Good Friday. Thank God, It’s Not “Happy.”

Church-of-the-Holy-Sepulchre

Good Friday is now a forgotten day.

It has no meaning. Because it does not draw much business. Malls don’t make much money on a sad day. Media don’t consider it to be “Happy Good Friday.”

Nobody sends a “Happy” greeting. (Thank God!).

I am really tired of this relentless “happiness.” Like, please gimme a break!

If someone did a survey of all the holidays — Mother’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Halloween — and made a comparison between all the corporate sales and discounts and profits, Good Friday would perhaps rank the lowest. It’s not profitable at all.

Wal-Mart, J C. Penny, Target, T. J. Maxx, MacDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell…Gap, Mango, Botany, K-Mart, all the fancy restaurants and cheap joints…make a scientific survey on their sales and profit. You’ll know.

Good Friday is neither good, nor happy for Corporate America.

Yet, even though I am not a Christian, and never want to be one, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to save his people from the rulers’ wrath greatly inspires me. I remember when I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where he was crucified, I was emotional.

Good Friday is not about big bombs, new violence, and war drumbeats. It’s about peace.

On this Good Friday, early in the morning, America — with its Christian rulers — dropped the biggest U.S. bomb on Afghanistan. To kill. Many innocent men, women, and children included. Media is okay with it. Democrats and Republicans are okay with it.

Corporate America is totally okay with it.

Jesus Christ is not happy today, either.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Golgotha

So, Media and Propaganda? Who Cares?

IMG_1014“Audiences of mass media do not exist a priori. They are actively constructed through careful programming decisions and marketing strategies, as well as transnational flows of information, capital, and commodities, and in some cases, the agendas of the nation-state.” (Purnima Mankekar, 1999).

That’s mass media today, as written by an Indian woman scholar. But average response to her observation will be like as follows.

Like, (1) “Who cares?” Or, like, (2) “What are you talking about?” Or, (3) “Those lefty intellectuals!” Or, (4) “What’s the big deal? Doesn’t everybody do it?” Or, (5) “Well, they’re doing business too, just like everyone else!”

How can you talk substance to a vast majority of dumbed-down people — people who not understand the objective voice of reason? People who do not know the difference between journalism and propaganda?

Media propaganda has reached an unbelievable, abysmal low. Both in USA and in India. New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox, etc. here in America. And their counterpart media in India. All these media are either directly owned or totally subsidized by corporate businesses. GE, Disney, Exxon, Wal-Mart, Reliance, Ambani, Tata. Very few people make the connection.

They have actively silenced any voice of dissent, and killed any possible debate. But most people do not understand this game. The 1% have successfully created an illusion that this is freedom, free thinking, and democracy.

USA’s illegal war, bombing and killing of innocent people in a faraway land are now completely legitimized. Economic terror, religious violence, hatred and bigotry of Gandhi murderers are now totally acceptable.

Nobody even blinks to wonder how is it possible that in a so-called “Land of the Free,” 25% of world’s prisoners are rotting in U.S. jails. Nobody pauses for a second to question how the U.S. media are doing 24/7 propaganda for Trump’s illegal bombing in Syria.

In a two-party system, both parties are now wings of the 1%. Republicans and Democrats in USA. BJP and Congress in India.

Media is their propaganda machine.

Think. Like, what else can I say?

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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My Mother’s Death Transformed Me

Today is my mother’s death anniversary.

She passed away when she was only forty-two. Had she not died of cancer at a very early age, she would have been eighty years of age today. Or, perhaps, eighty-one. We were not exactly sure of the year of her birth.

Well, life brings joys, and life brings sorrows. But my mother’s early, painful death has created a deep impression on me about women’s plight, injustice, and human rights in general. That one tragedy transformed me, and slowly made me what I am today.

My father, who is a lifelong, hardcore RSS (Hindu fundamentalist), is missing her all these years. He is now ninety-three. When my mother died, he was about fifty-three.

He has lived a very long, very lonely life ever since her death. And I know, a stoic man he is, he has kept a very deep sadness in his heart.

He did whatever he could to save her life. He was a loving husband and responsible head of the family. My mother’s cancer was a rare type that spread too rapidly.

