America Chooses Between Fascism and Freedom

America fascismIt is a very critical, ominous time.

Tomorrow, November 6, is an election here in America that could change the course of human history. We can find ourselves thrown back in another dark era of fascism, global war, hate, violence, and terrifying repression Hitler style.

We could see all the pro-people gains American people have made since FDR going down the drain, forever. Right to health care, right to education, right to a livable wage, right to a clean environment, right to organize, and gender and race equality would be unachievable dreams — in our lifetime. Fascists and their corporations will destroy it all.

Or, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. It’s that critically important.

If Trump and his unleashed white supremacist forces win, it could well be the last democratic election we see in USA. And that would create massive ripple effect across the world, bolstering fascist and supremacist forces.

That is my prediction, based on my many years of political activism and teaching.

Unfortunately, I have also predicted that there will be some Democratic victories, but not a landslide to capture both the House of Representatives and Senate, without which Trump’s aspiration for a virtual dictatorship would not be nipped in the bud.

Only way we can stop this absolute horror is if young generation, enlightened American men and women — such as the ones who formed recent, major alliances such as #NeverAgain, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, LGBT and environmental groups, as well as young labor union workers come forward, and flood the voting booths.

A large number of young, bright, forward-looking canididates have put together a great show of solidarity across the U.S. — against formidable, corporate-funded, heavyweight career politicians. I do hope you elect these young leaders.

I have no power other than my words circulated through social media. I urge you to come out to vote tomorrow, and ask people you know to vote.

We are about to see history unfolding.
___________________________________________

A believer of non-violent, democratic social revolution,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

November 5, 2018

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An Indian Student in Mississippi Delta

Fisherman MS

I was poor in my student years in America. Like, really poor.

(Tell my Indian relatives and friends, and they would love this new, sexy, mouth-watering topic to gossip.)

Most Americans do not understand how poor immigrant students are. Most Americans do not understand how poor new immigrants are. But foreign students, especially those who are coming from my class, are exceptionally poor because even an undocumented immigrant would find work in the underground economy, but we the American-government-labelled “non-immigrant alien” student wouldn’t, even though we have valid visa and all.

Why not? Because, not just we are legally forbidden to work outside of campus (and our spouses are forbidden to work anywhere), we are also so strapped for time. Plus, we are “highly educated”; therefore, it’s beyond our dignity to work like those God-forsaken “illegal aliens.” Right? And we are not that brave, either. We are happy with whatever little money the university is doling out to us.

Rebellion will be reserved for the havenots. We are the complacent, obedient type. Especially the ones from colonial India and Pakistan. We don’t do revolutions no more.

For twenty required hours a week, a graduate assistant is working in their department for five hundred dollars a month minus taxes, either to teach or help with the professor’s research. The rest of the time, they are studying and doing their own research — in the laboratory or library, and trying to spend time with their families. If they are alone, they are cooking, cleaning, and doing other household chores. Or, chances are, they are trying to fix their old car. Without a car, life is impossible in America, and graduate students almost always have car trouble as they can’t afford a good car. You go to any graduate student housing in a U.S. university, and on a Saturday or Sunday morning you’ll find some Indian, Pakistani, Chinese or African students burying their heads under the propped-up hood of their stalled chariot, with strange fumes coming from strange holes. A seasoned colleague is helping them.

car trouble

Okay.

Yet, life in those greener years was…well…greener. Southern Illinois University was an oasis for our exiled, perched souls. Having had two very difficult years at Illinois State University, one mid-winter morning, my wife, our newborn child and I took a six-hour-long drive in our dilapidated Plymouth Valiant. It was ten degrees below zero in central Illinois, and snow was ten feet high (well, maybe, two feet). Another car followed us on our three hundred mile journey. That was Gordon, an American co-student who volunteered to drive down with us, carrying our mortal and immortal belongings in his car, as Valiant could unceremoniously break down any time on I-57.

We landed in “Mississippi Delta,” Illinois. Gordon had lunch with us, and left. He would drive back up from Carbondale to Normal-Bloomington. And he is not driving a Marcedes, either. Not even a Toyota. He might as well get back before the next snowstorm hit.

Most people outside of America do not know how poor this Mississippi Delta is. I bet most Americans don’t know it, either. It’s an area circling parts of Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, with the mighty, beautiful river Mississippi raging down the state lines. Here, farming is not great, no prosperous industries are visible, and timber and strip mining are two viable livelihoods. It’s Deep South, with people having a thick, Southern accent. Outside of the academic institutions, there are no jobs. It’s very rural, very conservative, and very cut-off from the rest of the world. No wonder church evangelists would wake us up on Sunday mornings, and insist that we went to their congregations.

