Sorrow Bleeds – a poem

Sorrow bleeds into my tomorrow
Because I really want to follow but
Need someone to wash away the
Mud in which my flesh tends to wallow.

I’ve been made a new creature
With every feature fresh, but I can
Hear the devil revel whenever I walk with
The dragon rather than drink from the flagon.

He is always ragging on me, the
Accuser of the Brethren. When I
Listen I can feel my heart leathering
Until the guilt is dragging me down.

There’s such a long journey ahead,
And I feel too yellow to enter the tourney.
A coward, I must remember I am showered
With grace by One who sends daily bread.

So I pray the Lord, “Maranatha,” for
I am in a spot of trouble as I feel the
Rubble of life crashing down on me.
I’ve got to see light in the darkness.

Shame has a bite of intolerable sharpness,
But there is a Word to silence all
The accusation through assurance of
Salvation for those burdened by a frown.

On His head sits a crown and we are
Always welcome in His town, if we will
Yet bow down and lay away the violence
Calling treacherous lullabies like Sirens.

War, Faith, and Love: A Christian Missionary's Life in the Middle East

Singh of Judah (SOJ): Today, we’re speaking with Frances Fuller, who lived in the Middle East for 30 years and has written a book about her experiences called: “In Borrowed Houses.”

Author Jeanne Larsen describes Frances’s book as:

“Wise, honest, sensitive, funny, heart-wrenching, and a compelling read…. Frances Fuller has a sharp eye for human natures of all sorts, and she knows a great deal about how life should be lived. Who would think that the story of years spent in a war zone can make you laugh out loud? This one does. And then it goes much further.”

So, it seems that terrorist attacks around the world are increasingly drawing our attention. Just a few weeks ago, on Dec. 2, just a few weeks ago, 14 people were murdered with apparent responsibility of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. On Nov. 13, 130 people were slaughtered in Paris. And, around the same time, on Nov. 15, 43 people were killed in bomb attacks in Beirut, Lebanon.

Now, Frances, you lived in Lebanon and the Middle East, in general, for 30 years. Can you tell us a little bit about howe you ended up there and what you did there?

Frances Fuller (FF): Well, yes. We were mission volunteers, and we came to the place where we had to decide where we wanted to go, and we chose to go to the Arab World. We learned, after we made that choice, that the mission board was thrilled because there were very few volunteers for the Arab World.

Every Friday night, in Berkeley, for several years we went to a big international gathering where there were people from all over the world. So we had a chance to see who do we relate well to, and when we stopped to think about it we realized it was the Arabs. For some mysterious reasons, there was this rapport that we had with the Arab guys who were going to the University of California and other schools.

They were real up-front people. We always knew if an Arab liked us or he didn’t. We were never afraid they were just being courteous or something, you know. We just related to them well, and so we chose to go the Middle East.

We studied Arabic at Georgetown University, taking just colloquial Arabic, and then we went to Beirut and we began to learn to read and write. We had one year in Beirut, and then we went to Jordan, and my husband was instrumental in establishing a school in the capital city, in Amman.

We lived in Jordan for five years, and in those five years, we went through the Six Day War between Israel and the Arab countries. Then the Palestinian refugees created a conflict inside of Jordan, so that there was a year or more of serious fighting in Amman.

During that period of time, we went for a while to Beirut. And during that period of time, the director of a little publishing house that we had in Beirut died. The publishing house needed somebody who was already on the field, somebody who had already studied Arabic, somebody who already knew something about the publishing program and had some vision for it.

And so, it fell on me by default. I had studied journalism. It didn’t truly prepare me for the job, but some people thought it might. I came closer than anybody else, and I was willing. So my husband agreed to transfer to Lebanon so that I could be the director of the publishing house.

So I directed the publishing house for 24 years, and I established another publishing house under a different name — under a kind of generic Arabic name. It’s called Dar Manhal Al Hayat, which means “House of the Source of Life,” and that publishing house is still going and still reprinting things that I published as long as 30 or more years ago.

SOJ: So, Frances, you’ve described Lebanon as “the Paris of the Middle East: and called it a “microcosm of the Middle East.” What makes Lebanon so important to this region?

FF: The reason Lebanon is so important. There are several different reasons. One reason our publishing house was there was that Lebanon is a free country. You could do anything in Lebanon. You could hand out Christian literature on the street in Lebanon.

And so we could print, and we had all the technical facilities, we had the technology, we had the freedom, we had everything that we needed to run a publishing house in Lebanon.

Lebanon is the most sophisticated of the countries of the Middle East. When I say that it’s a microcosm, everything that you will find anywhere in the Middle East — it may be big in Iraq, you will find it somewhere in Lebanon. Everything that is anywhere in the Middle East. I’m talking about a philosophy, I’m talking about an ideology, I’m talking about a political idea. I’m talking about food, languages, movies, styles, anything. Everything is in Lebanon.

So, it kind of connects the East and the West because, at the same time, it’s a very westward-leaning country. So Lebanon is kind of a bridge. It’s kind of like us and kind of like the Arab World at the same time.

And it is the most diverse country, and the thing that the Arabs have not learned is how to live with diversity. Lebanon herself had that civil war which really was, in a kind of a fundamental way, about diversity.

SOJ: So you lived in Lebanon during the civil war, during some very violent times. You experienced this war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990.

FF: Right.

SOJ: A hundred and twenty thousand people died.

FF: Right.

SOJ: What was that like?

FF: Well!

SOJ: That’s a big question…

FF: Well, the war went all over Lebanon. There was always someplace where it was safe, but every day we had to keep an ear to the ground. Every day we had to get up and know which road is safe, and which road are they kidnapping people on, and which road is the shooting, you know. So, the battle came to all of us at one time or another.

Really, it was a very fearful experience. I have to admit that I was scared to death a lot of times, but never enough to leave. We always were, every day, hopeful.

There were a few times when we thought: “We won’t survive the night.” There were a few times when we thought that. But then, when you do survive, then you’re suddenly euphorically happy and you think: “Oh, it’s great. Everything is great. Tomorrow will be better, you know!”

So, we never really wanted to leave. I had lots of narrow escapes. Anybody who lived through that in Lebanon has a lot of narrow escape stories. We weren’t alone. There were 24 of us who stayed through the war, and God took care of all of us.

SOJ: Now, Syria was occupying Lebanon during this war.

FF: Right.

SOJ: The war broke out in 1975, and I guess Syria invaded in 1976. What was the Lebanese reaction to this occupation? Did they perceive it as well-intentioned by the Syrians? And even it was well-intentioned, did the Lebanese accept it as such?

FF: Well, it was very interesting. When the Syrians invaded, they actually saved the Christians of Lebanon.

There was this terrible, terrible battle that was between a Palestinian refugee camp and the Christian area in which we lived. Really ferocious battle when the Christians had made siege against the refugee camp. The Christians nearly went under. They were losing.

The Syrians invaded, and got between them, and really rescued the Christians. We were puzzled about that for a while, then we realized that Syria did not want an Islamic state beside it. They didn’t want to see Lebanon fall to a radical Muslim ideology.

What the tyrants of the Middle East did — one of the ways they functioned — was that they were afraid of radical Islam. They were secular governments. Assad’s government was secular, like Saddam Hussein’s. As a secular government, they protected the minorities who would have been in danger if there had been a radical Muslim group in charge. So they were enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al-Qaeda, and all the organizations that preceded ISIS.

When the Syrians first arrived, the feeling toward them was fairly comfortable because of the circumstances. But then they stayed, and they stayed, and they stayed. And we got tired of the roadblocks. And we started to think, you know: “This is my street. What right do you have?”

Even I, I’m a foreigner already, and I’m thinking: “This is my street, and you’re telling me that you have to search me on my way down to work.” We had to stop at their roadblock on the way to work and on the way back, and they had complete control, and if we didn’t stop or if we didn’t stop as fast as they wanted us to, they could shoot us!

So, we start to feel like it’s time for you to go.

Then there is also the complication that there was a time in history when Lebanon — the territory that is Lebanon — and Syria was Greater Syria. It was all called “Syria.” And so the Lebanese feel, rightly, that Syria always kind of coveted Lebanon and wanted it all to be one country. And there were even people in Lebanon who had that view, that this should all be one country. So, the Lebanese who didn’t want that were very fearful when the Syrian Army stayed so long. Stayed for many years!

And then the Israelis came, and then we started to wonder the same thing. “Okay, you’re welcome here for a few days, but you can go now. We’re tired of you. It’s time for you to leave.” I really feel like any soldier standing in somebody else’s street is going to be disliked very soon. No matter why he came to start with.

SOJ: No matter how well-intentioned it was.

FF: Right.

SOJ: So, you’ve talked a little bit about these secular dictators and how Syria didn’t want to see Lebanon turn into a Islamic state.

FF: Right.

SOJ: And that’s been one of their concerns.

FF: Right.

SOJ: And Syria has been a secular dictatorship for quite a while now. Currently, it’s ruled by the Assad regime, but in Syria there’s been a civil war…

FF: Right…

SOJ: … That’s broken out in 2011 to overthrow Assad and topple his regime.

FF: Right.

SOJ: How does this conflict, in which now ISIS has joined the side of the rebels that are fighting against Assad (who’s a secular dictator) — how does this conflict impact Lebanon?

FF: Well, first of all, it’s right on the border. It’s right there. And it’s so easy for people to come across the border. It’s almost like our border with Mexico. It is easy for people to find a way across, you know. So, anything that’s in Syria can infiltrate into Lebanon.

The whole situation is so complicated. In Syria, there are all these different factions, and there are so many different factions in Lebanon. And in Lebanon, there is the Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is a militia group that formed in the south of Lebanon with the support of Iran, which is Shia, and that regime has supported Assad. Hezbollah has fought actually in support of Assad, and that is not the position of the Lebanese government, though Hezbollah has some power in the Lebanese government. So it’s all highly complicated.

Even some groups, you don’t know for sure whose side they’re on. They’re fighting against Assad, but do they like ISIS or not? Maybe they will go over and help ISIS when it benefits them in their fight against Assad.

SOJ: So Lebanon is in a really tough spot here.

FF: Lebanon is in a very tough spot.

SOJ: Lebanon is at enmity with Assad, but ISIS is at enmity with Assad.

FF: Yes.

SOJ: But Lebanon doesn’t necessarily want to side with ISIS.

FF: Not at all. Not at all. And Lebanon, you see, having survived this civil war — it was so long and so dreadful. Seventeen thousand Lebanese people disappeared during their civil war, and nobody ever knew what happened to them. Seventeen thousand people. There are all of these things that are still unresolved because of that war.

The last thing that anybody in Lebanon wants is another war. Lebanon wants in every way possible to stay out of that. Lebanon doesn’t want to be involved.

