Category Archives: Nationalism

Mumbai Attacks – They Wanted Foreigners

Follow on Twitter – #Mumbai and DesiPundit has done a great job with the round-ups.

My concern is with this statement from Reuters.

A witness told Indian television that gunmen in Mumbai looked for British and U.S. passport holders.

They wanted anyone with British or American passports,” a witness at the Taj Hotel, who said he was from London and was in India on business, told the NDTV news channel. He had smoke stains all over his face. “They wanted foreigners.”

Has this been confirmed? Dave states that “as nationality is the principal trait governments use to select targets, it should come as no surprise that the attackers searched for targets by nationality as well.”

This tactic of targeting ‘foreigners’ — representatives of Western civilization — challenges the concept of building higher walls, smarter borders, restricting immigration to protect Americans and keep out the terrorists, freedom fighters, whatever PC or non-PC term attached to these advocates of violence. In this era of globalization, with more people not living in their countries of origin, if attackers can target Americans outside of America, outside our guarded physical borders, can the nation-state really provide the necessary ‘security?’ It certainly raises new questions about the responsibility of the nation-state and mentally redrawing our conception on physical barriers.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says:

“It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, based outside the country, had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the commercial capital of the country,” he said. “We will take the strongest possible measures to ensure that there is no repetition of such terrorist acts. We are determined to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the safety and security of our citizens.

Who is behind this? For now, we know through a recovered phone from a slain terrorist that calls were made to Karachi. Lets not pin this on a country and step away from jingoistic calls to attack Pakistan. The Deccan Mujahideen have claimed responsibility for this while Pakistan has strongly condemned the attacks. There is also no need to scapegoat Muslims in India. None of this worked for the United States when it declared war on Afghanistan and started profiling Arab Americans — Al Qaeda is stronger than ever before and Bin Laden is at large, so declaring war on Pakistan, given MAD, would be even more stupid.

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Filed under Immigration, Nationalism

Journal of Peasant Studies – Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India

This book review should appear in the upcoming edition of the Journal of Peasant Studies. I cannot publish the whole bit here even though it is my work, since I signed over licensing rights but it should be available through your college databases.

I don’t know whether I will have time for more book reviews in the future or if it is an endeavor that I am any good at, but it was worth experimenting and I am not too displeased with the results. (The Publisher ain’t complaining; why should I)?

Review: Vinayak Chaturvedi, Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India, University of California Press, 2007.

by Prerna Lal

Small excerpt:

The untold narrative of peasant classes marginalized from the promise of the postcolonial nation-state is a popular subject of research and criticism among subaltern scholars seeking to pose ruptures and discontinuities in the hegemonic history of Indian nationalism.

In Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Western India, Chaturvedi embarks on this project after a chance discovery while pouring through archives on the agrarian economy of Gujarat: he discovers notes by the district magistrate about the historically-celebrated Patidars forcibly extracting labor from the Dhalara peasants in Kheda. Upon further investigation, Chaturvedi discovers that the Dharalas were considered a ‘criminal class’ by both the colonialists and Indian nationalists through the passage of the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 and given their treatment, it came as no surprise that the Dharalas opposed Patidar-led nationalist politics along with colonialism.

Enamored by the prospects of an untold history of peasant pasts, the central thesis of this scholarship revolves around the actions, practices and discourses of the Dharala peasants before the emergence of an Indian nation-state. Chaturvedi claims that the Dharalas were political in their own right and their opposition to Patidar nationalism allied with Gandhi did not denote that these peasants lacked an understanding of politics or an inability to imagine political community. On the contrary, through rigorous fieldwork and archival study, Chaturvedi lays out a fragmentary and episodic history of the Dharala peasants that establishes their broad political discourses, complex understandings of political community, and subsequent resistance to both colonialism and nationalism.

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Filed under Desi, Ethnic Studies, Nationalism, Political Theory

Documentary 'Border' – Masquerading as Neither 'Left' nor 'Right'

From the Press Release (propaganda) of this new pro-restrictionist, pro-Minutemen ‘Documentary’ called ‘Border’:

The shocking documentary ‘Border’ shows how a porous border and limited enforcement enables human smugglers and drug traffickers to extort, rape, murder and humiliate those seeking a better life in the United States.

Destroying the notion that those who want to secure the border are racist xenophobic bigots, filmmaker Chris Burgard shows how the predominantly Hispanic property owners and law enforcement personnel on US side of the border are fighting a war against drug cartels that move people and drugs across the unforgiving and desolate desert terrain.

Contrary to the talking points of the so-called ‘immigrants rights’ groups, Burgard shows how illegal immigrants are sometimes locked into indentured servitude to the smugglers who’ve delivered them to safe houses in cities like Tucson and Phoenix. The smugglers, commonly known as ‘Coyotes,’ threaten to kill the families of the newly arrived immigrants if they don’t pay extortion money. Sometimes, this servitude can go on for years.

