HOME | ABOUT US | Speaker | Americans Together | Videos | www.CenterforPluralism.com | Please note that the blog posts include my own articles plus selected articles critical to India's cohesive functioning. My articles are exclusively published at www.TheGhouseDiary.com You can send an email to: MikeGhouseforIndia@gmail.com

Friday, July 31, 2015

Why Yakub Memon's hanging should have been telecast live

I am pleased to share my thoughts about Capital punishment and the deliberate killing of the criminal Yakub Memon, as this has become the most talked about death penalty in the nation. 

I have been opposed to Capital punishment from the early 80’s, however, I have slipped twice since then; first when I heard about a guy who raped my friends’ daughter, and a Houston woman who killed 7 of her children for claiming insurance. All other times, I have stood firmly with the idea that the society cannot act like outrageous beasts and we cannot deliberately kill an individual no matter what caused him to be a killer.

In a democracy, civility goes hand in hand. If everything is just in a society all goes well, but when injustice occurs directly, indirectly or remotely, bad things multiply in the society, and it will take time to restore dharma – the righteousness. Justice and Fairness are the pillars of any society; a good system ensures trust, prosperity and peace for all.

Who do you blame when some punk shoots the cashier at a 7/11 for a few bucks? His parents, his community or his situation? What if that man or woman was raised where you and I were raised? Is society responsible for creating such a monster? Should we punish that monster? Will that end more monsters?

Of course the state shamelessly kills its criminals either through a lethal injection as in Texas or chopping the head off in public as in Saudi Arabia. Both acts are disgusting and barbaric. In the early 80’s I was appalled with an Indian judge who was visiting,  his unflinching take on death penalty was just plain shocking, I thought being a judge, he would have debated, hesitated or would have reservations… NONE Whatsoever!

I have written quite a lot on the topic, but the following paragraph expressed my sentiments very well. “Today, the Indian state has shown itself to be no better than Tiger Memon. Tiger planned the bombings in retaliation to the terrible violence against Muslims that followed in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition. We have terminated his brother's life to extract vengeance for the blasts.

Tiger's act was a reaction of a hotheaded criminal; we sent his brother to the gallows after keeping him in jail for 22 years - what could be more cynical and cold-hearted than that. What ends of justice does that serve now? Are we safer from his judicial elimination? How have we shown ourselves to be different from those we condemn? “

I am citing a beautiful example, which you will find them in all societies. This by no way exonerates any society; criminals are in every group of people.  Hazrat Umar once commuted an order to cut the hands of a thief as a punishment. He discovered that the man stole the food to feed his children. Umar took the blame on the society for creating such a desperate situation for individuals to resort to such a thing.  I hope we all start thinking what is just instead of blindly applying the laws. We the Americans are no exception to that.

The following column is a compelling article to read.

Mike is a speaker, thinker, writer, pluralist,  TV-Radio commentator and a human rights activist committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His info in 63 links at MikeGhouse.net and writings at TheGhouseDiary.com
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Why Yakub Memon's hanging should have been telecast live
Courtesy of Catch News. com


The verdict

  • Supreme Court's late night hearing on Yakub Memon's punishment was a charade
  • It was a way of projecting that we give a fair trial "even to a terrorist"

The double standards

  • While we celebrate Yakub's execution, we are asked to forget the 1992 Mumbai riots
  • We speak of "closure" for blast victims but ask riot victims to "move on"

The bloodlust

  • On television, there were grotesque blow-by-blow accounts of the run-up to the execution
  • Given our vicarious pleasure, his hanging should have been public, preferably telecast live

Till the end, till the very last minute possible, the charade of due process was played out. Three judges who had rejected Yakub Memon's petition in the day deliberated upon his lawyers' plea once again till early morning. Some were irked by what they saw as Memon's delaying tactics - as though a condemned man should go gently into the night, without fuss, abandoning the human instinct for self-preservation. Others gushed at the greatness of our judicial system. The Supreme Court by constituting a bench in the middle of the night had displayed extraordinary accommodation towards Memon. What further proof did we need that we give a fair trial "even to terrorists"?