Modi Followers Assault American Christian Peacefully Protesting in California

While peacefully protesting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, September 27 in San Jose, CA based on his orchestration of genocide of minorities, criminalization of religious liberty, and other human rights violations, I was assaulted twice by his followers.

I was not injured. But I was repeatedly pushed and shoved and touched against my will and as I repeatedly and loudly stated: “Do not touch me. You are assaulting me. Stop touching me.”

The first time I was assaulted, my signs were stolen.

Modi spoke in the SAP Center across the street from a public park. A giant screen was set up on the park green to project his speech and the hours of entertainment beforehand. About 6pm, while it was still light, I walked into the park as probably a couple hundred Modi followers sat watching the screen.

Standing behind them while they sat watching the screen, I silently and peacefully stood there holding two signs — one said “Modi committed genocide” and the other “#ModiFail.”

A man ran up behind me and grabbed the signs out of my hands. I turned around, saw him crumple them up, approached him, pointed and shouted: “Thief, thief, thief. This man assaulted me. This man stole my signs.” He then threw them on the ground and I picked them up, threw them in a trash can, walked out of the park and told an officer as I passed: “I was just assaulted.”

I went to get more signs (corrugated plastic this time) and returned, but the police had formed a ring around the park and were denying people access. I engaged with the police repeatedly, pled with them to Google Modi, told them Modi committed genocide against minorities and told them that his police officers massacred thousands of Muslims and Christians.

Friedrich near police line segregating protesters from Modi followers
Friedrich near police line segregating protesters from Modi followers

Someone told me that police were under orders not to speak to protesters. I spoke to one officer, asking loudly so that others could hear: “Is that true? Were you ordered not to speak to us? Did you take a vow of silence?” The man remained mute. I said: “That’s sad. Don’t you have free speech? If I had to give up my free speech in exchange for a paycheck, I would find another job.”

I then spoke to several other police officers and protesters, stating:

“So you can support genocide in America, you just can’t protest it? Is this free speech? Regulated speech is not free speech. This is a public park. Don’t we have a right to be here? We want peace. We are here because we are protesting violence. The Modi supporters are initiating violence. A foreign politician who committed genocide gets celebrated by the city but American citizens protesting it are banned from a public park.”

I also repeatedly said to police officers: “Please, listen to your conscience. Modi is a murderer. Google him. In the name of Jesus Christ, listen to your conscience. I can feel you are ashamed.”

Several officers seemed moved to think differently as I told one he had kind eyes, told a sergeant, “God bless you,” and watched as several listened to Indian minorities reason with them by explaining Modi’s atrocious human rights record.

In the photo attached, you will see Modi on the big screen. The police line gave way and allowed us in – strangely – right before he took stage inside center across the street. Police several times told me and other protesters that they were there to reduce tension and prevent incidents. But nobody bought that argument.

A police lieutenant finally came down the line and, not far from me, told a sergeant they were going to allow us to “make our point.”

It was very odd timing when the police line finally gave way because it was dark by then, there were hundreds more Modi followers, and they welcomed him with religious fervor as he came on screen — rising from a seated position on the grass and raising their hands and screaming his name.

But I walked in, with others. I walked down the sidewalk to stand directly in front of the screen so the crowd could see my new signs — one said “Atrocity Nation: #End Caste Apartheid Now” and one said “Crimes of Modi: Forcible Conversions of Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs | 2002 Massacre of Muslims” on one side and “Modi Believes in Violence Not Development” on the other side.

That was when I was assaulted for the second time.

Friedrich pictured with other protesters minutes after being assaulted while standing directly in front of the screen
Friedrich pictured with other protesters minutes after being assaulted while standing directly in front of the screen

I was in front of the screen in the park when Modi started speaking. A very large, probably 300lb man muscled up on me. He began touching me and shoving me. I told him: “Do not touch me!” He responded: “What are you going to do about it?” I said: “I want peace.” He shoved me again; again I told him not to touch me. “You are assaulting me,” I said.

“I will break you,” he threatened me. Then someone grabbed one of my two signs (the “Crimes of Modi” sign) and I walked around behind the projector, came back to the other side, gathered with protesters, and when I saw my sign was dropped on the ground in front of the projector I dodged in to retrieve it.

It is worth noting that I was standing at the very front of the crowd, in full view of the police, while this man assaulted me. Female protesters reported to me that the same man approached them earlier in the evening and similarly threatened and attempted to intimidate them as well.

Then I stood and watched the crowd, many of whom tried to stare me down. I spoke to several, especially after the silence when they would applaud Modi. “Please do not applaud a mass murderer,” I said. The protesters chanted “No Justice, No Peace” on a portable loudspeaker just feet from the hundreds of Modi followers who sat bedazzled by the screen. “Shame on Modi,” we also chanted.

“Modi is not God, Modi is below God,” I implored the crowd. Many people in the arena seemed uncertain, which is good because I am certain that was I was saying was true. A lot of the followers seated nearby did not applaud when others did and they kept glancing at the line of protesters.

The police lieutenant moved down the line in-between the protesters and the Modi followers. He came up to me, put his hands on me, and told me to move. I asked: “Where do you want me to go.” He said: “Move back two feet, you can’t block their view.” I said: “Yes, sir.” He pushed me back and I stepped back without resisting.

I don’t understand why they did it, but I commend the San Jose Police Department for finally listening to the appeals of the many protesters who called on them to respect their right to peacefully express their sentiments about Modi’s egregious human rights violations. After hours of holding back protesters from entering the park, they finally gave way and allowed protesters to enter at the emotional high point — when Modi began his speech — and speak freely in opposition, as citizens of the United States, to a foreign politician guilty of genocide.

There were thousands of protesters present from a wide, wide, wide range of communities — myself, a Christian, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Tamils, Gujaratis, Maharashtrans, Kashmiris, Dalits, and God only knows who else. The protest was active for hours (from about 4pm – 8pm) and still going when I left. Protesters were assertive, but I witnessed no aggression on their part. All the violence I saw was initiated by Modi followers and I heard multiple reports of female protesters being grabbed, threatened, and intimidated.

There is no greater proof that Modi’s tactics — indeed, the tactics of the Indian State’s system as a whole — are built on brutality, violence, and murder than for rabid followers of this foreign politician to assault a U.S. citizen while he peacefully protests in his home-state.

Syria's Refugees Flee Fallout of Imperial Foreign Relations

Seventy years after the end of the Second World War, refugees from the world’s worst conflict zones are fleeing towards Germany rather than away from it, and they’re doing so to escape bloodletting caused by decades of an imperial “Great Game” of international manipulation played out by the victors of 1945.

The Nazis were evil and deeply depraved.

So, too, was the British Empire’s regime, which at its height in 1922 (just after World War I) dominated 22 percent of the earth and 20 percent of its human population.

Ever since its empire collapsed shortly after the close of World War II, Britain and its fellow victor, the United States, have toyed with the rest of the world in an attempt to control a perceived balance of powers.

Despite allying during the war with the Soviet Union, an Evil Empire that surpassed even the atrocities of Nazi Germany (at least in body count), the British and U.S. governments (along with other former colonial powers) linked arms afterwards to break Soviet influence over any other nation — and replace it not with their own influence, but with actual control via a flow of money, guns, advisors, military trainers, and, eventually, their own troops.

This happened over and over again from 1945 to the dawn of the 21st century — in a Cold War against the Soviet Union, in a series of hot wars fought against Asian and Central American proxies for the Soviets, in sponsored coups, clandestine support of civil and regional wars, and backing of suitably servile rulers of recently liberated colonial nations around the globe, and, finally, in invasion and occupation of major Middle Eastern powers.

One of those powers is Syria, which was released from the French Empire’s occupation in 1946.

The horrifyingly bloody civil war currently raging in Syria is a direct result of decades of foreign control exercised by world superpowers — both clandestinely and directly. Committed to a misguided concept of foreign relations being nothing but a power struggle, the actions of their meddling sparked the most extreme reactionary response in the shape of ISIS. If every action causes an equal and opposite reaction, then the only way to short-circuit the system seems to be to stop acting.

The Great Game must see the curtain close. The playing of nations like puppets on strings by superpowers only results in more evil, no matter how good intentioned it might ever be. The actors need to stay at home.

Where is the Democracy in India?

1. Democracy
Today, in recognition of India’s 68th Independence Day, I want to talk about democracy, about equality, about liberty, about prosperity, and about peace.

The independence of any people from colonial shackles is an event deserving fervent celebration, but achieving independence is, unfortunately, not necessarily synonymous with achieving liberty, as historian Clarence Carson explains:

“It sometimes happens that a colonial revolt will result in both national independence and increased protections of individual liberty. It happened in America in the 1770s and 1780s. But it hardly follows that one will lead to the other. In the 20th century, there have been colonial revolutions in many lands. Often, they have been promoted and defended under the banner of freedom. In fact, 20th century revolutions have usually resulted in one party rule, dictatorship, and tyranny, even those that did achieve national independence. However desirable national independence may be, it is something quite different and separable from freedom.” [1]

The foundation of any true democracy is the free practice and propagation of religion without interference by the State. This is why, for instance, the very first amendment of the United States Constitution protects religious liberty. James Madison, called the “Father of the Constitution” and considered chief architect of the Bill of Rights (among which rights are the First Amendment), wrote:

“We are teaching the world the great truth that governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that religion flourishes in greater purity without, than with, the aid of Government.” [2]

That is, it was the considered opinion of the author of the world’s oldest written constitution that religion is more likely to be practiced free of force or fraud when the State has nothing to do with it. He did not stand alone in holding to this principle. John Adams, second president of the United States, put it thus: “Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion.” [3]

When they do meddle with religion, national governments often justify it in terms of a perceived necessity to prevent “antinational sentiment,” to protect people from “force or fraud,” or to somehow test the sincerity of a person’s beliefs. Yet, as Thomas Jefferson, author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, stated: “The opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty.” [4]

So we come to considering how India fares as it celebrates achieving national independence.

In February 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared: “My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence.” [5]

That sounds pretty good. If all you heard was that soundbite, you might be convinced. But we need to seek a little more information. What does Modi mean when he talks about “freedom of faith”? Let’s look deeper.

One of his earliest acts after being elected Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat was to pass the so-called “Religious Freedom Act of 2003.”

This act says that if you want to switch your religion, you first have to ask permission from the government. The act says this is to prevent “forcible” conversions, but it says force includes talking about divine displeasure. That means that if I told a Gujarati that I believe “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” a saying of Solomon taught by both Christians and Muslims worldwide, then I can face up to four years in prison and a 100,000 rupee fine.

Modi’s cabinet ministers and senior members of party, the BJP, have repeatedly demanded this be made a national law. In December 2014, arguing the necessity of the national government meddling in religion, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: “To check conversion, I think an anti-conversion law needs to be framed. All political parties should think about this.” [6]

Yet, in February of this year, Modi also said: “We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext, and I strongly condemn such violence.” [7]

That sounds pretty good, too. Another soundbite. Let’s look deeper.