The claims made in this press release are ludicrous. Pro-immigrant rights group online such as The Sanctuary have never supported the smuggling of ‘illegal immigrants’ and indentured servitude. We even have huge reservations about guest-worker programs that could potentially create a separate class of laborers more prone to exploitation.

Furthermore, the documentary deceptively tries to claim that since immigrants trying to come into the United States through porous borders have to undergo extraordinary dangers, border enforcement works in favor of these immigrants?! What? First, try telling that to the families of migrant workers that are shot by the U.S. border patrol. Second, if the borders were indeed so ‘porous,’ wouldn’t coming over be child’s play? And third, do you seriously expect us to believe that the Minutemen are patrolling the border to protect ‘illegal immigrants’ and stop drug cartels? The fact that the documentary symphatizes with the Minutemen should be enough to stray clear of it.

The biggest fallacy of the documentary is the assumption that border enforcement is somehow the solution to ‘illegal immigration’ and all the dangers surrounding it. However, if immigration from Mexico and Latin American countries was easier, if people did not need to wait in line for 20 years to reunite with family, if the category for unskilled work visas was not riddled with bureaucracy, if migrant workers could migrate easily across borders, they would not be desperate enough to hire coyotes, risk exploitation and harm crossing over the desert terrain or Rio Grande.

If, in Latin America, the United States did not support the disproportionate elite & multinational corporation ownership of lands primarily used for agriculture that consequently prevented people from sustaining themselves, if it did not ruin economies and livelihoods by waging a war against narcotics while simultaneously selling those narcotics to arm reactionary movements, if this country worked to make labor as free and mobile as capital, a large number of migrants would have no reason to flee ‘North’ in order to survive and make a living.

The border, and enforcement of walls erected to keep out the unknown–whether it is done in protection of or from the unknown–still constructs and reifies differences, still otherizes. The documentary is simply more nativist propaganda masquerading as impartial ‘truth.’

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Filed under Immigration, Nationalism, Neo-Liberalism, Racism

Critique of Borders – Canada no longer visible from Derby Line, Vermont

Since this site is called ‘No Borders and Binaries,’ lets revisit the philosophy behind that term. The creation of a bordered world is a deliberate attempt to divide, contain and isolate communities, to forget about arbitrary and ‘disorderly’ origins, in order to create a ‘more ordered, more secure world’–an impossible goal. See the case of Derby Line in Vermont below.

One library, two countries by Soul of Beer.

The border fence between Canada and America in Derby Line, Vermont is spreading hatred and discontent among residents. The United Press International reports:

Derby Line, which has a shared library with the neighboring Canadian community of Stanstead, has had lettering painted on three side streets: “Canada” on one side, “U.S.A.” on the other. Then came an influx of U.S. Border Patrol agents who chased motorists who ignored signs telling drivers to use official entry points.

The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO) reported Sunday that there was a proposal last year to erect fences on the town’s small streets to officially barricade the United States from Canada.

“They’re stirring up a little hate and discontent with that deal,” said Claire Currier, who grew up in the border area. “It’s like putting up a barrier. We’ve all intermingled for years.”

See NPR for more coverage of this issue.

The residents are told that it is a matter of national security, that our borders are porous, that terrorists could enter the border through these unsecured places. It doesn’t seem to matter that the people living in harmony across the border, intermingling often, don’t like the idea of a fence that would create barriers amongst them, deny them access to golf clubs, libraries, shopping malls and other activities they share together. And then there are those that think that Vermont should belong to Canada.
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Filed under Gender, Immigration, Nationalism, Political Theory

The Invisibles that Made the Beijing Games – Dark Side of the Olympics

I mentioned earlier that the computer-generated 55-second video footage of giant fireworks on film at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was pure simulacrum–with no relation to ‘reality.’ It turns out that there was more “staging” than meets the eye at the 2008 Beijing games.

First, a 9-year old lip-synced the song “Ode to the Motherland” because the original singer was not considered pretty enough.

Then, we had reports of a pre-recorded “live” fireworks display as aforementioned.

Chinese officials also admitted to deploying cheer squads (legions of spectators wearing matching yellow shirts) to ‘create’ atmosphere and hide the empty seats. (Why were there empty seats at this major world spectacle? We will come back to this point soon).

Now Beijing officials are admitting that children dressed in different ethnic costumes in China who carried the Chinese flag were not actually from those ethnic groups.

And all the while, the CCP has cracked down on Olympics piracy–the sale of ‘inauthentic’ Olympic gear. In order to move away from the perception of China as a “low class pirating country” according to CNN,

On April 26, World Intellectual Property Day, cities across China demonstrated the country’s commitment to quashing piracy by staging public exhibitions and destroying pirated goods.

This is the essence of hyper-reality, the fake crackdowns on pirated goods (the brand names also representative of nothing) to allude to a China that is indeed unreal; it does not exist.

