US Presidential Election: After the Republic – Angelo M. Codevilla

Donald Trump, Hillary & Bill Clinton

Angelo M. CodevillaUnder our ruling class, “truth” has morphed from the reflection of objective reality to whatever has “normative pull”—i.e., to what furthers the ruling class’s agenda, whatever that might be at any given time. That is the meaning of the term “political correctness,” as opposed to factual correctness. – Prof Angelo M. Codevilla 

Over the past half century, the Reagan years notwithstanding, our ruling class’s changing preferences and habits have transformed public and private life in America. As John Marini shows in his essay, “Donald Trump and the American Crisis,” this has resulted in citizens morphing into either this class’s “stakeholders” or its subjects. And, as Publius Decius Mus argues, “America and the West” now are so firmly “on a trajectory toward something very bad” that it is no longer reasonable to hope that “all human outcomes are still possible,” by which he means restoration of the public and private practices that made the American republic. In fact, the 2016 election is sealing the United States’s transition from that republic to some kind of empire.

Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory. Because each candidate represents constituencies hostile to republicanism, each in its own way, these individuals are not what this election is about. This election is about whether the Democratic Party, the ruling class’s enforcer, will impose its tastes more strongly and arbitrarily than ever, or whether constituencies opposed to that rule will get some ill-defined chance to strike back. Regardless of the election’s outcome, the republic established by America’s Founders is probably gone. But since the Democratic Party’s constituencies differ radically from their opponents’, and since the character of imperial governance depends inherently on the emperor, the election’s result will make a big difference in our lives.

Many Enemies, Few Friends

The overriding question of 2016 has been how eager the American people are to reject the bipartisan class that has ruled this country contrary to its majority’s convictions. Turned out, eager enough to throw out the baby with the dirty bath water. The ruling class’s united front in response to the 2008 financial crisis had ignited the Tea Party’s call for adherence to the Constitution, and led to elections that gave control of both houses of Congress to the Republican Party. But as Republicans became full partners in the ruling class’s headlong rush in what most considered disastrous directions, Americans lost faith in the Constitution’s power to restrain the wrecking of their way of life.

From the primary season’s outset, the Democratic Party’s candidates promised even more radical “transformations.” When, rarely, they have been asked what gives them the right to do such things they have acted as if the only answer were Nancy Pelosi’s reply to whether the Constitution allows the government to force us into Obamacare: “Are you kidding? Are you kidding?”

On the Republican side, 17 hopefuls promised much, without dealing with the primordial fact that, in today’s America, those in power basically do what they please. Executive orders, phone calls, and the right judge mean a lot more than laws. They even trump state referenda. Over the past half-century, presidents have ruled not by enforcing laws but increasingly through agencies that write their own rules, interpret them, and punish unaccountably—the administrative state. As for the Supreme Court, the American people have seen it invent rights where there were none—e.g., abortion—while trammeling ones that had been the republic’s spine, such as the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. The Court taught Americans that the word “public” can mean “private” (Kelo v. City of New London), that “penalty” can mean “tax” (King v. Burwell), and that holding an opinion contrary to its own can only be due to an “irrational animus” (Obergefell v. Hodges).

What goes by the name “constitutional law” has been eclipsing the U.S. Constitution for a long time. But when the 1964 Civil Rights Act substituted a wholly open-ended mandate to oppose “discrimination” for any and all fundamental rights, it became the little law that ate the Constitution. Now, because the Act pretended that the commerce clause trumps the freedom of persons to associate or not with whomever they wish, and is being taken to mean that it trumps the free exercise of religion as well, bakers and photographers are forced to take part in homosexual weddings. A commission in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reported that even a church may be forced to operate its bathrooms according to gender self-identification because it “could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.” California came very close to mandating that Catholic schools admit homosexual and transgender students or close down. The Justice Department is studying how to prosecute on-line transactions such as vacation home rental site Airbnb, Inc., that fall afoul of its evolving anti-discrimination standards.

This arbitrary power, whose rabid guard-dog growls and barks: “Racist! Sexist! Homophobic!” has transformed our lives by removing restraints on government. The American Bar Association’s new professional guidelines expose lawyers to penalties for insufficient political correctness. Performing abortions or at least training to perform them may be imposed as a requirement for licensing doctors, nurses, and hospitals that offer services to the general public.

Addressing what it would take to reestablish the primacy of fundamental rights would have required Republican candidates to reset the Civil Rights movement on sound constitutional roots. Surprised they didn’t do it?

No one running for the GOP nomination discussed the greatest violation of popular government’s norms—never mind the Constitution—to have occurred in two hundred years, namely, the practice, agreed upon by mainstream Republicans and Democrats, of rolling all of the government’s expenditures into a single bill. This eliminates elected officials’ responsibility for any of the government’s actions, and reduces them either to approving all that the government does without reservation, or the allegedly revolutionary, disloyal act of “shutting down the government.”

Rather than talk about how to restrain or shrink government, Republican candidates talked about how to do more with government. The Wall Street Journal called that “having a positive agenda.” Hence, Republicans by and large joined the Democrats in relegating the U.S. Constitution to history’s dustbin.

Because Republicans largely agree with Democrats that they need not take seriously the founders’ Constitution, today’s American regime is now what Max Weber had called the Tsarist regime on the eve of the Revolution: “fake constitutionalism.” Because such fakery is self-discrediting and removes anyone’s obligation to restrain his passions, it is a harbinger of revolution and of imperial power.

The ruling class having chosen raw power over law and persuasion, the American people reasonably concluded that raw power is the only way to counter it, and looked for candidates who would do that. Hence, even constitutional scholar Ted Cruz stopped talking about the constitutional implications of President Obama’s actions after polls told him that the public was more interested in what he would do to reverse them, niceties notwithstanding. Had Cruz become the main alternative to the Democratic Party’s dominion, the American people might have been presented with the option of reverting to the rule of law. But that did not happen. Both of the choices before us presuppose force, not law.

A Change of Regimes

All ruling classes are what Shakespeare called the “makers of manners.” Plato, in The Republic, and Aristotle, in his Politics, teach that polities reflect the persons who rise to prominence within them, whose habits the people imitate, and who set the tone of life in them. Thus a polity can change as thoroughly as a chorus changes from comedy to tragedy depending on the lyrics and music. Obviously, the standards and tone of life that came from Abraham Lincoln’s Oval Office is quite opposite from what came from the same place when Bill Clinton used it. Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm was arguably the world’s most polite society. Under Hitler, it became the most murderous.

In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one-third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.

And, because the ruling class blurs the distinction between public and private business, connection to that class has become the principal way of getting rich in America. Not so long ago, the way to make it here was to start a business that satisfied customers’ needs better than before. Nowadays, more businesses die each year than are started. In this century, all net additions in employment have come from the country’s 1,500 largest corporations. Rent-seeking through influence on regulations is the path to wealth. In the professions, competitive exams were the key to entry and advancement not so long ago. Now, you have to make yourself acceptable to your superiors. More important, judicial decisions and administrative practice have divided Americans into “protected classes”—possessed of special privileges and immunities—and everybody else. Equality before the law and equality of opportunity are memories. Co-option is the path to power. Ever wonder why the quality of our leaders has been declining with each successive generation?

Moreover, since the Kennedy reform of 1965, and with greater speed since 2009, the ruling class’s immigration policy has changed the regime by introducing some 60 million people—roughly a fifth of our population—from countries and traditions different from, if not hostile, to ours. Whereas earlier immigrants earned their way to prosperity, a disproportionate percentage of post-1965 arrivals have been encouraged to become dependents of the state. Equally important, the ruling class chose to reverse America’s historic practice of assimilating immigrants, emphasizing instead what divides them from other Americans. Whereas Lincoln spoke of binding immigrants by “the electric cord” of the founders’ principles, our ruling class treats these principles as hypocrisy. All this without votes or law; just power.

