Monday, September 13, 2010

Response to Joel Stein's Time article about Edison, NJ

I wrote the following email to the editor of Time magazine after reading Joel Stein's article "My Own Private India" in the July 5th 2010 edition of the magazine. Here's the link:,9171,1999416,00.html#ixzz0skOPun7A

After widespread criticism of his article by the Indian community, Joel Stein responded “I was shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it. If we could understand that reaction, we’d be better equipped to debate people on the other side of the immigration issue.”

If Joel Stein wants to foster a debate on the immigration issue, Time should allow readers to post comments directly after this article so everyone can share their ideas and reactions.

I think rather than humor us, Joel Stein's article made a strong argument in favor of those "on the other side of the immigration issue." Rather than invite Asian immigrants and their cultures, current white residents of America only want their Italian, Jewish or white culture to prevail. The movie “Gangs of New York” portrayed how there was immigration conflict even among white immigrants to this country.

No body wants their old neighborhoods to change. In fact, most ignorant people want everything that belongs to them to stay theirs. But America is a country of immigrants and not just English or white immigrants but anyone who goes through the ordeal to legally immigrate and make this country their home. I applaud President Johnson for changing the quotas to allow more Asians to immigrate here.

Often the immigration issue is about do we want this country to grow stronger by increasing its diversity or do we want everything to stay the same and stuck in the past. Joel Stein ridicules a foreign culture and makes the case that his flawed childhood is an American ideal.

He doesn't come across as being remorseful about his past ignorant behavior even though he frankly shares it with the reader. And he does not even slightly give the impression that immigration in Edison, NJ is an immigration success story where immigrants have enriched the cultural and economic life of a community. Instead he states clearly "I am very much in favor of immigration everywhere in the U.S. except Edison, N.J." right at the beginning of his article.

It would be good to remind Joel Stein that if Chinese immigrants have the right to have so many Chinatowns across the country, so do Indians have a right to express their culture a little bit. If he doesn't have a problem with immigration everywhere else in the U.S. then he should be reminded about so many neighborhoods in California where ethnic Asian populations make up the majority. I'm sure other Americans have felt uncomfortable as he did when he saw the new Edison.

Rather than humor us or give the impression that "immigration has enriched American life and his hometown in particular," it seems like Joel Stein would find good company with other immigration-bashers who've seen their hometowns change. I liked the Clint Eastwood movie “Gran Torino” which encourages an honest immigration debate and accurately depicts how neighborhoods in California have changed. Joel Steins humorless rant in the article does not do this.

It would be good to remind Joel Stein that much of America is changing, not just his hometown of Edison. Many inner city neighborhoods which were previously white now have majority minority populations. Washington DC is 75% populated by African Americans.

Like Joel Stein, I would agree that white flight with minorities moving into urban neighborhoods of most American cities has not always been a success story. But other ethnic groups have created stronger communities with less crime in place of what existed before. Edison is one such example and Joel Stein should be proud of that fact if he does in fact support immigration.

Comment on Raj Patel's blog "The Daddy State"

This was a comment posted after reading Raj Patel's blog on "the Daddy State"

We have to question the motives behind the billionaire Giving Pledge. I think the whole idea is very self-serving. It’s another club for the rich. What is the cost to ultra-wealthy individuals for giving away half their wealth after they’re dead? I say nothing. They get philanthropy in their name which makes their name famous. And they decide who and what causes to give their money to. Is this any way to make society more equitable or fairer?

I know money is important on a small scale to buy all the essentials for life. Excess money gives you freedom because you can decide how it is spent. Those who have no money have very little freedom even if you’re a proud American. Hoarding money for securing a lifestyle that excess money brings is based on fear and selfishness rather than charity. Hoarding money by the ultra-rich allows them to enjoy the freedom money brings. And when they die, they don’t need freedom but they exercise their freedom by freely choosing which philanthropies to give to.

I think there are limits to using philanthropy as a preferred model of social progress and uplift (daddy state) same as there are limits to the good done by having socialized governments (nanny state). But the billionaire Giving Pledge only puts more focus on money. It does not generate virtues in individuals such as being more generous, charitable, trusting or helpful. The billionaire Giving Pledge is anti-egalitarian because it gives the billionaire a false sense of superiority over those in lower social status or those who don’t publically make the pledge but still want to improve society after they die.

Only removing the sense of superiority and inferiority in society can bring about a world where we live more as brothers and sisters rather than selfish individuals with little concern for the suffering of others in society. A society that centers itself on money will not be in sync with the vision of religious figures such as Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or Krishna. Not matter how much the religious right wants to believe, America is not a God-centered culture. It is more based on selfishness rather than devotion. Even the concept of “God bless America” is selfish and self-serving. But at least we can enjoy the freedom that prosperity brings even if the society is not in the image of what God intended it to be.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Old comment on a religion article

This is an "On Faith" article in the Washington Post by Karen Armstrong titled "No One Can Have the Last Word on God" It is really good, readable article. My comment was posted on January 24, 2007. Link:

You said, "Throughout history, Jews, Christians and Muslims have all insisted that the ideas we have about the divine can never measure up to the reality itself."

I always thought Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons & Sunni/Shia Muslims were pretty absolutist about their pronouncements regarding God, heaven and hell. Don't all of them say if you don't believe in their faith, then you'll go to hell? And all of them basically say that if you want to remain open-minded about your belief, then you are a pagan who will still go to hell.

