It is the biggest lie that England invented football. Or, soccer.
I mean, do you believe that in five thousand years of glorious history of China, Egypt, India, Inca, Maya, Aztec, Arabia or Africa, nobody ever knew that playing a ball with feet was possible? With a set of rules?
Like in Bengali we say, “Shala, what garbage!” This white supremacist violent axis of evil killed us in the stomach, looted our countries, made us poor, and put our brains to sleep too. And we praise them!
A labor union leader here in New York whom I respect a lot just told me he read about the British-created famine in Ireland, driving mass exodus of Irish immigrants, who were treated in USA like animals.
So, I told him how we read about the biological aspects of the Irish famine back in Calcutta: the fungus causing Late Blight of Potato, etc. But we didn’t know the political history then. They never told us.
We thought maybe, it happened out of thin air. Actually, we didn’t think anything. Thinking was not a part of our education. That is, the education British shoved down our throats. Or, down other body parts.
What we knew though is that British powers violently colonized India in 1757, and in ten years, we saw a historic, unthinkable famine that killed millions. And five years before they left India in 1947 after sucking our blood, we saw another Great Famine caused by Churchill that killed three million people only in Bengal.
Bengal and India never knew what hunger and death out of starvation was. British powers in two hundred years transformed one of the richest countries into one of the poorest. They never apologized for their tyranny. There was never any demand of reparation the South Africa way.
Our “independent” rulers sucked up to them, and later, to American powers.
FOOTNOTE: Shashi Tharoor’s book Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India says that in 1703 (before their violent occupation), India was 24% of the world economy. One and a half centuries of occupation, 1903, India was reduced to only 4% of the world economy. The British plunder was unprecedented in history. But Indian history books don’t discuss simple arithmetics.
If you are even thinking of supporting the British supremacist, violent, looting, lying hegemony, please, you are not my friend. I shall never support any British hogwash.
Is it important to talk politics during the 24/7 World Cup fun? You bet it is. This is the best time to do it. Especially when Indians and Americans are going gaga with British football.
In the movie To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch famously said:
“I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house, and that he’d rather I’d shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted, if I could hit ’em, but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Today, November 29, we are going to remember Haider Rizvi, a dear brother, who left us suddenly exactly a month ago.
I’m not sure how many people will show up, and I couldn’t afford to do anything bigger than this event at a small Coney Island Avenue restaurant basement here in Brooklyn. But I wanted to organize this event, with help from some other friends for a couple of reasons.
One, Haider and I shared a few things in life. We were both first-generation immigrants here in USA, immigrants who did not prioritize money unlike most other immigrants especially from the Indian subcontinent.
We both rejected wealth as the ultimate measure of success. And we both knew that we were forced to leave our home countries, because our present and past rulers and British colonizing powers through their cruel and corrupt acts made our lives impossible.
We were both victims of the cruel, bloody partition, and we both suffered from that trauma — all our lives. I know some of my family members were destitute, being forcibly uprooted from Lahore and Dhaka. I know Haider’s family went through similar experiences. I could never visit Harappa and Mahenjodaro, which are my history too.
Haider Rizvi rejected and refused to accept the partition. So did I. We never believed in power’s forced boundaries, to keep people divided.
Haider and I were both victims of powers back there, and then as politically conscious and poetically inclined people, we were not treated by the powers here in America, the way we felt we should have been treated. After long, difficult struggles, wasting our health and other pleasures of life, we achieved success in our own fields, although the success was much more intellectual than economic — a fact that made us feel ostracized in our own immigrant communities here and also people we left back there.
And the second reason to organize today’s event is that I did want to make friends with more Indian, Pakistani, American and European men and women who would come together, and use his memory to work for peace, and a global environment of love, friendship and solidarity.
Today’s event is not a big United Nations general assembly. It’s a small event at a Brooklyn taxi drivers’ diner. But we couldn’t care less. We will create a sense of global togetherness out of this basement.
I hope you join us physically, and I hope you join us in spirit. Our resolve for love and peace is real.
Please, please, do not let them kill the mockingbird.
Update: Prof. Noam Chomsky just wrote about my London Olympics boycott blog: “All too accurate. You could have quoted Adam Smith instead of Marx, on the “savage injustice of the Europeans,” particularly the British in India who changed “dearth into famine” among other monstrous crimes. […] Bernard Porter in the TLS [Times Literary Supplement, U.K.] a few months ago … pointed out that the early British imperial conquerors could stand alongside the grand genocidists of the 20th century. And to the British we can add comparable or worse contemporary examples.”
