god damn proud to be so. You can be a Hindu Pakistani. They do exist in Pakistan.

Yaar, post tou parh kar jawab dou. You are making yourself look downright silly. Still, I guess jawani hai ap ki, josh tou hou ga.

#16
Sanjay
August 26, 2006
02:26 AM

Zehra, the nation of Israel is a lot older than 28 years, yet even numbering at 8 million they don't seem to be able to gain acceptance by most Islamic countries of their right to exist. And this, despite all the technology they've brought to the region, as well as the fact that they're also a household name. It's strange not to accept somebody's existence when one is totally aware of them and even talking about them all the time. I really think it's because of a deficiency in the whole regional process for welcoming and integrating new arrivals, don't you? As a minority, how can you expect them to seamlessly integrate into the landscape until the regional majority shows more tolerance and acceptance? It's really just Israelophobia, to slightly modify a fad phrase recently coined among certain circles.

Zehra Apple-Pie Rizvi writes:
I am indeed terrified of being a brown (macaca), Muslim, an American of Pakistani descent living in America. I feel terrorized by America, my own god damn country right now.

using my word-replace function, I must respond similarly that:
I am indeed terrified of being a harami amongst my fellow Pakistani Muslims, just because I'm a North American by birth and upbringing. I feel terrorized by my own god damn (allah-damned?) Pakistani Muslim community right now.

Which 'snivelling' Pakistani (temporal?) will accuse me of being a harami or "saffronista" just because my definition of Pakistani Muslim doesn't happen to agree with theirs? I bet he'd kick me out of the mosque in a heartbeat.

I am afraid to protest now.

This makes me very sad.

(I guess I'll have to settle for raiding temporal's stash of prozac.)

Zehra Library-of-Congress Rizvi writes:
Why can't we as Americans just take the isolationist stance we had taken under....was it Wilson?

Ummmmm, no. If you'd stayed awake in history class, little Miss America, especially during lectures relating to your "homeland", you'd remember that Wilson wasn't an isolationist, and that Wilsonianism is synonymous with activist foreign policy:

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 - February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States (1913-1921)...
... suppressed anti-war movements including the left-wing of the Socialist Party and the IWW. He spent surprisingly little attention on military affairs, but provided the funding and food supplies that made Allied victory in 1918 possible. He went to Paris in 1919 to create the League of Nations and shape the Treaty of Versailles.


Dear little Miss hyphenated-America, some people pretend to show their "patriotism" by engaging in ethnically-selective liberalism. So you protested against the first Gulf War did you, Hanoi Jane?
Aww, isn't that pweciousss. Any chance you protested against US military aid to the dictatorship in Pakistan, which was waging war against Afghanistan? Nah, I'm sure that aspect of foreign policy escaped your "liberal" critique.

Seeing as how you have such solid "liberal" credentials -- not quite as solid as my Pakistani Muslim credentials since I know more about both countries than you -- perhaps you'll take note of the massive and indiscriminate military bombardment going on in Baluchistan right now which is inflicting mass death on rural civilians.

http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswire/display/11692/index.php


Ah, pity the selective liberal.

#17
temporal
URL
August 26, 2006
09:28 AM

last two verses from #10 for an encore;)

wingless birds splashing in waters
knowing not how delusional
their hatred makes them appear

learn and observe from other desis
give them a wide berth, let 'em splash
all they want - let them wallow
in their own hatred and misery


(sigh)...it is pointless...the saffronistas do not want to 'discuss' issues... they just come here to share their know-the-price-of-everything
but-the-value-of-nothing
wisdom;)

#18
Zehra
URL
August 26, 2006
03:34 PM

Dear Sanjay,

Wow, you told me. You are so right, about everything. Bhagwan knows why I even thought to talk sense with you.

I cannot thank you enough for enlightening me. I will name my first born after you.

Best
Zehra.

#19
Zehra
URL
August 26, 2006
03:59 PM

ps: The state of Amercan education is deplorable. More money needs to go into public school systems in order to hire more teachers and to train teachers.

One of the favorite things of Night Show hosts (like Jay Leno and David Letterman) to do is to take to the streets and ask average Americans (white people, Sanjay, those who are REAL Americans in your eyes) and ask them questions about American politics and history. Most of them have NO idea what the answers are but ask them about sports, cars and fast food, and they nail it on the head.

How about you come over here and become a teacher? I think this whole American system could use people like you here. You are so knowlegable.

#20
Sanjay
August 26, 2006
10:02 PM

Oh, what a heavy-hitting and substantive reply. I'm reeling under the weight of your vital points. :P

Not.