First, there was nothing unprecedented about a late night sitting of the Supreme Court. In 2014, Chief Justice HL Dattu stayed Surinder Koli's imminent hanging through a late night order after his lawyers woke him up at 1 am.
Second, though Yakub's death warrant was issued before he had exhausted his legal rights - a clear violation of the 'procedure established by law' to precede a death sentence - the Supreme Court finally upheld it, both in the day, as well as in the dramatic early morning hearing.
But, more importantly, we would do well to remember that Yakub was tried and convicted under TADA, a law that was allowed to lapse less than a year after his return to India.
In May 1995 - as the Mumbai blasts trial was proceeding in the TADA court - the Parliament decided not to grant extension to this law. The law was not renewed because it militated against every shred of the values and principles embodied in our Constitution.
Burgeoning evidence of rank prejudice in its application, its rampant use as an instrument for witch-hunting and vendetta, forced us to acknowledge that such a law could not have a place in a democracy.
However, cases such as Memon's, already filed under TADA, continued as though the draconian law was still in existence.
So let us disabuse ourselves of the notion that law - objective, blind, undiscriminating law has spoken.
Today, the Indian state has shown itself to be no better than Tiger Memon. Tiger planned the bombings in retaliation to the terrible violence against Muslims that followed in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition. We have terminated his brother's life to extract vengeance for the blasts.
Tiger's act was a reaction of a hotheaded criminal; we sent his brother to the gallows after keeping him in jail for 22 years - what could be more cynical and cold-hearted than that. What ends of justice does that serve now? Are we safer from his judicial elimination? How have we shown ourselves to be different from those we condemn?
Yakub was tried and convicted under TADA, a law that lapsed less than a year after his return to India
The sanctimonious bile of media commentators asks us not to think of the Muslim victims of 1992 riots or the Srikrishna Commission Report, to forget that only three people were ever convicted for the anti-Muslim violence, one of whom, the Shiv Sena MLA Madhukar Sarpotdar did not serve a single day of his one-year sentence.
To raise the question of selective justice is to 'politicise' Yakub's hanging, which has after all, gone through all the legal motions.
Only the deliberately blind will fail to see that there are two parallel worlds of law: one affords 'closure', the other urges you to 'move on'; one, which grants last minute clemency and reprieve, the other, determined to sacrifice a life.
Law will take its own course surely, but the course it charts will be strikingly different in different cases.
And then there are our lynch mobs. On television, there was a grotesque, almost orgasmic obsession with the "last hours of Yakub Memon".
Blow by blow accounts - graphically and dramatically rendered - of how Yakub would be given a new set of clothes, how he would be provided with a copy of the Quran, what breakfast he might be offered, were aired non stop.
In one, an officer who had been on the investigating team of the 26/11 attacks, excitedly showed how Yakub's hands would be tied at the back when he takes his last walk - from his cell to the phansi yard.
Have we plumbed the depths of our moral abyss? Perhaps not. But it's still possible to.
Why did they execute Yakub inside the walls of the jail? His hanging should have been public, preferably telecast live. The keepers of our collective conscience should have cheered as Yakub walked to the gallows, his hands tied at the back. We could have swooned and thrown stones and bottles at him as the hangman covered his face with a hood.
We could all have held our breath as his neck snapped, and then broken into a raucous cry as his body turned limp. Surely, in such a carnivalesque celebration of death, we would have deepened our sense of justice, our faith in the processes of law, and in the fairness of our democracy.
Why stop at vicarious pleasures. Let us degrade and debase ourselves completely.
The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect of the organisation.

President Abdul Kalam's death is one of the most celebrated in India

Compiling it


Written by Srijan Pal Singh...

What I will be remembered for.. my memory of the last day with the great Kalam sir...

