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Responding to M

When I wrote my post on the observed impotence of the American nation wrt existential challenges it faces, an olde’ debating acquaintance of mine and a person whom I sense is sincere and kindly (let me call her M) wrote in to say she disagreed with what I had to say about the state of that country.

Here’s what she said –

“I hope you are not offended about my remarks about christian right wingers here– I am just telling you an honest opinion from someone who lives here. Many Americans are also very ignorant as are common folk everywhere. But I find them accepting if (we) respect their culture and try to adapt their ways a bit–even somewhere like rural Texas. But some Indians do not go alone to some places. New York of course is cosmopolitan and very different. But check out Benoist–its very curious that the thinks racism is also a product of the mid-East monotheisms–he is a very erudite scholar so I guess only very intelligent people who are well read in philosophy and history can understand him. You seem like an intelligent person–By the way, regarding Calhoun, Clyde Wilson of the Chronicles of American culture is an expert on him–he’s a right wing christian who hates all non white immigrants and is a very narrow minded man–he’s part of a league that believes that the south should be independent from the Union and thinks that the Civil war was a war of “northern aggression.” And -XX- an observation of a Hindu Temple in Southern USA-XX_.

And M continued in a following email –

“Yes they should control illegal immigration–but as long as laws permit it, why blame them? The laws ought to be fixed first. Canada does not have a problem with illegal immigration. Also Canada is hypocritical in that it allows ANYONE to immigrate as they have low population in certain areas and they are in need of blue collar labor, but they make sure that new immigrants never rise beyond a certain level at jobs–not like America–the same with Australia—the immigrant will never rise like in America. I believe that if a country allows for immigration (legal) then the immigrants should be treated fairly as well. I heard that in Vancouver a lot of Jats (a Hindu caste) from India create problems–the parents are manual laborers and the kids are not taught anything and cause trouble –so even this is a two sided story and involves both attitudes of immigrants and the host. But the immigration problem is caused chiefly by importing cheap wage labor–you don’t see immigrants who are educated and immigrating as scientists and other talented folk creating problems, wherever they are from, and America encourages the immigration of  such talented people as it needs them for innovation. As for racism, you forget that this country has a terrible history in that respect–the extermination of natives and an economy built on slavery. But even then most Americans of this generation are tolerant. As for people not liking right wing Christians, it is not because they are “liberal” but because they do not like creationism in schools, they do not like anti-abortion laws even for victims of rape, they do not want religion taught in schools etc, etc.”

– Namaste


Palahalli S writes – That’s how M ended her email. I’ve thought about how I want to respond to M’s observations and so this is what I think:

I’d like to think of M as the Hindu immigrant in the US and not as an American or even an American Hindu.

An immigrant comes into a different country with expectations. This is especially true if the immigrant plans on becoming or being accepted as a citizen eventually. So it’s a long term plan.

What are these expectations?

1. To have an opportunity to educate oneself and be gainfully employed

2. To be productive in the adopted society

3. To be able to practice one’s religion without being harassed for it

4. To be able to interact with the new society and feel heard

5. To be able to feel safe and secure wrt life and property

If this be the limit of an immigrant’s set of choices and I think it should be, then an immigrant should not ask for more. Further, I think that even the allowance of such a limit of whatever the number within this set, is entirely at the discretion of the host society. If the host does not like the immigrant for whatever reason, then it’s not the host’s fault, it’s the immigrant’s mistake. The immigrant is better advised to come back home or move elsewhere.

As for laws that a country makes to invite immigration – for reasons of economy and/or ideology – and the US has made these for both – I feel it’s upto the immigrant to recognize the extent and innate goodness of these laws and adjust accordingly. These laws have been liberal so that immigrants do not feel unwelcome. These are not liberal in order to allow for immigrants to dictate what is good and what is not so good about their hosts and go about “changing” them and their society’s complexion in the immigrant’s mental image. This route if taken, would be to take undue advantage of the host’s courtesy. It does not really matter what the internal dynamic of the host society involves. They may themselves be debating their attitudes toward immigrants (for reasons of ideology and economy) – This is not the immigrant’s business even though it serves the immigrant’s cause if “their” side wins.

Now why should immigrants imbibe this attitude in their favor?

1. For reasons of courtesy and respect toward their host

2. To draw a line when it comes to policy making – This will allow the host to make policies that will not destabilize the country and society that made it so attractive to the immigrant in the first place

3. So as not provoke the host to realize their blunder if it is one and make changes to their laws that would eject immigrants from their adopted society and country. This must happen if the immigrant “crosses the line”

The following is not limited to the US but to reality in Hindusthan as well –

So how does any minority, immigrant (citizen) or otherwise – begin to recognize National “space”? i.e. space that the National society must have in order to retain a ‘pristineness’ in it’s policy without being weighed in by minority lobbyists? What are those institutional mechanisms that can be corrected and adjusted to “alter the course of this river”?

There is a case to revisit Adult Franchise laws. At the moment in Hindusthan, any adult who has attained the age of 18 and above is allowed to cast his vote in any election held in his constituency. The law does not differentiate between minorities and the National society. In fact all of these groups are considered part of the one Nation.  (The fact that no one explains why there are minorities in this reality, is another matter). So under the circumstances it’s impossible to have a unified National policy – foreign or otherwise – that would aim to protect the National society and through that the country without looking over one’s shoulders just to be sure no minority toe is being stepped on. – Hindusthan’s Israel policy is an apt case study.

Therefore I place this suggestion as a point to debate – that the right to vote for Minorities be replaced with a right to be represented in Parliament. This would mean that in constituencies where Minorities live, they will have a Minority candidate to choose from. The same constituency will also have a National candidate(s) that voters will choose to vote in.  Such an arrangement will give rise to greater confabulation and co-operation between the National society and the Minority communities in each constituency without any Minority interference and/or obstruction in National policy issues.


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