Yet, it is undeniably true that my mother was a victim of the extreme, systemic patriarchy and gender inequality in India. Her life did not have the same value as ours — men. We did not pay attention to her well being the way we should have.

I have carried a deep trauma in my all my life too. But looking back, that one incident perhaps made me think differently about my life.

And our lives: lives of poor and powerless people like us — in India, and elsewhere.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Russia Meddles in U.S. Elections?? Wow!!

Blog March 23

Russia Meddles in U.S. Elections?? Wow!! How dare you, Putin!!

Gosh, this is how most Americans think, thanks to corporate media, and our famous politicians. And their famous, big-name journalists. There is no other way to think, than what they want us to think.

Yet.

The Russian meddling in U.S. elections has many, complicated layers. Here’s how it unfolds.

One, it may or may not be true: we simply don’t know. It could be that New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and their very powerful lobby — who Trump gravely hurt by defeating Hillary — are cooking it all up.

Two, even if it’s true, we don’t know how extensive it is: it could be a small issue, blown out of proportions. We the ordinary people simply don’t know, and given our corporate media’s relentless, massive lies, I have every reason not to believe their version.

Three, assuming it is gravely serious, if Russia’s interference and manipulation of American elections are criminal, and deserve so much discussion, what about USA and CIA’s numerous election interference and manipulations all over the world?

I mean, it is mind boggling how they have done it since WWII. They have toppled governments, staged coups, and assassinated elected leaders. They have supported and funded military juntas, and killed democracies. They have turned the world upside down.

Chile, Bangladesh, Angola, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Vietnam, Korea, El Salvador, Mexico, Pakistan…France, Italy, Ukraine…India…Greece, Thailand, Philippines…the list is endless. I mean, truly, the entire world.

Where is that discussion in NYT, WP and CNN and NPR at this time? I mean, how can you not make that connection now, in this context?

Think about it.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Thirty Years in the “Land of Diversity”

Book launch at OxfordYes, this is honest to my God!

After having lived in America for thirty years, this is my realization as an immigrant who came from a poor Third World family, with no English-speaking abilities, no money, no relatives in this country, and no real future. It was an unbelievably rudderless, nervous, and isolating life. Except for a very few people, nobody back there cared to know how my little family and I were doing here. But when we moved up from a class where they were comfortable to see us to a class they were not — through blood, sweat and tears, they became jealous to see our relatively good prosperity and prestige we achieved, in one short life.

Here in America, on the other hand, once an immigrant is always an immigrant: they are tolerated in a place like New York where we’ve lived most of the time. Tolerated, and taken for granted. This is of course with the exception of the open-minded friends, students and colleagues who have shown us their friendship and kind heart. We can’t thank them enough. But deep inside, America, in spite of its grandiose talk of diversity and globalization, is insular and resistant, especially for those of us who do not come with pedigree, or accept the Wal-Mart, MacDonald’s, Disney or Wall Street conformity.

For those of us who have lived the life of an activist, a “rabble rouser,” or as many of them call us, “trouble makers” — to reject individualistic wealth for equality, peace and justice, America is not a country that embraced us. It has done its best to keep us depressed and isolated all our lives. Our struggle to successfully move up from one class to another in one short life, through many sacrifices, without compromising honesty and integrity has no meaning to this America. New York Times did not care to know our life’s story. CNN didn’t want to know our immigrant life’s joys and sorrows. Or, for that matter, our “strange-sounding” names, lifestyles, food habits, or religious celebrations.

“Taken for Granted” would find its best example in the life of a new immigrant in America — the so-called Land of Diversity.
_______

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York

After the Saffron Storm in U.P.

BJP win U.P.

(Photo courtesy: The New Indian Express.)

BJP, Hindu fundamentalist party, won a landslide election in India’s largest state U.P. Here is my two cents from New York on their victory.

I have a lot of respect for BJP, and zero respect for Congress (and India’s caste politics). Although I would never support either of them, ever.

I have seen in my own life how BJP has evolved from nowhere to become the most dominant political force in India. I was with them for 15+ years, and my father has been with them all his life. I have seen their dedication and hard work for their cause. I have written a lot about it. My book In the Belly of the Beast chronicles my association and analysis with the Hindu supremacists of India.

