[Marxism] Two notable items from today's Columbia Spectator

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 19 17:13:11 MST 2007

Columbia Loves a Little Asian Girl
Diane Chang
Posted: 2/19/07
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
Maryum Saifee
Posted: 2/19/07
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 
and Israelis.

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 
Muslims/ Muslim-Americans.

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 
Israeli spectrums.

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 
academic standards.

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.

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