It has been eight hours since we last talked – sleep eludes me and memories keep flushing down, sometimes as tears. Our day, 27th July, began at 12 noon, when we took our seats in the flight to Guhawati. Dr. Kalam was 1A and I was IC. He was wearing a dark colored “Kalam suit”, and I started off complimenting, “Nice color!” Little did I know this was going to be the last color I will see on him.
Long, 2.5 hours of flying in the monsoon weather. I hate turbulence, and he had mastered over them. Whenever he would see me go cold in shaking plane, he would just pull down the window pane and saw, “Now you don’t see any fear!”.

That was followed by another 2.5 hours of car drive to IIM Shillong. For these two legged trip of five hours we talked, discussed and debated. These were amongsthundreds of the long flights and longer drives we have been together over the last six years.
As each of them, this was as special too. Three incidents/discussions in particular will be “lasting memories of our last trip”.

First, Dr. Kalam was absolutely worried about the attacks in Punjab. The loss of innocent lives left him filled with sorrow. The topic of lecture at IIM Shillong was Creating a Livable Planet Earth. He related the incident to the topic and said, “it seems the man made forces are as big a threat to the livability of earth as pollution”. We discussed on how, if this trend of violence, pollution and reckless human action continues we will forced to leave earth. “Thirty years, at this rate, maybe”, he said. “You guys must do something about it… it is going to be your future world”

Our second discussion was more national. For the past two days, Dr. Kalam was worried that time and again Parliament, the supreme institution of democracy, was dysfunctional. He said, “I have seen two different governments in my tenure. I have seen more after that. This disruption just keeps happening. It is not right. I really need to find out a way to ensure that the parliament works on developmental politics.” He then asked me to prepare a surprise assignment question for the students at IIM Shillong, which he would give them only at the end of the lecture. He wanted to them to suggest three innovative ways to make the Parliament more productive and vibrant. Then, after a while he returned on it. “But how can ask them to give solutions if I don’t have any myself”. For the next one hour, we thwarted options after options, who come up with his recommendation over the issue. We wanted to include this discussion in our upcoming book, Advantage India.

Third, was an experience from the beauty of his humility. We were in a convoy of 6-7 cars. Dr. Kalam and I were in the second car. Ahead us was an open gypsy with three soldiers in it. Two of them were sitting on either side and one lean guy was standing atop, holding his gun. One hour into the road journey, Dr. Kalam said, “Why is he standing? He will get tired. This is like punishment. Can you ask a wireless message to given that he may sit?” I had to convince him, he has been probably instructed to keep standing for better security. He did not relent. We tried radio messaging, that did not work. For the next 1.5 hours of the journey, he reminded me thrice to see if I can hand signal him to sit down. Finally, realizing there is little we can do – he told me, “I want to meet him and thank him”. Later, when we landed in IIM Shillong, I went inquiring through security people and got hold of the standing guy. I took him inside and Dr. Kalam greeted him. He shook his hand, said thank you buddy. “Are you tired? Would you like something to eat? I am sorry you had to stand so long because of me”. The young lean guard, draped in black cloth, was surprised at the treatment. He lost words, just said, “Sir, aapkeliye to 6 ghantebhikhaderahenge”.

After this, we went to the lecture hall. He did not want to be late for the lecture. “Students should never be made to wait”, he always said. I quickly set up his mike, briefed on final lecture and took position on the computers. As I pinned his mike, he smiled and said, “Funny guy! Are you doing well?” ‘Funny guy’, when said by Kalam could mean a variety of things, depending on the tone and your own assessment. It could mean, you have done well, you have messed up something, you should listen to him or just that you have been plain naïve or he was just being jovial. Over six years I had learnt to interpret Funny Guy like the back of my palm. This time it was the last case.
“Funny guy! Are you doing well?” he said. I smiled back, “Yes”. Those were the last words he said. Two minutes into the speech, sitting behind him, I heard a long pause after completing one sentence. I looked at him, he fell down.