I have absolutely no soft corner for their racism, hate, bigotry, and violence.

I have disdain for their distorting of Indian history that includes the assassination of Gandhi by one of their own. Or, their Ram temple or Padmini or Roop Kanwar (the “suttee”).

But I have every respect for them for their long-term planning, and sticking to the plan. Their united, militant, grassroots soldiers borrowed from their social-religious mentor RSS, religious wing VHP and student wing ABVP they use for election work, and various nonviolent and violent campaigns. Just like Tea Party or Christian Coalition here in the U.S. Striking resemblance across the globe. I’ve written about that too.

And just like far right wing and fascists here in the U.S., Hindu fanatics have won in India. They have now won big time in U.P., the most populous state.

This election has destroyed any hope for a progressive, secular comeback in the foreseeable future. States like West Bengal or Kerala, progressive and secular bastions in India, will need to make their plans right now. Or, their days are numbered too.

Liberals and left have failed the American people, and liberals and left have failed the Indian people. Far right took advantage of this huge void, and with their people power on the ground, corporate capitalism, and their media, money and think tanks have vanquished socialism and any economic concept of equality and social harmony — to an unimaginable level.

This is grim reality, and no New York Times, CNN, or NDTV can change it, distort it. Fascism — in guise of democracy — rules earth now.

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That Hate Killing in Kansas

hatecrimes

Wow!!

I never realized the extent of hate, ignorance and illiteracy in this “best country in the world” until I posted that NYT article on how a white man shot and killed an Indian engineer in a Kansas pub, shouting racist words, and how another white man took a bullet trying to save him.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the Hindu student from India, told his wife America was the best country to live in. He was killed by a racist in America. The man said he wanted to drive out all Middle-Eastern men. Of course, geography and history are not two subjects racists in America like or care about. Or, religion. Or, the world.

I forgot to change the privacy setting from public to friends, and boy oh boy, hate is spilling over the toilet seat. I mean, Trump has given a new meaning to America and the world.

This is what I wrote on Facebook.

Indian idiots (especially Modi fanatics) who voted for Trump will downplay this incident. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Trump’s racism and hate have brought out the worst in America, and all immigrants — Muslim or not — are paying a heavy price.

An Indian engineer (a Hindu) was killed in Kansas City last night by a white racist, perhaps a supporter of Trump.

Silver lining of the story: another white man tried to save the victim, and took a bullet to his chest. That’s the side of America I want to know, and live for.

Here’s the original New York Times story with a short video. The link is at https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000004952609/kansas-shooting-survivor-were-all-humans.html?smid=fb-share

I want to thank Ian, the white American man, who said, “We are all humans.” That is the United States of America I know.

Not Trump’s hateful, racist America.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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American Media’s Trump Profits Soar

So, American media is having a field day, just by selling Trump and his craziness.

New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and all. “Right wing” Fox is losing business: their sex is now equaled by liberal media’s sex. Even after the relentless, false Hillary projections, (and WMD), educated people still take the Times seriously. Devoutly.

I mean, think about it. Fascist Trump is deporting poor immigrants. That’s big news. Yet, Obama deported the largest number of poor immigrants in his eight years: highest number in American history. Was that news? No!

Okay. Trump put Goldman Sachs in his cabinet. Big news (how can someone who campaigned to help America’s workers do such hypocrisy?). Yet, Obama put Goldman Sachs in his cabinet: one of his first appointments.

Banks exploded with profit in Obama’s eight years. You and I? 0.1% interest: lowest in modern world’s history. Not news.

Of course, I’m not comparing Trump with Obama. It’s not about the individuals. It’s their policies. One politics is crazy, out of control white supremacist fascism. The other, DNC politics of secretly occupying the world and enslaving its 99%.

(Bernie Sanders is ridiculed by U.S. media from Day 1. Others like him are branded socialists and radicals and un-American. Not “winnable.”)

Media knows that Trump’s insanity, and worldwide ridicule, sell like hot sex, and DNC’s eating the pie from underneath without disturbing the top crust doesn’t. A media-illiterate nation easily falls for media’s well-crafted business of profit and deception.

