Monday, December 16, 2002

Bangladeshi Independence

I posted an Electronic Briefing Book (EBB) on the Archive website today, the thirty-first anniversary of Bangladesh's independence. The EBB consists of a background essay, document descritpions, and the decalssified government documents themselves. There are some pretty interesting documents ranging everywhere from cable traffic from Dhaka to Washington describing the genocide in East Pakistan to George Bush Senior's view of Henry Kissinger. To get the whole background essay and to see the documents, just click here.

Here is the Press Release:

National Security Archive Update, December 16, 2002

*The Tilt: The U.S. and the South Asian Crisis of 1971*

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the 31st anniversary of the creation of
Bangladesh, the National Security Archive published on the World Wide Web 46
declassified U.S. government documents and audio clips concerned with United
States policy towards India and Pakistan during the South Asian Crisis of

The documents, declassified and available at the U.S. National Archives and
the Presidential Library system detail how United States policy, directed by
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, followed a course that became infamously
known as "The Tilt."

The documents published today show:

* The brutal details of the genocide conducted in East Pakistan in March and
April of 1971

* One of the first “dissent cables” questioning U.S. policy and morality at a
time when, as the Consulate General in Dhaka Archer Blood writes,
"unfortunately, the overworked term genocide is applicable."

* The role that Nixon’s friendship with Yahya Khan and the China iniative
played in U.S. policymaking leading to the tilt towards Pakistan

* George Bush Senior’s view of Henry Kissinger

* Illegal American military assistance approved by Richard Nixon and Henry
Kissinger to Pakistan following a formal aid cutoff by the United States

* Henry Kissinger’s duplicity to the press and towards the Indians vis-à-vis
the Chinese

Follow the link below to view the Electronic Briefing Book:

Friday, December 13, 2002

More on Trent Lott
Not to beat this story to a pulp, but there is a really well written article in the Washington Post, discussing in a way, the history of Trent Lott's record on segregation and race issues. It also highlights some oft the most egregious comments that I hope Lott has ever made.

"In the 1980s, Lott voted against extending the Voting Rights Act and against establishing Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday. On the Voting Rights Act, in 1981, he was one of 17 Republicans and seven Democrats, including most of the Virginia delegation, voting against extending that law, which struck down obstacles between minorities and polling places. In 1983, Lott joined 97 other House members, most of them Republicans, in opposing the King holiday, including then-Reps. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). In an interview with Southern Partisan magazine, Lott explained his stance on the King holiday: "Look at the cost involved in the Martin Luther King holiday and the fact that we have not done it for a lot of other people that were more deserving."
More deserving? Who would that be, Strom Thurmond, all the Grand Marshalls of the KKK?

One of my favorite sections discusses a press release sent out by Lott's office to highlight his record to specifically include his

"legislative achievements in education, trade with Africa, economic development and community health care.
Under Lott's majority leadership, the document said, the Senate approved a Rosa Parks Congressional Medal for the woman who began the Montgomery bus boycott; similar awards to the nine black students who integrated Little Rock schools; a day honoring minority veterans of World War II; a resolution honoring Jackie Robinson; and a resolution creating a special task force to recognize the slave laborers who helped build the Capitol."

This seems to me to be someone who when questioned about being racist says, "no way, I have lots of (insert race here) friends."

Maybe Trent Lott will take a cue from Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law and resign his post.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

George W. and Trent Lott...on the same page?

Maybe this is a bit far fetched, but perhaps President Bush and Trent Lott don't are not that far apart on their views regarding integration/segregation. The New York Times editorial seems to disagree with this assessment, but if one looks at the new Executive Order signed by Bush on Faith Based initiatives, perhaps there is some connection.

"By far the most contentious of the changes is Bush's executive order informing federal agencies that religious organizations refusing to hire people of any faith can still win contracts.
Additionally, new regulations being unveiled Thursday from the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Housing and Urban Development also preserve the right of religious groups providing certain government-financed services to hire based on religion.
Broadly, Bush's directive tells federal agencies to ensure religious groups are treated equally with others in all respects, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Federal contractors also can no longer be denied federal money for displaying religious icons, such as a cross or a menorah."

I don't know, but to me, this just seems like state sponsored discrimination. Organizations that have discriminatory hiring practices on the basis of religion should not be given federal funding. There is a fundamental inequity in this provision. In a truly secular society such as America, a country created on religious freedom and pluralism, the government should not even consider sanctioning discriminatory groups by giving them funding. By giving groups that hire based on religion funding, the government is giving its tacit ok to discrimination. Instead of trying to be exclusive in a society that is becoming more so, perhaps the government should be promoting greater inclusion, and offering incentives to groups that don't discriminate, let alone hire on the base of religious beliefs.

How far really are Trent Lott and George W. Bush?

Incidentally, here is a link to an article I wrote over a year ago based mainly on the faith based initiative.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Trent Lott, Who me, a Racist?

There seems to be quite a media storm brewing, finally, over comments made by our country's Republican Majority Leader, Trent Lott at a party honoring, if you can, Strom Thurmond on the hundredth anniversary of the day of his birth (thanks for the phraseology anand).

At a party celebrating retiring Sen. Thurmond's 100th birthday, attended by hundreds of Thurmond's family members and friends from South Carolina, Senate colleagues and members of the Supreme Court, Lott said that when Thurmond ran for president on a states' rights, anti-integration ticket in 1948, Mississippi voted for him.

