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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Michelle Obama's fashion diplomacy helped erode India's color prejudice

This is about cultural pluralism  

I am proud of Michelle Obama, she was who she was and did not choose to pander to political or other needs of the society. India needed a big lesson and I hope it gets to the people; beauty is not in the color and woman is not a trophy to flaunted. We have a long ways to go to believe, feel and act equal, but go we will.

Mike Ghouse
Foundation for Pluralism.

Michelle Obama's fashion diplomacy helped erode India's color prejudice
courtesy The week: http://theweek.com/articles/536424/michelle-obamas-fashion-diplomacy-helped-erode-indias-color-prejudice

President Barack Obama went to India seeking a breakthrough on global warming and regional security. But it may be First Lady Michelle Obama's fashion diplomacy that will achieve real progress on an issue of far more immediate relevance to the lives of millions of Indians: Breaking India's notorious obsession with skin color.
Days before she shocked Saudi Arabia's royalty by showing up at King Abdullah's funeral sans headscarf, Michelle Obama had become a fashion icon in India, the land of skin whitening creams, and a place that treats blackness as an affliction.
President Obama noted in a speech to a youth audience on his final day in India that there were "moments in my life" in America when he was "treated differently because of the color of my skin." He should have tried growing up dark — especially as a girl — in India.
Even though India doesn't have a history of slavery or KKK-type white supremacy, racism — or, rather, colorism — is rampant. Explanations abound, but the most plausible one involves India's history of domination by lighter-skinned races, starting with the Aryans, then the Mughals, and culminating with the British, whose quasi-apartheid ways formalized what was until then more of an unarticulated prejudice.
But whatever the root cause, the fact is that colorism is now ubiquitous in India. The first thing that parents notice about newborns — after counting their fingers and toes — is their skin color. Pregnant women are routinely advised to start their mornings with white foods like milk or blanched almonds — not tea or coffee — to ensure a lighter complexioned baby. Girls are admonished to stay out of the sun because a tan makes them instantly less beautiful. "Darkie" and "blackie" are terms of derision on the playground. Matrimonial ads grade the skin color of the prospective bride and groom with "very fair" being the most desirable category, "wheatish" — the term-of-art for Halle Berry-style skin tone — being acceptable, and anything darker regarded as a major flaw. Skin-whitening creams such as "Fair and Lovely" to lighten every body part — including the vagina — represent a $500 million industry that growing at nearly 18 percentannually.
In India, skin color doesn't just affect one's prospects in the marriage marketplace, but also in the job marketplace. The beauty industry has no use for really dark-skinned women. Even someone of the skin tone of Nina Davuluri, the Indian-American Miss America, would have a hard time finding anything more than a bit part in Bollywood, let alone becoming a model. And darker people are often relegated to back-end jobs in retail and other industries as well.
Nor do Indians judge only each other by their skin color. White tourists are lavished with attention while African visitors often experience borderline abuse. Diepiriye KuKu, a gay black American who studied in New Delhi, reports that discrimination in India involves a basic lack of courtesy and kindness — and more. He recounts that while his white partner was offered tea and saluted by guards at an ATM, he was asked why he was there. He was denied visas, apartments, and entrance to discos.
Likewise, Mary Frances Barry, former chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, who once came to the offices of The Detroit News editorial board when I worked there, told me that India was the most color-conscious country that she had visited. Bellboys at five-star hotels would ignore her while rushing to serve her white colleagues.
There is no easy cure for this prejudice because most Indians, outside of a few progressive circles, don't think there is anything wrong with it. "India is racist, and happy about it," notes KuKu.
That might be an overstatement, but it is absolutely true that shaming isn't an effective strategy against Indian-style racism (which, incidentally, is also prevalent in much of Southeast Asia, especially Singapore). Although the psychological toll of making dark-skinned people feel inherently inferior is immense in a country with a lot of dark-skinned people, it's not equal to slavery or apartheid. Those are the kinds of large injustices around which it is possible to build a campaign to jolt a society out of its apathy by organizing the victims. But in India, almost everyone has both perpetrated and suffered from colorism at some point. Every family sports a variety of skin tones, allowing the same parents, say, to show off their light-skinned daughter with pride while enduring the sting of having their darker-skinned daughter stigmatized. Both situations seem normal to them.
That's why last year's ban on commercials portraying dark-skinned people negatively is unlikely to change attitudes, even if it were enforceable. A "Dark is Beautiful" campaign launched by a dusky Bollywood actress may help, but only at the margins, because Indians have an allergy to preachy public campaigns.
The most effective antidote to colorism might be confronting Indians with alternative conceptions of beauty that stretch their conventional notions. And, without actively trying, Michelle Obama did just that.
Standing tall next to most powerful man on the planet, she exuded the quiet confidence of an intelligent, empowered, professional woman — neither trying to shrink to avoid scrutiny nor over-project to hog the limelight. She certainly didn't treat her skin color as a liability that needed to be camouflaged or covered, which is something that dark Indian women sadly often find themselves doing. Rather, as is the first lady's wont, she took fashion risks to showcase who she is, experimenting with bright colors and bold patterns.
Not all of them worked. But Indian women were transfixed from the moment she stepped out of the plane in an unusual black-and-white checkered suit embossed with a large, bold, blue floral design created by Bibhu Mohapatra, a New York-based Indian-American designer. They were glued to their TVs, eagerly awaiting a glimpse of her outfits. The Indian fashion press was abuzz with every detail of her hairstyle, accessory, and makeup. Fashion websites depicted her in various Indian outfits, trying to entice her to wear one. She was the black version of Jackie Kennedy.
No doubt her husband, a popular and charismatic figure with Indians, helped boost her cache as a fashion icon. But Bill Clinton was all of that too — yet Hillary Clinton never became India's glam queen.
Michelle Obama's critics might be tempted to dismiss her love of fashion and clothes as a frivolous self-indulgence. But by taking herself — and her appearance — seriously, she might have given her dark-skinned Indian sisters a boost up in scaling the country's formidable color wall.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Obama's speech is a reflection of Mike Ghouse's message