In 2002, six months after becoming Chief Minister, Modi’s government in Gujarat sponsored a genocide against minorities, about which the U.S. State Department reported:

“Hindu mobs killed 1,200-2,500 Muslims, forced 100,000 people to flee, and destroyed homes. Christians were also killed and injured, and many churches were destroyed. India’s National Human Rights Commission found evidence of premeditated killing by members of Hindu nationalist groups, complicity by state government officials, and police inaction.” [8]

The State Department also said: “Police reportedly told Muslim victims, ‘we don’t have orders to help you.’ It was reported that assailants frequently chanted ‘the police are with us.’” [9] Additionally, Human Rights Watch reported the attacks were “planned in advance and organized with extensive participation of the police and state government officials.” [10]

Many members of Modi’s own administration have also spilled the beans. In 2007, Gujarati MLA Haresh Bhatt, one of those who led murderous mobs to massacre Muslims, was caught on hidden camera saying: “Modi told me I’ll give you three days. Do whatever you want, you will not be touched.” [11]

For ten years, Modi was banned from entering the United States because of his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat Genocide.

Twelve years after the genocide, however, he became Prime Minister of India.

If Modi speaks of religious liberty, but defines it as State regulation of religion, is there democracy? If Modi speaks of rejecting violence against religion, but sponsors a genocide against religious minorities, is there democracy? Where is the democracy?

2. Equality
Meanwhile, peaceful protesters like 83-year-old hunger-striker Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa face repeated arrest for peacefully practicing democratic dissent.

In 1986, Surat Singh Khalsa was working for the freedom of the Sikh people by helping organize protest rallies. He was at a rally outside the Punjab Legislative Assembly when police, without provocation, opened fire on peaceful and unarmed protesters. Khalsa was wounded in the leg.

Khalsa was protesting the Indian State’s systemic discrimination against Sikhs. Maybe you have seen a Sikh before? They are very recognizable. Initiated Sikhs wear turbans and so stand out in a crowd which, unfortunately, can also make them easy targets for persecution. Human rights organization Ensaaf reports:

“From 1984 to 1995, Indian security forces engaged in systematic human rights violations in the state of Punjab, India…. leading to a dramatic increase in disappearances and extrajudicial executions…. Although all Punjabi Sikhs were vulnerable to disappearance and killing, police especially targeted Amritdharis (initiated Sikhs), those who were politically active with the Akali Dal parties, and families and friends of alleged militants.” [12]

This period of genocide began in June 1984 when the Indian Army invaded the Sikh Golden Temple to kill politically outspoken Sikh community leaders. They also killed thousands of pilgrims who were caught in the crossfire of the attack that was launched at the height of a major Sikh festival.

Then, in November 1984, the Indian State sponsored further genocide against Sikhs in the country’s capital city, New Delhi. Members of Parliament, city officials, and political party leaders took to the streets to slaughter Sikhs in the most ghastly and brutal ways possible — gang-raping the women, burning people alive, dismembering them.

This genocide is a major cause of Sikh immigration to the United States, where they found refuge and true freedom.

But were these Members of Parliament who led genocidal gangs ever punished? They were promoted to cabinet positions. The sick irony is the positions in which they were placed. Kamal Nath was made Minister for Urban Development. Jagdish Tytler was made Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs.

Meanwhile, dozens of Sikh leaders who were arrested decades ago for protesting the Indian State’s genocide have finished their court-appointed sentences, are eligible for release, but remain imprisoned.

Yet early release is readily given to murderous police officers convicted of disappearances, torture, and murder. People convicted to life in prison for orchestrating the Gujarat Genocide — those like Minister Maya Kodnani and activist Babu Bajrangi — get bail after just a few years behind bars. [13] And, in Punjab, adding injury to the insult is that the current Director General of Police is Sumedh Saini, a man who, when he was appointed to that position, was still facing a criminal trial for abducting and killing three people in 1994. [14] Saini built his career by leading death squads in the 1990s, a dark history expounded on the Floor of Representatives in 1995 by Congressman Dan Burton:

“Over 41,000 cash bounties were paid to police in Punjab for extrajudicial killings of Sikhs between 1991 and 1993. That was 41,000 people. Murdered…. This is not me talking. Read Amnesty International. Read the International Red Cross.” [15]

Sikhs suffer genocide, are victimized by death squads, and are arrested for peacefully protesting these atrocities. Modi sponsors a genocide, passes laws criminalizing religious liberty, and he is made Prime Minister. Where is the equality?

3. Liberty
In January 2015, human rights activist Sukhman Dhami wrote:

“Whether it’s mass graves in Kashmir, mass cremations in Punjab, razing villages in Chhattisgarh, or rampant torture, India has refused to confront and redress atrocities perpetrated by its security forces. Just four years ago, the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission uncovered nearly 3,000 bodies in numerous unmarked mass graves….

“These mass graves mirror the pattern of mass cremations uncovered in Punjab, where security forces secretly cremated thousands of bodies to hide evidence of their crimes committed during the counter-insurgency operations in the 1980s and 90s.” [16]

These victims are the produce of the Indian State’s death squads, but the State punishes the human rights activists who expose evil.

Jaswant Singh Khalra was murdered by Indian police in 1995 for uncovering and reporting that police death squads were secretly rounding up Sikh men in the Punjab, imprisoning them off the books, torturing them, killing them, and then quietly cremating their bodies at local cremation grounds.

In Amritsar alone, Jaswant identified the names of 2,097 Sikhs who were secretly cremated after being murdered by a police death squad. [17]

Amritsar is just one of thirteen districts in the Punjab.

The Indian State admits it killed Jaswant Singh Khalra in the exact same manner as the sufferers of the secret genocide he exposed, but it took sixteen years before it upheld the convictions of six low-level officers involved in his abduction, torture and murder.

In 1996, Jalil Andrabi was murdered by Indian soldiers for documenting mass disappearances in Kashmir.

Before his murder, while visiting Geneva, Switzerland, he warned the United Nations: “More than 40,000 people have been killed, which includes all — old men and children, women, sick and infirm.” [18]

Twenty days after his disappearance, Jalil’s body was discovered in a river — he was stuffed inside a sack, his hands were tied behind his back, his eyes were gouged out, his body was covered in wounds indicating torture, and he had been shot in the head.

Again, it was an agent of the Indian State who was to blame for murdering this peaceful human rights activist. An investigation identified Major Avtar Singh. But he could not be found, because he inexplicably managed to flee the country, taking refuge in North America, where he ultimately committed suicide.

Meanwhile, India refuses to sign the UN Convention Against Torture. The use of torture is employed as a daily tool by police. A study of 9 out of India’s 30 states conducted by watchdog group “People’s Watch” calculated that India’s security forces torture 1.8 million people every year. [19]

Laws like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act — the AFSPA — allow Indian security forces to shoot to kill upon mere suspicion, arrest without probable cause other than suspicion, and search and seize without warrant. The law grants total immunity from prosecution. Human Rights Watch calls it “a tool of state abuse, oppression, and discrimination.” [20]

Surat Singh Khalsa is on hunger-strike since January 2015 to demand freedom for political prisoners. Irom Sharmila, called the “Iron Lady of Manipur,” has been on hunger-strike since the year 2000 to protest the AFSPA after Indian security forces used the law to get away with massacring 10 civilians waiting at a bus stop. [21] And yet, with so much blood on its hands, the Indian State wants a national law requiring people to receive government permission before changing their religion.

So, we must ask, where is the liberty?

4. Prosperity
When Modi became Prime Minister, 21 of his 66 cabinet members faced criminal charges, including five people charged with rape and kidnapping and others charged with attempted murder. [22] When his party took power last year, 186 of 543 candidates who won election parliament — 34 percent — faced criminal charges, including 112 facing “serious” charges “such as murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, and crimes against women including rape and molestation.” [23]

But while the perpetrators of injustice rule the land, the common Indian has no recourse in India’s injustice system. India has the largest backlog of cases in the world. As many as 30 million cases are pending. A report estimated it would take 466 years for India to clear its backlog. [24] Countless innocent people languish in Indian prisons for decades just waiting for a trial.

Shall we touch on the issue of mass poverty? India has more poor people than any other country — one-third of the world’s poorest people live in India. [25] Up to two million Indian children die every year before their fifth birthday. [26] An Indian’s life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world, ranking 139th out of 194 countries. [27]

The most slaves in the world are to be found in India, according to the Global Slavery Report. Over 14 million Indians, especially those treated as low-caste, are chained by forced labor, debt bondage, human trafficking, forced sexual exploitation, and forced marriage. [28]

Meanwhile, one of the biggest slave-masters is the Indian State. Under the Rural Employment Guarantee Act, it hires 50 million households a year to dig proverbial ditches for $1 to $2 per day. This is India’s solution to the problem of poverty. Journalist Edward Luce puts it best: “It is difficult to see how a scheme that requires the poor to provide twelve hours or more of backbreaking physical labor for just $1 or $2 will transform their conditions.” [29]

We have heard much about the “Make in India” public relations campaign. Yet the Indian government’s solution to poverty is not to allow businesses to form and investments to be made, but to sign backroom deals with multinationals and then use the country’s security forces to implement land-grabs for the benefit of foreign corporations. As Arundhati Roy explained in 2009: “There is a whole spectrum of struggles all over the country that people are engaged in — the landless, the Dalits, the homeless, workers, peasants, weavers. They’re pitted against a juggernaut of injustices, including policies that allow a wholesale corporate takeover of people’s land and resources.” [30]

In India, the 99 percent are ruled by the one percent. The wealthy are the rulers who tax, enslave, and kill while they grow fat on bribes, kickbacks, and the blood of the innocent. So, we cannot help but ask, where is the prosperity?

5. Peace
As Sukhman Dhami notes:

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly half of India’s states, including states such as Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Kashmir, and Chhattisgarh, regularly experience anything from ‘civil unrest’ to outright insurgency.  The common denominator in these regions is human rights atrocities committed by the military, paramilitary, or police against minority communities.”

Yet India continues to thrust Gandhi, the so-called Mahatma, upon the rest of the world. They say he is the face of peace. Yet the Indian State pays to install his statues everywhere, including throughout North America. [32]

How did all this happen? Was it a surprise? Were there no warnings?

At India’s constitutional convention, several framers of the Constitution warned that the document was deeply flawed.