We picked him up. As the doctor rushed, we tried whatever we could. I will never forget the look in his three-quarter closed eyes and I held his head with one hand and tried reviving with whatever I could. His hands clenched, curled onto my finger. There was stillness on his face and those wise eyes were motionlessly radiating wisdom. He never said a word. He did not show pain, only purpose was visible.
In five minutes we were in the nearest hospital. In another few minutes the they indicated the missile man had flown away, forever. I touched his feet, one last time. Adieu old friend! Grand mentor! See you in my thoughts and meet in the next birth.
As turned back, a closet of thoughts opened.

Often he would ask me, “You are young, decide what will like to be remembered for?” I kept thinking of new impressive answers, till one day I gave up and resorted to tit-for-tat. I asked him back, “First you tell me, what will you like to be remembered for? President, Scientist, Writer, Missile man, India 2020, Target 3 billion…. What?” I thought I had made the question easier by giving options, but he sprang on me a surprise. “Teacher”, he said.

Then something he said two weeks back when we were discussing about his missile time friends. He said, “Children need to take care of their parents. It is sad that sometimes this is not happening”. He paused and said, “Two things. Elders must also do. Never leave wealth at your deathbed – that leaves a fighting family. Second, one is blessed is one can die working, standing tall without any long drawn ailing. Goodbyes should be short, really short”.

Today, I look back – he took the final journey, teaching, what he always wanted to be remembered doing. And, till his final moment he was standing, working and lecturing. He left us, as a great teacher, standing tall. He leaves the world with nothing accumulated in his account but loads of wishes and love of people. He was a successful, even in his end.

Will miss all the lunches and dinners we had together, will miss all the times you surprised me with your humility and startled me with your curiosity, will miss the lessons of life you taught in action and words, will miss our struggles to race to make into flights, our trips, our long debates. You gave me dreams, you showed me dreams need to be impossible, for anything else is a compromise to my own ability. The man is gone, the mission lives on. Long live Kalam.

Your indebted student,
Srijan Pal Singh

Kalam and Islam

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bajrangi Bhaijaan subverts ideology

I have not seen this movie yet, but based on the review, I will see this in a few days.  As a matter of fact I don't see more than 2 or 3 Bollywood films a year, too long for me. I make the exception when the the movie is about co-existence, harmony and building a cohesive India.

PK was outstanding, though based on how people behave, it went too far on the humor side depicting Shiva in it, it could have been toned down or cut the length. It is another story that the theme of the movie was written by me some 5 years ago in Dallas Morning News.

Now this movie Bajrangi Bhaijan seems to promote the ideals of pluralism;

We have crystallized the definition of pluralism to, “respecting the otherness of the others and accepting the uniqueness of each one of us”. Pluralism is nothing but an attitude of live and let live, and it is applicable in every aspect of life including culture, society, religion, politics, gender, food, ethnicity, race and other uniqueness’s.
You are who you are, and I am who I am. As long as we don't mess with each others space, sustenance and nurturence, and mind our own business, we all will do well.  If we can learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God-given uniqueness of each one of the seven billion of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 

Pluralism is not a set of rules, it is simply the attitude of live and let live religiously, politically, culturally and socially.  We are committed to building cohesive societies, where no human has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of a fellow being.

The food item in the film is precisely from my classes on Pluralism - and I am yet to make a short 5 Minutes clip on food Pluralism.