Foul is Fair and Fair is Foul

In short, precisely as the classics defined regime change, people and practices that had been at society’s margins have been brought to its center, while people and ideas that had been central have been marginalized.

Fifty years ago, prayer in the schools was near universal, but no one was punished for not praying. Nowadays, countless people are arrested or fired for praying on school property. West Point’s commanding general reprimanded the football coach for his team’s thanksgiving prayer. Fifty years ago, bringing sexually explicit stuff into schools was treated as a crime, as was “procuring abortion.” Nowadays, schools contract with Planned Parenthood to teach sex, and will not tell parents when they take girls to PP facilities for abortions. Back then, many schools worked with the National Rifle Association to teach gun handling and marksmanship. Now students are arrested and expelled merely for pointing their finger and saying “bang.” In those benighted times, boys who ventured into the girls’ bathroom were expelled as perverts. Now, girls are suspended for objecting to boys coming into the girls’ room under pretense of transgenderism. The mainstreaming of pornography, the invention of abortion as the most inalienable of human rights and, most recently, the designation of opposition to homosexual marriage as a culpable psychosis—none of which is dictated by law enacted by elected officials—is enforced as if it had been. No surprise that America has experienced a drastic drop in the formation of families, with the rise of rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites equal to the rates among blacks that was recognized as disastrous a half-century ago, the near-disappearance of two-parent families among blacks, and the social dislocations attendant to all that.

Ever since the middle of the 20th century our ruling class, pursuing hazy concepts of world order without declarations of war, has sacrificed American lives first in Korea, then in Vietnam, and now throughout the Muslim world. By denigrating Americans who call for peace, or for wars unto victory over America’s enemies; by excusing or glorifying those who take our enemies’ side or who disrespect the American flag; our rulers have drawn down the American regime’s credit and eroded the people’s patriotism.

As the ruling class destroyed its own authority, it wrecked the republic’s as well. This is no longer the “land where our fathers died,” nor even the country that won World War II. It would be surprising if any society, its identity altered and its most fundamental institutions diminished, had continued to function as before. Ours sure does not, and it is difficult to imagine how it can do so ever again. We can be sure only that the revolution underway among us, like all others, will run its unpredictable course.

All we know is the choice that faces us at this stage: either America continues in the same direction, but faster and without restraint, or there’s the hazy possibility of something else.

Imperial Alternatives

The consequences of empowering today’s Democratic Party are crystal clear. The Democratic Party—regardless of its standard bearer—would use its victory to drive the transformations that it has already wrought on America to quantitative and qualitative levels that not even its members can imagine. We can be sure of that because what it has done and is doing is rooted in a logic that has animated the ruling class for a century, and because that logic has shaped the minds and hearts of millions of this class’s members, supporters, and wannabes.

That logic’s essence, expressed variously by Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson, FDR’s brains trust, intellectuals of both the old and the new Left, choked back and blurted out by progressive politicians, is this: America’s constitutional republic had given the American people too much latitude to be who they are, that is: religiously and socially reactionary, ignorant, even pathological, barriers to Progress. Thankfully, an enlightened minority exists with the expertise and the duty to disperse the religious obscurantism, the hypocritical talk of piety, freedom, and equality, which excuses Americans’ racism, sexism, greed, and rape of the environment. As we progressives take up our proper responsibilities, Americans will no longer live politically according to their prejudices; they will be ruled administratively according to scientific knowledge.

Progressivism’s programs have changed over time. But its disdain for how other Americans live and think has remained fundamental. More than any commitment to principles, programs, or way of life, this is its paramount feature. The media reacted to Hillary Clinton’s remark that “half of Trump’s supporters could be put into a ‘basket of deplorables’” as if these sentiments were novel and peculiar to her. In fact, these are unremarkable restatements of our ruling class’s perennial creed.

The pseudo-intellectual argument for why these “deplorables” have no right to their opinions is that giving equal consideration to people and positions that stand in the way of Progress is “false equivalence,” as President Obama has put it. But the same idea has been expressed most recently and fully by New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, as well as Times columnists Jim Rutenberg, Timothy Egan, and William Davies. In short, devotion to truth means not reporting on Donald Trump and people like him as if they or anything they say might be of value.

If trying to persuade irredeemable socio-political inferiors is no more appropriate than arguing with animals, why not just write them off by sticking dismissive names on them? Doing so is less challenging, and makes you feel superior. Why wrestle with the statistical questions implicit in Darwin when you can just dismiss Christians as Bible-thumpers? Why bother arguing for Progressivism’s superiority when you can construct “scientific” studies like Theodor Adorno’s, proving that your opponents suffer from degrees of “fascism” and other pathologies? This is a well-trod path. Why, to take an older example, should General Omar Bradley have bothered trying to refute Douglas MacArthur’s statement that in war there is no substitute for victory when calling MacArthur and his supporters “primitives” did the trick? Why wrestle with our climate’s complexities when you can make up your own “models,” being sure that your class will treat them as truth?

What priorities will the ruling class’s notion of scientific truth dictate to the next Democratic administration? Because rejecting that true and false, right and wrong are objectively ascertainable is part of this class’s DNA, no corpus of fact or canon of reason restrains it or defines its end-point. Its definition of “science” is neither more nor less than what “scientists say” at any given time. In practice, that means “Science R-Us,” now and always, exclusively. Thus has come to pass what President Dwight Eisenhower warned against in his 1960 Farewell address: “A steadily increasing share [of science] is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.… [T]he free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution…a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” Hence, said Ike, “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present—and is gravely to be regarded.” The result has been that academics rise through government grants while the government exercises power by claiming to act on science’s behalf. If you don’t bow to the authority of the power that says what is and is not so, you are an obscurantist or worse.

Under our ruling class, “truth” has morphed from the reflection of objective reality to whatever has “normative pull”—i.e., to what furthers the ruling class’s agenda, whatever that might be at any given time. That is the meaning of the term “political correctness,” as opposed to factual correctness.

It’s the Contempt, Stupid!

Who, a generation ago, could have guessed that careers and social standing could be ruined by stating the fact that the paramount influence on the earth’s climate is the sun, that its output of energy varies and with it the climate? Who, a decade ago, could have predicted that stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman would be treated as a culpable sociopathy, or just yesterday that refusing to let certifiably biological men into women’s bathrooms would disqualify you from mainstream society? Or that saying that the lives of white people “matter” as much as those of blacks is evidence of racism? These strictures came about quite simply because some sectors of the ruling class felt like inflicting them on the rest of America. Insulting presumed inferiors proved to be even more important to the ruling class than the inflictions’ substance.

How far will our rulers go? Because their network is mutually supporting, they will go as far as they want. Already, there is pressure from ruling class constituencies, as well as academic arguments, for morphing the concept of “hate crime” into the criminalization of “hate speech”—which means whatever these loving folks hate. Of course this is contrary to the First Amendment, and a wholesale negation of freedom. But it is no more so than the negation of freedom of association that is already eclipsing religious freedom in the name of anti-discrimination. It is difficult to imagine a Democratic president, Congress, and Supreme Court standing in the way.

Above all, these inflictions, as well as the ruling class’s acceptance of its own members’ misbehavior, came about because millions of its supporters were happy, or happy enough, to support them in the interest of maintaining their own status in a ruling coalition while discomfiting their socio-political opponents. Consider, for example, how republic-killing an event was the ruling class’s support of President Bill Clinton in the wake of his nationally televised perjury. Subsequently, as constituencies of supporters have effectively condoned officials’ abusive, self-serving, and even outright illegal behavior, they have encouraged more and more of it while inuring themselves to it. That is how republics turn into empires from the roots up.

But it is also true, as Mao Tse-Tung used to say, “a fish begins to rot at the head.” If you want to understand why any and all future Democratic Party administrations can only be empires dedicated to injuring and insulting their subjects, look first at their intellectual leaders’ rejection of the American republic’s most fundamental principles.

