Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
April 19, 2013
Mr. President: As the Boston marathon tragedy continues to unfold, there are
questions and more questions but few answers. Why would two young men -- 'nice'
according to those who knew them -- destroy lives including their own? What is the
cause of such disaffection? And why did disaffection lead to such violence?
The same question can be asked of the man who sent ricin in letters to senior
politicians. He claimed he had tried for some time, without success, to draw attention
to the illegal trade and transport of human organs for transplant at the place he
Meanwhile, drone strikes continue to take their toll, as do bombings in Iraq which have
intensified in the front of provincial elections. Libya used to lead the countries of
Africa in the Human Development Index, and had given up the quest for nuclear
weapons. Will North Korea agree to giving up its nuclear capacity given such an
example? Women's lives in both Iraq and Libya have taken a sharp downward spiral.
All professions were open to them, now they are shuttered. It would be nice to
remove dictators, were it not for the destruction and displacement of hundreds of
thousands (if not millions) of lives, the communal violence both ethnic and religious,
and the ripping to shreds of the fabric of society.
A quick look at the maps of these areas shows their arbitrary, often straight line
borders (Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, for example) drawn to divide victors' spoils
by the then "international community", with little regard for the people, their tribes,
their loyalties, their families affected by those lines, sketched in smoke filled rooms
where deals (and their fates) were being sealed.
When you traveled in India and Pakistan, did you notice any difference in culture?
One wonders how many are aware that the Mughal Empire at its zenith comprised
parts of modern Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Iran, and Afghanistan, Pakistan and India;
or that the first Mughal Emperor had his origins in the Ferghana Valley.
As has happened before when countries are put in flux, families are scattered, the
weak die, others are dispersed, some to faraway places, some (very few) are able to
return. The Iraqis, and before them the Kurds, the Vietnamese, the Hmong, Koreans,
Palestinians, and, yes, the Chechnyans and others from various Soviet era Russian
republics; they are all here, they are in Europe, and they are elsewhere; any place
that will have them to patch together a mangled life.
Yes, they are here, including the Tsarniev brothers who received political asylum.
Perhaps, we will eventually discover their motivation. But the professional religion
baiters and bigots busy sharpening pencils for their next onslaught, do not help. The
real test is whether our society can bypass them, and whether our leaders can lead
them in that direction.