For instance, Professor Ranga from Tamil Nadu said: “Centralisation, I wish to warn this house, would only lead to Sovietisation and totalitarianism and not democracy.” [33]

Expressing similar concerns, Hukam Singh of Punjab said: “There is enough provision in our Constitution… to facilitate the development of administration into a fascist state.” In fact, the Sikh representatives from Punjab refused to sign the constitution at all. Hukam Singh said: “Let it not be misunderstood that the Sikh community has agreed to this constitution.” [34]

Dr. Ambedkar, the champion of the downtrodden people of India, is commonly credited as the author of the Constitution. The Indian State trumpets his involvement, but ignores his comments made just three years after the document was adopted. Speaking on the floor of Rajya Sabha, Ambedkar declared:

“My friends tell me that I made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody. But whatever that may be, if our people want to carry on, they must not forget that there are majorities and there are minorities, and they simply cannot ignore the minorities by saying, ‘Oh, no. To recognise you is to harm democracy.’ I should say that the greatest harm will come by injuring the minorities.” [35]

So where does this leave us?

The first Asian ever elected to United States Congress was Dalip Singh Saund, a Californian Sikh who, speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives in 1961, warned:

“We have been identified with the ruling classes. We have been coddling kings and dictators and protecting the status quo. The status quo for the masses of people in many lands means hunger, pestilence, and ignorance.” [36]

Today, will the governments of the world continue to coddle kings and dictators or will they speak out boldly against the status quo that has left so many suffering?

The people of India want peace.

Yet, are compelled to ask, where is the peace?

Indeed, in modern India, where is the democracy, where is the equality, where is the liberty, where is the prosperity, and where is the peace?

Citations:
1. Carson, Clarence. The Beginning of the Republic: 1775-1825 (A Basic History of the United States, Vol. 2). American Textbook Committee; 1st edition (1984). p. 2.
2. Madison, James. Letter to Edward Livingston. July 10, 1822.
3. Adams, John. Letter to Benjamin Rush. June 12, 1812.
4. Jefferson, Thomas. Bill No. 82, “A Bill For establishing religious freedom.” Virginia General Assembly. 1779.
5. Gowen, Annie. “Comment on religious tolerance by Indian leader sparks national debate.” The Washington Post. February 19, 2015.
6. “Anti-conversion law needed, Rajnath Singh says.” The Times of India. December 28, 2014.
7. “Won’t tolerate violence against any religion, promises Modi.” The Hindu. February 17, 2015.
8. United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. “Annual Report 2013.” pp. 3-4.
9. U.S. Department of State. “India: International Religious Freedom Report 2005.” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
10. Human Rights Watch. “India: Gujarat Officials Took Part in Anti-Muslim Violence.” May 1, 2002.
11. “Sting on BJP, VHP men links Modi to 2002 riots.” CNN-IBN. October 25, 2007.
12. Ensaaf. “Frequently Asked Questions.”
13. Bhan, Rohit. “2002 Gujarat Riots Convict Babu Bajrangi Granted Bail for Sixth Time.” NDTV. July 23, 2015.
14. Kaur, Jaskaran. “Mother testifies against police officer Sumedh Saini.” Harvard Blogs. August 19, 2008.
15. Representative Burton (IN). Congressional Record 141: 107 (June 28, 1995) p. H6451-H6452.
16. Dhami, Sukhman. “Confront India on poor human rights record.” The Hill. January 26, 2015.
17. Human Rights Watch. “Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India.” October 2007.
18. Mathur, Shubh. “Impunity in India.” Guernica. February 1, 2013.
19. People’s Watch. “Torture and Impunity in India.” National Project on Preventing Torture in India. November 2008.
20. Human Rights Watch. “India: Repeal Armed Forces Special.” August 18, 2008.
21. Organization for Minorities of India. “Irom Sharmila’s Fiancé on Torture, AFSPA, and Surat Singh Khalsa.” June 12, 2015.
22. Macaskill, Andrew. “Nearly third of Indian cabinet charged with crimes, despite Modi pledge.” Reuters. November 11, 2014.
23. Bedi, Rahul. “A third of India’s newly elected MPs face criminal charges.” The Irish Times. May 20, 2014.
24. “Indian PM plea on justice backlog.” BBC News. August 17, 2009.
25. Bhowmick, Nilanjana. “India Is Home to More Poor People Than Anywhere Else on Earth.” TIME. July 17, 2014.
26. Stancati, Margherita. “Almost 5,000 Indian Children Die Daily.” The Wall Street Journal. September 13, 2012.
27. “Global Health Observatory Data Repository: Life expectancy – Data by country.” Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Statistics 2015, World Health Organization, WHO. 2015.
28. Sinha, Kounteya. “India is now the world’s slave capital: Global Slavery Index 2014.” The Times of India. November 17, 2014.
29. Luce, Edward. In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India. First Anchor Books Edition, March 2008. p. 203.
30. Roy, Arundhati. “The heart of India is under attack.” The Guardian. October 30, 2009.
31. Dhami, Sukhman.
32. Organization for Minorities of India. “Texas Town Plans to Install Statue of Religious Figure Some Call a ‘Symbol of Segregation’.” May 8, 2014.
33. Constituent Assembly of India Debates (Proceedings). Vol. VII. November 9, 1948.
34. Constituent Assembly of India Debates (Proceedings). Vol. XI. November 21, 1949.
35. Parliamentary Debates. Vol. IV, No. 7. September 2, 1953.
36. Speech of Hon. D. S. (Judge) Saund. Congressional Record. Proceedings and Debates of the 87th Congress, First Session. August 16, 1961.

First Asian in U.S. Congress Deplored American Foreign Policy

The same year the United States passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, an immigrant in California achieved the triple honor of becoming the first Asian, Indian, or Sikh to serve in the United States Congress — and so vote for the act to protect the rights of all U.S. citizens to vote.

Dalip Singh Saund emigrated from Punjab, India to study at the University of California, Berkeley in 1920, a time when Asians were denied the right to become citizens or even own land. Within forty years, he cracked the racial barrier for Asians to become federal elected officials. Upon arriving in Congress, he refused to play it safe, instead speaking out boldly for equal recognition of civil rights; as a member of the powerful Foreign Affairs Committee, he also raised his voice against using American taxpayer dollars to fund foreign aid bailouts.

Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives on June 14, 1957, just four days before voting for the Civil Rights Act, Saund said: “No amount of sophistry or legal argument can deny the fact that in 13 counties in one State in the United States of America in the year 1957, not one Negro is a registered voter. Let us remove those difficulties.” Addressing supporters of segregation, he remarked, “Please modify your way of thinking. Look at the clock. Go ahead, and do not hold the game up.” [1]

Saund knew discrimination first-hand. He arrived in the United States at a time when the federal Chinese Exclusion Act treated all Asians as “Chinese” and banned them from citizenship. If he had arrived just a few years later, he would not have even been allowed in the country at all, as the 1924 Alien Exclusion Act firmly entrenched anti-immigrant laws by prohibiting anyone ineligible for U.S. citizenship from immigrating. In California, he also faced state laws like the 1913 Alien Land Law, which prohibited immigrants ineligible for citizenship from owning land.

Although Saund faced a monumental struggle, he credited his parents for investing in his future: “My father and mother could not read or write. But when my parents made money, it was their first ambition to give their children the benefits of higher education.” Because his parents scraped by to send him to school, he learned to read. In 1917, while living in Amritsar, Punjab, he read speeches by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson printed in Indian newspapers. Saund said: “I was simply fascinated by the beautiful slogans of Woodrow Wilson – to make the world ‘safe for democracy,’ ‘war to end wars,’ ‘self-determination for all peoples.’” [2]

After earning a degree in mathematics from the University of Punjab in 1919, Saund left British-occupied India to pursue a future in the country whose president spoke of “self-determination for all peoples.” On arrival in California, he began studying agriculture at the prestigious UC Berkeley with patronage from Stockton Gurdwara, living in the gurdwara-owned Guru Nanak Khalsa Hostel. [3] Within two years, he was elected national president of the Hindustani Association of America and began speaking publicly for India’s independence from the British Empire.

“All of us,” he wrote about the association, “were ardent nationalists and we never passed up an opportunity to expound on India’s rights.” One one occasion, when he introduced a political science professor at an association event, Saund said, “First, I delivered a half-hour talk on the right of India to independence and the inequities of English rule.” [4]

The Stockton Gurdwara’s unflinching support for self-determination doubtless guided the future statesman’s ambitions. Recognized by the State of California on the anniversary of its 2012 centennial celebration as “the first permanent Sikh American settlement and gurdwara in the United States,” the gurdwara also formed the Ghadar Party in 1913. As declared by the California legislature, “The Ghadar Party was the first organized and sustained campaign of resistance to the British Empire’s occupation of the Indian subcontinent.” [5]

From its base in California, the Ghadar Party sent 616 members to spark an independence movement in India, of whom 527 were Sikhs. [6] Among those Sikhs was Kartar Singh Sarabha, who, like Saund, was a student at UC Berkeley. With funding from Stockton Gurdwara, a 17-year-old Sarabha founded The Ghadar in November 13, 1913 — the first Punjabi-language publication in the country, the newspaper remained in print until 1948 and is considered instrumental in achieving India’s independence. [7]

Sarabha returned to India in 1914 to join the struggle against the British. He was arrested not long after and hanged to death in Lahore, Punjab by British authorities on November 16, 1915. Saund, a 16-year-old living just 30 miles away in Amritsar, almost certainly heard about the martyred young freedom fighter Sarabha. Just two years later, Saund was inspired by Wilson’s speeches; soon, he arrived in the U.S. to study at the same university as Sarabha, also with patronage from Stockton Gurdwara as he joined his voice to the same call for independence.

In recent years, Saund’s nephew reported that his uncle was actually already involved with the Ghadar Party before he left India, and traveled to the U.S. partly because “the heat from the colonial authorities regarding his Ghadar activities was getting too much.” [8]

After beginning studies in agriculture at UC Berkeley, Saund switched to mathematics, earning a masters in 1922 and a doctorate in 1924. Despite his years of higher education, Saund said, “Because I could not become citizen of the United States, I could not find a teaching job.” So he moved several hundred miles south to take work as foreman of a cotton-picking crew. [9]

Recognizing his vigor for India’s freedom movement, Stockton Gurdwara maintained a relationship with the young Saund. Then, in 1930, the gurdwara commissioned him to write a manifesto of independence. Called “My Mother India,” the book offered a history of India and a plea for an end to its imperial occupation by the British. Saund said his book was intended to “answer various questions that commonly arise in the minds of the American people regarding the cultural and political problems of India.” [10]

The issue of India’s caste system was one of those common questions, and Saund’s book pleaded for the civil rights of the downtrodden in India as he compared caste in India to racism in America and elsewhere.