The “fun” Games have begun and Indians are watching with major glee and awe (with their unbroken world record of one Olympic medal at the rate of every one billion people)! Here in USA where I live, people are watching with supreme patriotism and pride American media’s supremacist, Orwellian propaganda. But I am not. I am boycotting London Olympics of 2012.
To voice my strong protest against the British tyranny, violent occupation, colonization, artificial famines, pauperization and bloody partitioning of India (and countless “other” deaths by prison, torture, hanging and shooting)– which caused me, my family, my ancestors and my people lifelong misery, hopelessness and trauma, I am boycotting the global, athletic theater of corporate media and billionaire establishments — now known as the Olympics.
I am boycotting the Summer Olympics of London, 2012. Read my reasons below. Thank you.
(For those who might say: “Big deal!” Or, “So what?” Or, “Who cares?” You might read it too. Thank you.)
If you know me, this IS a big deal. For the first time in my sports-loving life that included religiously following decades of Olympic athletes and their superhuman feats — starting from Bob Beamon, Larisa Latynina, Mark Spitz, Olga Korbut, Nadia Comaneci, Carl Lewis, Teófilo Stevenson, Dick Fosbury, Usain Bolt and Abebe Bikila (even including our lone Indian gold medalists the field hockey team) — I shall not be watching the games or the opening ceremonies on TV, reading news on the progress of the games and medal tally, or getting sucked into the massively profiteering corporations’ 24/7 commercial blitz, continued under the guise of a not-for-profit, global sports movement.
(And I could never afford to watch the games sitting in a stadium, ever in my life.)
Today’s Olympic games are anything but not-for-profit, and they are anything but a movement. Michael Jordan and his so-called Dream Team, with help from global corporations and their media, have destroyed once and for all the pristine athletic camaraderie.
I offer my profound apologies to Bob, Larisa, Mark, Olga, Nadia, and everybody else. Sorry, I had to outgrow it, my lifelong idols.
A noted observer named Helen Jefferson Lenskyj said this.
She is absolutely right! But for now, I want to concentrate on the London and British part of it.
Because this is perhaps going to be the last Olympic assembly in London before my death, my boycotting is even more significant. I invite you to join this cause. I have no other power to protest on behalf of myself and the generations of suffering of people I mentioned above. This is my personal political poster.
I say, “Down with British barbarism!” I say, “Down with Downing Street!”
I demand an official apology for the two-hundred-year-long, violent British occupation of the Indian subcontinent and the bloody 1947 partition, and I demand reparation from the British government (just the same way South Africa demanded apartheid apology and reparation)– to the ordinary people of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Burma. No, this is not an academic debate. For me, this is real! I shall keep demanding until my death — Olympics or not!
There is a good chance that some conscientious and thinking people from many countries will read what I have to say, and share it with their family, friends and colleagues. Given the healthy size of blog readership I somehow managed to create over the past few months, I am optimistic that some ripple-effect actions will take place. I pin my hopes on that synergy of activism.
The Irish blog from where I took the the “British Mafia” photo above, however sharp in its language, actually finds reassurance for me that I am not the only one protesting the London Olympics. This is what the blog says:
“The British Government are political hypocrites and war criminals waffling on about human rights overseas, while being found guilty of torture and human rights abuses in British Occupied Ireland and interning political prisoners of conscience, even in their own Olympic city of London 2012, which all non-infiltrated human rights activists worldwide, are calling to boycott !”
Given where you are from, if you are from a country that once went through the horrific, bloody British occupation, rights and justice abuse and economic destruction, you can replace Ireland in the above paragraph with your country, and get the same, sharp message! I am doing just that for India and Bangladesh and Pakistan.
It’s about time we sent that message of protest across the globe. “Down with Downing Street!” (Just the same way we recently said, “Down with Wall Street!”)
Karl Marx wrote about the British occupation of India many years ago. I am not a Marxist in my beliefs; but you don’t have to be a Marxist per se to admire and appreciate what Marx wrote to expose the tyranny of corporate capitalism and global aggression of powers such as the British Empire. In the twenty-first century, U.S. corporate powers have taken over the mantle the British powers left behind; the modus operandi and results have, however, remained the same. I wrote about it elsewhere in this blog.