"We're proud of it," Lott said to applause. "And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

Now, I am not too sure what he meant by that, but it seems like he feels integration is bad? Initially, as stated in the Washington Post, Lott's office played down the significance of the senator's remarks. Spokesman Ron Bonjean issued a two-sentence statement: "Senator Lott's remarks were intended to pay tribute to a remarkable man who led a remarkable life. To read anything more into these comments is wrong."

But, it seems Lott has offerred a more sincere apology. Accoring to ABCnews Lott today said, "A poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embraced the discarded policies of the past," Lott said in a statement issued Monday night. "Nothing could be further from the truth, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."

Lott's statement came "out of personal concern for the misunderstanding," his spokesman, Ron Bonjean, said. I think it had more to do with the potential political fallout then any concern. I think an apology is easier than facing censure.

Also, here is nice editorial from the Washington Post on the state on this and Mary Landrieu's election.

More South Asian Stuff and Pop Culture

I am really intrigued. In fact, I really do not understand it, but I think I am a fan. I am referring to the new hip hop and now apparently American cinematic trend of adding South Asian flavor to both American music and film. Sure the Dr. Dre/Truth Hurts/Lata song is old news. So is the Erik Sermon Redman song entitled "react" where redman appears (if i got my hindi correct) to be down with suicide? And now two new developments: Shania Twain and Jay-Z. Jay-Z on his album the Blue Print 2 has a track entitled "The Bounce" in which in the middle, fans of the movie Khal Nayak perhaps might get excited as, he has sampled words from that famous song"Choli Ke Peeche." What I find interesting is that when I would go to Desi parties, especially during my undergrad years, we would go to hear, and have a blast listening to hindi remixes, by the way,whatever happenned to lil jay and dj jiten-shouldn't they be blowing this up? Now it seems, there is no remix involved, mainstream artists have caught on to hindi composition, and it is interesting to see how hip hop and new, and even older hindi music blend so well. I guess it just takes some established American hip-hop artists to bring the sound mainstream. Timbaland and Missy Elliot started this trend with "Get Ur Freak On," which legitimately sampled from Panjabi MC's "Mahi" (which is a really good song and incidentally due to the huge success of the Mundia Tho Bach Ke track-yes, the Knight Rider one-i think it is being re-released on a major label). I just hope the South Asian thing doesn't get over played or overhyped so as to yesterday's trend.

Update, it appears Lata Mangeshkar/SareGama India are going ahead with their lawsuit. I found a press release last week on their attorney's website, which in a paragraph explained that,

"The lawsuit is in response to the flagrant disregard, and disrespect, for Attorney Davis’ client’s religious beliefs, culture and ownership of the copyright. Some of the lyrics in “Addictive” are obscene and offensive, and cause extreme offense, to the company’s owners and to the sensibilities of many Hindi and Muslim people. Saregama India Limited has been in existence for over 90 years, and the misuse of the company’s copyright threatens its reputation and standing."

I hope you noticed, but the release said, "Hindi and Muslim", instead of "Hindu and Muslim." So I emailed the attorney, and within the hour, I received a response, and the problem was corrected. Needless to say for Lata's sake, I hope it was a typo-and not just some shoddy research.

Anyway, getting back to topic I also heard, quite weirdly that Shania Twain enlisted the British Indian producers Simon and Diamond to produce part of her new album UP! If you buy the album, you get three discs-a red one, a green one (one is a pop version, the other country) and a blue one which is supposed to be an international mix. I think the lyrics are the same throughout, and it is just her selection of music that has changed. Part of the blue album was produced in Bombay, and it is so strange to hear typical bollywood background music in the intro, and then all of a sudden, Shania Twain's twangy American voice. I am not so sure it works, but I guess it is for everyone else to decide.

The last bit I wanted to add to this had to do with cinema and a lot of media reports detailing bollywood actually coming to hollywood and vice-versa. I just saw the new Jimi Mistry (East is East), Marisa Tomei, and Heather Graham movie, entitled "The Guru." The movie, while there are scenes that many Desi parents may be averse to, is highly entertaining. First of all, who wouldn't pay money to see non-South Asian people do a bollywood-ishtyle song and dance sequence. Well, it gets better, because both Heather Graham and Marisa Tomei get dolled up in Sari's and Indian gear and participate in the lip syncing and Indian dancing that Bollywood is famous for. It is hard to explain how this happens exactly, and I guess I could explain it, but I don't want to ruin the excitement for anyone, so just see it, and relish in your own reaction. What is niceabout this film, is how it represents the really cool parts of globalization. Western artists singing and dancing to Bollywood songs, and South Asian actors in western films doing dances to songs from famous musicals like Grease. Also noteable in the film is Ajay Naidu-who, if you ever read this, you should have your own website.

I would love to hear what you guys have to say about this so please feel free to comment.

ps. one paper down, two more to go!

Monday, December 02, 2002

Bombay London New York
I don't think I will be posting too much this week as I have a term paper due this Friday. I did however have time to finish my book review of Amitava Kumar's newest work, Bombay London New York (Routledge and Penguin India 2002), which can be found at The Satya Circle. I really liked this book as I think Kumar did a great job in detailing the immigrant experience. He also offers a wonderful survey of the more recent Indian writings in English. BLNY can be purchased online and at most bookstores.