Mike Ghouse

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Rediff.com  » Movies » How Bajrangi Bhaijaan subverts ideology

How Bajrangi Bhaijaan subverts ideology

Last updated on: July 24, 2015 14:00 IST

'The most important aspect of Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the use of humour to touch some sensitive and potentially explosive political-religious and cultural subjects,' says Mohammad Asim Siddiqui.
Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in a scene from Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
If Salman Khan the superstar discovered Kabir Khan the competent director in Ek Tha Tiger, Kabir Khan the able director has brought out the actor in Salman Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
This film is certainly not the usual Salman Khan stuff where you have a few unbelievable fight scenes and the inevitable baring of his chest, something that we are so used to seeing when we watch a Salman Khan film.
One can hardly disagree with Kabir Khan when he says that he has tried to show the good values of helping each other on screen through Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Kabir Khan's films have always touched political issues very intelligently. His treatment of some international themes, especially those touching the lives of Muslims in the contemporary world, has been very sensitive. Kabul Express presented a perspective on Taliban. New York treated the post 9/11 scenario.
The most important aspect of Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the use of humour to touch some sensitive and potentially explosive political-religious and cultural subjects that touch the lives of Indian and Pakistanis.
The film contains a lot of ideology, but it distances itself from that ideology through its deft use of humour. It uses a lot of cultural stereotypes and popularly accepted motifs, but subverts them all to create humorous situations.
In the process it stays away from Pakistan bashing and an easy categorisation of people on the basis of caste, colour, creed and food habits. It presents identity as always in the process, a complex entity, not easily reducible to some fixed concepts.
Thus the easy identification of vegetarianism with Hindus and purity and non-vegetarianism with the image of fiery and impure Muslims is touched with very genial humour to suggest that this binary does not rest on sound wisdom and concrete evidence. Food is definitely one of the markers of identity, but identity is certainly not reducible to one's food habits.
Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi's vegetarianism does not translate into any negative feelings for the little girl when he discovers her gorging on chicken drumsticks even though he could even throw up to see this sight.
What should be the least expected description of identity that a person with an RSS background will bestow on somebody he loves and cares for? Most people will point to a meat-eating Muslim. And an even more apt reply would be a meat-eating Pakistani Muslim.
Son of a father who organised shakhas, Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi (Salman Khan) tries to lessen the enormity of his discovery by rationalising that Kshatriyas are also traditionally meat-eating people. But when faced with the real situation he happily takes the little Muslim girl to a non-vegetarian restaurant.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan makes the point that neither the identity of a person with RSS background nor that of a Pakistani, whether she be a little girl or a seasoned journalist, can be reduced to their food habits. Both can overcome their cultural baggage and discover a different aspect of themselves if faced with a new situation.
In the same way an imam of a Pakistani mosque can be very open-hearted and a humanist to the core, not harbouring any feeling of enmity for anyone. Or, to take another example from the film, Brahmins are not the only Indians to have a light skin.
And since the source of humour often lies in incongruity, the film makes these points humorously, interestingly and without any malice towards anyone. The difference between what is expected and what actually turns out throws many interesting situations in the film. The situational humour is a major strength of Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan culls out interesting situations from many current discourses. There is little doubt that cricket is followed like a religion in both India and Pakistan. There is an unwritten law in both countries that 'thou shalt not lose to each other.'
Supporting the 'wrong' player, what to say of the 'wrong' team is nothing short of treason and it can result in violence, even death. But even this situation has been turned on its head in the film to create very healthy humour and to press home a point or two about treating sport as sport.
In the 1990s innumerable films, many featuring Sunny Deol, presented a one-dimensional view of Pakistan. But there have been quite a few films like Main Hoon Na and Veer Zara which showed the people of Pakistan rather than Pakistan as synonymous with the Pakistani State. Bajrangi Bhaijaan joins this short list.
But where Bajrangi Bhaijaan really scores is in showing the beautiful locations in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, probably a first of its kind in a big Hindi film. The picture of the beautiful mountains of Switzerland in a calendar that Shahida mistakes for her region is not without some meaning. Kashmir has traditionally been called the Switzerland of the East.
What is unsaid here is even more important. The establishing shot of the film focuses on the beautiful, snow-capped mountains suggesting peace, purity and tranquility. It is really a tragedy that the Switzerland of the East has become what it is even though its common people are like the common people of any other part in India: Full of love and tender feelings.
It goes to Kabir Khan's credit that he treats potentially explosive subjects touching ordinary lives of the people in the subcontinent in a light-hearted manner. As Mark Twain said: 'The secret source of humour itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humour in heaven.' Khans's rich humour speaks through the six-year-old mute child who belongs to 'the paradise on earth.'
Mohammad Asim Siddiqui teaches English at Aligarh Muslim University.