Meanwhile, since I left off with Baluchistan, let's look at what developments have occurred:

http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/articlenews.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006-08-26T220542Z_01_ISL7604_RTRUKOC_0_UK-PAKISTAN-VIOLENCE.xml

Good job on them killing the 80-something year old man.

No pwotests fwom pwincess on that, I'm sure.
Ethnically-selective liberalism at its finest.
It's the Wed-Gween Show.

#21
Aaman
URL
August 26, 2006
10:29 PM

Getting around Sanju baba's petulant attention-getting excesses, it is indeed concerning that there are so many recent examples of common-man reaction and fear against Muslims - I recommend reading this piece by Bruce Schneier

#22
Zehra
URL
August 26, 2006
10:29 PM

Sanjay,

Why, when I am talking about America do you insist on bringing Balochistan into the conversation? Never been there and I don't know any Balochis either. I have nothing to do with Balochistan. Have not been reading the links you are posting because as hard as I try, Balochistan just does not capture my imagination. It's very sad if bad things are happening there. There are bad things happeneing ALLL over the world.

Here is the list of places in the world where I do care if things happen:
America. (my country and place of residence for the time being)
London ( I am moving there so now I care)
Mumbai (that's where my mom was born and now my best friends live there)
Banaras (place where dad was born and I still have family there)
Karachi (family living there)
Sudan (future job site of mine)
Lebanon (only because of what just happened there)
Israel (it's always interesting to see what is happening there since it destablizes the whole region)
Sri Lanka (only because I just worked there for a year and a half but I confess, I am getting bored with the country now...it's all back to square one)

So yeah, there are some pet places of mine in the world. I am only one human being and unlike you, cannot single handedly keep up with the whole world. I realize that and have reconciled myself to these shortcomings in myself. I don't profess to know everything or be on top of everything. I don't have time or inclination for that. I am open about it. Nothing to hide about my non caring self.

But I have noticed something about you. You don't like Muslims it would seem. Is that true? Are you a Muslim hater? Not very fashionable these days, you know. And...sort of limited I would say.

There is a whole world out there Sanjay. Why not spread your hate around and encompass others? I think that would be much more interesting..and holistic.

Also, when someone says the word Pakistan, you see red. So, you hate Pakistan. Whoop dee di. Real original and creative of you, by the way. *yawn*

#23
Sanjay
August 27, 2006
02:50 AM

Oh, and why are you bringing up Iraq then? It's legit to bring up Iraq, but not Baluchistan? Pfft. Selective liberalism, of the ethnically partisan variety, isn't liberalism at all.

Funny how the selective humanitarians have a selective definition of human rights -- ie. only for certain groups of human beings.

Ah, and of course the "Muslim-hater" paranoia has to come out. If a Muslim is the recipient of criticism, then it automatically has to be "Muslim-hating". How convenient. The ignorance of the sublime.

Typical ethnic-baiting from the selective liberal. More have died under Pakistani bombardment in Baluchistan than have died in Lebanon.

Clean up your own community first, before preaching to others, selective liberal.

#24
Aaman
URL
August 27, 2006
02:56 AM

So, Sanjay, you would like to dictate what individuals should be energized about? Sounds pretty liberal to me

#25
Aaman
URL
August 27, 2006
02:57 AM

So, Sanjay, you would like to dictate what individuals should be energized about? Sounds pretty liberal to me - not

#26
Zehra
URL
August 27, 2006
03:08 AM

I don't like mis-understandings.

Sanjay, If I understand you correctly, you feel that I cannot complain about American behavior in terms of its foreign policy because

A: I was raised Muslim and therefore because of all the nasty behavior of a miniscule percentage of Muslims, I need to shut up and deal.
B: I have Pakistani/Indian Heritage
C: I didn't pay attention in history class.

You also think that I cannot rightly call myself an American despite the fact that I was born here and know this to be my only home since

A: I didn't pay attention in history class
B: I was raised Muslim
C: I am brown and not white.

Honestly, if we are going to talk about this, I need to be clear about where your issues are. If I have gotton the above wrong, please very clearly in the manner I have, as in bullet points (ah, my feeble brain), lay out what your beef with me is.

#27
Zehra
URL
August 27, 2006
03:14 AM

Two other short comments.

I never said I am Muslim. I was raised one. Doesn't mean that I am one. I am not.

Second: You have no idea what my politics are. You have assumed that I am liberal. Don't make assumptions. And also, there are SO many definitions of a liberal. I am personally not happy with ANY label being slapped on me since I find that I do not neatly fit into any box. Liberals are not open minded. They are too caught up in being liberal to see that bing liberal means an airing of ALL points of view and affording people the freedom to live as they choose and not pushing one ideology down anothers throat.

