[Marxism] Two notable items from today's Columbia Spectator
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 19 17:13:11 MST 2007
Columbia Loves a Little Asian Girl
Dear Daily Princetonian and other establishments of the Man,
On behalf of all my countrymen now living in these United States, I'd
like to thank you for your kind hospitality.
Firstly, I commend you for hand-picking my engineer and med-student
parents to share your renowned institutions of higher education with.
Were it not for residual guilt over your grandfather's Chinese
Exclusion Act, I wouldn't have this opportunity to study
Americanomics and white history. And in the greatest melting pot
metropolis in the world, no less. I'm well on the path to fulfill my
genetically-ordained evolutionary destiny: to crush your children in
stiff competition, from within the safe embrace of these ivy-clad
walls onward through the doors of J.P. CitiGoldman Stanley.
I must also take a moment to thank you on behalf of my future
progeny, for, like yours, they will also succeed in these noble
annals of intellect by no merit of their own, but on the coattails of
my achievement. This, again, I must so gratefully attribute to your
generosity. I am pleased that they will be spared the unpleasant
sensation of sweat on their brows. Perhaps in a few more generations,
they will come to see themselves in George Washington's portrait and
General Tso's chicken.
I am honored that you point to my family's success as an aspirational
model for our black and Latino communities. They just don't try hard
enough, and expect nothing short of us pulling up their bootstraps
for them! Thank you, at least, for so enthusiastically embracing the
wisdom of our age-old Asian values. Perhaps a shopping spree through
the Pottery Barn's contemporary Oriental collection will help realign
their Qi and restore the Zen to their homes. Good fortune and success
would be sure to follow.
And speaking of balance, thank you for raising me and my sisters to
be Women. We're learning to trade school uniforms for miniskirts,
line our eyes with widening kohl and tell ourselves that we're
beautiful too-just like our silver-screen representations, your
radiant Mulans and sexy Devon Aokis. We can now hold hands with our
brown sisters, drink up, shake our demure little booties and cavort
with your Abercrombie Adonises with no fear of judgment or
recrimination. Now that's freedom!
Lastly, I'd like to express gratitude on behalf of my Cambodian and
Laotian brothers and sisters. Had they the vocabulary, I'm sure
they'd join me in praising you for so graciously rescuing them from
the deathly clutch of Communism. My Bangladeshi and Pakistani cousins
are equally grateful for being wrested from the pall of Islam. I
thank you for giving them the opportunity to operate that great
symbol of refined American cosmopolitanism, the Yellow Taxicab.
Thank you for their children's free school lunches. In time, your
chicken fingers and Sloppy Joes will instill in them more than just
antibiotics and the Protestant work ethic. You nourish them with the
great American willpower to achieve the ultimate Dream! Their
strengthened bodies will help them fumble through self-taught lessons
in American grammar and attitude. With their backs straightened
against the dirty tenements of the Lower East Side, and their skins
thickened to the road bumps of life, they will race up the social
mobility ladder. The great opportunities you bestow on my black sheep
kin free them to walk upright, dignified, toward your timeless Park
Avenue townhouses with their hopeful eyes trained on the glistening
crosses atop our blessed churches. Amen.
Your generosity continues to amaze me as I quietly thank God that you
do not accuse me of taking too much.
In your eternal debt and loyally yours,
A proud member of the Asian American community.
Israel and India: A Misguided Analogy
Last Monday, a number of organizations convened a panel at Columbia
University law school to celebrate emerging relations between India
and Israel. As a person of Indian origin with a Middle East regional
focus at SIPA, I was particularly intrigued by the subject matter of
the talk and wanted to learn more about this budding relationship.
After attending the talk, I realized that much of the content was not
academic in nature and was politicized to the point of propaganda.
The panelists included members of the American Jewish Committee
(AJC), the former Indian ambassador to Israel, and the United Nations
Development Programme. By the end of the talk, I found the panelists
to collectively reflect a very biased and unrepresentative point of
view that is not shared by the majority of moderate-minded Indians
The AJC, one of the lead organizers, recently endorsed an article by
Indiana University professor Alvin Rosenfeld conflating Jewish
criticism of the Israeli state policies with anti-Semitism. The AJC's
decree has sought to silence a constructive debate on Israeli state
and foreign policies by labeling any dissent as falling inside the
category of anti-Semitic hate speech.