The Declaration of Independence says that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” among which are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These rights—codified in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights—are not civil rights that governments may define. The free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and assembly, keeping and bearing arms, freedom from warrantless searches, protection against double jeopardy and self-incrimination, trial by jury of one’s peers, etc., are natural rights that pertain to human beings as such. Securing them for Americans is what the United States is all about. But today’s U.S. Civil Rights Commission advocates truncating the foremost of these rights because, as it stated in a recent report, “Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon those civil rights.” The report explains why the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights should not be permissible: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.”

Hillary Clinton’s attack on Trump supporters merely matched the ruling class’s current common sense. Why should government workers and all who wield the administrative state’s unaccountable powers not follow their leaders’ judgment, backed by the prestige press, about who are to be treated as citizens and who is to be handled as deplorable refuse? Hillary Clinton underlined once again how the ruling class regards us, and about what it has in store for us.

Electing Donald Trump would result in an administration far less predictable than any Democratic one. In fact, what Trump would or would not do, could or could not do, pales into insignificance next to the certainty of what any Democrat would do. That is what might elect Trump.

The character of an eventual Trump Administration is unpredictable because speculating about Trump’s mind is futile. It is equally futile to guess how he might react to the mixture of flattery and threats sure to be leveled against him. The entire ruling class—Democrats and Republicans, the bulk of the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the press—would do everything possible to thwart him; and the constituencies that chose him as their candidate, and that might elect him, are surely not united and are by no means clear about the demands they would press. Moreover, it is anyone’s guess whom he would appoint and how he would balance his constituencies’ pressures against those of the ruling class.

Never before has such a large percentage of Americans expressed alienation from their leaders, resentment, even fear. Some two-thirds of Americans believe that elected and appointed officials—plus the courts, the justice system, business leaders, educators—are leading the country in the wrong direction: that they are corrupt, do more harm than good, make us poorer, get us into wars and lose them. Because this majority sees no one in the political mainstream who shares their concerns, because it lacks confidence that the system can be fixed, it is eager to empower whoever might flush the system and its denizens with something like an ungentle enema.

Yet the persons who express such revolutionary sentiments are not a majority ready to support a coherent imperial program to reverse the course of America’s past half-century. Temperamentally conservative, these constituencies had been most attached to the Constitution and been counted as the bedrock of stability. They are not yet wholly convinced that there is little left to conserve. What they want, beyond an end to the ruling class’s outrages, has never been clear. This is not surprising, given that the candidates who appeal to their concerns do so with mere sound bites. Hence they chose as the presidential candidate of the nominal opposition party the man who combined the most provocative anti-establishment sounds with reassurance that it won’t take much to bring back good old America: Donald Trump. But bringing back good old America would take an awful lot. What could he do to satisfy them?

Trump’s propensity for treating pronouncements on policy as flags to be run up and down the flagpole as he measures the volume of the applause does not deprive them of all significance—especially the ones that confirm his anti-establishment bona fides. These few policy items happen to be the ones by which he gained his anti-establishment reputation in the first place: 1) opposition to illegal immigration, especially the importation of Muslims whom Americans reasonably perceive as hostile to us; 2) law and order: stop excusing rioters and coddling criminals; 3) build a wall, throw out the illegals, let in only people who are vetted and certified as supporters of our way of life (that’s the way it was when I got my immigrant visa in 1955), and keep out anybody we can’t be sure isn’t a terrorist. Trump’s tentative, partial retreat from a bit of the latter nearly caused his political standing to implode, prompting the observation that doing something similar regarding abortion would end his political career. That is noteworthy because, although Trump’s support of the pro-life cause is lukewarm at best, it is the defining commitment for much of his constituency. The point here is that, regardless of his own sentiments, Trump cannot wholly discount his constituencies’ demands for a forceful turn away from the country’s current direction.

Trump’s slogan—“make America great again”—is the broadest, most unspecific, common denominator of non-ruling-class Americans’ diverse dissatisfaction with what has happened to the country. He talks about reasserting America’s identity, at least by controlling the borders; governing in America’s own interest rather than in pursuit of objectives of which the American people have not approved; stopping the export of jobs and removing barriers to business; and banishing political correctness’s insults and injuries. But all that together does not amount to making America great again. Nor does Trump begin to explain what it was that had made this country great to millions who have known only an America much diminished.

In fact, the United States of America was great because of a whole bunch of things that now are gone. Yes, the ruling class led the way in personal corruption, cheating on tests, lowering of professional standards, abandoning churches and synagogues for the Playboy Philosophy and lifestyle, disregarding law, basing economic life on gaming the administrative state, basing politics on conflicting identities, and much more. But much of the rest of the country followed. What would it take to make America great again—or indeed to make any of the changes that Trump’s voters demand? Replacing the current ruling class would be only the beginning.

Because it is difficult to imagine a Trump presidency even thinking about something so monumental as replacing an entire ruling elite, much less leading his constituency to accomplishing it, electing Trump is unlikely to result in a forceful turn away from the country’s current direction. Continuing pretty much on the current trajectory under the same class will further fuel revolutionary sentiments in the land all by itself. Inevitable disappointment with Trump is sure to add to them.

We have stepped over the threshold of a revolution. It is difficult to imagine how we might step back, and futile to speculate where it will end. Our ruling class’s malfeasance, combined with insult, brought it about. Donald Trump did not cause it and is by no means its ultimate manifestation. Regardless of who wins in 2016, this revolution’s sentiments will grow in volume and intensity, and are sure to empower politicians likely to make Americans nostalgic for Donald Trump’s moderation. – The Claremont Institute, 27 September 2016

» Prof Angelo M. Codevilla is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and professor emeritus of International Relations at Boston University. Professor Codevilla has been a U.S. Naval Officer, an Assistant Professor at the Grove City College and North Dakota State College, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, and a member of President-Elect Reagan’s Transition Teams within the U.S. Department of State. 

Alexis de Tocqueville Quote

India’s Culture Wars – Gautam Sen


Gautam SenVirtually no practising Hindu is allowed to hold a major appointment in any US or British university in Hindu studies, with such positions invariably occupied by its most unsparing detractors, whether at Harvard, Chicago, Columbia or Oxbridge or London. … Thus, the absurdly traitorous Indian Leftist hostility toward their homeland and their own culture found a sympathetic intellectual terrain abroad. – Dr Gautam Sen

The foremost source of unrelenting and egregious slander against Hindus is India’s film industry, led by Bollywood. Pakistani marauders were halted at the border in 1948 and repudiated every time subsequently, but its surrogates managed to seize control of India’s film industry. The economics of film making, forbidding bona fide investment until recently, allowed the Muslim underworld and its associates to infiltrate the industry by funding it. They were able to dictate the agenda of the film industry, insinuating a thoroughly anti national ideology and institute a standing critique of all things Hindus as well as propagate blatant and slanderous lies. Producers and directors became their playthings and selected artistes found a privileged entry in exchange of reciprocal favours that included every type of venal personal degradation.

Villains of every description, from torturers, rapists, murderers and espousers of every retrograde social custom, somehow sport a tilak and worship some incomprehensibly weird Hindu deity. By contrast, the gentle Muslim neighbour or preacher or Christian priest epitomises generosity and brotherhood. Both unfailingly reach out to look after the confused Hindu facing some personal crisis and resolving some tricky problem engendered by their own absurd religious prejudices. The abandoned Hindu mother, brutally trampled underfoot by her devout Hindu mother-in-law, always finds a teaching job in a Christian school, Bollywood Brahminunder the mellow guidance of a mother superior. In Tollywood, Bengali society is often depicted terrorising an educated and independent Hindu girl, in love with a Muslim boy from a humble background, also in keeping with the illusory egalitarian ethos peddled by Bengal’s neutered cultural elite. There are exceptions of course, but they truly underline the contrary rule of demonization.