Most people, liberal, conservative, whatever have issues with that one.

#28
Sanjay
August 27, 2006
05:31 AM

Oh look - kidnapped Fox News journalists announce they have converted to Islam

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060827/ts_nm/mideast_gaza_kidnappings_dc

Tell me, which other violent ideology on earth does this to people, making them read statements about renouncing their own faith? And the Red-Green cabale complain about humiliation? What do you call this?

I don't see anyone else on the planet doing this to anyone -- least of all, a 'liberation' movement.

#29
temporal
URL
August 27, 2006
09:04 AM

tunnel visioned insecuristas are not interested in what you write (re: # 26 &27)

they march to their own tune from la-la land

;)

#30
Bihari
URL
August 27, 2006
09:30 AM


I don't see anyone else on the planet doing this to anyone

Look no further, sonny boy, but in your own backyard- where a 'dalit' Bihari has suffered so much humilation at the hands of his 'zamindar'. His women and children are raped, land is grabbed and he is killed. All done in pin drop silence- media is not concerned and educated elite like you sit in your offices oblivious to their plight.

First root out the social malaise that your own religion is suffering from then look to others.

What have you done to reform your religion, Sanjay? Or being an atheist absolves you from it's rotting stench?

Answer that before you go on your 'net' crusade.





#31
Sanjay
August 27, 2006
12:28 PM

Bihari,

1)Please don't comment and run away like many others do. Please do stick around.

2)You're implying that these actions were compelled by religious theology. If I had cited this act as being done by a Muslim, I would have recieved the reflexive reply that "Oh, but Islam doesn't permit these things" -- what like everybody else's religion does?

3)I'm certainly an atheist, so which religion are you scapegoating me with?

4)If you're going to cite some incident, you'd better provide more than your word as the gentleman you aren't.

5)I'm not Bihari, YOU are. Why don't YOU take responsibility/culpability for it ahead of me? What have YOU done for YOUR state over its complete lack of progress or even basic law and order, other than haranguing others about it? Or are you engaged in outsourcing -- outsourcing of blame and responsibility? YOU Biharis have screwed up your own state, and you want to blame others for it? Step up to the plate, buddy, and take a look in the mirror. What have YOU done for YOUR state lately, other than whine about it, or wail for someone else to do something?

#32
Sanjay
August 27, 2006
12:29 PM

Zehra, regardless of whether you're trying to cauche your comments under liberalism or not, they're certainly hypocritical, unbalanced, and lacking in credibility.

#33
temporal
URL
August 27, 2006
12:38 PM

#32:

o

o


the sage has spoken (not!) the final word

silence every one

let there be peace for the delusional insecurista

#34
temporal
URL
August 27, 2006
12:42 PM

bihari:

please refrain!

just like that other infamous tunnel visioned von-siffer who preaches one thing and does the other these saffronistas do the same


#35
Ruvy in Jerusalem
August 27, 2006
06:38 PM

Zehra,

I read your piece and followed the bouncing ball of the comments. A lot of them deal with the hostilities that bristle between Indians and Pakistanis, something that is not my business.

Like you, I was born and raised in the United States. Like you, I am a first generation American (my father was born in Poland when it was the Russian Empire). Like you, I was educated in the United States, and English is my first language, the one I handle best, both in writing and in speech. And like you, I understand very well what it is to be a minority in the United States, to see hostility directed at my people on every lamppost and in every public bathroom (swastikas on the walls and the lampposts, not to mention on all of the subway platform beams...).

When I was a teenager, I realized that for all that, being a Jew was more important to me than being an American, and in the fullness of time, I saw the oblivion the American Jewish expericment as headed towards. So, I left the richest nation on earth and came to Israel with my wife and children.

Right now, a lot of Americans are sore and mad at Moslems. Not Moslems like you who just want to get on with life and make a living and all that other stuff, but the "I'll kill you if you don't convert" type Moslems who seem to be at the center of most terrorism in the world.

What you need to do is to look at the average ignorant white man who looks down on you and understand that his bigotry is his problem and not yours - and then make sure that he comprehends that fact in an unmistakable way.

Then you need to have a good hard think on whether you want to be one of however many millions of Pakistanis who live in your parents' homeland, or cope with being a brown skinned American who forever has to fight not be be spit upon. Because no matter how you spice up the rice, America is a white man's country with a Christian backbone.

