Apr 29, 2008

Look Back in Anger

its been a heady mix of stories at CNN today ; the report covering how rescue operations are helping those injured in the tornado that hit SE Virginia today is interesting in terms of the speed with which such operations are carried out in these parts. contrast this with the manner in which the indian government responded to the terrible floods that devastated orissa in 1999.

anyway, jeremiah wright's latest antics could finally drive the nail in obama's coffin. mixed feelings here. have never been too convinced of the obama magic but cannot help but feel sorry for the man. seems he's paying for not doing what most others would have done in his place - denounce wright & disassociate himself from him unequivocally. while i'm pretty sure he will now go all out to condemn & cut himself off from wright fully, the question haunting people's minds is why did he continue to support & admire wright or be a part of his church when he knew wright was as racist as the whites he condemns. sadly, it all boils down to 'need'. despite his obvious theatrics & rabble rousing techniques, jeremiah wright is a renowned presence in the chicago black community & his contacts definitely helped obama's transition into Christianity. in fact, it won't be a stretch to suggest that the tables have turned now & wright needs obama to make his presence felt, to be heard, to be applauded or denounced, as the case may be. my only grouse with him is that he is trying his best to wreck obama's chances at the oval office when the man is really close. true, the nomination hasn't been wrapped but this latest controversy has already muddied the waters further.

& lou dobbs, as expected, is on a roll. with his usual eye-rolling & tsk tsking he tried to convey his acute outrage that wright had dared to compare u.s. marines with the jews responsible for the death of christ. can't wait to see the man fall off his chair someday while he practices those endless facial contortions.

i am always appalled at the stories of abuse perpetrated by parents on little children which abound on TruTV, but this one is a wholly diff nightmare - one which is endless (24 yrs) & doesn't end in death as it usually does. really, death is much simpler & nicer. just can't get this piece out of my mind. does it make sense to have babies in a world where such things happen? i have always been haunted by this questn whenever i see unbridled evil & the usual answers that we will raise good children & help mitigate the undesirables of life, the bad & the poisonous, all that seems like the platitude some idiot spun when he was too helpless to do anything else.

yes, this monster is the reason i am unashamedly pro-capital punishment & anti-parole. i know death row isn't much deterrent to such hyenas but imagine the 9-10 yrs he'd have to spend writing appeal after appeal, knowing that the end was near & nothing could stop it. most importantly, ppl like him have nothing to contribute to society, except irreparable damage. why should tax payers money be spent to sustain the likes of him?

Apr 19, 2008

Thoughts on Kite Runner: Homeward Bound Kites

i watched the film adaption of khaled hosseini's famous debut novel 'the kite runner' yday & contrary to expectations actually liked the film, a surprise considering the sense of outrage & disappointment that are still alive in my mind whenever i recall reading the book. that a piece of unabashed melodrama that employs every conceivable cliche could become such a bestseller really had me at my wit's end. not that i don't enjoy the occasional light reading, but my chief grouse with TKR was that its success evidenced a host of unpleasant revelations about our society, current literary tastes, its future & the way we like to use hyperboles & confer high praise simply on account of the difficulty an author may have faced in his childhood or the disease he may have been battling while penning a particular saga. even that's discrimination!

anyway, i think one of the greatest reasons the book worked so well is due to the current geopolitical climate where every conflict seems destined to play out in terms of man's eternal search for 'home'. i know none of this is new or has the profundity of the Ten Commandments but that's not how i'd initially read the heartbreaking tale of the upper class pashtun amir's friendship, betrayal & eventual reconciliation (of sorts) with his hazara servant hassan. there is that infinite tenderness & endless longing in the exiled amir's words whenever he evokes pictures of the kebab stalls with their aroma of woodsmoke & burnt lamb that overwhelmed the streets of kabul in the evenings, the first snow fall of the season that embraced the city in its cold yet welcome grasp, & the anxiety, excitement & thrill that one experienced the night before the annual kite flying competition.