Maybe these reports do not bother average viewers who understand that they are consuming images that are not necessarily representative of reality.  And this post is by no means condemning China for “faking” the Olympics–that would be far too juvenile and hypocritical and I will leave that to the Orientalists and hate-mongers.

In ‘postmodern’ society, the simulated copy has preceded the real and while I am not asserting like Jean Baudrillard did that “the real no longer exists,” I do hold that the mass profusion of images for consumption–the systemic act of the manipulation of signs–play a major role in masking and convoluting our perceptions of reality.

The most disturbing part of the Olympic spectacle does not have to do with the 55 second CGI, lip-synching or child actors; it has little to do with the spectacularly grand banquet of scrolls, drums, processions, songs and dances that were supposed to reflect 5000 years of Chinese civilization. This hyper-reality and idealized transposition blanketed the ‘real’ people of China, the people that would ideally occupy those empty seats, the ones in rural areas who would never even see the games but have their land taken away in an attempt to create the facade, those that toiled behind the scenes to make these Olympics a success, the ‘undesirables’ that China was all too eager to eliminate from the screens before the games begun even while appearing to extoll the values of its own historical laboring past and present during the staged simulation.

The migrant laborers that toiled hard with little-to-no legal and health protections, and built the Bird’s Nest are nowhere to be seen. They came, they built, and they left knowing that they would never have access to the amazing sites that they have put together, that the world may never recognize their amazing feats and reward them with medals. After all, we are glued to our screens watching and applauding people running, swimming, cycling and jumping for medals, sponsorships, and fame. But the true achievers are the migrant workers, the unsung heroes who made these games possible.
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Filed under Gender, Human Rights, Immigration, Nationalism, Political Theory

No Building a Wall Through the Middle of a College Campus

Lets set aside the larger issues concerning the construction of the $49 billion border fence along U.S.-Mexico; pretend for a moment that debates over efficiency, cost, the environment, property rights, detrimental political and symbolic messages just do not exist when it comes to this mammoth task. How much sense does it make to build a wall across a college campus that would split the UT-Brownsville campus between two countries?

Maybe our immigration officials have finally come of age. Maybe they are thinking ahead to a smaller world with increased communication between different cultures and an education with more global influence. Maybe we can share the UT-Brownsville campus with Mexico, teach half the courses in Spanish, provide joint daycare at the university, and promote soccer in the United States while we teach the Mexican nationals about American football.

No, no such thing. In fact, Rep. Tom ‘border hawk’ Tancredo stated that if the residents of Brownsville were so staunchly opposed to the fence, perhaps it should simply be built north of Brownsville. In other words, dissent against building a wall across the middle of a university campus means we are un-American and don’t deserve to live in the United States. Already, the border fence is not being built on the border but 1 mile north of the Rio Grande.

Thankfully, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen has stalled this insanity till July 31 at least. Even after filing documents with the federal judge that building a fence across the campus was the ONLY viable alternative, Hanen ordered Homeland Security to work with UT-Brownsville and figure out alternatives to building the wall across the campus.

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Study – Majority legal residents were "illegal" at one time – California

It appears that most things don’t happen in a STRAIGHT line (neither do brain waves and heart beats FYI).

After my constant repetition of “undocumented or illegal is not a permanent immutable characteristic” this past week, the Public Policy Institute of California has just confirmed the accuracy of the statement.

In a new study based on a survery of 8000 people, the PPIC found that 52% of Californians had past experience of living in the country illegally at one time or another.  It absolutely smashes the ill-promoted dichotomy of legal/illegal, proving that binary modes of thinking about immigration policy are superficial, baseless and untrue.

“It highlights how overly simplified our understanding of immigrants and immigration can be,” said Hill, who said a stark distinction between “illegal” and “legal” immigrants does not acknowledge the frequent correlation between both categories. “We need to be a little more cognizant of the variety and breadth of experience.”

The ALIPACers are seething. They cannot believe that the lines between legal and illegal can be blurred. After all, we are talking about black and white, engraved-in-stone distinctions, right? You can see the obvious physical, emotional, spritual, intellectual and personality differences between a legal and illegal migrant, right? Some have even gone as far as to say that “if they are going to break simple immigration laws, they will break other laws.” Yes, because if you run a traffic light or drive above the speed limit, it immediately makes you more likely to commit felonies, right? Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “ex-illegals.”

Re-read Plyler v. Doe – The Supreme Court had it right in 1982: The “illegals” of today can become the legal residents of tomorrow. If 26 year old legal opinion can get it right, why can’t the fear-mongering, immigrant-loathing bashers? And based on this study as empirical evidence, immigrant-loathing is an accurate assessment of ALIPAC since it does demonstrate that undocumented migrants work to become legal residents and citizens. Still, the “blood is boiling” over at ALIPAC.

No human being can be Illegal. It is not a noun, not a permanent category or classification that reflects the true character of a migrant body. Fluid and subject to change, unauthorized stay can translate into authorized permanent stay in the form of citizenship.

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Filed under Human Rights, Immigration, Nationalism