Yeah, you should have been paying more attention to the teacher when he/she taught about the fact that Wilson, for all of his rhetoric about "keeping America out of war", had a very militaristic foreign policy. But then again, I fell asleep in torts class in law school, even when the teacher was talking about the insurance claims of the "Edmund Fitzgerald" - the very same "Edmund Fitzgerald," that sunk in a November storm in Lake Superior and which was popularized on the radio twenty-five years ago...

#36
Zehra
URL
August 28, 2006
01:03 AM

Ruvy,

What a wonderful post. THANK YOU. You are lucky that you did figure out that being Jewish was the more vital part of your identity. I don't feel that way about Pakistan (my family was basically being threatened there...we are a heretical sect..Shia but I feel no affiliation to Iraq or Iran), and so, I am still trying to figure out which identity of all my hyphens do I feel most attached to. All of them in some way and in this day and age, they all clash with each other. Am just reading an AMAZING book by Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen (economist) called Identity and Violence: The illusion of Destiny, and he deals with many of things we have been talking about here...(well, I too am not sure how this got into an India Pakistan discussion since that was not my intention when writing my blog).

You analysis of America being a white man's country with a Christian backbone is so on the mark but there is something stubborn in me still, that WILL call it my country and I think I will stay on and fight (kind of like Irshad Manji hanging on to Islam) and find my place here. It is home for me, after all. Thanks for reading and for the good advice.

Bihari, I was totally going to say the same thing to Sanjay: Pehlay apnay anchal mein zarou jhanko, then cast the first stone. (no translation necessary since I think everyone gets the essence of what I am saying. Just mixed the same metaphor in both languages).

#37
Ruvy in Jerusalem
August 28, 2006
10:04 AM

Zehra,

You wrote,

"Your analysis of America being a white man's country with a Christian backbone is so on the mark but there is something stubborn in me still, that WILL call it my country and I think I will stay on and fight ... and find my place here.

I understand your reasoning and your reasons, but nevertheless, I have to warn you. In America, you are the salt and those surrounding are the water. They will wear down your adherence to your faith with incessant Christmas carols, when you discuss issues of separation of religion and state, it will always be "church and state." Political correctness only goes so far and only gets you so much, and in the end it is a form of contemptuous sneering at the brown or black fellow who is "not quite as good as we are, so we have to celebrate him and make him feel good - it's only the Christian thing to do"...

#38
Aaman
URL
August 28, 2006
11:43 AM

Ruvy,

Still we must hope, and have faith, and prefer chesed over gevorah

#39
The Buddha Smiled
URL
August 28, 2006
01:06 PM

Ruvy

A thought provoking set of comments. But I guess there are several issues that I could debate.

The Jewish experience of diaspora, exile and persecution has a long, documented history. So perhaps the sense of longing for a homeland that offered equitable treatment was much stronger than it is for other communities (the Armenians, for example) So your decision to make aleya has clear motivations.

But I think there are two things that are critical here, which I think make it more complex for the average brown skinned American out there.

Firstly, the fact that what we're seeing across the world today is a series of problems that seek to simplify a single individual's identity from the multiple layers that it operates at and reduce it to a single, unidimensional one. It doesn't matter if you're Sunni Iraqi or Sunni Bedouin, whether you're Ismaili Afghan or Bohra Gujarati - you're tagged as Muslim, regardless of the inherent complexities within. It's almost like turning around and saying that there is no difference between Ashkenazi, Sephardi or Mizrahi.

So to somehow ask Zehra whether she wants to be either American or brown- skinned Muslim is to force her to choose between identities that are not mutually exclusive.

The second issue is somewhat different - that of someone else's bigotry being their problem alone. It's a bit difficult to do that, when their bigotry leads you to being subjected to a thousand more body searches at airports, and still face the risk of being escorted off an airplane because your co passengers think you're "suspicious". It is very easy to turn around and say that someone else being anti - semitic is fine, because its their problem, but we all know where that argument goes.

Perhaps I'm being idealistic here, but this is why I think India's model of social structures offers so much to the world. We are a country that is built on diversity. That diversity is not perfect, and it is not as if there are no problems with the social set up as it exists (as Sanjay will no doubt point out soon, fighting for the saffron corner) but when you compare the possibilities offered by a social fabric that can just allow you to be who you are, do what you will and still somehow belong is a beautiful thing, is it not? There are always people out there who will continue to threaten that diversity, from all fronts, but essentially, we are people who are pretty happy to let things be the way they are without getting too wound up over them.

Perhaps that is the lesson for us all out there - to learn to accept others, identify their differences, accept that we all have different identities and not get chauvanistic about it.

Peace & much love.

Add your comment

(Or ping: http://desicritics.org/tb/2796)

Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.






Remember Name/URL?

Please preview your comment!