The Kansas shooting
Editorial,in the Statesman, Kolkotta, February 26, 2017
(Note: "Murderous gun culture!” What else is American culture? The nation was established in the rivers of blood of the native Indians exterminated; then it grew to be the biggest military power by acting as the world’s Policeman (some instead said; “wolrd’s biggest terrorist”), in the name of exporting American version of democracy which is in tatters today.
My country, right or wrong, must be supported by all means, was the general policy of some of the US papers, visual media and journalists, which forced the birth of the independent TV channel Algezeera. With the advent of Trump, many top papers like New York Times, Washington Post started taking a strong stand against his divisive programmes and policies while those who officially declared themselves to be bed-fellows with the government sing the supportive tune.
American democracy has not found a lasting solution to get rid of its two deadly demons called “Colour (colour blindness)’’ and “Religion”(Christian) just as India has never succeed so far to get rid of its caste system and its craze for Hindutva (Hindu Religion). Things are improving in both the countries, only at a snail’s space. Old habits die hard, or never in both the countries. So we may both may have to live in hope and die in despair.
I have experienced both colour hatred and colour compassion in New York in the 1960ies. When I went for a hair cut I was driven out from two white shops saying: “I don’t know how to give hair cut to a (black) guy like you,” which a good Samaritan saw and seeing my plight kindly and helpfully directed me to a shop down the lane. There shop keepers were speaking Italian and I introduced myself with “Buon Giorno” my little Italian and they were delighted to give me a hair cut and refused even to take the fee from me after knowing I was “a Catholic priest” in their parish then. So you see, you find both good and bad in both countries. So there is no point in acting like “The kettle calling the pot black.”
The Trump government in US has created a favourable atmosphere for the xenophobia people to dominate and flourish; Modi’s BJP government similarly is providing a fertile soil for Hindutva to grow and strengthen in India to attack Muslims, Christians and Dalits. It is that easy to explain it away. Similarly the Kansas shooting will be explained away in the political diplomatic circle in US. Take it as a sign of good will on their part. That is what they call “Alt truth” or “Post Truth”. But those who want to find the “pearls” the real truth must dive below and search it in the words that came out from the shooter: “Get out of my country”.
So let us both admit that we Indians and you Americans are both “Casteists and Racists”. Americans are colour blind, that is, not able to distinguish various shades in black. For them what is not white is all black. So we both have to pray with Bar Thimeus the blind man in the Gospel: “Lord that I may see!” Perhaps the almighty will answer our prayers, at least of those who are really sincere about their prayer. james kottoor, Editor)
Whether or not the Kansas shooting of two Indians, Srinivas Kuchibhotla (dead) and his friend, Alok Madasani (battling for life), was a mortal expression of hate crime or had been influenced by Donald Trump’s inaugural paradigm of “America for Americans” must await the revelations of the FBI probe that has been swiftly commissioned after the tragedy at the Austins Bar & Grill at Olathe in Kansas on Wednesday evening.
But if the rhetorical chant of “America for Americans” was suggestive of a dramatic change in mindset as the 45th President assumed office, there was no mistaking the calculated malevolence of the assassin’s bluster — “Get out of my country”.
Is there a logical connection between Mr Trump’s rhetoric and what has turned out to be the killer’s “last warning” to his victims? In the weekend of profound grief among foreigners, deeply disturbing must be the uppermost thought — “Do we belong here?”
And the fear must be overwhelming, cutting across the category of the visa. The fact of the matter must be that many have been ‘here’ for generations in a country that historically showcases a mosiac of nationalities. Seldom in the history of the United States of America has the question acquired so poignant a connotation.
Yet it is early days to imagine that the libertarian heritage is being gradually jettisoned post the Election 2016. It is hard not to wonder whether the colour of the skin is at the root of the renewed manifestation of racism when one reflects that the gunman, Adam Purinton, had wondered whether the victims were from the Middle East — and hence identified with a community — when he pulled the trigger.
The portent is frightfully ominous if colour and relgion symbolise the trigger for killing people of other nationalities. On closer reflection, the targeting of blacks — and by the white police — was fairly frequent in Barack Obama’s America; with Trump at the helm, religion tends to determine (additionally) the prejudice of the new regime. Assuming that it is “too early to determine the motive”, as the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, avers, the mayhem does raise the question as to whether the position of the immigrants has been denuded, if not endangered, considerably since the change of guard.
The administration has been straining every nerve to deny a link between Trump’s “America first” position and the outrage in Kansas. It is mildly reassuring to hear the US Chargé d’Affaires in Delhi, MaryKay Carlson, saying “the United States is a nation of immigrants and welcomes people from across the world to visit, work, study and live”.
Beyond the finesse, the White House must walk the talk. The libertarian philosophy is in tatters; the Statue of Liberty is aghast; and the waters of the Hudson murkier still.