India's President APJ Abdul Kalam passes

He was known as People's president, the man who had contributed significantly towards India's development, particularly the Missile System. He is one of the few Presidents who remained in news after successfully completing his term.   

May his soul rest in peace and may him continue to inspire Indians for generations to come.

Jai Hind. 

Mike Ghouse

 I am pleased to share a list of his inspiring quotes, share by someone else

Here are Abdul Kalam’s ten inspiring quotes
“Don’t take rest after your first victory because if you fail in second, more lips are waiting to say that your first victory was just luck.”
“All Birds find shelter during a rain. But Eagle avoids rain by flying above the Clouds.”
“Failure will never overtake me if my definition to succeed is strong enough”.
“Man needs difficulties in life because they are necessary to enjoy the success.”
“If you want to shine like a sun. First burn like a sun.”
“It is very easy to defeat someone, but it is very hard to win someone.”
“All of us do not have equal talent. But , all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.”
“Be more dedicated to making solid achievements than in running after swift but synthetic happiness.”
“Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life.”
“Without your involvement you can’t succeed. With your involvement you can’t fail. “

Friday, July 3, 2015

July 4th, India, America and Muslims - a shared heritage

Happy 4th - Muslims and Indians are an integral part of American Heritage

Upon declaration of our independence on July 4, 1776, two of the first three heads of states who recognized the sovereignty of the United States were Muslims and one of them was a Muslim from India.

Americans, Indians and Muslims have a connection since the very beginning of our independence. We were all opposed to colonial rule, and fought them and chased the British out of America, but they continued to rule India through divide and conquer for another 150 years.

Morocco was the first country to recognize the independence of the United States of America, signing the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, the first of its kind. Friesland, one of the seven United Provinces of the Dutch Republic, was the next to recognize American independence (February 26, 1782) and Tippu Sultan, the King of Mysore State (India) was the third. According to Dr. Range Gowda, Tippu Sultan's historiographer, the congratulatory letter to America is preserved in a French Library. Tippu celebrated America's independence by bursting fire crackers in Srirangapatna.

What does July 4th mean to Muslims and Indians?

It means everything and the biggest thing is freedom. Islam is indeed about freedom of conscience, justice and liberty.

The Pledge of Allegiance is one of the most cherished statements for Muslims, "One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." There are several verses in the Quran that assert those values, so it's like coming home for Muslims.

The concept of equality is etched and nurtured in the Muslim psyche in every ritual and spiritual practice of Islam. Prophet Muhammad delivered the following words in his last sermon, "All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action." Muslims hold this declaration close to their hearts and as American Muslims, "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

The raging battle among Americans to keep the state and church apart resonates with Muslims living in America as the Quran speaks out to them, 49:13- "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct. God Knows and is Aware." Indeed, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of the otherness of others and appreciate a different point of view without having to agree with it.

Honoring merit appeals to Muslims: you can be who you want to be and Muslims bpast about their ability to rise on the basis of their merit. The Prophet tells his own daughter that she will not get a free pass to paradise because she is a daughter of the prophet; she has to earn it on her own through good deeds to fellow beings, such is the emphasis placed on merit and individual responsibility. That is what capitalism, democracy and America are all about.

Every immigrant in general and a Muslim in particular loves the idea that you are innocent until proven guilty. They see the wholesomeness of justice in America and they love America for it. An observant Muslim recites at least 17 times a day that God alone is the judge and we must refrain from judging others.