The Message in the town hall meeting delivered by Obama was to have been delivered by Modi.  Politically, Modi had difficulty in telling his party and its affiliates to back off, a splintered India is not good for any one, jis may kisi ka sath nahin, us may kis ka vikas bhi  nahin. 

President Obama’s speech is a reflection of my essay written a week before his address, “Republic Day’s pluralistic Message to Modi and Obama.”  The message is identical.

I urge you to read the article Republic Day Message to Modi and Obama at www.TheGhousediary.com  and compare it with.

 Obama’s speech (29th Minute onwards)  - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sGFUPEtNAg

I believe, Modi means good. He is figuring out a way to move away from “exclusively for Hindus at the cost of others” to inclusively for all Indians for the benefit of all.  He is committed to do that. If he fails, we all fail, and if he succeeds, all of us will benefit from it.

The glory was written all over Modi's face, he was looking for this moment. Obama’s dosti (friendship) meant everything for him, as if he was seeking approval, indeed Modi was in the seventh heaven.

 After the humiliation he went through about the denial of visa, he was desperately looking to get out of it, his ego did not permit him to apologize or at least say sorry for what happened. One of the ways of doing praischit or repentance is repairing the damage without humility.  This is Modi’s way of saying sorry. 
He is passionate about getting his name written in Gold in the Indian History, and that is good if he earns it.  May he succeed in his endeavors and remove all the obstacles his own party members and its affiliates are placing in his path.

I trust our democracy to keep him within the guard rails. 
Obama is inherently a Pluralistic individual who believes in respecting the otherness of others, and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us.  Obama is one of the inclusive individuals in the likes of Pope Frances, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and a few other great men and women.

Obama is as committed to building cohesive societies as I am, where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. It was this thought that prompted him to remind his audience about those lofty ideals embedded in India’s constitution.
A majority of Indians have experienced discrimination in one form or the other, and he was appealing to both the discriminated and discriminators.

Invoking Article 25 was a reminder to the rabble rousers among the Sangh Parivar that India’s stability hinges on following the rule of law. You are a successful nation today because of that. Look at Pakistan where it is today because of not abiding their secular charter.

His reference to his own experience being a minority was powerful! He gave hopes to the Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities. “Look it is not easy, but education is the panacea, it increases your chances to be the change. I did not have it easy either.”
His statement, “‘every person has the right to practice their religion and beliefs and not practice it if they choose so without any persecution.’ Was a direct reference to the harassment Muslims and Christians face with stupid statements like “your holy place is not in India” “you cheer for Pakistan Cricket Team” “forced conversions” “Ghar Wapsi” and other stupidities that do not contribute towards the wellbeing of anyone.
I wrote, “Mr. Modi, the Battle is not between Hindus and Muslims, it is between Good and the bad, good is represented by those who mind their own faith as Quran advocates or Bhagvad Gita suggests – it’s your own Karma that will determine your outcomes; there is no compulsion in faith, whereas the evil is represented by hurting and discriminating others for differences in belief.  Let every Indian be free to breathe, drink, eat, wear or believe whatever he or she wants to. I hope your party supports your stand.”
Invariably, what I write comes out in his speeches a few days later. I am glad it happened that way. I guess if you are inclusive and don't have a bias towards others, similar thoughts and actions flow out of you.