In Hinduism, we believe that God created the universe out of Himself so that He is within every atom of this physical universe as well as separate and outside of it. So it is ok if pagans worship trees because God resides in those trees. It's ok if you want to worship an idol made of stone because every religious or spiritual endeavor requires concentration and that idol also has God in it. The ideal is to realize reverence for self, reverence for fellow man, reverence for animals and reverence for all of God's physical creation.

But I do think that Muslims have the last word if you burn a Koran in Saudi Arabia because they put you to death for that "crime". Muslims have the last word in Pakistan if you draw a cartoon representing Mohammad because that is blasphemy for which you get the death penalty. However as commonsense would dictate, a Hindu in India cannot take revenge or physically retaliate if someone breaks his idol. No matter how stupid someone behaves, it is still illegal to take the life of another human being so in this case, the idol-bashing Muslim can really have the last word on God that is until we naturally die and then face judgment.

Comment on an economics blog

This is a response to an article on TripleCrisis: Global Perspectives on Finance, Development, and Environment on August 11, 2010. Link:  Article's title is "Zombie Economics: Financial crisis fails to kill discredited theories"

Your sarcasm and general emotionality makes it difficult to understand your points and argument. I only have a Bachelors of Arts in Economics but it would be good to involve American citizens in the debate (instead of just a battle of elite Economists) since they have the political vote. Also the more complicated your understanding of economics becomes, the more difficult it is for politicians to understand and explain what’s happening in the public sphere. So what consistently ends up happening is that Republican-Ayn Rand-free market ideas emerge as the dominant force on the political-economic landscape. Then Fox news and Rush Limbaugh can simplify economics to the point of absurdity and thereby inspire a massive, misguided, ignorant libertarian grass roots movement with a almost unquestioned faith in free markets. Tea Party members are even against the Wall Street bailout and willing to accept the consequences of that on the global market. It would have meant the extinction of the world as we know it.

I wish you had just said you wanted more government economic stimulus. My question to that is why is government fiscal stimulus not impacting credit availability to small businesses? Raj Patel in his recent books states he doesn’t understand why banks don’t get nationalized in America. If the postal service can be nationalized and still function efficiently with private competition, why can a government bank introduce fiscal responsibility in the financial sector?

Amazon Book Review

I feel sorry about the harshness of this review but reading the preview of this book really upset me. I didn't understand why an outdated work that ignored so many recent discoveries was being republished to bolster an ancient argument. It's very personal because I think I had an inferiority complex about my culture and religion. I now wish I had kept my review anonymous but like I said before, I'm impulsive.

A History of Civilization in Ancient India, Based on Sanscrit Literature: Volume 1. Vedic and Epic Ages [Paperback] Romesh Chunder Dutt (Author)

Title: 1889 reprint written by an Indian with an inferiority complex

This account of Indian history is written by a Westernized Indian with an ingrained inferiority complex due to British and Muslim rule. This work is not based on his own analysis of Sanskrit literature but rather the English and Hindi translations of the Vedas by various European scholars and other Westernized Indian hacks with similar inferiority complex about their indigenous culture.

This author is ignorant and on a quest for fame by writing a “popular” (his own description) account of ancient Indian history. The publisher Elibron Classics is happy to republish a 1889 text by an Indian author that supports the now discounted Aryan Invasion Theory. The original printing was published by another British racist group named Thacker, Spink and Co., Calcutta; Trubner and Co., London. Elibron and Elibron Classics are trademarks of Adamant Media Corporation (probably another racist group).

Many Indians understandably had an inferiority complex versus the British. These Indians who had lost faith in religious teachings believed anything the British told them about their own ancient history. India’s ancient history was purposefully clouded due to 800 years of Muslim rule so that the Muslims could not distort and negate its past glory.

In this book, there is no original translation analysis from the original Sanskrit by this author. It is not clear from the reading whether he even knows Sanskrit since he depends so heavily of English translations. He simply reiterates the racist, colonialist account of the imagined Aryan invasion popular at the time by European translators of Hindu religious texts.

Religious sages and teachers who have studied the Vedas in their original Sanskrit have a much different account of the Hindu religion which they believe to be 10,000 plus years old. It is no wonder why Hinduism is referred to as Sanatan (Eternal) Dharma. Krishna birth (and the subsequent Mahabharat war) is dated by Indian religious scholars to have occurred 5000 years ago during the onset of the Indus River Civilization. Rama Bhagwan’s virtuous kingdom existed a few thousand years previous to Krishna’s birth.

European and specifically British colonialist scholars vehemently opposed this historical account since it didn’t support their racist agenda to subvert Indian history. Weaker Indians with an inferiority complex such as the author of this text quickly adopted the Eurocentric view that Indian culture and languages came about from white Aryan conquest. Fortunately this racist myth has now been put to rest by archeological evidence which is still discounted by Western scholars who have more faith in vague and extremely hypothetical linguistics analysis.

It is not surprising why an outdated book such as this by an Indian author is being republished and sold on Amazon with free Super Saver Shipping. Anyone who is not racist would see that the Aryan invasion theory has been disproved by simple common sense analysis of archeological facts and a true literary analysis of the Rig Veda and subsequent Saraswati River Civilization Vedas. Eurocentric Westerners have a hard time accepting that civilization did not arise from noble white conquerors of inferior dark-skinned “aborigines” as this author likes to call them. A better translation of the Sanskrit word arya is not “noble” but rather civilized. And civilized people are not racists. Rather they have to fight an ongoing “war” against forces of untruth and ignorance, who use propaganda to bolster their selfish agendas.