Monday 29 June 2009

The geopolitics of Michael Jackson (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — Given the many allegations that he endured, as well as the fall in stage appearances in the past few years, pop star Michael Jackson may have been surprised by the emotion caused by his death. Admirers in every continent gave voice to their feelings, making it impossible for traducers to attempt one final stab at Jackson’s reputation.

The legacy of the singer includes a geopolitical factor; he provided the proof that while prejudice may exist on the surface, deeper inside each person is the recognition of a common humanity. He represented the need for unity in a world where communications and travel have melted boundaries.

Many, if not most, of Jackson's mourners were of European ethnicity, the group that has led the world for close to six centuries, till the middle of the last century. This success has created resentment in some other groups, of which pronounced manifestations can be seen in leaders such as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The first has bankrupted his country by launching a war that is in significant ways racial; the other seems to be following the same path, though hopefully will reconsider before his country becomes another Zimbabwe.

Both leaders have made an error common in post-colonial societies, which is to ascribe all current ills to the single factor of external rule, avoiding internal factors that may have contributed to social disintegration even before colonization or even facilitated the original takeover of the nation.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Khamenei Turns on Khomeini's Own (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat

Manipal, India — When Iran’s Assembly of Experts chose Ali Khamenei as the country’s Supreme Leader on June 4, 1989, it was because he was seen as a "consensus" man. After a decade under Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader – a title he created to ensure that the clerics would dominate Iran – people were fatigued by the austere leader's style and his air of near infallibility.

The country had been through the cauldron of war with Iraq and was bleeding and in disarray. Earlier, as president of Iran, Khamenei had impressed many with his willingness to consult a wide range of people and to give precedence to the views of experts over those of the more impulsive clerics.

Indeed, he was not even an ayatollah – he was given the title only after Imam Khomeini passed away. Even so, several of the country's grand ayatollahs opposed the move, pointing to Khamenei's lack of significant theological contributions and to the fact that his role had been largely political.

These were ignored by the Assembly of Experts. They needed a Supreme Leader who would allow them the freedom to make the country functional again. In particular, Khomeini’s men rallied behind Khamenei, pointing out that the Imam had himself appointed Khamenei to lead Friday prayers in Tehran toward the second half of 1989.

For nearly a decade the new Supreme Leader kept a low profile, in contrast to his predecessor. He allowed the elected government a genuine say in the administration of Iran, and reined in clerics who were eager to resume the dominance they enjoyed under Grand Ayatollah Khomeini.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

Rudd in Denial About Ozzie Racism (UPIASIA)

M.D. Nalapat 

Manipal, India - At least 12 Indian students have been attacked in Australia in half that many weeks. This has put at risk not only the country’s multibillion-dollar education industry, but also Australia's image as a tolerant and inclusive country.

The Victorian police have deliberately refrained from releasing details of the attackers, but the odds are that most of the attacks were carried out by youths of Eastern European background. Given the post-war economic chaos and political stunting in these states, the only "distinction" that migrants from such countries have clung to has been their absence of tanned skin.

Many migrants from Eastern Europe to North America and Australia are horrified at the increasing number of immigrants with duskier complexions than theirs. This sentiment was personally witnessed by this columnist during a visit to the United States in 1992, when a group of Eastern European migrants expressed their shock at the number of non-whites admitted to a country they had been taught to regard as a white bastion. These individuals were clear that such migration ought to be banned forthwith.

The same sentiment was expressed this year by those who attacked Indians for being different from Australians. The attackers seemed to be unaware that Australia is almost entirely a country of migrants, albeit mostly from Europe until Fortress White Australia began to be dismantled during the 1980s – almost entirely by white liberals in that country