Thank you

Mike Ghouse

(214) 325-1916 text/talk
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is a staunch defender of human rights and his book standing up for others will be out soon, and a movie "Americans together" is in the making.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links atwww.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. 

Texas protests mark disheartening week for pluralism

Yeah, the bigotry is still around. Thanks Rachel for summarizing this.

Mike Ghouse

Texas State Capital
Monument to the Texas Rangers and the Texas State Capital on Sept, 5, 2007 in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Scott A. Miller)

Scott A. Miller
Texas protests mark disheartening week for pluralism

01/30/15 09:15 AM
facebook twitter 4 save share group 44
By Steve Benen

When it comes to respecting diversity in a pluralistic society, this was an unusually discouraging week on many fronts, but one story in particular stood out in a disheartening way.

This was a week in which we saw a white county official in Virginia refer to a black newspaper reporter as “boy.” It was a week in which a Republican on the Nebraska Board of Educationrefused to resign after calling President Obama a “half-breed” and railing against “queers and perverts.” It was a week in which South Dakota police identified one of the men accused of pouring beer on and shouting racial slurs at Native American children at a hockey game.
And it was a week in which we saw this story out of Texas.

A Republican representative of the Lone Star State had a very specific message for Muslims visiting her office on Texas Muslim Capitol Day: Declare allegiance to the United States and “renounce Islamic terrorist groups.”

In recess with the House until Monday, State Rep. Molly White wrote on her Facebook page that she left instructions with her employees on how to greet Muslim visitors. “I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office,” White wrote on Thursday morning.

The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations specifically organized the Texas Muslim Capitol Day event in Austin yesterday, which brought roughly 100 participants to the Capitol, and which apparently prompted state Rep. Molly White  (R) to be about as insulting as possible to the participating Texans.

Elsewhere on the Capitol grounds, Texas Muslims faced more belligerence.
As the Texas Muslim community gathered in Austin on Thursday to meet with state lawmakers, their event was interrupted by hostile protesters.

The Texas Tribune reported that numerous people greeted Texas Muslim Capitol Day participants at the steps of the Capitol holding signs with phrases like “Radical Islam is the New Nazi.”
And later on Thursday, a protester ran up to the podium during a press conference for the Texas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and grabbed the microphone. “Islam will never dominate the United States and by the grace of God, it will not dominate Texas,” she yelled.
Michele Richinick’s report added that a group of protesters stood outside the Capitol building in Austin with signs that read, “Radical Islam is the new Nazi,” and “Go home & take Obama with you.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A new God is arriving in India - God Godse

One of the most beautiful aspects of Hinduism is that it sees God in everything.  The creator and created are not two different things, but one and the same, as a result "respecting the otherness of others" becomes a way of life.  Indeed, that is how we at the Foundation for Pluralism have defined Pluralism - i.e., respecting the otherness of others for genuine co-existence.  God is about love and not hate. The Hindu greeting Namaste invokes the God in each other to come together to talk and act goodness.

However, when it comes to abuse and misuse, Hinduism is no exception, it is a business for the self appointed guardians of the religion. They are obviously looking for gains to be had and have hijacked the pristine Hindu faith, just as the self appointed guardians of other religions have done it.  They have mangled up the pristine religion whose purpose was to bring peace within an individual and with what surrounds him/her; people and the universe.

Now "Hindu Mahasabha"  a Hindu group within the family of political Hinduism called Sangh Parivar has decided to install the statues of the newly created God, Godse in temples across India. Godse is the killer of Mahatma Gandhi. Is that going too far? Let me be clear; its political Hinduism and it does not represent Hindus of the world. 

It is time for Moderate Hindus to speak up**(note below).

A Bollywood film called "Oh My God" - depicts a scene towards the end, where the men in God-Business were installing a statue of the hero as the new God of the helpless, assuming he was dead in the hospital. But the hero wakes up and runs to where they were having the installation ceremony and destroys the own God Statue of him, pulling the masks off the men who were going to mint money with the newly created God, ready to do business. A similar message was given in the film "PK" where people can be easily misled and duped.

