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
October 24, 2014
Mr.President: For most of the last two thousand years, India and China have together
produced approximately half of the world's output. Then colonialism struck.
Conquest, pestilence, and all manner of disasters the countries' economies withstood,
but not colonialism, real and virtual. Not the insidious laws designed to protect the
colonizer's home industries; not the overt discrimination hobbling the native
population; and not the diminishment of education, training and skills. The countries
were left out of the modern world. So for China, it must have been heartening news
when the IMF declared recently that it was now the largest economy in the world on a
purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. India, too, despite colonial dismemberment, is
included once again amongst the three largest economies in the world.
India was lucky it did not have a large colonial settler population. Whenever colonists
have seized land and settled, it has been a violent path to independence. So it was in
your father's homeland of Kenya with Jomo Kenyatta's Mau Mau rebels being labeled
terrorists by the British. So it was in French Algeria and British Southern Rhodesia
now Zimbabwe. The prospects do not look good for Israel unless wiser and saner
heads prevail. Unfortunately, the present government is instead grabbing Bedouin
ancestral lands for more settlements.
There were two shootings much in the news this week. Jaylen Fryberg, a 15-year old
attending Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington state, shot dead a female
classmate and wounded four others. News reports note he was quite well-liked, never
before violent, and that he was part American Indian. The latter is repeated often in
the same way as other shooters are said to be 'disturbed', to separate such from the
main stream. It seems, kids now use guns routinely to settle differences. Are they
learning from example?
The second was the shooting of an honor guardsman, at a war memorial in the
Canadian capital, Ottawa. The gunman then made his way inside the parliament
building where he was killed. The fact he was mentally disturbed (according to his
mother), living in a shelter, had had several previous brushes with the law, had not
seen his mother for five years, was on a security watch list, yet still managed to
acquire weapons. All that is set aside when it is revealed that Mr. Bibeau, whose
father is Libyan, had converted to Islam. Yet, social alienation is linked not
infrequently with such conversion; the hippies of the sixties and their gurus are an
Of course, the fact that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a right-winger, has reversed
Canada's long policy of staying out of the middle east Canadian F-18s have been in
the forefront in the bombing against ISIS. No surprise then that violence prone,
disturbed individuals react in the way our modern world does.
That bombing kills more civilians than combatants is well-established, and when ISIS
is holed up in densely-packed old cities, the carnage is worse. Hundreds of times
more civilians are being killed than Mr. Bibeau could ever manage, and many more,
who stayed put when ISIS captured the cities are fleeing in droves and watching their
Meanwhile the architects of the Libya mess, the Syria mess, the Ukrainian mess, and
of the hundreds of thousands of refugees in frail shelters as winter again approaches,