On July 4, 2015 we will be celebrating the 239th birthday of America. It is time to reflect upon our journey from the historic declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776 to July 4th, 2015.
Our Founding Fathers had a vision and laid the ground work for a sustainable cohesive America for centuries to come, " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

We have come a long way, and still have miles to go to realize the above truths, and to fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. Indeed, the last two months have packed an incredible amount of events in our history. The pulling down of the confederate Flag in several states after the tragic events in Charleston, South Carolina gives us a lot of hope, the Supreme court's landmark decision to make same sex marriage legal brings freedom to the GLBT community; yet another decision by the Supreme Court brought freedom to those who were vulnerable, the sick and the poor Americans. Thanks to President Obama for making health care a reality for all Americans. The affordable care Act is the law of the land now.

First, I pray for the spirit of that freedom to be born again, again and again every year, for eternity. Indeed, we are the land of the free and the brave. The whole world looks up to America with admiration, although we still have a few more milestones to achieve.

Donald Sterling, the basketball billionaire and Don Imus, the popular American Radio host and several others faced severe retribution for racial slurs. Rick Sanchez and countless Senators and Congress persons were taken to task for making Anti-Semitic comments. Now thank God for the Supreme Court, no one will dare abuse the freedom of these three communities: African Americans, Jews and the LGBT community.
Two more communities, among many need such freedom; women are still not getting equal pay, and I hope the Republicans will join the Democrats and pass that bill.
Who is left behind? Hispanic Immigrants and Muslims!

In 1986, President Reagan brought relief to 3 million undocumented aliens through his amnesty program. Now President Obama is working on freeing 11 million aliens from the tension of separation with their family members. As a nation we need to collectively reflect on the issue and do the right thing; legalize those here with agreed upon conditions.

In recent years, American Muslims have become an easy target for abuse without any consequence. Some US presidential candidates top the list for bigotry, having said that they would not hire a Muslim in their cabinet.

The problem is two-sided: we the Muslims are not connected enough with mainstream society for a vast majority of Americans to stand up for us, empathize with us, or even understand the truth about us that we are no different than them in our endeavors and aspirations of life. We need to get out of our shells and be part of American society.

We must however express our gratitude to the millions of Americans who have stood up for us, compelled by their sense of justness and fair play after 9/11 and as recently as the Phoenix and Garland rallies.

As Muslims we are making serious efforts to be fully participating and contributing members of American society for the security, peace and prosperity of our homeland. We have unequivocally stood up for free speech.

As American Muslims we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in the U.S. constitution. Our faith reinforces the creed of "One Nation under God, with liberty and justice for all."

We at America Together Foundation, will take bold congenial steps on behalf of Muslims to get ourselves on a par with the other communities who had previously endured abuse, and with the support of all Americans, we will shame them for their bigotry.

I urge every Muslim to reach out to their fellow Americans to share the joy of July 4th God willing, Muslims will be celebrating July 4th2016 en masse all over the nation. We are going to be unfurling big plans soon. The more integrated we are, the safer it is for every one of the 318 million plus Americans.

What does July 4th mean to me?

The very first step on American soil puts a smile on an immigrant's face; if not you, it has happened to your parents, grand or great grandparents. It's the exuberance you witness on a baby's face when she stands up for the first time, it is the exhilaration you see when a toddler eats the food on his own for the first time, or the relief written all over the face of a student when he or she graduates. Indeed, it is an expression of freedom I felt upon arrival in New York some thirty five years ago. My journey continues as I get ready to celebrate another July 4th.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, writer, pluralist, TV-Radio commentator and a human rights activist committed to building cohesive societies and offering pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His info is in 63 links at MikeGhouse.net -- Mike is also president of America Together Foundation.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jayalalithaa's fascintating story of Politics in Tamil Nadu

She has mesmerized the people, it is just unbelievable. I applaud the writer Rollo Romig for capturing the story so well. A good read !

Mike Ghouse

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What Happens When a State Is Run by Movie Stars? The frenzied, fanatical politics of Tamil Nadu, India.

New York Times

Full Story - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/05/magazine/what-happens-when-a-state-is-run-by-movie-stars.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1