Weekly Letter to the President
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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
August 21, 2020
Mr. President: Democracy covets the majority, no doubt satisfactory to the 19th
century utilitarians like Jeremy Bentham -- whose dressed up remains sit in a glass
cage at University College London, although with a wax head. But what about the
minority(ies)? The question is particularly apt in religiously, ethnically or racially
diverse societies. The topic did not concern Bentham much for the England of his
day was sufficiently homogeneous for it not to matter.
There is of course the politics of inclusion as evidenced by the selection of Kamala
Harris by Joe Biden to be his vice-presidential running mate. She has a Jamaican
father and an Indian (Tamil) Hindu mother. Both parents were academics: father in
economics, mother in nutrition and health. After the parents' divorce, Kamala was
brought up by her mother with presumably the Hindu virtues of conservation and hard
The US has had a black president in Barack Obama. He had a Kenyan (student in
the US) father and a white mother. Obama, known as Barry when he was growing up,
was reared by his white grandparents in Hawaii. Derogatory blacks branded him an
Oreo cookie, black on the outside, white inside.
Thus neither Obama nor Harris are truly representative of the vast majority of
America's African-American community, those whose antecedents were forcibly
brought here as slaves and sold as chattel; they and their descendents owned
forever until their master set them free. That is until slavery was abolished. Their
labor made possible the cotton plantations of the US South, and the aristocratic way
of life of their white owners. American blacks have a different history and experience,
mostly of systematic overt and later covert discrimination compounded by the horrors
of poverty, poor schools -- because schools in the US are funded mostly by property
taxes -- and closing windows of advancement, all leading up to high crime rates, etc.
Hence the anger latent in the recent Black Lives Matter movement.
Often the anger erodes sympathy from the majority as when crowds of so-called
demonstrators were transported from the mostly black South Side of Chicago to
Chicago's most exclusive shopping street, Michigan Avenue, where they went on a
rampage, breaking windows, looting and generally running wild. The police were
unprepared for the onslaught, and Chicago's black mayor, Lori Lightfoot, is unable to
act forcefully against her own constituency. There the matter stands.
Riled up, minorities can be a force, often for disruption sometimes destruction. The
angry Basques in Spain a while ago are one example. Though it's probably a safe
bet that the Black Lives Matter protests will have died out by November ... unless a
new outrageous incident by heavy-handed police somewhere revives it again.
Is Trump worried about the Biden-Harris ticket? Well, he has already started sniping
at Harris, drawing attention to the allegation that Harris was born outside the country.
Provably false but then the truth at individual levels is what one chooses to believe.
One only has to think of the multitude of religions in the world, each professing the
Yes, majorities win and lead in a democracy but minorities are not without power ...
should they choose to exercise it.