“Even in our present stage of advancement we find that caste prevails throughout the civilized world,” he wrote. “Its ugly symptoms are most prominent in America, Australia, and the white colonies of Africa. In the United States, the lynching of negroes in the South and the strict anti-Asiatic regulations of the state of California, and in Australia the ‘Keep Australia white at all cost’ spirit among the population — both of these show how deeply the spirit of race hatred has penetrated into the system of the dominant white races of the world.” [11]

Suggesting the Asian Exclusion Act legally enshrined “the caste of race,” Saund explained:

“In the state of California, which is the center of oriental population in America, law prohibits the Asiatics (Japanese, Chinese, Hindus) from owning property and even from temporarily leasing lands for farming purposes.… The anti-Asiatic land lease regulations of California have given a severe blow to the oriental population of the state…. The simple, peace loving, industrious, and retiring Asiatics who toiled to make the name of agricultural California great are barred by law from making even an honest, meager living through farming on a small scale. And all because of the caste of race.” [12]

His response to both Western and Eastern forms of racism was a call for “the purity of the human soul.” Excoriating caste practitioners and affirming racial equality, he wrote: “Let those who wish clamor loud about their Nordic superiority or Brahmanic purity. What is needed in the world today is not the purity of the race so much as the purity of the human soul and its motives…. By denying to their fellow brethren their rightful position as human beings, the upper classes of India have sinned most atrociously against themselves and their gods.” [13]

Saund concluded starkly: “India needs a reorganization of its antiquated social system in order to fit properly into the modern world.” [14]

After writing his book, Saund continued campaigning for a clear path to American citizenship for Asian Americans. In 1946, Congress passed the Luce-Cellar Act, finally opening the door for at least a handful of Asians to immigrate and allowing those already in the country to naturalize as citizens and own land. Saund immediately took advantage of this new freedom.

By 1949, Saund was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Since 1948, he had served as General Secretary of the Stockton Gurdwara, a position he held until 1950. That year, though, Saund discovered duty called him elsewhere — to serve as an elected official, a privilege now open to him by citizenship. He ran for county judge in southern California, losing his first election on a technicality but winning when he ran again in 1952.

As an Asian running for public office in a racially tense society, Saund faced discrimination even from voters he was running to represent. During his 1952 campaign, he said “a prominent citizen“ saw him in a restaurant and shouted: “Doc, tell us, if you’re elected, will you furnish the turbans or will we have to buy them ourselves in order to come to your court?”

Saund replied: “My friend, you know me for a tolerant man. I don’t care what a man has on top of his head. All I’m interested in is what he’s got inside it.” [15]

Having won his first election, the newly-minted judge wasn’t about to stop breaking racial barriers. In 1956, he ran to represent the 29th Congressional District of California. On January 1, 1957, he resigned his judgeship to take office as the first Asian, first Indian, and first Sikh elected to serve in the United States Congress.

For Saund, who had spent so many years speaking for freedom, his first priority as a United States Congressman was to demand equal civil rights for all U.S. citizens.

In 1947, India became independent — by 1957, the West African region of Ghana also gained independence from the British Empire. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., after spending the first months of the year establishing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to organize civil disobedience campaigns against segregation, traveled to Ghana to join the independence festivities. While there, he drew parallels between the struggles against colonialism and against racism, saying: “Eventually the forces of justice triumph in the universe, and somehow the universe itself is on the side of freedom and justice.” That a colonized country should gain independence from the empire, King said, “Gives new hope to me in the struggle for freedom.” [16]

Meanwhile, Saund was in Washington, D.C. working to protect the votes of African-Americans by speaking on behalf of the Civil Rights Act.

In a speech given the week before the Act was passed, Saund said, “In the United States of America today we have built a splendid and glorious edifice of human rights and moral values.” Referring to another foreign-born member of the House, Saund asked rhetorically, “If he had been born in the State of Mississippi and born with a black skin, would he be a Member of the United States Congress today?” [17]

Saund, however, found his own personal history offered comforting evidence of the possibility for positive social change, stating: “Ten years ago, I was not only a foreigner, but I was an alien, ineligible to citizenship in the United States of America. Because of the opportunities that were open to me and that are open to everybody in this country, I, with the help of great Americans, acquired the right of citizenship. I received my citizenship papers, and today I have the honor to sit in the most powerful body of men on the face of this earth.” [18]

As the first Asian in U.S. Congress, Saund was swiftly added to the influential Foreign Affairs Committee. Soon after first taking office, he took a tour of several Asian countries including Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, India, and, lastly, Pakistan. Reporting on his travels, he concluded that some of the biggest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, such as Taiwan and Vietnam, demonstrated “a feeling of actual hostility and definitely not of any warmth and friendship toward the people of the United States.” This surprised him. [19]

“Because those people were receiving such tremendous amounts of American aid from us, I expected, as an American, to be greeted with warmth and affection,” wrote Saund. “But the love of a people can never be bought by military aid.” The problem, he suggested, was that U.S. dollars were being handed out indiscriminately, so he warned: “You do not win hearts and minds by propping up dictators with gobs of military aid.” [20]

Shortly after returning from his tour of Asia, Saund was reelected to Congress in 1958 and again in 1960. Between his international travels, concern for civil rights, and years of experience gained serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Saund decided to take up a new cause.

In meetings with Indian diaspora groups, a more contemporary congressional representative from California, Tom McClintock, noted: “In my experience, there are typically two types of political parties worldwide — those that are authoritarian and those that fight authoritarianism.” [21] Over a half-century earlier, the first Indian-American in U.S. Congress, expressed a similar sentiment after his own experiences witnessing the global political scene. “America has been given the leadership of the free way of life, based upon a democratic system of government that recognizes the dignity of man,” Saund wrote. “The other side is represented by international communism where a minority rules by force, where free thought is suppressed, and the individual is merely regarded as a tool of the state.” [22]

Consequently, Saund was convinced that the best path for the United States government to trod was to focus international relations on human rights issues. A biographer of Saund from the Riverside Historical Society describes the congressman as “almost prophetic in his views about channeling foreign aid through central governments.” He believed unconditional promises of cash “would lead to corruption.” [23]

Believing that aid to foreign governments should be conditional on their respect for human rights, he introduced a House resolution declaring: “It is the desire, hope, and expectation of the Congress that nations receiving military assistance under the mutual-security program guarantee to their people freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.” [24]

Saund then proceeded to fight, tooth-and-nail, to introduce an amendment to the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act.

The Act completely reorganized the structure of the United States Government’s foreign aid system, unifying existing agencies and separating military from non-military aid. But one of the most extreme changes it proposed was to give the executive power to unilaterally grant foreign aid loans on a long-term basis to any country — in other words, allow the president to authorize multi-year loans of American tax dollars to foreign governments without having to receive annual approval from Congress in the form of an appropriations bill.

Saund found the proposal intolerable; as reported at the time by The Milwaukee Sentinel, he considered the Act “an attempt to avoid congressional control over the government’s purse.” [25]

So, on August 16, 1961, Congressman Saund took to the floor of the House to defend his amendment. His stance set him directly at odds with President John F. Kennedy, who was specifically requesting the new power. Just six days earlier, the president had expanded U.S. involvement in Vietnam by ordering a surreptitious chemical defoliation program, spraying the Vietnamese jungles with poisons as an counterinsurgency measure. Eager to increase foreign aid to South Vietnam and other nations without having to secure support for his vision from the elected representatives of the people, Kennedy now demanded the Foreign Assistance Act.

Dalip Singh Saund speaking with John F. Kennedy (JK) and Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ)
Dalip Singh Saund speaking with John F. Kennedy (JK) and Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ)

Saund, however, would not let the Act pass so long as it granted the president such unprecedented and unrestrained new power.

Agreeing to provide aid to a foreign country for multiple years at a time, he cautioned, put the U.S. in the unfortunate position of committing to fund countries where “governments were overthrown and the character of officials completely changed.” [26] He offered an example:

“Suppose that the Congress had passed this kind of a bill 3 years ago. That was the time when Iraq was governed by a King and Prime Minister who were very friendly toward the United States. Suppose then we had promised the King of Iraq an annual sum of $100 million for 5 years…. One day we woke up to find that the King and Prime Minister were gone and the Government was taken over by a revolutionary leader not very friendly to the United States of America. Then, if we had decided later that it was not in the best interests of the United States to give this massive aid to the new government of Iraq, where would we be? We would be in a position of offering apologies and making excuses for not giving a foreign government our own money.” [27]

The better option, Saund proposed, was to pass his amendment to the Act to require yearly reauthorization by Congress of foreign aid packages.

When another representative opposed the Saund Amendment, expressing his surprise “at Saund’s opposition to long-term aid in view of the fact India had benefited by this kind of assistance,” Saund replied that he was now an American, not an Indian. Further, he said, “he made his judgments not on the basis of what was good for India but what was good for the United States.” [28]

In fact, Saund seemed suspicious of the very idea of foreign aid, suggesting that, although “the purpose of this program is to help the less fortunate people in the underdeveloped areas of the world,” those benefiting from the bailouts were “a thin strata on top.” [29]

“We have been identified with the ruling classes,” he warned. “We have been coddling kings and dictators and protecting the status quo. The status quo for the masses of people in many lands means hunger, pestilence, and ignorance. There are glaring instances where our aid has helped to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.” [30]

The Saund Amendment passed by a razor-thin margin — a vote of 197-185 — but along with it was introduced language to the Act prohibiting aid from going to “the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country.” [31]

This language remains a legally binding principle for U.S. foreign relations.

Despite a lifetime of working for self-determination, helping to achieve the independence of India from the British Empire, agitating against discriminatory laws until he finally was able to obtain U.S. citizenship, breaking racial barriers in government, speaking for the civil rights of blacks, and, finally, standing up against the use of American foreign aid to prop up foreign dictators, Saund might yet still have done much more.

Yet tragically, in 1962, at the outset of his campaign for a fourth term in the House of Representatives, Saund suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak or even stand. With the help of his wife, Marian, he eventually recovered the ability to walk, but was compelled to withdraw from public life. He spent the rest of his years with his family in Southern California until his death on April 22, 1973.

Dalip Singh Saund with his family
Dalip Singh Saund with his family

Saund’s policies should serve as an inspiration to all who seek to follow in his footsteps. A judge, a writer, a civil rights activist, the man declared: “Discrimination of man against man in any form is repugnant to the ideals which all Americans cherish.” However, only two other Indian-Americans have subsequently been elected to U.S. Congress — Ami Bera and Bobby Jindal — and neither has stood as a particularly shining example of principle. Bera, on the one hand, was widely protested by Indian diaspora members for his denial of the 1984 Sikh Genocide and patronage of India’s genocide-linked Prime Minister, Narendra Modi [32]; Jindal, on the other hand, dealt with his cultural heritage by abandoning his birth-name, Piyush, and bloodthirstily asks: “How else do we win wars if not by killing our way to victory?” [33]

In contrast, Saund stated: “No people, no nation has ever won or ever can win real freedom through violence.” [34]

Thus, Dalip Singh Saund is rightly remembered as a statesman of supreme principle who recognized his duty to serve his own country first and foremost, raised a courageous voice for truth, reason, and liberty, and defended all minorities as he demanded recognition of equal rights.

