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
June 19, 2015
Mr. President: There is something particularly heinous about violence in religious
places -- churches, temples, mosques, shrines, synagogues, abbeys, monasteries.
So the ongoing violence between Sunni and Shia and the bombings in mosques
appalls; so the murder of 29 Palestinians by Baruch Goldstein, a man celebrated as
hero in extremist circles; so the burning this week of the Church of the Multiplication, a
Christian shrine managed by the Benedictine order in northern Israel, believed by the
faithful to be the site where Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and the fishes
-- offensive Hebrew graffiti left on the walls made the crime just that much more
painful; and so the murder on Wednesday of nine black worshippers in Charleston,
S.C., where there is a tradition of Wednesday evening services. Why there? Why
With the election as South Carolina governor of Republican Nikki Haley, born Nimrata
Randhawa of Indian Sikh parentage, the lines both political and ethnic had seemed to
be blurring, but certain hatreds simmer under the surface, percolating up when hate
mongers are given freer rein. There is another kind of global warming -- a rise in the
In this country, a new book by Ann Coulter warns us of the impending takeover
(cultural and worse according to her) by Hispanics hailing from "misogynist cultures".
Her ideas resonate white nationalist themes like the "browning" of America.
Meanwhile Pam Geller, the noted Islamophobe, continues her hate propaganda on
buses and subways in New York. Once it becomes acceptable to hate and demean,
reason and tolerance are blown away like chaff in the wind.
For both of them, Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian born in Homs would be unacceptable.
And so he was by his girlfriend's parents. The couple separated and their unborn
child was later given up for adoption. Who was their child? Steve Jobs -- the founder
of Apple, now the largest listed stock.
Some Republicans might well follow the anti-immigration call -- to an extent Mitt
Romney did -- but what do Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana think of rhetoric
like the "browning of America"?
A president should be able to influence the tone and temper of a nation ... if he tries.
To speak only fleetingly in response to egregious acts is not enough, and to ignore
one's own origins, in an environment increasingly Islamophobic, is to shame them.
How could a certain Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. have felt visiting a New York adorned
with Islamophobic ads on public conveyances?
Cloaking whole peoples, religions, races with the smear of anonymous undesirability
epitomizes a bigotry one would have hoped might have disappeared in the twenty-first
century. Yet it is on the rise, not just here but in Europe also. To be anti immigration
and asylum seekers and all the they-are-not-us refugees, often from wars initiated or
instigated by the West, is a popular stance, given gains in recent elections including
the win this week in Denmark by the right wing party ousting Social Democrats.
So it is. And I thought the world would be a happier place by now.