Obviously, every religion has a majority that understands the beauty of its  faith, and goes about doing good to fellow beings and mind their own faith and family. However, there is a small group within each faith that is intolerant and hell bent on annihilating the other. They don't believe in dialogue, and instead resort to the primal instincts of animals, who settle their disputes by locking in their horns, tearing up the other with their fangs or bloodying the opponent with their paws.

We desperately need a Swami Vivekananda's avatar to teach the ideals of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum; meaning the whole world in one family.  Ironically, we also need a Jesus to teach these stray men what love means, what love they neighbor means. 

Thank God, except the Naxalites in India,  the other minorities like Dalits, Muslims and Christians have not gone haywire and resorted to extremism despite the provocations and pressures on them to obey.  

I am not sure, if the majority of Hindus are ready for a New God, a God who killed Mahatma Gandhi. Godse is God to them because he saved the nation by killing Gandhi who was inclusive of Muslims, Dalits, Christians and others. 

Hindu Mahasabha did not come into being to teach and preserve the values of Hinduism, but was founded to hate the other, particularly Christians and Muslims.  If they learn to love fellow humans including Christians and Muslims, then the organization will cease, as it will have no purpose to exist anymore. 

I have always stood up for Hinduism against misunderstandings about it and will continue to do that, as I have done with all other faiths including Paganism and Atheism,  that is the right thing to do. I strongly believe in the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum expressed in Dharmic faiths, and the idea of the whole world is one big family born from the same couple taught in the Abrahamic faiths.  All of us need to genuinely believe and practice it.  http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/2012/04/standing-with-hindus.html 

The way forward is to respect the otherness of others, accept the God given uniqueness of each one of the inhabitants of the land. Let every one eat, drink, wear, worship or believe whatever the hell they want to believe in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. If we can do that, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

Mike Ghouse is committed to a cohesive India, where all Indians can live without the fear of the others and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.
 # # #

Hindu Mahasabha to install Godse statue in temples

Updated: Jan 29, 2015 07:24 PM 

 # # #

Hindu Mahasabha to install Godse statue in temples

Updated: Jan 29, 2015 07:24 PM ,  
The Hindutva outfit is in touch with saints and temple trusts across the country for the purpose.
Don't be surprised if you come across a statue of Nathuram Godse, the killer of the Mahatma Gandhi, in the temple in your vicinity. After its attempt to install Godse statues at few identified places in Uttar Pradesh was foiled by the State Police, the Hindu Mahasabha plans to install them in the premises of temples across India.
The Hindutva outfit is in touch with saints and temple trusts which supervise hundreds of temples, assured it of their support.
At present the outfit is quite determined but tight upped about how it plans to install statue of Nathuram Godse on January 30, the day Godse shot dead Mahatma Gandhi.
The Hindutva outfit has decided not to publicise its programmes of the installation of the statue after it felt "too much media coverage" became an "obstacle" in its work.
After its public announcement to build a temple for Godse in Sitapur district and install a Godse statue at an identified place in Meerut, the Uttar Pradesh police sealed the two places. While treating the issue as serious problem for law and order the State police also plans to invoke section 144 of the IPC at the two places.
As per the revised strategy, the outfit will first install Godse statue across the country and will then inform the media in order to avoid possible crackdowns by the Uttar Pradesh government and possible roadblocks posed by the other State government in the country. UP because
According to senior functionaries of the Hindutva group, they met several group of saints during the recently concluded "Magh Kumbh mela" in Allahabad.
"After we announced about our plans the government sealed the place. We don't want unnecessary attention. We would rather focus on competing the job at hand," he told this correspondent.
According to a senior Hindu Mahasabha leader who didn't want to be quoted because of the sensitivity of the issue, Godse statue might soon be seen within temple premises across the country -- to start with, in temples in the Hindi speaking States like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar.
"We met hundreds of saints during the Magh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad who assured us of their support and now we are planning to install statues in temples with the support of these saints," said the outfit leader.
"We have a dedicated set of youths who are brimming with nationalistic fervour and who are ready to put Godse statue at the Raj Ghat at the cost of getting arrested but we don't want to work like that. We just want to spread the message of 'Akhand bharat'  (unified India) which was the main mission for Nathuram Godse ji," added another.
He clarified that the statues won't necessarily be in the main part of the temples so as not to equate Godse with the Hindu Gods.
"After some serious thinking and discussion with saints, we decided that as mark of respect to Godse we can install his statues somewhere in the premises of temples. We do have statues of great Hindu reformers and great men in temple premises," maintained the Hindutva leader.
While justifying the proposed move, the Hindu Mahasabha leader said: "Godse was no less than any other greater because he sent across the message of unified India and protested against the division the country by Klimt Gandhi".
The Hindutva group has ordered about five hundred statues from artists in Jaipur. It also plans to inaugurate and launch small libraries which would provide literature highlighting Godse's "point of view about unified India and correct sequence of events as far as Gandhi's killing is concerned".
The public announcement by the outfit to install a Godse statue and subsequent well reported bhumi pujan in Meerut for the statue, had resulted in its leaders being booked under various sections of the IPC.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Hacking Islamophobia, the non-violent way