Citations:
[1] Saund, Congressman Dalip Singh. U.S. House of Representatives. Speech. June 14, 1957.
[2] Interview with Senator Harry P. Cain. WCKT Miami. July 12, 1959. Click to view video.
[3] CA State Legislature. SCR 104. “Relative to the 100-year anniversary of the Sikh American community.” August 20, 2012
[4] Patterson, Tom. “Triumph and Tragedy of Dalip Saund.” California Historian. June 1992.
[5] CA State Legislature.
[6] Kaur, Anju. “Smithsonian alters Gadar history.” SikhNN.com. May 16, 2014.
[7] CA State Legislature.
[8] Singh, Roopinder. “Remembering the US Congressman from India.” The Tribune. January 12, 2002.
[9] Cain, Senator Harry P.
[10] Saund, Dalip Singh. My Mother IndiaPreface.
[11] Ibid. Chapter 4.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Singh, Roopinder.
[16] King, Jr., Dr. Martin Luther. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Warner Books. 1998. Chapter 11.
[17] Saund, Congressman Dalip Singh. June 14, 1957.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Saund, Dalip Singh. My Mother India. Chapter 8.
[20] Ibid.
[21] “USA: Bahujans and Christians Link Arms With Sikhs to Warn Congressman About Persecution in India.” Sikh Siyasat. May 13, 2015.
[22] Saund, Dalip Singh. My Mother India. Chapter 9.
[23] Patterson, Tom.
[24] Saund, Dalip Singh. My Mother India. Chapter 9.
[25] “Congress Cuts Alters JFK’s Aid Requests.” Milwaukee Sentinel. August 17, 1961.
[26] Speech of Hon. D.S. (Judge) Saund. Congressional Record. Proceedings and Debates of the 87th Congress, First Session. “Saund Amendments Sets Brakes on Foreign Aid Spending.” August 16, 1961.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Milwaukee Sentinel.
[29] Congresional Record. August 16, 1961
[30] Ibid.
[31] 22 U.S.C. § 2151n: US Code – Section 2151N: Human rights and development assistance.
[32] NRI minorities disavow Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera as he begins second termSikh Siyasat. January 6, 2015.
[33] Yuhas, Alan. “Governor Bobby Jindal talks foreign policy: ‘We are at war with radical Islam’.” The Guardian. March 16, 2015.
[34] Saund, Dalip Singh. My Mother IndiaChapter 5.

What if we listened to Dr. Ambedkar?

SOJ Producer Pieter Friedrich presented the following remarks at a July 19 banquet hosted by the Begampura Educational and Cultural Society of Sacramento, CA.

Ladies and Gentlemen —

I am honored at the opportunity to speak in honor of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar Ji’s 124th birthday.

I will not keep you for too long, but I hope to spend a few educational minutes with you.

Dr. Ambedkar was the most influential advocate for recognizing and respecting universal human dignity that India has seen in the past century.

The Indian civil rights movement owes an infinite debt to this passionate and tireless champion.

Perhaps no one did more to expose the religiously and culturally enforced caste system that has shackled India’s downtrodden people for millennia.

As a child, Bhim Rao personally suffered caste discrimination.

Growing up, he was treated by the culture around him as an outcaste.

He experienced the horrors of being viewed as subhuman when he was made to study in a segregated classroom, was forbidden to speak to his teacher or interact with other students, and was forbidden to even share the school’s common water supply.

He knew that the so-called low-castes and outcastes routinely face lynchings, rapes, beatings, and other forms of violence and humiliation simply for breaking the taboo against mixing with other castes.

So Dr. Ambedkar devoted his entire life to pursuing the “Annihilation of Caste,” as he called it.

He burned Manusmriti, the Brahmanical religious law that teaches people are born into division, into four segregated classes of humanity, from superior to inferior. He declared that if caste is to be destroyed, then the Vedas and Shastras (which teach that human beings were created unequal) must also be destroyed. He exposed how caste is the foundation of Brahmanism.

As Dr. Manisha Bangar, of BAMCEF and Mulnivasi Sangh, said when she visited California earlier this year: “Hinduism is nothing but a tool for propagation of caste.”

And so Dr. Ambedkar found some of the best solutions to escaping the spectre of caste are interdining, intermarriage, and, above all, conversion. And he led by example, swearing, “I will not die a Hindu,” and leading millions in conversion to a different faith tradition.

Today, India desperately needs new leaders like Dr. Ambedkar. The majority of Indians live in grinding poverty, with 723 million Indians living on just two dollars per day — or less. The national Planning Commission “estimated that subsidised foodgrain entitlements will cover 67 per cent of the population,” meaning two out of three Indians lives in such desperate poverty that they depend on the State to provide their daily bread.

Is this poverty any surprise when two out of every three Indians is also legally labeled by the State as low-caste or outcaste — that is, SC, ST, or OBC? In 2011, India conducted the first census to demand caste status since the British Raj fell. And we wonder why the caste system is still so strong?

But Americans often only hear about another Indian, Mohandas Gandhi. They know about him mostly from the Hollywood film, which was co-funded by the Indian State. And they know about him from the dozens of Gandhi statues dotting the United States.

What Americans and many Indians don’t know is that the Indian State pays to install these statues. Between 2001 and 2010, Delhi paid to install nine statues in North America alone and 65 around the world in total. But Gandhi has no connection whatsoever to this country.

Dr. Ambedkar, however, earned a master’s degree at Columbia University in New York City; in 2013, we commemorated the 100th anniversary of his arrival to study in the United States.

Meanwhile, whose picture hangs on the wall of every government office in India? Torture is legal in India, death squads have killed untold thousands, and there are mass graves in several far-flung regions of the country. But the government still calls Gandhi the hero of the oppressed.

The Indian State doesn’t want you to know that, in 1895, Gandhi praised Manusmriti, saying: “The… law, as laid down by Manu, gives some of the qualities needed for the discipline of the mind and reaching the highest Truth.” Or that, in 1932, he said: “Caste is necessary for Christians and Muslims as it has been necessary for Hinduism, and has been its saving grace.” Or that, in 1933, he said: “To abolish caste is to demolish Hinduism.”

The Indian State definitely doesn’t want the world to know that Gandhi used his position of power to become a sexual predator and that his own grandnieces were his victims.

One thing that scares the power-brokers more than anything else is education.

What if people like you and me actually studied Gandhi and Dr. Ambedkar on our own and discovered the real truth?

What if we listened to Dr. Ambedkar?

What if we listened to things like….

His warning in November 1949, when, just days before the passage of independent India’s constitution, he said: “It is quite possible for this new born democracy to retain its form but give place to dictatorship in fact…. If hereafter things go wrong, we will have nobody to blame except ourselves. There is great danger of things going wrong.”

Or his warning in September 1953 when, speaking on the floor of Rajya Sabha, he said: “My friends tell me that I made the Constitution. But I am quite prepared to say that I shall be the first person to burn it out. I do not want it. It does not suit anybody.”

Or his warning in 1955, just one year before he died, when he said: “I always say that, as I met Mr. Gandhi in the capacity of an opponent, I’ve a feeling that I know him better than most other people, because he opened his real fangs to me.”

Let us educate ourselves and learn the truth.

Thank you for your time.

Khalra, a Sikh activist in India, was disappeared for documenting a state genocide

I want to tell you about Jaswant Singh Khalra.

Jaswant Singh lived in northwestern India in a region called the Punjab. He was from Amritsar, the central hub of Sikh culture. He had a wife, Paramjit Kaur, a daughter, Navkiran Kaur, and a son, Janmeet Singh.

His grandfather, Harnam Singh, joined an independence movement formed out of California called the Ghadar Party and worked to overthrow colonial rule of India by the British Empire.

A bank director at first, Jaswant Singh became a human rights activist after a government-led genocide centered in New Delhi, India’s capital, killed thousands of Sikhs in the streets at broad daylight.

Jaswant was murdered by the State for uncovering and reporting that death squads of Indian police were secretly rounding up Sikh men in Amritsar and other areas of the Punjab, imprisoning them off the books, torturing them, killing them, and then quietly cremating their bodies at local cremation grounds.

In Amritsar alone, Jaswant identified the names of 2,097 Sikhs who were secretly cremated after being murdered by a police death squad.

Amritsar is just one of thirteen districts in the Punjab.

The Indian State admits it killed Jaswant Singh Khalra in the exact same manner as the sufferers of the genocide. Khalra was killed in 1995. It only took the State sixteen years before its Supreme Court finally upheld the convictions and sentences of six low-level police officers involved in Khalra’s abduction, torture, and murder.

But the statewide police director, KPS Gill, who is alleged to have personally ordered the killing, was never charged. Amnesty International recognizes the genocide revealed by Khalra. In an interview, Gill said: “I don’t care about the Sikhs who call me the Butcher of Punjab.” His police did care about intimidating Khalra’s family as they pursued justice in the courts. During a court hearing in 1998 — three years after Khalra’s murder — Amnesty International reported “the tyres of a vehicle belonging to members of the Khalra Action Committee were slashed outside the court building.”

The Sikh Genocide was sponsored by the Indian State.

The genocide is acknowledged by the State.

The killings have declined but the same police officers who fielded death squads remain in power in the Punjab.

The current state police director is Sumedh Saini. He has faced multiple charges for human rights violations but no convictions. Charges against Saini are diverse. They include murdering two Sikh government workers, who were the father and uncle of Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. Bhullar is a mechanical engineer now sitting on death row after allegedly confessing to a bombing; Bhullar says he was tortured to make a false confession. Charges against Saini also include murdering two Hindu businessmen and their driver over a personal dispute.

But all is fine in the Punjab. There is no reason for concern. Let us cry peace, peace, peace.

That is the tune those who don’t like to be made uncomfortable sing when they hear words like “state-sponsored.”

There is nothing more uncomfortable than admitting the State created genocide.

Admitting as much invokes a requirement for justice. Justice requires the guilty and the innocent be separated. The thirst of justice cannot be slaked while those accused of guilt still lead the land.

The work of Jaswant Singh Khalra is not finished.

Brahmins in Blue

Putting this pen to paper is difficult in this moment. My fingers must be carefully controlled because of the rage which I feel flashing across my face and the fury which rises within my soul. It will not subside. I do not desire to suppress it.

“Get angry. Stay angry.” This is a direct command from my father. In honor of his proper orders, I now shake with righteous anger.

On July 1 of the year of 2013, as I travelled the continent of North America to bring a message of peace to people from far-flung nations, I was confronted by swarms of officers sent forth to harass me and eat out the substance of my soul. The black sheep of the family, the uninvited uncle, the interloper known disdainfully as “Uncle Sam,” by proxy with the wandering fingers and indifferent minds of his minions, molested me.

The day had just dawned. For the second time in two days, I was herded through a security line at an airport aptly named for Fiorello LaGuardia, a mayor best known for his “ends justifies the means” approach to maintaining near-dictatorial control. Mass cancellations the day before had left me stranded overnight in Big Brother’s model society of New York City. Eager to return home to the freer West, I prayed for opportunity to once again swiftly pass unmolested through a metal detector, as had been allowed the previous day.