Although the panelists harked back to long-time relations between
India and Israel and glorified India as one of the only nations with
no traces of "anti-Semitism," the two nations only established
normalized diplomatic relations in 1992, coinciding with the rise of
a Hindu nationalist-led Indian government. The talk offered little
convincing substance that the two countries shared much in common
aside from rising Hindu nationalist and intolerant AJC-style fundamentalisms.
The theme reiterated throughout the talk was that both India and
Israel are democracies under attack by a Muslim fundamentalist
threat-both internal and external. This rhetoric of fighting a common
war on terror against an Islamic enemy serves to fuel a rising
Islamophobia that has become mainstreamed in Israeli, Indian, and
even American discourse. We can see manifestations of these policies
in Israel to justify the occupation of the Palestinian territories,
in India to create a motive for the state-sponsored pogrom against
Gujarati Muslims in 2002, and in the United States with Guantanamo
Bay and a wide array of civil-liberties infringements against
Rather ironically, the panelists invoked the rhetoric of both Mahatma
Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru to illustrate Indian and Israeli
commitments to nonviolence and plurality. Nehru never supported the
creation of a nation-state based on religio-political nationalism and
I am confident that if Gandhi were alive, he would not have endorsed
the Israeli occupation and apartheid wall as part of his definition
of ahimsa (nonviolence). The panelists described both Indian and
Israeli principles guiding state policies by referring to Nehru's
famous words that "the only alternative to coexistence is
codestruction." While this is predominantly true in the case of India
(with the exception of episodic outbreaks of politicized Hindu-Muslim
violence, India's one billion plus do live in harmony), I do not
believe this analogy extends to the state of Israel, as both Desmond
Tutu and Jimmy Carter have analogized Israeli treatment of
Palestinians to that of the South African apartheid system.
Another disappointing aspect of the talk was the perpetuation of the
model-minority myth to describe Indian-Americans and
Jewish-Americans. The AJC representative talked about the
commonalities between both groups as being peoples tied by cultural
ethics-such as hard work, family ties, and an emphasis on education.
She identified cultural reasons as lending to the success of these
two groups. As an Indian-American, I know that one of the main
reasons I and my compatriots were able to succeed in this country had
less to do with inherent cultural superiority, and more to do with
immigration policies of the late 1960s. During my parents'
generation, the United States had an aggressive policy of recruiting
skilled professionals (engineers and doctors) to come to the United
States in response to a labor shortage. Most sociologists and
historians who study the period would agree that the success of
Indian-Americans in the United States context has to do with filtered
immigration policies rather than cultural/racial superiority.
Aside from the racially charged content and questionable historical
accuracy of the talk, I was most surprised by the fact that the Earth
Institute, which generally sponsors events and conferences of high
academic caliber, was included as one of the co-sponsors for an event
promoting right-wing fundamentalists on both sides of the Indian and
When I made an inquiry to professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the
Earth Institute, he stated that the talk was never approved by the
Earth Institute and that an individual must have used the logo
without the permission of Earth Institute's senior management. While
Sachs is making a concerted effort to find out exactly what went
wrong, it seems clear to me that at least one individual within the
Earth Institute must have been aware the event took place as an
announcement was circulated to the Earth Institute list on Friday,
Feb. 9. Whatever the case may be as to how and why the Earth
Institute was involved in the talk, I was relieved to hear from Sachs
that the Earth Institute had no intention of sponsoring such a talk.
I was particularly concerned that the Earth Institute's sponsorship
of such an event would not only lend credibility to such propaganda,
but also tarnish the Earth Institute's reputation for rigorous
The talk ended in a rather tasteless display of solidarity with
participants indulging in spicy Kosher Vegetarian Indian cuisine. I
left the talk depressed, but not discouraged. Despite the offensive
nature of the content, the event has opened the door to what will
hopefully be a more constructive debate on campus that will critique
this one-sided Hindu nationalist/ right-wing AJC-style narrative of
Indian-Israeli relations predicated on a common Muslim enemy.
More information about the Marxism