Old way:
1. Complain, hold rallies and demonstrate 
2. Write, speak and challenge
3. Attack the other

There is a better way- i.e., To know the other
Phobias are baseless fear of others

Q. Why do others fear Muslims?
A. Because they don't know us.

Quran 49:13 and several verses say the best ones among you are the ones who learn about each other. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of the otherness of the other, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.

How will they get to know us if we sit at home and talk and talk?

Join us on Sunday 3-6 PM at Unity of Dallas 6525 Forest Lane, Dallas, TX 75234 details www.HolocaustandGenocides.com

Thank you

Join us

Friday, January 16, 2015

President Obama and Mike Ghouse on integration of Muslims in Europe to mitigate conflicts

Ever since I knew Obama through his speech in 2006 at the Chicago Senate, I knew he would be my mentor in Pluralism. I have written over 65 pieces about him.

He and I have got similar attitudes towards conflict mitigation and social inclusion. Throughout this time I have asserted, including his state of the Union's in the last 5 years, that I could be his best speech writer. Like always, I have written things before he speaks - and the essence of both of our talk is similar if not identical.  I am glad Huffington Published my article on 1/15/15 and Obama's piece is published on 1/16/15.

Here are both:

Angela Merkel Can Prevent Another Charlie Hebdo

Posted: 01/15/2015 3:15 pm EST Updated: 01/15/2015 3:59 pm EST
In a divisive world where the leaders are sacrificing the long term safety of a nation for the short term political gains, and putting the nation on a destructive path of exclusion of those who differ, Merkel has done the right thing; choosing inclusion.
Reuter's reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday, 'Islam belongs to Germany," in a clear repudiation of anti-immigration protesters gathering in Dresden and other cities. Merkel said her government was doing everything it could to ensure migrants were being successfully integrated into German society regardless of their religion.
I salute Merkel for taking the wisdom road in building a cohesive Germany, where no German has to live in apprehension or fear of the other, and instead focus on prosperity, peace and security for every German. Not only is this good for Germany but will become a model for other nations to emulate. Indeed, "Islam belongs to Germany".
It is tempting to fall prey to the vociferous bunch who claps endlessly when a short-sighted leader talks about pushing "the other'" to the corner, and or forcing "them" in to obedience. They assume that the world is with them, but they fail to see an eternal battle of rights in the making.
Out of the chaotic conservatives, she emerges like the morning star, demonstrating what a genuine conservative patriotic leadership is all about; a nation builder.
Let me share recent parallels that shaped major events.
President Obama made a bold statement about accepting the same sex marriage - that one single courageous act changed the nation. The antagonists suddenly found themselves going along with it, and state by state the same sex marriage is becoming the law of the nation. We still got ways to go, but it was his singular stance that eliminated the apprehensions and fears of fellow Americans who are Gays, Lesbians Transgender and bisexual men and women.
For the first time in the history of mankind, a religious leader took the bold step of including Gays, Lesbians, Lesbians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Atheists as God's children. In one single stroke he fell many barriers between the people.
Every human wants to be included, and when that Jesus's embrace wraps every one, the nations will become stronger, secure and will function effectively.
What Merkel has done will pave the way for positive acceptance of Muslims in Germany. Removing tensions and letting people feel welcome and become contributors towards nation building.
Here is a lesson for Netanyahu, Modi, Sharif, and other leaders who fall prey to the claps and sacrifice the long term goodness of the nation for the short term pleasures of praises. May God guide everyone to see the goodness in inclusion, aka Pluralism! Pluralism is simply an attitude of learning to respect the otherness of others and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of us, and when we do that conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

# # #

Obama says Europe should integrate Muslims to curb terrorism


Jan 16, 2015 - 2:13 PM

President Obama warned Europeans "not to simply respond with a hammer" in working against radicalization among its Muslim populations, and argued that the United States had an advantage on this front because American Muslims are better integrated into society.
“Our Muslim populations, they feel themselves to be Americans. There is, you know, this incredible process of immigration and assimilation that is part of our tradition that is probably our greatest strength,” Obama said Friday, as he stood next to British Prime Minister David Cameron at a news conference. “There are parts of Europe in which that's not the case, and that's probably the greatest danger that Europe faces.”