The line snaked for hundreds of feet, crawling inexorably towards the guillotine. Like sheep to the slaughter or a bird to the snare of the fowler, we were slowly herded toward the thin blue line of oppressors who stood between we free people and our right to return to the refuge of our homes. To my companion, a devoteé of a philosophy founded in South Asia hundreds of years ago to overthrow a system of social tyranny treating most as sub-human to the privileged few, I remarked: “Perhaps this is the new caste system.”

He chuckled, uncomfortably, and sighed.

Again, the commands of my father come to mind. “Get angry.” Already, compelled to walk in the footprints of those in front of me while those behind me were forced to follow in my path, I was confused, not understanding, questioning: “Why?” For what reason could I, a peaceful person, not stride to the gate with confidence and pride to travel with those with whom I had contracted to travel?

“Jesus Christ knows I am just doing my job,” snapped the man who assaulted me. He had not yet said this, nor had he yet violated my person. Yet a feeling of defiance welled within me as I looked around at the tragedy of my fellow human beings being treated as cattle, poked, prodded, and pulled along by an invisible, incomprehensible compulsion to obey our oppressors.

TSA_Incompetence

Jesus Christ surely knows what this man is doing, but this man surely knows neither my father here on earth or in heaven above. If he did, he would understand there is no honor in obeying obscene orders, nor is there any excuse. Justifying despicable actions by appealing to the requirements of one’s employer is assuredly the naming of darkness as light and light as darkness. Can an evil act be sanctified by professional sanction? Can herding innocents into ovens be consecrated because one is “just following orders”?

As I approached the security checkpoint, my heart leapt at the sight of a metal detector. I set my possessions on the conveyor belt to be warrantlessly snooped through by strangers. Computer removed from its compartment, pockets emptied, boarding pass in hand, I looked down at my feet.

My sandals, emblazoned with the name of Bob Marley, who declared, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,” left nothing to the imagination of those who might care to eyeball my feet. There are many rules. I care little for informing myself of most of them. Sadly, the removal of my footwear is a rule I have unavoidably learned. In defiance, I deliberately chose to leave my sandals on my feet.

On my timing, I stepped up to the metal detector, locking eyes with the grey-haired man in blue minding the machine. My own vision was masked by dark glasses.

Instantly, he barked: “Take your sandals off!”

Inspecting my feet, returning my gaze to his eyes, I inquired: “Why?”

His lips curled, his brow furrowed into a scowl, his voice betrayed his aggravation at the lack of unquestioning obedience. He snarled: “Excuse me? Do it!”

Perhaps he was hard of hearing. I repeated, “Why?” Again, without waiting for his answer: “Why?” Reaching down to hike up my pant legs, I lifted a foot, twisting it this way and then that. My sandals separated from the soles of my feet. There was barely a millimeter which could not be fully observed by this foot fetishist. Nothing could possibly be hidden there, nor did I have anything up my pant leg.

The sole purpose in demanding removal of my sandals was to coerce total submission. Securing the airport from potential threats by a man wearing sandals bearing the name of a man who said we should “overcome the devils with a thing called love” was clearly not the true purpose for compelling my compliance with this comical command.

Beside me, on my side of the machine looming between me and liberty, another man in blue spoke up: “It’s the rules.”

“That’s a stupid rule,” said I.

“Think whatever you want. Just put your sandals through the scanner,” replied this man.

Questions asked, answers affirming the arbitrary nature of the command given, I now removed my sandals. Then I stepped back to the metal detector. The first man, standing behind the machine, gestured to my right at the body scanner. My resistance had apparently relegated me, in his eyes, to deserving a thorough dousing of radiation.

“Go over there,” he ordered.

My heart fell, but my hand shot into the air. Left hand raised towards the sky, palm open to acknowledge one greater than the drudge standing before me, with all the infuriated volume I could summon, I shouted: “I opt out!”

Stepping my legs wide, locking my hands to my hips, I stared into his eyes and waited. Speaking into his radio, he called, “Male assist, male assist!” Then the grey-haired man in blue pointed towards a chair set directly in the flow of traffic. Its awkward placement appeared obviously intended to humiliate the sitter by centering all attention upon him. This I relished. Sprawling in the chair, arm hooked over the back, chin lifted in pride, the promises flooded my mind: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” Made a priest and king, every chair given to me is a throne.

I sat. In short order, those waiting upon me summoned me back to the metal detector, lifting the black ribbon separating me from freedom.

Imploring my Father silently, I whispered, “Bless this action. I am doing nothing wrong. I don’t welcome it, but will court arrest to lay claim to my human rights.” This, I now regret, was not the outcome of my interaction.

Seeking defiance at every step, I stepped past the black ribbon lifted by this grey-haired man in blue.

He asked, “Where are your things?”

I pointed them out on the conveyor belt, and like a servant he gathered them up and carried them several feet away to a table.

“Thank you,” I said. “I appreciate a good porter.”

“Take off your sunglasses,” he barked, which seemed his singular method of speaking.

“No,” said I.

“Do you have an eye condition requiring you to wear them?”

“Yes. My eyes are sensitive to the light.” With barely two hours of sleep the night before and after having risen at 6am, this was certainly true. “I am going to keep them on.”

“Ok, fine,” he replied. “I am going to perform a pat-down. This procedure is….”

I interrupted his pointless patter: “Yes, I’m very familiar with it.”

“Please allow me to finish speaking. Have you had this procedure before?”

“Yes, to my eternal regret,” said I.

His demeanor shifted as he began to think he had figured me out. Unprompted and unsolicited, he volunteered: “I’ve seen all the YouTube videos and Ron Paul stuff. I’m a big Ron Paul fan.”

Incredulous, I answered, “Yet you still work here!”

TSA Brahmins in Blue

His self-contradictory behavior aside, his appeals to personalities and celebrities were incapable of abating my wrath at being stripped of my fundamental human rights. Empty acknowledgments of a political figure are profitless to alter the reality that this aspiring zookeeper accorded me no more liberties than a caged ape. After treating me as an animal and denying recognition of our mutual glorious status as creatures formed in the image of our Most High Creator, he was powerless to placate me.

Ignoring my remark, he continued: “Do you want this done here? Or we can do it in a private room.”

“I would prefer to be publicly humiliated,” I replied.

“Ok. Is any part of your body sensitive?”

“Yes,” I said. “My conscience, and this violates my conscience.”

“Sure. Is any part of your body sensitive?”

“Oh, my body? Yes. My groin.”

“Besides your groin.”

“Yes,” I said. “Also my knees.” I reached down to touch them. “My neck,” I said, as my hands moved to identify the body part for his edification. “Also my back. My stomach. My shoulders. My buttocks. My chest. My thighs. Oh, and my face.”

Annoyed, he asked: “So, basically your whole body?”

“Yes, my whole body is sensitive to being touched by you.”

“Alright. Wait here,” he said. To nobody in particular, he bellowed: “Supervisor!”

A few seconds passed. A supervisor was not forthcoming. As a woman in blue passed by, he repeated his request. Recalling the admonition to lead by example, I jumped into the conversation: “Ma’am, this man needs a supervisor. Please find a supervisor.”

Nonplussed by assertion of authority by a commoner, the man, increasingly annoyed, piped up: “Sir, I can handle it.”

“Oh? I’m just making sure,” I said.

Finally, the Brahmin in blue appeared.

First, he privately consulted with the grey-haired man in blue. Stepping in closer to join their conversation, hands on my hips, I leaned in.

“… he’s saying his whole body is sensitive to touch…” the first man was explaining.

“That’s right,” I chimed in. “Also, this violates my conscience.”

Dismissing his subordinate, the Brahmin in blue turned to face me, demanding: “Why aren’t you going through the body scanner?”

“Because I don’t want to,” I said. A damn fine reason, if you ask me. I left it at that. No invocation of constitutional rights, no appeals to reason, no explication of human liberties. If I didn’t want to, I shouldn’t have to, and that ought to be satisfactory.

Instead, it was the Brahmin in blue who invoked the U.S. Constitution, saying, “The Fourth Amendment gives us the right to do this when we have probable cause.”

To his mind, probable cause — a term meaning the searcher possesses information sufficient to warrant a prudent person’s belief that the person being searched was guilty of a crime — was invokable exclusively by my questioning the purpose of their procedures and my decision to avoid a similar fate to the human experiments of Bikini Atoll by preferring the metal detector to the body scanner.

“No, it does not,” I replied. “Besides, I don’t care about the Fourth Amendment. This violates my human rights.”

“You don’t have to do this, sir. You can leave.”

“No, I can’t. I want to take my flight and go home,” I said.

The most farcical argument is that molestation is justified because one has the choice not to fly. This was a business trip paid for by my client. I could not afford alternative means of transportation. Nor could I afford the time they would require — several days by train, a week by car, months by foot. I was corralled into a Hobson’s choice or, perhaps more accurately, a Faustian bargain. Exile from home, loss of my work, and impoverishment — or submit to the stripping away of my human dignity. Sell my soul for the privilege of flying.

The Brahmin in blue pressed me: “Are you going to cooperate?”

I reached up to remove my sunglasses. My timing, my choice. Staring into his eyes, I said: “Do what you must! Do you want me to strip naked?”

“No, sir, don’t do that.”

“Ok, so do you want me to put my hands up? How about behind my head?” I laced my fingers behind my head like the prisoner they had made me.

“No. Stretch your arms out to the sides.”

Like my Lord. I did. Stepping my feet wide as possible, stretching my hands wide open, I tried to lock eyes with the Brahmin in blue, who could not return the gaze of this outcaste.

He pulled on gloves. “I am going to pat your full body down. I’m going to run my hands up the inside of your thighs. I will use the back of my hand…”

I interrupted him: “Use the front of your hand if you like. Enjoy it as much as you want.”

“Please let me continue. Don’t interrupt me…”

Again, I interrupted him: “Do what you must. I’m waiting.”

“Ok, turn around,” he said, facing me away from the security checkpoint and towards the terminal, taunting me with the image of freedom. I could see my gate while I stood there like chattel at market.

The Brahmin in blue proceeded to examine my body as a buyer would that of a slave. His fingers wrapped around my arms and slid up and down them, then across my shoulders, down my back, over my buttocks, and the backs of my legs. A wave of fury boiled inside my soul, roiling up from within to twist my face into unrestrained anger. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my traveling companion, to whom I had recently remarked upon the rise of this new caste system, watching my molestation.

He had made it through. He was free. Yet as this Brahmin violated me, the thought of my friend’s own humiliation at every stage of our journey crossed my mind. Whether metal detector or body scanner, his turban marked him for torment every time we crossed the thin blue line of the oppressor. This was the first time in passing through three security checkpoints that I had been molested; meanwhile, he had been similarly humiliated all three times, and not by virtue of his opting out, but merely because of who he was.