Marx said: “There cannot, however, remain any doubt but that the misery inflicted by the British on Hindostan [i.e., Hindu land of India] is of an essentially different and infinitely more intensive kind than all Hindostan had to suffer before. I do not allude to European despotism, planted upon Asiatic despotism, by the British East India Company, forming a more monstrous combination than any of the divine monsters…
All the civil wars, invasions, revolutions, conquests, famines, strangely complex, rapid, and destructive as the successive action in Hindostan may appear, did not go deeper than its surface. England has broken down the entire framework of Indian society, without any symptoms of reconstitution yet appearing. This loss of his old world, with no gain of a new one, imparts a particular kind of melancholy to the present misery of the Hindoo, and separates Hindostan, ruled by Britain, from all its ancient traditions, and from the whole of its past history.”
But because I am not a Marxist, and these days, quoting Marx has become out of fashion, I want to write about my own life and lives of my predecessors (and our next generation) from a non-Marxist, “non-political” point of view. I want to talk about the British looting of India — and in particular, looting the economy of the once-golden land of Bengal — where I came from. I want to talk about how my family members — both from my own side and my wife’s side — became destitute overnight because of the trickle-down, arbitrary and bloody partitioning of Bengal and Punjab. I want to talk about a colonial education system that never taught us how to think critically, and actively discouraged us from questioning the conventional wisdom or sociopolitical hierarchy.
I want to talk about the British government’s and East India Company’s destruction of Indian farmers and forcible, rapacious plantation of indigo, accompanied by barbaric torture of the farmers and their families. I want to talk about British government’s solitary confinement in the horrific Andaman Cellular Jail and hanging of thousands of Indian young men and women who fought back against the occupation. I want to talk about British police’s brutality against Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu or Marathi revolutionaries of 1920’s and ’30s as well as North Indian peasants who revolted in 1857. I want talk about British government’s blanket press censorship and absolute suppression of freedom of speech to quell rebellion.
I want to talk about the British colonial rulers’ creation of artificial, man-made famines numerous times in numerous places of India between 1757 and 1947, including the two grotesque Bengal famines of 1769 and 1943 — one immediately after they occupied India and the other just before they left. You can find a chart of some other catastrophic famines the British aggressors caused during their two centuries of occupation of a very prosperous land where nobody had ever imagined death of starvation!
I could write about the British rulers’ destruction of forests, farm land and environment in India. I could talk about their massive, forced conversion. I could talk about their total derision and belittling of an ancient civilization. I could write about their sinister divide and conquer policies creating permanent rift between Hindus and Muslims.
I could go on and on. But I shall stop now. I am tired and I am tired of impressing on, not surprisingly, my fellow Indians and Bengalis about the importance of such a boycott. History is now another out-of-fashion subject; nobody wants to spoil the fun Olympic games because of some old, difficult history. Especially, I do not have much hope from a strange variety of greedy, selfish-individualistic, MTV and MacDonald’s-following younger generation. Maybe you can help me to spread the word. If you can, reach my blog to Warren Anderson, ex-CEO of Union Carbide of Bhopal, who now lives dandy in the Long Island Hamptons, and whose former company renamed Dow Chemicals is now a major sponsor of London, 2012.
I pin my hopes on people around the world who share my story — those who share India’s history of a barbaric colonization, partition, forced destitution and death. I pin my hopes on people around the world who understand how the violent West has occupied, subjugated and raped civilizations and human minds everywhere — in the name of their masters — the British or Dutch queens or more recently, MTV, Monsanto or IMF.
I am paying the price of such violation of humanity and forced occupation all my life. I have no other way to symbolize my lifelong anger. I am a non-violent man. I am, therefore, boycotting the London Olympics, 2012 to vent my protests. I did the same when India hosted the now-infamous Commonwealth Games a couple of years ago. The rulers looted, exploited and lied then; and they’re doing it now. I am voicing my strong opposition against those rulers and their violation of human rights.
Would you join me in this cause and protest against the British government and monarchy? Demand an apology and reparation!
Thank you for your global solidarity and support. Please share your protests with others you know. Believe me, there are millions of people out there — all over the world — who would want to join this cause. Let’s reach out to them.