The comments were an unusually public bit of cultural analysis and counsel at a forum typically reserved for demonstrations of support and solidarity. In this case, Cameron politely disagreed with the American president's assessment of immigrant communities in the United Kingdom. 

Obama went on to urge caution as European law enforcement authorities conduct broad counterterrorism sweeps in Belgium, France and Germany, a response to the recent terrorist attacks in France. The president suggested the crackdowns, along with economic disadvantages, would add to a sense of alienation among Muslim communities and feed their recruitment by jihadist groups.

“It's important for Europe not to simply respond with a hammer and law enforcement and military approaches to these problems, but there also has to be a recognition that the stronger the ties of a North African -- or a Frenchman of North African descent -- to French values, French republic, a sense of opportunity, that's going to be as important, if not more important, in, over time, solving this problem,” he said.

Cameron, who was at the White House for a brief visit, pushed back gently on the notion that the problem of radicalization could be blamed on immigration woes. The United Kingdom is "a multiracial, multi-ethnic society of huge opportunity," he said.

“You can have, tragically, people who have had all the advantages of integration, who've had all the economic opportunities that our countries can offer, who still get seduced by this poisonous, radical, death cult of a narrative," Cameron said.

For more news from the White House follow @khennessey on Twitter.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Is Hinduism a violent Religion?

The extremists among Hindus have hijacked the religion of peace and non-violence, just as the extremists among Buddhists, Jews and Muslims have done it with their religions. It is time for the moderate Hindus to speak up; if not, the new narrative would be Hinduism is a religion of violence, fascism and forcible conversions.

I urge you to read the whole article before drawing conclusions.

Hinduism is indeed blessed not to be slapped with 9/11-like terrorism label on it, despite the massacres of 3000 Sikhs in New Delhi by the violent Hindu mobs in just three days, for a total of 8,000 Sikhs within a week. Nearly a thousand Muslims were butchered by the fanatic Hindus in Gujarat within two weeks in 2002. Christian nuns were raped, their churches pillaged and some of the missionaries were burnt alive including Rev. Graham Staines. What is done to the Dalits, formerly known as untouchable, is unforgivable. The historic 500-year-ld Babri Mosque was destroyed in 1992 by extremists Hindu mobs.
No good Hindu should be offended by the above; they did no wrong. They would be wrong if they don't speak out against it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Angela Merkel can handle Charley Hebdo

Hail to Chancellor Merkel, a great patriot and a leader!

Angela Merkel has understood the concept of Patriotism very well, more than any other name sake conservative in the world.  A Patriot sees to it that the nation comes together for the good of every one; a patriot will not let the nation splinter. A great patriot builds a nation and forges all its factions to act cohesively.

Angela Merkel has chosen the right path. In a divisive world where the leaders are sacrificing the long term good for short term political gains, and putting the nation on a destructive path of exclusion of a those who differ, Merkel has done the right thing; choosing inclusion.  
Reuters reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday Islam "belongs to Germany", in a clear repudiation of anti-immigration protesters gathering in Dresden and other cities. Merkel said her government was doing everything it could to ensure migrants were being successfully integrated into German society regardless of their religion.

I salute her and I am proud of her for saying, “Islam 'belongs to Germany”

It is tempting to fall prey to the vociferous bunch who claps endlessly when a short-sighted leader talks about pushing “them’” to the corner, forcing “them” in to obedience”.  They assume that the wisdom is with them and an eternal battle of rights follow, she showed the leadership and did not fall for the fake conservatives and showed them what a genuine conservative patriot is all about; a nation builder.
Yes, there is none like her and let me tell you why. It takes just one to take the bold step to change the history and Chancellor Merkel has just done it.
Let me give you recent parallels that shaped major events.
President Obama, made a bold statement about accepting same sex marriage – the nation followed him, state after state accepted it– the ones who were opposed flipped, we still got ways to go, but it was his singular stance that changed the nation.  