My rage mounted.

The Brahmin turned me around, his face to mine. I stared into his eyes. As before, he swiftly averted his gaze, yet my eyes locked on the face of this oppressor from whose grasp I could not escape. He molested my chest.

“Jesus Christ,” I began vehemently, “can forgive you of every sin you have ever committed in your life, including this one right now, and give you eternal life. But, first, you have to repent.” My eyes raked this man’s face as he bowed before me, his hands groping across my thighs and reaching into my groin to directly touch my genitals.

“Jesus Christ knows I’m just doing my job,” he replied with no force of conviction as his fingers brushed against my penis. To perform this assault, he was obligated first to bend a knee before me. As former slave Booker T. Washington shrewdly observed, “You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” A cruel man troubles his own flesh. The oppressor cannot oppress without first enslaving his own mind. To strip away my humanity, this Brahmin had first to voluntarily abandon his own.

“Yes,” I told the Brahmin in blue, “and the Roman guards were just doing their job when they crucified Jesus.”

He dipped his fingers inside my waistband.

As a concluding act of coercion, he said: “Show me the soles of your feet.”

Reaching to grasp an ankle, I stretched my leg out straight to place my foot at his eye-level. “Are you satisfied?” I asked. He nodded and indicated the other foot. Again, I stretched it to his eye-level, balancing alone in a place where all else was off-kilter.

Finally, he removed a glove and swabbed it, apparently unaware that the only thing explosive on my person was my righteous anger at the abuse to which he had just subjected me. Clearing me to leave, the man who had just so casually violated me by force said: “Enjoy the rest of your day.” He walked away.

“Remember, the SS was just following orders, too!” I shouted after the indifferent drudge. Carefully and deliberately calming my disturbed mind, and employing conscious effort to keep my body from shaking uncontrollably, I collected my things. I spat, shook the dust from my feet, then turned on my heel to flee towards freedom.

As English philosopher G. K. Chesterton argued:

“It was not the people who cared who ever persecuted; the people who cared were not sufficiently numerous. It was the people who did not care who filled the world with fire and oppression. It was the hands of the indifferent that lit the faggots; it was the hands of the indifferent that turned the rack. There have come some persecutions out of the pain of a passionate certainty; but these produced, not bigotry, but fanaticism — a very different and a somewhat admirable thing. Bigotry in the main has always been the pervading omnipotence of those who do not care crushing out those who care in darkness and blood.”

My own pain has passed, the sun has set and risen many times since that incident, and though my hand shook in setting pen to paper to record it mere moments after it occurred, the rage at my personal oppression by the Brahmin in blue has now subsided as I conclude this account weeks later. Yet I am seized by a passionate certainty that I must embrace a more enduring anger. What of the grandmothers, the children, the infirm, the Wookies, and so many others who suffer ongoing oppression?

Weeping may tarry for a night, but joy comes in the morning, we are promised, yet for many there is only mourning for those for whom there is no morning. What of the childless made thus by bombs over Pakistan, the fatherless made thus by occupiers in Afghanistan, the unsuspecting turned to ash in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the boy electrocuted to death for painting an abandoned building, the child shot to death while sleeping on a couch, the train passenger executed with a shot to the head while lying on his stomach, the whistleblowers harassed by the hounds of hell for exposing the massacre of the innocent, the uncharged and indefinitely imprisoned captives who are systematically dehumanized by their captors (as all captors do everywhere), the thousands upon thousands whose lives have been stolen as they languish behind bars for peaceful actions, and the millions murdered by bombs, bullets, gas, guns, tanks, and terror, sheer terror, reined down from above, delivered personally, or sponsored by proxy? Those imprisoned, those enslaved, those dead, those voiceless. Those are the ones whom the Brahmins in blue truly violate. Their persecution incubates fanatics.

TSA_Incompetence

Writing these words to you now, my reader, is the only way by which I may presently express my utter discontent — and oh, this is such an inadequate word to describe the feeling — at the impunity with which these acts of oppression are met. Indeed, it is not even impunity, but rather fevered celebration as acts of devoted patriotism. Evil is good and good is evil to these people. War, to them, is peace. Molestation, to such sick minds, is redemption.

On this account, the anger of the Lord has burned against His people, and He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down. And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets. For all this His anger is not spent, but His hand is still stretched out.

So I will not, nor indeed can I, be silent. My passionate certainty that these actions are wrong fans the flames of a fanaticism which shall not fail. I will not be cowed. I will speak my displeasure. I will voice my discontent. I will question the state. I will fear no man. The emperor has no clothes, the oppressor has chained his own mind, and Babylon is falling. From it, we are absolved of all allegiance.

Why is Trayvon Martin Dead?

trayvonnew22After a jury, ostensibly of his peers, declared Floridan George Zimmerman “not guilty” of murder, it appears courts in the United States of America have confirmed that justice is never done by them for any side.

There were no eyewitnesses to the incident where George Zimmerman, a self-made “Neighborhood Watchman,” while prowling around the neighborhood, stumbled upon 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. After deciding that, because it was raining and Trayvon was walking slowly, he must be up to no good, Zimmerman began stalking the boy.

At some point shortly after that, Zimmerman shot Trayvon dead. Trayvon did not have a weapon. Zimmerman later claimed that Travyon jumped him from around a corner and physically beat him before Zimmerman shot Travyon.

In short, all we know is that a stranger decided to suspect another stranger on the street based off uncorroborated perceptions of that stranger’s intentions. Zimmerman thought he was a mind-reader. He interpreted Trayvon’s moral, non-criminal actions as suspicious. He began stalking Travyon. The consequence is that Trayvon, an unarmed boy, ended up dead.

The key question is — why is Trayvon Martin dead?

Who did he hurt?

We are told that George ZImmerman, who was just declared “not guilty,” was defending himself.

But George Zimmerman initiated the entire interaction. Himself a stranger on the street, he made an individual decision to interfere with and seek to control another stranger on the street without any cause whatsoever. He did not see Trayvon do anything wrong by any moral standard before he began stalking the boy.

So this is seen by many as a victory for the right to self-defense. Zimmerman claims Travyon jumped him after he had been trailing Trayvon for some time. That hardly seems justified on Trayvon’s part, if it’s true testimony from Zimmerman. Yet equally, from Trayvon’s perspective, perhaps he feared for his life when a total stranger began stalking him.

What if Trayvon had a gun? Would he still be alive today? Maybe the real right to self-defense issue is why wasn’t Trayvon armed? Zimmerman was not a police officer, though the same argument about his initiating the situation would be just as valid if he were, but he did hold a concealed carry permit issued by the State of Florida.

When the United States signed their Constitution, it included the Second Amendment. This Amendment, forbidding laws against the right to keep and carry weapons, extends protection of that right for all people groups. There is no limitation based on the granting of permission by the government.

So, why is Trayvon Martin dead?

Maybe Trayvon jumped Zimmerman. Maybe not. We shall never know. What is certain is that Zimmerman initiated unwanted contact on the sole reasoning that “this guy looks like he’s up to no good,” he did not look “like he was trying to get out of the rain,” and “he’s running.”

The entire physical conflict occurred after Zimmerman saw Trayvon and began interfering with him by stalking him. There is no eyewitness evidence to convict Zimmerman of murder, but neither is there the slightest evidence that Zimmerman had a right, as a total stranger, to stalk another person who was not engaging in any criminal behavior.

If looking like you’re up to no good while walking and then running in the rain is enough justification to seize control of someone, as Zimmerman attempted to do with Trayvon before Trayvon (as Zimmerman claims) jumped him, then we’re all at risk.

What if Zimmerman hadn’t been trying to control Trayvon and roust him out of the neighborhood based off his personal judgments of Trayvon’s moral, non-criminal actions. What if, as Jesus teaches, Zimmerman had seen Trayvon walking in the rain, pulled up beside him, and offered, “Hey man, do you need a ride?” Instead, because of Zimmerman’s assumption that a stranger he saw on the streets was behaving badly and subsequent decision to stalk him, the police found Zimmerman standing over the dead body of an unarmed boy.

Zimmerman’s mentality seems suspiciously identical to that of intrusive imperial powers everywhere, as described by economist Robert Higgs in a social media remark:

The rulers seek to make us and our doings completely transparent to them, whereas they seek to make themselves and their doings completely opaque to us — except, of course, for the steady diet of mendacious propaganda they feed us. They may sentence us to prison for lying to them, but they lie constantly to us. Is this setup what is meant by “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”?

When our rulers model prying eyes as a supreme social virtue, what can we expect other than everyone peering over everyone else’s shoulder? Does such a mentality produce anything besides a nation of busybodies? “See something, say something” becomes a universal attitude of “innocent until provent guilty,” which ends in unprovoked and unrestrained interventionism. Whether by a state or an individual, interventionism is wrong. As it says in the Book of Proverbs: “It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling.”

Who first accosted whom?

Should George Zimmerman be behind bars? Well, the same justice system that would be putting him behind bars would simultaneously put Trayvon behind bars had he been armed. And where one man can be convicted with no eyewitnesses, so can any other.

But why is Trayvon Martin dead?

Thinker and activist Steve Macias speaks eloquently on the subject. Instead of pointing a finger at a single individual, he places the blame on a culture of external control. Since man is not God, he can only judge other men based on what he sees. Men free from control can only lose that freedom by breaking the moral law against controlling others. Self-control is the perfection of man — it can create a paradise of freedom. As Macias wrote, belief in Jesus Christ produces such a culture:

Man has attempted to escape God’s sovereign justice and to erase his standard for justice. In looking around we can see the language of justice constantly being used in the absence of real justice. Courts and legislatures invent crimes and punishments, apply them as they feel appropriate, and enforce them at their whim. They place their hope for true justice in the hands of fallen men, fallen governments, and degenerate institutions that trade justice for political gain, power, and profit.

Contrary to what the left says, prisons will not reform man. Contrary to what the right says, brute strength will not save man from his nature. Only the transformational power of Christ upon each individual will reform man — one by one and from the bottom up. RJ Rushdoony said that only “an order dedicated to the whole word of God and Christ’s regenerating power can give justice because it rests on a new man of God’s making.” Christ’s regeneration produces self-control.

Many factions are seeking to stir this into a race war. That ignores the real issues at hand, which don’t have a damned thing to do with race. Oh, surely, all the armchair generals and anointed leaders have entangled the conflict in racial terms. But in those first deadly moments of interaction between Zimmerman and Trayvon (before the media and politicians began babbling about it), race was not the issue. Rather, the issue was the right of one person to control another.

So, this is my verdict on the case: to whom is this justice system satisfactory? Regardless of which individual is truly to blame in this single, isolated case, how does our present culture qualify as one where every one of us has equal liberty and freedom from arbitrary control by strangers over strangers? A self-controlled society is a peaceful society. Very little self-control seemed evident in anyone involved in this case.