And ever-present are the caste ridden evil Brahmin, much the way Jews were portrayed by god fearing Christian Europe, before the Nazis resolved the problem in inimitable fashion through mass murder. In addition to the horrors of caste in Indian society, the timeless lament at the Hindu society’s mistreatment of women and a penchant for infanticide, standard fare of colonial conquerors, before they too addressed the problem through genocide and looting. Class oppression has been another favoured theme, tearfully underlined by privileged cine artistes, themselves living in stupendous luxury, the richest among them today worth in excess of US$ 750 million. Yet rarely, if ever, a whisper about the fate of women in India or indeed elsewhere under the medieval jackboot of the Sharia or the truculent determination of the faithful to extract the last pound of flesh, loudspeakers blaring the call to prayer before dawn and major thoroughfares routinely blocked during Friday prayer.

This unforgiving depiction of Hindus, their culture and history has been thoroughly imbibed by the Hindu society itself. The default of the Hindu psyche has been apology for who they are and instinctive defence of their critics as the wronged party in Indian society. The popular ideology of Bollywood has its faithful counterpart in books used in Indian schools and university curricula. They are apparently consciously designed to create self-doubt, if not subliminal self-loathing of their past, their cultural and spiritual identity. Indeed, these pedestrian texts reflexively question the very basis of Indian nationhood. Much of the work of post independent history is studiously silent on critical issues of India’s painful past, actively denunciatory of alternative perspectives and slanderous of their authors, however renowned and scholarly. Their own material is usually slyly dishonest and rarely impartial and all designed to supposedly promote communal harmony by telling blatant untruths. These morally bankrupt historians ignore the bitter travails of the entire millennia of unspeakable horrors, mass murder and slavery and point instead to the alleged evils of conquered Hindu society.

Rohan Narayana Murty & Sheldon PollockThe bedrock of self-hatred, dispensed by India’s secular elites, found a powerful echo abroad that compounded the severity of the impact on Indian society. The Anglo-American and European contempt for India arose from deep-seated historical impulses and India’s reluctance to join the aggressive Western Cold War campaign against communism. The British had also held India’s Hindu elites responsible for the patriotic fervour that eventually led to their ejection from India. Its roots can be traced back to the late nineteenth century and British sponsorship of the Muslim League that culminated in the conspiratorial relationship with Mohammed Ali Jinnah almost fifty years later, to deliver the coup de grace of partition. Virtually all British social science and academic scholarship on India and, as its obverse, Pakistan, was intentionally complicit in the project to demonise India. Its potent influence can be found in their abiding hostility towards India and Hindus to this day, led by British universities, their media and its particular ubiquitous incarnation, spreading half-truths and vicious canards.

India’s refusal to join the US-led Cold War alliance played a crucial role in the West’s hostility towards India, though now waning in dramatic ways, as illustrated vividly in the recent days. In addition, Indians, unlike the Chinese, were viewed as enslaved people and unworthy of assimilation to the status of white or the honorary category accorded to some by South African apartheid. This undoubted racism informed the perceptions of the US policy makers and the British dominance of hostile scholarship on India also became the template that spread across the Atlantic. Virtually no practising Hindu is allowed to hold a major appointment in any US or British university in Hindu studies, with such positions invariably occupied by its most unsparing detractors, whether at Harvard, Chicago, Columbia or Oxbridge or London. The contrast with sympathetic and accommodating attitudes towards scholarship on Islam or China could not be more unambiguous. Thus, the absurdly traitorous Indian Leftist hostility toward their homeland and their own culture found a sympathetic intellectual terrain abroad. Both combined to institute an unholy and improbable alliance of supposed Indian anti-imperialists and its most brutal historic purveyors globally against India. – IndiaFacts, 8 October 2-16

HINDUS PROTEST DEMONSTRATION AGAINST PROFESSOR DONIGER AGAINST ON WEDNESDAY MARCH 10, 2010, IN FRONT OF NEW SCHOOL UNIVERSITY BUILDING ,Dr. Wendy Doniger, Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, will be honored by National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) on March 10th at The New School University Building, New York City for her book titled Hindus An Alternative History...PIC Mohammed Jaffer-SnapsIndia

How long must we ignore Pakistan’s perfidities – Shankkar Aiyar

Nawaz Sharif & Pak Army Chief

Shankkar AiyarIndia is yet again at that intersection where it must avenge its honour, yet it cannot afford to lose its moral stature. … Independent MP Rajeev Chandrashekar proposes to move a Private Member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha calling for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state. … It would be interesting to see how the government responds to this approach. – Shankkar Aiyar

Study history, study history. In history lie all the secrets of statecraft….” so said Winston Churchill. Around 45 years ago, as the Pakistani Army waged war against its own people in East Pakistan, Indira Gandhi made a prophetic observation in a TV interview weeks before the 1971 war. She said, “I think, and I personally think most of the world believes this but they may not say so openly, that Pakistan as it existed can never be the same again.”

History is witness, since, to the unravelling of a country—the decoupling of the nation and the emergence of the rogue state. For four decades, Pakistan has leveraged sponsorship of terror as an instrument of statecraft, creating multiple business models. That Pakistan continues to do so while being a member of the UN and a trusted ally of the evangelists of global morality illustrates the perfidy that defines geopolitics.

There has been hopeful excitement about a bill (HR 6069) titled “Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act” introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Ted Poe. He said, “A day of reckoning has arrived. Fifteen years after September 11, 2001, we have more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on. And it’s not America’s.” This is not the first attempt. On March 9, 1995, Congressman Eliot L. Engel along with Representative Bill McCollum supported by seven members introduced a resolution (H Con. Res 35) calling upon the Secretary of State “to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism”. The 1995 resolution was referred to the Committee on International Relations. The 2016 bill has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee.

The reality of Pakistan sponsoring terror and providing a safe haven for terrorists has been known and repeatedly proven—Abbottabad is but one location. The fate of India’s repeated presentation of dossiers is well known. Others haven’t fared better either. Rahmatullah Nabil, former head of Afghan spy agency National Directorate of Security, accused Pakistan and ISI of systematically sponsoring terrorism with grim details. Zalmay Khalilzad, former US envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan and UN told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that Pakistan was playing a double game. He averred that Pakistan, instead of being designated as a “major non-NATO ally”, should be on the “list of state sponsors of terrorism”. Indeed, in February 2015, Edward R. Royce, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry questioning the strategic partnership between the US and Pakistan.

Richard Nixon & Yahya KhanFact is, Pakistan has insured itself into a secure refuge. The reason is located in history—in the crafting of the principal agent relationship with the US (and with China). On October 25, 1970, Richard Nixon promised Pakistan’s military ruler Yahya Khan that “we will keep our word, we will work with you, try to be as helpful as we can”. That was the price America had to pay for Pakistan brokering peace with China which came through in July 1971. Despite an arms embargo, arms were made available to Pakistan via Turkey and Iran. Indeed, in the 1970s, US Ambassador to India Patrick Moynihan urged in a telegram to the President “Promise Pakistan Anything But Arms” as it would be “feeding the fantasies” of Pakistan.

Osama bin LadenIt would seem that four decades later, the US administration is yet paying the EMI. Since 9/11, it has funded Pakistan to the tune of $25 billion—nearly 70 per cent of which was for security-related assistance. And questions have been raised. In 2011, following Operation Geronimo, a bill titled “Pakistan Foreign Aid Accountability Act” called on the Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan did not know of Laden’s presence. In April 2016, Congressman Matt Salmon (Chairman, Sub Committee on Asia) in his opening remarks on the 2017 Budget (Afghanistan and Pakistan) questioned the conduct of Pakistan and observed “too often they seem to do the bare minimum to keep the money flowing”. Pakistan is also a recipient of aid from multilateral agencies like IDA, World Bank and countries including Japan, the UK and Germany besides the Middle East.