Pope Frances took bold steps of inclusion of Gays and Lesbians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Atheists. In one single stroke he fell many barriers between the people.
What Merkel has done will have pave the way for positive acceptance of Muslims in Germany. Every human wants to be included, and when that Jesus’s embrace wraps every one, the nations will become stronger and will function effectively.

Here is a lesson for Netanyahu, Modi, Sharif, and other leaders who fall prey to the claps and sacrifice the long term goodness of the nation for the short term pleasures of praises. May God guide everyone to see the goodness in inclusion, aka Pluralism! Pluralism is simply an attitude of learning to respect the otherness of others and accepting the God given uniqueness of each one of God’s creation.  When we do that conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
God bless her for her boldness.

Mike Ghouse
 Thank you
Mike Ghouse

(214) 325-1916 text/talk
Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. He is a staunch defender of human rights and his book standing up for others will be out soon, and a movie "Americans together" is in the making.  He is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News and syndicated Talk Radio shows and a writer at major news papers including Dallas Morning News and Huffington Post. All about him is listed in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mani Shankar Aiyar: The Controversy About My Remarks On Charlie Hebdo Attack

I highly recommend this piece, its about creating cohesive societies. I have come to admire Mani Shankar Aiyar for his sense of fairness, justice and rationality behind it. This what gives hope to humanity; there are always people out there who will speak up for others and stand up for others.

You can wake up Mani Shankar Aiyar in the middle of the night, he will not lose his sense of Justice. He will speak what is dharma, what is righteous where every one's space and rights are valued. I have read a few pieces by him, and each one is a gem of a piece.

I read a lot of articles on a given day, write on different issue and discuss with multiplicity of groups of unlimited diversity - what I see is the mind-set of people. Those who have a deep sense of justice and fairness for all will always speak and write with that sense of Justice, and those whose only interest is them, and they speak differently. There is no logic or rhyme to them, they just support the bullies.  One wants to find solutions and feels saddened with destruction and the other wants to annihilate the other and rejoice destruction. There are those who support peace and those who support Netanyahus.

His take on Terrorism is fairly identical to mine that I wrote Nine years ago on 9/11/2006.http://mikeghouseforindia.blogspot.com/2006/12/laser-barking-bark-at-terrorists-not.html 

Mike Ghouse
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Courtesy - NDTV
Mani Shankar Aiyar is a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha.)

I was on my way to the airport to catch a flight to Bahrain, where I had been invited to speak on the one hundredth anniversary of Gandhiji's return to India from South Africa, when my family rang to say that the usual suspect had gone bonkers on his TV channel lambasting me for something I had said to a TV agency earlier in the day in connection with the terrorist attack in Paris. As I hold this hysterical humbug in the uttermost contempt, I have not bothered to find out what the anchor was screaming about, but I do believe that in justice to myself, I should clarify my position to readers who may have been misled by what he has distorted and misrepresented.

I was as horrified as you to hear of 12 lives being lost in the armed assault on a Paris satirical weekly for their repeatedly sneering at the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) and running cartoons denigrating him and the religion he has brought to hundreds of millions of families the world over. That such horror at terrorism was not just my reaction as a non-Muslim to the Paris outrage, but widely shared by Muslims too was brought home to me by a statement issued by a collegium of Imams and preachers of Bahrain who said: "Violence and extremism have always been - and still are - the biggest enemies of Islam, and contravene its teachings, tolerance and genuine precepts. All countries should take unified stances against terrorism. We call for the need to devise a unified international strategy to combat its forms and manifestation everywhere."

That precisely reflects the position taken by the Dar-ul-Uloom. It precisely reflects my own personal position. To go by the Congress President's reaction, it also reflects my party's position: "The Congress President, Smt Sonia Gandhi, has condemned the cowardly and dastardly terror attack on Media in Paris. Shocked at the audacity of the gruesome act, Smt Gandhi said that extremism and intolerance will never be able to curb freedom of expression and will only result in perpetuation of violence."

What then is the controversy about? It is about my describing the incident as a "backlash" to the War on Terrorism. That is not a justification of terrorism. It is an explanation. The distinction is important. I condemn terrorism. I do not commend it. If, however, war is declared on terrorists, it is stupid to imagine that the terrorists will take it lying down; inevitably they will hit back - that is a consequence we have to be prepared for.

Charlie Hebdo, the satirical weekly, was so obviously on the hit list that it was virtually inviting a reaction week after week. The threat to the Editor was so palpable that he had been personally provided with just about the highest level of security that France could offer. Why the magazine's office was not protected with an adequate posse of armed security is being investigated.  But it also reflects the mind-set that thinks the West can mount a war and get away with little or no loss to themselves. The West is so militarily powerful and so technologically superior that it is able to unleash an unequal war in which their resources in money and machines cannot be matched even remotely by those whom they are combating.