Had American mainstream media and their powers really cared about us the 99%, had they really cared about labor unions, women’s rights, or the environment, they would challenge both parties and their anti-people, pro-1% politics. Gloria Steinems would march *before* the elections, and not *after.*

If Trump tones down his fascism, which I doubt he will, “liberal” media would be extremely unhappy.

Now, that is the real story.

Sincerely,
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York

Picturesque India, Beautiful Bengal

Dear HumanityCollege.org friends:

I’m posting some more photos from my recent India travel. This series of photos: I call it REAL INDIA. It’s about the ordinary, hardworking people, workers, and small businesses — people who are being destroyed by the cruel economic and political measures imposed by the ruling class of India and its corporate partners.

Writing about the trip and sharing pictures truly help a lot to get over the sadness of the departure. India and Bengal and Kolkata are always on my mind. I live here in USA, and work with mainstream America. But I also live in India, and identify myself very closely with her. This is my dual existence, and I have written a lot about this first-generation immigrant life.

Thank you for your friendship and support.

Sincerely

Partha
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2017-01-17-09-28-31
A small business in our neighborhood. He is having a hard time making ends meet. He said his sales are down by at least 25 to 30 percent, because of the demonetization.

2017-01-16-10-35-19
A local barber comes to our apartment, and shaves my father, who is 93. Bansi, the barber, does not have a business of his own. And chances are, with the financial situation, he will never have one.

2017-01-24-12-43-25
A village woman in the Khoai area in Shantiniketan in Birbhum district. She makes all the jewelry using fruits and seeds. The colors she uses are also natural. How long can she survive, with the Chinese and American imports?

2017-01-19-08-10-06
A local flower shop. People are religious, and most have a small seat for gods and goddesses at their homes. Massive, large-scale flower markets are replacing traditional small businesses.

2017-01-26-16-20-39
Pakora, a popular snack. The coal oven also serves local laborers and poor residents to warm themselves in the cold months of December and January.

2017-01-22-11-15-22
Colored powder or Abir in Kalighat, famous and sacred Kali temple area in Kolkata. Again, mass imports of Abir from outside Bengal and India are destroying local shop owners, mostly women.

2017-01-29-18-51-40
Kolkata Book Fair, a major source of income for city’s small and mid-size booksellers and publishers. Here, the little magazine corner is being squeezed every year, driving them out of business, one year at a time. Who is going to save them?

 

Pictures From My India Trip

Dear Friends and HumanityCollege.org supporters and sympathizers:

Happy New Year (in February!).

🙂

I just came back from a trip to India, and brought some fascinating pictures back with me. I’m sharing them with you.

India is a beautiful country, and my city Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) is a fascinating city. It’s progressive, it’s vibrant, it’s warm, it’s inclusive and secular, and its’ friendly.

On this trip, we had a gathering of family members and friends to celebrate our daughter’s wedding. About two hundred people came to the reception held on January 21. Our daughter and son in-law also brought a few of their American and Indian-American friends along with them. They loved it too.

“Kolkata changed my perception of India,” one of them said later.

Enjoy the photos. Any questions or comments, please write.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York
ashirvad-1
The blessings of Ashirvad ceremony happened here in Brooklyn, New York. Here, the Hindu priest is performing the ritual with the father of the bride.

partha-in-kolkata-1
I am standing on the sidewalk shopping complex at Kolkata’s popular Gariahat area. Thanks to Indian prime minister Modi’s scandalous demonetization, the bustling market is barren. Small businessmen and businesswomen are suffering badly.

north-kolkata-1
Our old, mezzanine apartment in North Kolkata. This is where I grew up. A very precious, scared place for me and my family. I am glad we still have this place with us.

father-with-kids
My father, 93, loved the company of our daughter’s friends visiting Kolkata from USA. He is fluent in English. Therefore, conversation was not a problem. You just have to speak loud…a lot loud 🙂

old-kolkata-house
Our old, North Kolkata home. We lived for twenty-five years on the mezzanine floor, before I came to USA as a foreign graduate student. This place is haunting for me, with memories.

bengali-indian-food
And finally, who could resist the temptation of Bengali and Indian food? All the guests were amazed. They all want to go back 🙂