For sure, countries will focus on self-interest. What about multilateral agencies—how sure are they or what is the accountability of end-use of money? What about the state of human rights in Pakistan? The HRW report is a litany of oppression. There is the persecution and execution of minorities—Shia mosques being bombed, Ahmadis being killed, the use of blasphemy laws to institutionalise discrimination. Worse, the government ended an unofficial moratorium on judicial executions.

What about the UN, what about its mandate? Benjamin Netanyahu recently described the transition of the UN from a “moral force to a moral farce”. Fact is, the UN Security Council Counter Terrorism Committee lists 38 resolutions of varying angles passed since 9/11. That, however, hasn’t yet resulted in even a question on how Pakistan repeatedly pops in the discourse on terror attacks—most recently the New York bomber. For sure, not every Pakistani supports terrorism. But events and facts beg the question as to why so many terrorists seem to have passed through Pakistan?

India is yet again at that intersection where it must avenge its honour, yet it cannot afford to lose its moral stature. Options range from and include diplomatic isolation, military action, denying Indus river water and so on. Independent MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar proposes to move a Private Member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha calling for Pakistan to be declared a terrorist state. It stops short of asking the government to move a resolution in the UN. It would be interesting to see how the government responds to this approach.

They say you cannot escape your history and geography. India’s challenge is to find answers independently to establish its pre-eminence. That, however, still leaves open the question that now must be answered by the evangelists of global good: how long will the international community be mute spectators while a rogue state commits genocide at home and sponsors terrorism across the world? It is an inflection point in history.  – The New Indian Express, 26 September 2016

» Shankkar Aiyar is an analyst for The New Indian Express and  author of Accidental India: A History of the Nation’s Passage through Crisis and Change. He tweets at @ShankkarAiyar.

Pakistan : State of the Nation

How new atheism can combat jihadists who wish to end the world – Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay & Phil Torres

Cultural Muslims who have become atheist make these photos when on Haj!

Time MagazineThe beliefs of many radicals have become increasingly apocalyptic over the past decade. They’re convinced the end of the world is imminent and that they have a special role in bringing it about. Whether or not you’re interested in the apocalypse, terrorists who believe it’s coming are interested in you. – Peter Boghossian, James Lindsay & Phil Torres

The world isn’t ending, but we face a tremendous problem from people who believe it is. The beliefs of many radicals have become increasingly apocalyptic over the past decade. They’re convinced the end of the world is imminent and that they have a special role in bringing it about. Whether or not you’re interested in the apocalypse, terrorists who believe it’s coming are interested in you.

Solutions are hard to come by. But there is a way to counter extremism that’s potentially as effective as it is unpopular. It’s a social and intellectual strategy that aims to undermine the religious beliefs that motivate jihadists—and one of the most controversial set of ideas to emerge in the West in the last quarter century: New Atheism.

New Atheism emerged in direct response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks executed by al-Qaeda, which demonstrated that acting upon certain religious beliefs could lead to catastrophe. The movement offered a heretofore unwelcomed perspective: That every religion has negative consequences, and that even religious moderates contribute to the problem because, by affirming that faith is a legitimate reason to hold beliefs, they enable religious extremists.

In making this case, the New Atheists famously broke one longstanding taboo against criticizing a person’s faith. But they broke a second taboo as well. Some New Atheists on the Left—including Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins and Michael Shermer—joined voices with many on the Right by saying there are unique dangers associated with jihad, such as martyrdom. New Atheists argued that focusing on generic religious extremism is a smokescreen, that the specific contents of religious doctrine delimit ways in which extremism plays out and thus some doctrines pose greater threats than others.

New Atheism has already succeeded in shifting the cultural landscape of Western civilization, making it far more acceptable to be openly atheist, giving atheists unprecedented public visibility, buttressing the legal boundaries of secularism and changing the nature of public discourse about faith, belief, God and religion.

The God Delusion by Richard DawkinsNew Atheist ideas like these have percolated into closed, traditional Muslim societies, giving those populations an opportunity to question their beliefs. In Muslim countries, New Atheist writings—which are illegal—have helped sow seeds of doubt and dissent. The Arabic translation of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, for example, has been downloaded ten million times, and pictures of people holding it while overlooking Mecca are remarkably commonplace given the draconian penalties for doing so—ranging from ten years imprisonment to death.

New Atheism may have inched into the Islamic world, but it has not found deep roots. And its current approach isn’t well-suited to further penetrate Muslim societies. The condescending speech of New Atheists—calling religious people delusional, for example—is not an effective cross-cultural strategy for generating change.

Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, by Ayaan Hirsi AliThe next chapter in New Atheism will require a more nuanced, if not gentler, pen. The Dutch-American Somali-born author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for example, has eloquently argued that Islam needs an internal reformation before intellectual and religious pluralism can become commonplace in the Islamic world. Atheism, Ali points out, is a logical step that comes after Enlightenment values like rationalism and tolerance, and the liberties of a free, open and secular society are in place.

To that end, New Atheists have begun reaching out to collaborate with moderate Muslims and, arguably more importantly, ex-Muslims. Many of those former Muslims have become New Atheists and gone back into their communities to advocate for reform. For example, Maajid Nawaz (a liberal Muslim and a former member of a radical Islamist group who became a counter-extremist) and Ali Rizvi (a self-identified “Atheist Muslim”) have been intimately involved in an ongoing Islamic reformation by helping to erode blasphemy laws.

The way ahead requires being able to speak honestly about religion, and New Atheism has been the most effective cultural effort to broker this conversation. Its endeavors going forward, however, must recognize the humanity in religion while maintaining a candid dialogue about deep-rooted conflicts between reason and faith. A matured New Atheism is needed more today than ever before to offer a unique alternative to irreconcilable conflicts of faith, some of which wish to end the world. – Time, 16 September 2016

» Peter Boghossian is a full faculty member in Portland State University’s philosophy department; James Lindsay is the author of three books, including Everybody Is Wrong About God; and Phil Torres is a contributing writer for the Future of Life Institute and founding director of the X-Risks Institute.

See also


Koran copies in a Taif sewer!

Apostates and atheists in Islam face the death penalty.

The crisis of the US political system – Come Carpentier

Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton

Come Carpentier de GourdonA vast library exists about the legal breaches and crimes the [United States] has committed against both foreign nations and its own people, even though a mighty control system has kept many egregious offences from being publicly acknowledged and punished…. –  Come Carpentier de Gourdon

In the 2015 film Bridge Of Spies set in the 1960s, attorney James Donovan, played by Tom Hanks, rhetorically reminds a CIA agent that the only thing that connects citizens of diverse ethnic and religious origins in the American nation is the common rule-book of the Constitution. He expresses the liberal view that the United States is the creation of a contract, according to English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke’s definition, and not a community of faith and culture, as Samuel Huntington claimed, or a civilisational state like India or China.

The conventional, almost imaginary character of the US can be seen as a strength and a factor of openness, but also as a weakness insofar as, once the hallowed rule-book is disregarded, not much is left to hold the federation together.

It turns out that, like most man-made laws, the country’s basic principles have been broken or trodden upon on many occasions since independence. The French observer Tocqueville, for one, was much less positive about the condition of the young nation than is generally thought and a few years later, in 1842 Charles Dickens was appalled by the venality, violence, dishonesty and corruption he noticed in the political system, the economy, the press and in every other aspect of public life, as he scathingly reported.

Since then the United States has grown into the world’s greatest power, but it seems that the blots and vices have grown too, like spots on an inflating balloon. A vast library exists about the legal breaches and crimes the State has committed against both foreign nations and its own people, even though a mighty control system has kept many egregious offences from being publicly acknowledged and punished, unlike more mundane scandals such as the Watergate affair. It is enough to recall the USS Maine provocation, which triggered the Spanish-Cuban war, the deception of the American public that led to the false surprise at Pearl Harbor, the contrived “banana wars” in Central America, Washington’s clandestine cooperation with and protection of Nazi officers and scientists following the German defeat in 1945, the “Operation Ajax” CIA coup in Iran, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations, the fraudulent reasons for the Vietnam war (i.e. the Gulf of Tonkin incident), the Iran-Contra conspiracy, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and, more recently the covert support of armed rebellions in Libya, Syria and Ukraine and of Saudi Arabia in the civil war in Yemen. Ditto for the innumerable armed coups, insurrections and military dictatorships brought about or backed by Washington on all continents.