Therefore, terrorists resort to an asymmetrical response. They target non-combatants by way of avenging themselves on those whose war machines kill - daily - scores, hundreds, even thousands of the non-combatants in whose midst the terrorists live and shield themselves.

A dead innocent is a dead innocent. Terrorists deliberately target the innocent. The War on Terrorism does not target innocents. It kills them indiscriminately by way of what is delicately called "collateral damage". But the loved ones and the community are equally affected - whether the killing is deliberate or incidental. The rage is the same. The urge to revenge is the same. For, as Gandhi said - and I quoted him to the TV agency - "Violence begets violence".

The West is near perfecting the art of killing their enemies (plus "collateral damage") without risking their own lives. When eight American body bags returned from Somalia, Bill Clinton immediately called off the operation "Black Hawk Down". When eight Pathan bodies of helpless mothers, hapless children, and innocent by-standers lie in the midst of the carnage wrought by a Drone attack, the wailing families do not react differently. They seek justice, each in his or her own way. The Drone wins out because even if it is downed, as it is unmanned, no American family is left with a tear in its eye. When terrorists attack, they know they are going to be killed - or kill themselves. They take the vicious consequences of their vicious action. The Drone just flies away - to come back another day.

Till even the First World War, war was fought on the terrain of war - the battle-field. Those who died or got injured were soldiers.

Civilians only accidentally got in the way. That changed when the Germans started assassinating mayors of towns where snipers shot at German soldiers. It horrified the world and contributed more to Britain coming in against Germany than perhaps any other single action. Not even into the Thirties had men been desensitized to the atrocity of civilian beings killed in armed attack. Picasso earned eternal fame because his painting captured and symbolized the horror experienced by all civilized people at the aerial bombing of the Spanish village of Guernica.

But by the Second World War, these niceties were abandoned. The terror opened by the Nazis through their Blitzkrieg on England, followed by their merciless genocide of Jews in the East European countries they occupied, started the process of desensitizing the hitherto-unknown horror of innocents being mown to death.

Stalingrad finally dulled sensitivities to the point where Churchill could order the bombing of Dresden and kill more innocents in a single night than all the terrorist attacks since 9/11 and after.

Truman's atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki removed the final constraints on sparing non-combatants the terrible fate of the battle-field. Since then, it has been open house for those with the military means to do so.

I was posted as a young diplomat to Hanoi in the middle of the US-Vietnam war. Day after day, twice a day, US Air Force planes would pound the city without regard to civilian habitation or military target, shooting to death and severely injuring any living being - man, woman or child - they could fit into their sights. Uncounted millions died. Many were non-combatant civilians. A young British colleague said to me that American U-2s flying at such speed that they could cross the country in 10 minutes at a height of 60,000 feet could take a photograph of the saucer I held in my hand that would be more accurate than my naked eye could see. "How," he asked, "do you think these guys on bicycles will ever drive them out?" The bicyclists did; they won. But only after millions of civilians had been slaughtered.

I condemn what happened in Paris with all the strength in my voice. It was dreadful. But I regard all forms of terrorism, especially by armed force that takes the lives of non-combatants as equally - perhaps even more -  terrible. That is why my heart bleeds when 1,500 Palestinians are killed in their homes by bombs rained on them from the skies because they have the temerity to ask for the right to return to their homeland. The Modi government had little or nothing to say about that outrage. It is this lack of balance in the BJP's approach to terrorism that fills me with dread and despair.

Most of us Indians, except the fringe lunatics of the BJP-RSS-Sangh Parivar, have learned millennia ago to live with diversity, indeed to celebrate our diversity, for out of it is forged our unity as a nation.

For the West, however, diversity is a totally new experience. They have been compelled for economic reasons to import millions of Third World labourers, and since an arc of Arab countries lies immediately south of France on the other littoral of the Mediterranean, most of France's imported labour comprises Muslims from the Maghreb. France wants them to become Frenchmen as if the Arabs had fostered 1789 and never been subjected to colonial rule. The Arab Muslims wish to remain themselves, notwithstanding their having emigrated to France for the same economic reasons that have led to France and other Western countries importing them in such large numbers. Hence, stupid measures like insisting that no Muslim schoolchild in France may wear the hijab that her sisters wear in their home countries will result in a backlash.

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