criticalvoices

On issues that matter …

Losers tell all July 30, 2016

Convention mania has gripped all those watching the American election circus across continents as much as across the United States.

Donald Trump had his dooms-day at the Conventions the week before and this week belonged to Hillary Clinton to bask in the glory of being the first American woman to be nominated to contest for the highest office in the country, and well, presumably in the world.

Okay, remember that keynote speech by then state senator Barack Obama at the 2004 DNC convention? Like many pundits, that night I too thought I was looking at a future President. And boy, were we right about that!

And earlier this week I thought I saw something similar happening at the DNC 2016 – Michelle Obama’s rousing speech that, I am sure, had everyone from Bill Clinton to Joe Biden to President Obama and even Hillary Clinton reworking their own speeches to match up if not better it.

Revisiting the historic moment of the young(er) Obama’s speech in Boston that summer, I thought I might as well start accepting a few truths of the present day election cycle that will soon become part of political history.

History as we all know is written by the winners. Don’t lynch me in the public square for saying this but in varying degrees I would give the benefit of the doubt to even such losers as Hitler. A cursory Google search throws up questions like: ‘How did Hitler really die?’ or ‘Did Hitler really die in that bunker?’ proving my point in the very ambiguity of the widely accepted ‘fact’ that Hitler committed suicide.

So coming back to today’s leading contenders for US Presidency, they have already made history for being the first ever woman and the first ever ‘outsider’ to have reached this close to the White House.

The many supporters of Trump will agree that if he loses, history may not be kind to this maverick billionaire who has bulldozed his way to the frontlines through sheer money power and more accurately, a false ego power.

He has been for years, and continues to be the butt of vicious liberal media jokes; therefore, win or lose, one can only imagine what it would be like for the Trumps in the years to come.

So for the record, I would grant it to this man for challenging status quos in a way that Hillary Clinton can never do. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be foolhardy if only to be able to say: “I don’t like your face” to whichever Chinese Premiere you are dealing with for pig-headedly keeping their currency undervalued.

And why fuss about Trump’s overtures to Russia? C’mon, everyone thought it was cute when in 1988 President Reagan put his arm around Gorbachev in Moscow’s Red Square and told a group of Russians nearby, “I’m glad we are standing here together like this.”

For better or worse – perhaps only worse – Trump will shake up the political and diplomatic world, and turn the world economy topsy-turvy. And if we don’t ask ourselves the questions: ‘At whose cost?’ or ‘For whose benefit?’ we might after all be able to let Trump have his spot in the annals of history

I don’t like this guy Trump. Never did. But hey, I won’t wait for the winners to tell all, I’ll be my own chronicler.

 

Srirekha Chakravarty

 

 

 

 

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American Lives Matter July 18, 2016

Time was when as a young reporter in the India of the ‘80s I was discovering the big bad geo-political world and used to wonder time and again, whether American lives as they were, were more valuable than any other on the planet. The value placed on an American’s life was more of a non-negotiable assertion by a pompous and perhaps a very White Uncle Sam.

Whether it was a hijacked American plane, an American tourist stuck in a foreign conflict zone, or potential threats to the country in general, American citizens held a value placed on them by the American administration that made people in the rest of the world feel undervalued. Those days in India the government didn’t really flinch upon recurring incidents where hundreds of devotees routinely died in stampedes or bus loads of them fell off of winding cliffs, or got killed in political rallies or in train derailments, or perished simply because they were poor and considered collateral damage in riots instigated to establish religious superiority.

But Americans… the slightest of trouble sensed in any part of the world would have the US in all righteous condescension issue travel advisories for its prized citizens, to go with caution or not at all.

So I was tickled recently when the sparky little Atlantic island of Bahamas issued a travel advisory to its people to avoid venturing into Uncle Sam’s backyard in view of the recent race related violence.

Well, it’s not funny actually.

Come to think of it, Americans themselves are conflicted now whether it is ‘Black lives’ that matter or ‘All lives’ in America that matter. I would like to remind them to hark back to their status in the world as it used to be and say that ‘American lives matter’.

Unfortunately however, my reminder would not carry much conviction. You see life in American has become cheap. Real cheap. All it takes now for an American life to be snuffed out on its own soil is a jittery and prejudiced policeman, a frustrated and marginalized Black man, a hater intolerant of others’ faith, race or sexual orientation; a dope head loser with a semi-automatic weapon going berserk in a suburban school or on a college campus, in a mall or cinema theater; or a toddler playing with a careless parent’s gun bought at a gun show just to assert some lame constitutional right.

Yes, an American’s life, I can conclusively say has become cheap. It’s worth a measly bullet bought off of a shelf in Walmart. Now, how cheap is that?

Srirekha Chakravarty