reminiscent of an old fashioned morality tale, hassan's betrayal & death mirrors the destruction of the afghan nation. the heartbreak is greater because not only is amir's past an endless series of wrong choices & may-have-been's, but also because the fate is shared by his beloved country too. for the first time i wondered what it would feel like if i were ever to know that i no longer had a home to return to, a country & culture i could call my own, a way of life where i was assured of being understood without the need for endless annotations. shattering doesn't quite cover it.

is this fear what inspires men to challenge the might of nations even at the risk of death? is it this fundamental desire for a home, a place to stake claim to, that lead the tibetan student to end his life in flames as a protest against china's complete disregard for tibet's claims of autonomy? is the desire to claim as rightfully theirs what was forcefully taken from them, at the root of the Palestinian suicide bomber's enormous courage & stoicism?

in a world that gets flatter by the day, we need to seriously address this issue of 'home' for it concerns 'us' as much as 'them'. globalisation & knowledge sharing have brought enormous benefits, especially addressing the problem of higher costs for goods & services, but it hasn't left discontent far behind. thomas friedman in 'the world is flat' offers useful advice to nations & societies to adjust & adapt better in this brave new world where the 'lions' & 'gazelles' play together. the blurring of boundaries is inevitable & has already started. all those who cry for protectionism - be it the jobless voter in america's mid-west or raj thackeray - know they are arguing a lost cause. economic prosperity will outweigh all arguments. however, its time we stopped & took a look at the larger social fragmentation that globalisation has led to, the discontent it breeds amongst those who have had to share their homes & jobswith others. perhaps what we need more urgently is simple text book kindness to make way in our hearts for those different from us, to open the doors gladly to those who have had doors shut upon them & to raise the torch for those who have long suffered alone.

Apr 1, 2008

Wright Choice

barack obama's recent speech in response to his ex-pastor jeremiah wright's scathing attacks on the nation, its exploitative & purely callous foreign policy & racism, among other things, reads like one of the best essays i have come across on a subject which is explosive & has the power even today to ignite & incite like few things can. most columnists, editors have lauded obama for his nuanced perception, the sincerity of his vision of unity that forms the cornerstone of much the man does & says, and the neatness with which he dissects the fundamental truth that there is no one living in the united states today who is completely untouched by racism - black or white, hispanic or muslim, bangalore coder or Filipino nurse.

in fact, as he was preparing to run for prez, obama must surely have known that wright's inflammatory sermons & his close ties with the senator would return to haunt him. no way could he have avoided wright & all that his name is associated with, when he decided to adopt the name of one of the pastor's sermons 'the audacity of hope' as the title of his book. therefore, to praise obama now because he hasn't publicly denounced wright is a little silly. the time to do so is long past. the Illinois senator has to walk a tight rope between portraying himself as 'not merely black' & 'not black enough'. denounce wright & he'd lose any hope of favor from the latter group. that wouldn't be the right choice. remember how the black policeman (don cheadle) who made it the world despite being from the projects & having an alcoholic mother in paul haggis' 'crash' is never forgiven by his own precisely because he made it, because he didn't turn towards crack like the others, because he joined the police who'd routinely harass & live off the black gangs in bronx. to be segregated must be intolerable, more so when it is amongst one's own & surely obama would never want to risk that.

finally, despite tomasky's
brilliant & incisive piece on the ramifications of obama's speech, i'd like to differ with him. at a time when its image in the outside world is in shambles, its economy in ruins over the mortgage crisis & iraq a perpetual albatross around its neck, every u.s. citizen is eager for some scope for redemption or personal grace. as obama's speech reminds them of the sins of their fathers, the founding fathers even (he actually calls the declaration of independence 'incomplete'), his candidacy offers them a chance to right centuries of wrong, to salve the conscience by finally embracing one who isn't their own, to show the world that america is capable of nurturing the 'other' & not just the 'self'. if anything, the whole wright controversy has given obama a platform to poke white voters in the ribs & jolt them out of their indecision.