Chalmers JohnsonThe transformation from a republic into a world spanning empire, as pointed out by Pat Buchanan and Chalmers Johnson among others, has also transmogrified the US governance system, under a pervasive “neo-conservative” influence, into an increasingly opaque and unaccountable regime in which “national security” agencies and the military-intelligence-industrial complex rule the roost. Several reports have shown that the Pentagon, for instance, cannot or will not account for several trillions of dollars it spent in the last decades. The State forged during the Cold War is now a permanent war machine that needs enemies to harness domestic support at home and among its allies and tributaries.

This semi-privatised oligarchic system shows its hand in the condition of the two parties that share power. This year only 9% of all US citizens had a say in the selection of the two “finalist” candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Other parties remain irrelevant distractions and could only be invited in the pre-election debates if they gathered 15% of voting intentions in nationwide polls. Yet, attaining that recognition level requires a minimum of 250 million dollars in funding, while a presidential campaign costs about a billion. It is well established that the number of votes a candidate can garner is directly proportional to the money he or she spends. Thus the two “official” parties have erected insurmountable barriers to prevent outsiders from challenging them on the national turf. That plutocratic state of affairs reflects the structure of an economic system controlled by the Federal Reserve Board, a consortium of banks formed at a secret confabulation held on Jekyll Island in 1913 by leading financiers from the US and Europe, representing mainly Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Warburg and the Rothschilds.

The transnational governance structure gradually installed through the Council on Foreign Relations, the United Nations, NATO, Trilateral Commission, World Bank, IMF and other global institutions and foundations has been opposed from the start by the American nationalistic faction, which equates the globalist project with an oligarchic, monopolistic kind of socialism, leading to the hegemony of a shrinking number of major corporations and banks, and wants to “nationalise” or abolish the Fed. 

While Hillary Clinton is the chosen representative of the financial and political status quo to replace Barack Obama, Donald Trump has come “from Left Field”, channelling the anger and anguish of the white middle and lower classes to take over the Republican Party. He carries the hopes of many of those who want to change the current order in the name of American individualistic, entrepreneurial traditions, including Tea Party businessmen, wildcatters of the Mid-West or small farmers who have been devastated by Wall Street guided policies.

Muammar GaddafiThe US political system is showing signs of terminal fatigue. A majority of Americans have a negative opinion of both the “anointed” candidates. Whereas Trump is reviled in the national security establishment, which, in an unprecedented move, signed a letter to warn the public that he is “dangerous” and unfit to lead the country, most people are aware of the Clintons’s murky dealings and questionable associations

Hillary Clinton has used her official positions and powers to fund-raise for her family foundation and charge seven-figure “lecture fees” at home and abroad, conversely serving the interests of her domestic and foreign donors. That makes her suspect of systematic corruption and she is also accused of repeatedly committing perjury before a Congressional Commission. An even worse charge is that she helped build up terrorist Islamic guerrilla groups, including ISIS, by ordering arms to be shipped to them from Libya to Syria.

Against those issues which should at the very least bar her from holding public office, the rambunctious obstreperousness displayed by Trump seems almost innocuous and his political virginity protects him from the disrepute which bedevils most professionals in the field. However, he raises an unacceptable threat to many in positions of power and privilege because he could be driven by his own promises and by a restless electorate to make radical changes in the domestic and foreign policies of the country in a scenario in which US influence and credit abroad are rapidly waning.

If Hillary Clinton is elected, she may be unable to govern effectively because of her personal limitations and flaws, given the widespread opposition and suspicion her track record generates. A Trump victory, on the other hand, will generate more turmoil and conflict in a racially and socially divided and troubled nation. The political system might not resist that stress level and some of Trump’s statements indicate that he would like to make a break from it and even disregard some constitutional provisions, as perhaps the only way to get out of chronic gridlock between the executive and legislative branches.

Jeanne Kirkpatrick, President Reagan’s UN envoy commented that Americans play Monopoly, while Soviets played chess. She wondered whether the former would manage to bankrupt the latter before being checkmated by them. The USSR was indeed bankrupted, but now the US feels checkmated and risks bankruptcy too. The Emperor is being stripped in full view of the world. – Sunday Guardian, 27 September 2016 

» Come Carpentier de Gourdon is the convenor of the International Board of World Affairs and editor of The Journal of International Issues. He is the author of various books—the most recent being Memories Of A Hundred And One Moons: An Indian Odyssey (2015)—and of many published papers about such topics as history of culture and science, geopolitics, exopolitics, philosophy and aspects of Indian civilisation. He has lectured in several universities in India and in other countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Bill Clinton

Mother Teresa: More dirt on the saint of the gutters – Jayant Chowdhury

John Paul II & Mother Teresa riding in the popemobile

It’s high time the world accepted that Mother Teresa was a regressive religious bigot who did little good for the poor and ailing. – Jayant Chowdhury

Now that the dust has settled over the comments made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat about Mother Teresa and her alleged proselytization, this is a good time to undertake a dispassionate analysis of her life and legacy. Mother Teresa, or the ‘Blessed Teresa of Kolkata’ as she is known after her beatification by the Vatican in October 2003, is undoubtedly considered by the world as a saint who gave care to lakhs of ailing and dying people and salvaged their souls. In the collective imagination of the world, she was a noble soul who dedicated her life to caring for the sick, the disabled, the homeless and the poor and, hence, a saintly soul. The Missionaries of Charity, that she established in 1950, today runs more than 500 missions in over 130 countries and is said to be the richest such order in the world, thanks to the billions of dollars that pour in from all over the world every year.

But, say Mother Teresa’s not inconsiderable number of critics, she and her order, and the work they do, is one of the biggest hoaxes created by western media-orchestrated hype. To them, Mother Teresa’s primary purpose in life was not to provide care to the sick and the destitute, but to spread the word of Christ. Mother Teresa herself said so; she hung a placard outside “Mother House” (the command centre of her order where she also resided) in Kolkata that said: “Tell them we are not here for work, we are here for Jesus. We are religious above all else. We are not social workers, not teachers, not doctors. We are nuns.”

Walter Wuellenweber argues in his incisive article in the December 22, 2006 issue of the German magazine Stern that if Mother and the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity were primarily nuns, what did they need so much money for? She once told British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (who shared her extreme right-wing Catholic views) and was the first architect of the elaborate myth that was constructed around her: “There is always the danger that we may become only social workers. Our works are only an expression of our love for Christ”.

But it’s primarily her work that attracts the fiercest criticism. She, and the Missionaries of Charity (MoC), have been accused of not doing enough for the sick and disabled in her homes, of not utilizing the vast resources at her disposal to provide modern medical treatment to them, of diverting most of the funds received in the name of the poor to the Vatican Bank, of being opaque in financial transactions, of hobnobbing with crooks and fraudsters and accepting their ill-gotten wealth and of promoting her archaic, ultra-orthodox and dogmatic views on issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

Mother Teresa's home for the dying in KolkataHorrible conditions at MoC homes

Former nuns and volunteers who have worked in MoC-run homes have written about the atrocious conditions at such facilities and how the sick are denied proper medical care due to Mother Teresa’s atrocious belief that “suffering was a gift from God”. Mother Teresa once told journalists: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s passion. I think the world is being helped by their suffering.” And so she, and her order, let the poor suffer as a matter of principle!