Outside of the academia, there is extreme illiteracy. And consequently, extreme poverty, and hopelessness. In small, desolate towns like Ana-Jonesboro or wooded, desolate places like Makanda or Grand Tower, people would sit out all day, and drink booze. I hope I am not being disrespectful about the lifestyle of a place where we lived almost five happy years of our lives. I’m just telling you the truth.

The reason a vast number of American people have become so fiercely anti-immigrant is precisely because of the reason that the ruling class of America — the one percent — have not addressed and solved their economic problems. Whether in USA, Europe or India, ordinary people are taking out their anger on “outsiders” because their jobs and stability are seriously threatened. They don’t understand it’s not the outsiders’ fault; rather, it’s their own rulers who kept failing them. They have failed the outsiders, and they have failed the insiders too.

Well, that’s another story. A very important story, but yet another story.

(to be continued.)

SIUCcampus

 

India’s BJP and USA’s Republicans: Why I Won’t Support Them

 

The Dogmatic Hindu Lotus Bloomed. Big Time!
The Dogmatic Hindu Lotus Bloomed. Big Time!

Results show the people of India have elected right wing BJP in a landslide mandate. Narendra Modi is poised to be the prime minister. Congress Party and its Gandhi Dynasty suffered their biggest defeat, ever.

Hindu nationalist BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, or Indian People’s Party) has a lot in common with USA’s Republicans. They are both extremely conservative. Both believe in extreme privatization of the economy. They are both staunchly anti-socialism. They are both rabidly anti-immigrant, especially against Muslims.

Both BJP and Republicans have their social and religious mentor groups. BJP is the political wing of RSS, a hardcore, paramilitary organization that has its grassroots network across India. RSS also has its overseas wings in USA, Canada, UK and various parts of Europe. Republicans, especially now, owe their allegiance to far right Tea Party, billionaire Koch Brothers, and ideological think tank Heritage Foundation.

Both political parties have their sister organizations. BJP has its religion-based sibling known as VHP or Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council). Republican Party in USA works closely with Christian Coalition and Promise Keepers. Eagle Forum is Republicans’ sister organization run by women. Likewise, BJP works closely with RSS’ women-only group Rashtra Sevika Samity (National woman volunteer association).

If India’s elections are any indication to a global right-wing swing, I fear that in November, Republicans and far right Tea Party, massively funded by Koch Brothers and multinational corporations, will sweep U.S. Congress.

That, of course, will be due to elite-liberal Congress Party of India and Blue Dog Democrats and their massive inefficiency and failure to serve the ordinary, 99% people. I have zero sympathy for these so-called liberals.

corruption_thumbBut, I won’t ever support either the Republicans of USA, where I live now, or BJP of India, where I grew up and learned political activism. I can never support religious or socioeconomic fanatics.

It is now no secret that I grew up with RSS and BJP, through familial connections. My father has been a lifelong activist of RSS. He was well known for his dedication, honesty and sacrifice, and worked closely with big-name BJP leaders such as India’s former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a top leader L. K. Advani.

I worked with them for over fifteen years of my life, and then quit out of ideological disillusionment. I later wrote a book against them, which drew ire and wrath from many of my past RSS and BJP colleagues. My father was heartbroken to see my permanent departure from RSS. There was a time when I was moving up the organizational ladder quickly. Before quitting, I was a secretary of West Bengal province ABVP, student wing of RSS. My longtime friends in India now say had I not quit, I would definitely be one of their top leaders now, and could run for a parliamentary seat too.

But I am glad I quit. I would never regret my decision.

There are many reasons I shall never support BJP or the Republicans, or similar groups across the world. This blog does not allow me to write in detail. But you can look up my book In the Belly of the Beast: Hindu Supremacist RSS and BJP of India — An Insider’s Story (Ajanta Books International, Delhi, 1998). The book is now available at various U.S. and Indian libraries, courtesy Library of Congress.

Militant RSS Rally. I left them, once and for all.
Militant RSS Rally. I left them, once and for all.

In short, I would never support them for the following reasons.

1. They are feudal and too conservative on their social positions, particularly about women.

2. They do not believe in equality across the spectrum of gender, sex, race, caste and class.

3. They do not believe in economic models built around socialistic or egalitarian principles.

4. They do not believe in peace-based foreign policy: they are strong believers of violence and war (BJP against Pakistan and China, and Republicans against everybody outside the Judeo-Christian countries).

5. I find their anti-immigrant venom despicable.

6. A vast number of BJP-RSS and Republican-Tea Party members do not believe in scientific facts such as biological evolution, climate change, and global warming.

7. My years of close familiarity with BJP and RSS remind me how superstitious many of them are.

8. Both BJP and Republican Party are strong advocates of a minimal government. They want to do away with the government.

9. They are both against pro-equal-rights groups and labor unions.

10. Both have fascistic tendencies. In fact, their mentor groups have very fascistic qualities.

No way I can ever support them.

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

teaparty-violence