Doctors who have visited her homes have spoken and written about a significant lack of hygiene, proper medical care, absence of trained staff and inadequate food for the patients there. S. Bedford, a Toronto-based travel writer and journalist provided a shocking expose of conditions at Prem Dan, a MoC home in Kolkata, in the September 2014 issue of the magazine New Internationalist. The Guardian once described the care given in MoC hospices as an “organized form of neglectful assistance”. Robin Fox, the editor of British medical journal The Lancet, who visited Mother Teresa’s Home for Dying Destitute in Kolkata, criticized the medical care, or the lack of it, being provided to patients there, and held her responsible for the horrible conditions, for not making any distinction between the curable and non-curable patients and for leaving all of them to die.

Amy Gigi Alexander, who spent many years as a volunteer in Daya Dan, a MoC-run home for children with special needs in Kolkata and in MoC homes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Bolivia, Bangladesh, France, England and America since 2007, writes: “Standards for treatment were antiquated and the children often crawled around on hands and knees rather than using wheelchairs that were kept unused in a storage room”. “Mother House provided the budget for only the children’s basic needs and those needs did not include medical that was not deemed ‘necessary’. The order did not pay for things that would improve the quality of life, extend life, or make life more comfortable. Therefore, many children had had diseases that caused them to suffer, or conditions that were treatable,” she wrote.

Missionary of Charity nuns entering the Chase Bank in New York.However, when Mother Teresa herself required medical treatment, she sought and got it from the best medical facilities in America and India!

No dearth of funds

What is inexplicable is why the MoC ran, and still runs, its facilities in such a parsimonious fashion? There is no doubt that it is awash with money. An extensive study of Mother Teresa and her MoC carried out by Professor Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard of the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Senechal of University of Ottowa’s Faculty of Education resulted in a paper (released two years ago) that said the MoC had raised hundreds of millions of dollars. “Mother Teresa was miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s sufferings. During numerous floods in India or following the leak of poisonous gas from a pesticides plant in Bhopal, she offered numerous prayers and medallions, but no monetary aid,” observed Professor Larivee.

Investigations by Stern revealed that MoC used only 7% of the donations for charity and the rest were funneled into secret bank accounts or used to build more missions. Walter Wuellenweber, in his article in Stern, quotes Susan Shields who served as Sister Virgin for nine and half years at MOC’s Holy Ghost House in New York’s Bronx, as saying that every night, 25 nuns there spent many hours preparing receipts for donations that ranged between five and a thousand dollars and during Christmas, the flow of cheques, many for 50,000 dollars and more, became “uncontrollable”. Shields was quoted as saying that one year, an MoC account in a New York bank had more than $50 million. “Fifty million dollars in one bank account in a predominantly non-Catholic country. How much then were they collecting in Europe and from around the world?” wonders Wuellenweber.

Financial opacity

Mother Teresa had consistently refused to provide any accounts of the donations she had received and how they were spent. Stern, which investigated MoC’s affairs, reported that the UK was the only country where MoC, the largest organization of its kind in the world, allowed the authorities a look at its accounts. The MoC has never issued any statement of its accounts in India, even though it is legally binding to do so and when all other similar organizations like the Ramakrishna Mission and the Bharat Sevasram Sangha regularly submit audited statement of accounts.

Walter Wuellenweber wrote that “for book-keeping, the sisters use school notebooks in which they write in cramped penciled figures. Until they (the notebooks) are full. Then everything is erased and the notebook used again!” It is mysterious why Indian authorities have not asked the MoC to submit audited accounts every year.

Mother Teresa & Michele Duvalier of HaitiHobnobbing with dictators and fraudsters

Mother Teresa flew to Haiti in 1981 to receive the Legion d’Honneur from Jean-Claude Duvalier, the maniacal dictator of that country and routinely accepted huge donations from him. She once said: “Duvalier loved the poor and their love is reciprocated”. She visited Eastern European countries during the days when they were part of the Soviet Bloc and ruled by despotic Communist regimes, accepted their hospitality and set up homes in those countries.

She accepted donations from British publisher Robert Maxwell who embezzled $450 million from his own companies’ pension funds. She also took huge sums of money from the infamous American banker and financier Charles Keating and used to travel by his private jet in the US. She infamously pleaded leniency for him when he was prosecuted for fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. She supported the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975 and said: “This is good. People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.”

Ultra-orthodox views

Mother Teresa harboured Catholic right-wing views on issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality. She termed homosexuality a “scourge” and said abortion is “the worst evil”. “Abortion is a direct war, a direct killing, a direct murder by the mother of her own child. If a mother can kill her own child, what will prevent us from killing ourselves or one another?” she once said. In the context of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, when an estimated 45,000 women were raped by Pakistani army, she said the women should keep their babies.

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and PracticeThere have been quite a few critical books and films made on Mother Teresa. One of the most well-researched among them is one by Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based physician, who worked in one of Mother Teresa’s homes. His The Final Verdict is a damning indictment of Mother Teresa and her work. Based on his book, British journalists Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ali produced a documentary, Hell’s Angel, for BBC’s Channel 4. Hitchens also wrote the well-known book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa In Theory and Practice, that blew many myths around the nun. Hitchens puts it succinctly when he says: “Mother was not a friend of the poor, but a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from god. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty—empowerment of women and their emancipation from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction”.

Aroup Chatterjee points out that of the few hundred charitable organizations working for the poor, destitute and ailing in Kolkata, the MoC is one of the largest in terms of size and number of nuns, workers and volunteers, but caters to a very small percentage of the people who need help. Even other Christian organizations do much more. Organisations like the Ramakrishna Mission routinely cater to a few times the number of poor and ailing that the MoC does, despite having much lesser funds.

In the ultimate analysis, a lot of that aura surrounding Mother Teresa and her order is a myth created by the media and the Catholic Church which sees in her beatification and eventual canonization the perfect means to revitalize the Church at a time when churches are empty and the Vatican’s authority on the decline. And for many in the western world, Mother Teresa reinforces their deep-seated prejudices that it is ultimately the white man (or woman) who provides succour to the unwashed, heathen masses of the “brown” and “black” world. She made westerners feel good that they still are the saviours of the world. – Swarajya, 16 March 2015

» Jayant Chowdhury is an avid observer of and commentator on politics and society in Bengal and north-eastern  India.

New References

V. S. Naipaul interviewed by Dileep Padgaonkar, Rahul Singh & Sadanand Menon – Media

V.S. Naipaul
Sword of IslamWe reproduce here excerpts of three interviews given by Sir Vidiadhar S. Naipaul on his interpretation of the ethos of the Sri Rama Janmabhoomi movement. Sir Vidiadhar is a Trinidad-born author of Indian ancestry who now resides in the United Kingdom. He has won all the major awards in English literature including the Nobel Prize in 2001. He has also written a number of best-selling books on India.

In one of his interviews (not included here), Sir Vidiadhar said: “The (second) millennium began with the Muslim invasions and the grinding down of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of the north. This is such a big and bad event that people still have to find polite, destiny-defying ways of speaking about it. In art books and history books, people write of the Muslims ‘arriving’ in India, as though the Muslims came on a tourist bus and went away again. The Muslim view of their conquest of India is a truer one. They speak of the triumph of the faith, the destruction of idols and temples, the loot, the carting away of the local people as slaves, so cheap and numerous that they were being sold for a few rupees. The architectural evidence—the absence of Hindu monuments in the north—is convincing enough.” – Editor

Dileep PadgaonkarDileep Padgaonkar interviews V. S. Naipaul, The Times of India, July 18, 1993

Q: The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent rise of Islamic nations in Central Asia, the Salman Rushdie affair, similar harassment by fundamentalists of liberal Muslim intellectuals in India: all these factors taken together persuaded some forces to argue that a divided Hindu society cannot counteract Islamic fundamentalism.

A: I don’t see it quite in that way. The things you mentioned are quite superficial. What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening. Gandhi used religion in a way as to marshal people for the independence cause. People who entered the independence movement did it because they felt they would earn individual merit.

Today, it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history. Romila Thapar’s book on Indian history is a Marxist attitude to history which in substance says: there is a higher truth behind the invasions, feudalism and all that. The correct truth is the way the invaders looked at their actions. They were conquering, they were subjugating. And they were in a country where people never understood this.

Only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalising of India. Because of the nature of the conquest and the nature of Hindu society such understanding had eluded Indians before.

What is happening in India is a mighty creative process. Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on, especially if these intellectuals happen to be in the United States. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

However, we are aware of one of the more cynical forms of liberalism: it admits that one fundamentalism is all right in the world. This is the fundamentalism they are really frightened of: Islamic fundamentalism. Its source is Arab money. It is not intellectually to be taken seriously etc. I don’t see the Hindu reaction purely in terms of one fundamentalism pitted against another. The reaction is a much larger response … Mohamedan fundamentalism is essentially negative, a protection against a world it desperately wishes to join. It is a last-ditch fight against the world.

But the sense of history that the Hindus are now developing is a new thing. Some Indians speak about a synthetic culture: this is what a defeated people always speak about. The synthesis may be culturally true. But to stress it could also be a form of response to intense persecution.

Q: This new sense of history as you call it is being used in India in very many different ways. My worry is that somewhere down the line this search for a sense of history might yet again turn into hostility toward something precious which came to use from the West: the notion of the individual….

A: This is where the intellectuals have a duty to perform. The duty is the use of the mind. It is not enough for intellectuals to chant their liberal views or to abuse what is happening. To use the mind is to reject the grosser aspects of this vast emotional upsurge.

Q: How did you react to the Ayodhya incident?

A: Not as badly as the others did, I am afraid. The people who say that there was no temple there are missing the point. Babar, you must understand, had contempt for the country he had conquered. And his building of that mosque was an act of contempt for the country.

In Turkey, they turned the Church of Santa Sophia into a mosque. In Nicosia churches were converted into mosques too. The Spaniards spent many centuries re-conquering their land from Muslim invaders. So these things have happened before and elsewhere.

In Ayodhya the construction of a mosque on a spot regarded as sacred by the conquered population was meant as an insult. It was meant as an insult to an ancient idea, the idea of Ram which was two or three thousand years old.

Q: The people who climbed on top of these domes and broke them were not bearded people wearing saffron robes and with ash on their foreheads. They were young people clad in jeans and tee-shirts.

A: One needs to understand the passion that took them on top of the domes. The jeans and the tee-shirts are superficial. The passion alone is real. You can’t dismiss it. You have to try to harness it.

Hitherto in India the thinking has come from the top. I spoke earlier about the state of the country: destitute, trampled upon, crushed. You then had the Bengali renaissance, the thinkers of the 19th century. But all this came from the top. What is happening now is different. The movement is now from below.

Q: My colleague, the cartoonist, Mr R. K. Laxman, and I recently travelled thousands of miles in Maharashtra. In many places we found that noses and breasts had been chopped off from the statues of female deities. Quite evidently this was a sign of conquest. The Hindutva forces point to this too to stir up emotions. The problem is: how do you prevent these stirred-up emotions from spilling over and creating fresh tensions?

A: I understand. But it is not enough to abuse them or to use that fashionable word from Europe: fascism. There is a big, historical development going on in India. Wise men should understand it and ensure that it does not remain in the hands of fanatics. Rather they should use it for the intellectual transformation of India.

Rahul SinghRahul Singh interviews V. S. Naipaul, The Times of India, Jan 23, 1998

Q: You gave an interview to The Times of India, which was interpreted by the BJP as supporting them in the destruction (of the Babri structure). Do you think you were misunderstood?

A: I can see how what I said then could be misinterpreted. I was talking about history, I was talking about a historical process that had to come. I think India has lived with one major extended event, that began about 1000 AD, the Muslim invasion. It meant the cracking open and partial wrecking of what was a complete cultural, religious world until that invasion. I don’t think the people of India have been able to come to terms with that wrecking. I don’t think they understand what really happened. It’s too painful. And I think this BJP movement and that masjid business is part of a new sense of history, a new idea of what happened. It might be misguided, it might be wrong to misuse it politically, but I think it is part of a historical process. And to simply abuse it as fascist is to fail to understand why it finds an answer in so many hearts in India.

Q: Couldn’t it just be communal prejudice?

A: It could become that. And that has to be dealt with. But it can only be dealt with if both sides understand very clearly the history of the country. I don’t think Hindus understand what Islam means and I don’t think the people of Islam have tried to understand Hinduism. The two enormous groups have lived together in the sub-continent without understanding one another’s faiths.

Saananda MenonSadanand Menon interviews V. S. Naipaul, The Hindu, July 5, 1998

Q: You have been rather vehement about Marxist, leftist interpretations of history. What did you see as a major flaw in their arguments?

A: Probably not so much the Marxist interpretation of history as Marxist politics which, of course, is entirely criminal. Such disrespect for men. I think that is enough; that is condemnation enough. This lack of regard for human beings.

Q: Well, that is not specific to Marxists politics alone. All brands of organised politics, all parties mirror each other in their behaviour and have discredited themselves. But what about Marxism as a tool for analysing history?

A: You see, Sadanand, I have not lived like that. I never looked for unifying theories. I think everything is particular to a country, a culture, a period. In another context, I do not like people taking ancient myths, shall we say, and applying them to their own period. I think the ancient myths come from an ancient world. Sometimes very many ancient worlds come together in an epic work and to apply that narrative to modern life is absurd. Something like that I feel about these unifying interpretations of history. It is better just to face what there is. It is better not to know the answers to every problem, before you even know what the problems are. The Marxists, they know the answers long before they know anything. And, of course, it is not a science. It deals with human beings.

Q: You have given some signals during your visit here this time about your—it may be a wrong word—your “happiness” with the emergence and consolidation of some kind of parasitic Hindu political order here. How do you sustain such a thesis?

A: No. I have not done that actually. I have talked about history. And I have talked about this movement. I have not gone on to say I would like Hindu religious rule here. All that I have said is that Islam is here in a big way. There is a reason for that and we cannot hide from what the reasons were. The great invasions spread very far South, spreading to, you know, even Mysore. I think when you see so many Hindu temples of the 10th century or earlier time disfigured, defaced, you know that they were not just defaced for fun: that something terrible happened. I feel that the civilisation of that closed world was mortally wounded by those invasions. And I would like people, as it were, to be more reverential towards the past, to try to understand it; to preserve it; instead of living in its ruins. The old world is destroyed. That has to be understood. The ancient Hindu India was destroyed.

Q: Many things changed and many things overlapped in Indian history due to many diverse interventions. But do such processes over time justify the line of “historic revenge” with retrospective effect? Does it make that inevitable? What do you see unfolding before your eyes here today?

A: No. I do not think so. It need not happen. If people just acknowledged history, certain deep emotions of shame and defeat would not be driven underground and would not find this rather nasty and violent expression. As people become more secure in India, as a middle and lower middle class begins to grow, they will feel this emotion more and more. And it is in these people that deep things are stirred by what was, clearly, a very bad defeat. The guides who take people around the temples of Belur and Halebid are talking about this all the time. I do not think they were talking about it like that when I was there last, which is about 20 something years ago. So new people come up and they begin to look at their world and from being great acceptors, they have become questioners. And I think we should simply try to understand this passion. It is not an ignoble passion at all. It is men trying to understand themselves. Do not dismiss them. Treat them seriously. Talk to them.

Q: But don’t you think this tendency is only going to increase—this tendency to whimsically and freely interpret religion or history at the street level?

A: I think it will keep on increasing as long as you keep on saying it is wicked and that they are wicked people. And if we wish to draw the battleline, then of course, you get to battle. If you try to understand what they are saying, things will calm down. – Hindu Vivek Kendra, 199?

Babri Masjid Demolition 1992