Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

Trump got scolded by a desi uncle

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And it was fantastic, maybe even historic. [Link]

It started with Khizr Khan, an immigrant from Pakistan, standing at the podium at the Democratic National Convention 2016, his wife at his side and his hand across his heart. Khan’s speech was slow, deliberate, clear and to the point – it lasted a whopping seven minutes and change. At times he waved his copy of the US Constitution, presumably the one naturalized American citizens get. Watch the speech in it’s entirety below.

By the time he was done, Khizr Khan had thoroughly eviscerated Trump. Most of America, at least the sane part, was taken aback by this deliberate dismantling of Trump. But people from the Indian subcontinent are not entirely unfamiliar with this type of speech. What Trump received was a scolding from a desi uncle. This is the type of scolding/lecturing normally witnessed at coffee houses in Calcutta or maybe a colony/society (think HOA) general body meeting in Mumbai – where one thoughtful eloquent older gentleman calmly and rationally states his argument over the shouting masses.

What stood to me about the speech was it was exactly what Trump professes to do (but doesn’t) – speak the truth. It was also entirely unique to modern political discourse and speeches because there were no personal insults, no name calling, only direct words addressed to the audience and Trump. Khan did not use a speech writer or teleprompter and the words were entirely his.

Whether Trump gets elected in 100 days remains to be seen and if he doesn’t Mr Khan’s speech will probably go down in history as one of those unique moments in American democracy – desi ishtyle. Regardless, this kind of clear-headed, eloquent, political discourse is exactly what we need in these troubled times.

Additional side stories:
Fox News cut off the speech [Link]

Khzir Khan followed up with his DNC speech with a (most likely falling on deaf ears) plea to Congressional GOP leaders [Link]

Bobby Jindal, the first Tansracial-American

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To many, the whole Jindal-tanning saga started with a tweet, that given his stance on hyphenated Americans, could only be construed as trolling

Jindal followed the trolling with a campaign t-shirt along similar lines
Jindal campaign t-shirt

Jindal is no stranger to a weird saga of cognitive dissonance related to skin color. His official portrait resembles Scott Walker, another one of his fellow 23% of Americans afflicted with “running for GOP candidate for presidency” disease.
Jindal white guy portait

Bonus: Jindal’s Twitter bio cover has his photo with the homophobic Robertsons of Duck Dynasty fame. I can only conjecture this serves to further his “tanned” credentials.
Jindal with homophobic Roberstons

How tanned and rested was Bobby? He inherited a state with a myriad of problems and actually made them worse. More of his own party prefer, he *not* run for presidency than those who do, which is an achievement of sorts in itself.

Though the election is still more than a year away, a survey of Republican voters found more voters would prefer Jindal not run (20 percent) than favor his candidacy (14 percent).

Recent events in America have made us question the traditional notion of gender, sexuality and even, race, with the term transracial gaining some airtime because of a certain Rachel Dolezal. I don’t feel I’m qualified enough to judge the validity of the term and whether Bobby Jindal could qualify as transracial. However, given his love for tanning and his hatred for hyphenation, I feel comfortable anointing him:

Bobby Jindal, the first Tansracial-American.

*On a side note: I do not approve of Bobby Jindal running for any public office at any level. I approve this message.

Is Google playing political games with India’s map?

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And Betteridge’s Law may not hold the answer, in this case. You make the call after reading this post.

A few days back, I tweeted out something I noticed when checking out the new Google Maps – the Indian states of Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh were entirely listed as dotted lines (See below) instead of solid, indicating Google considered them, at best, disputed territories, and at worst, not part of India.

My limited understanding of international politics notwithstanding, I know that most maps these days split Kashmir in 3, to indicate regions controlled by India, and the ones not controlled by India. Additionally, the state of Arunachal Pradesh has been a point of contention between India and China for the better part of the last century. So, my assumption was that Google Maps was reflecting the same.

However, after a brief interaction over Twitter, my findings are as follows: Google Maps displays the state of Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territory (image on left) when you access it from the US (and perhaps, the rest of the world) but when you access Google Maps from India, the state of Arunachal Pradesh is shown as an integral part of India (image on right).

This post is not intended to stir “patriotic fervor” between Indians, Pakistanis and the Chinese but rather to encourage a discussion on how big technology companies are starting to indulge in politics, at an international level. Please feel free to add to this discussion in the comments space below.

Indian government enters new era of censorship

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This leaked memo contains a directive from the Department of Telecommunications of the Government of India to all ISPs in India explicitly directing them to block various YouTube links, Twitter handles and other web pages.
Per Economic Times reports,

Through four (1, 2, 3, 4) directives to Internet Service Providers between 18 August and 21 August, the department of telecom has blocked numerous web pages on concerns that communal tensions were being fanned in the wake of the unrest following violence in the border districts of Assam. After protests in Mumbai on August 18 turned violent, the government had said that hate content was being spread through the Internet by groups in Pakistan.

This Orwellian move by the Indian government comes in the wake of recent incidents in Assam and the rampant rumors surrounding those incidents which triggered a mass exodus of migrants from the North East from various Indian cities.

Just to highlight how ridiculous and politically tinged this move is, one of the banned accounts is a parody Twitter account of the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Wisconsin Sikh Temple shootings

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News first started trickling in, mostly via Twitter, around noon East Coast time about a shooting incident in a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, WI. My first reaction, unfortunately tempered from years such attacks directed at Sikhs, was that this was one of those post 9/11 incidents, where the perpetrator attacks Sikhs thinking they belong to the Taliban or Mujahideen. Based on current report, this may very well turn out to be the case.

Initial reports were of multiple gunmen taking hostages at the temple. But when the dust settled, it turned out to be a lone gunman, Wade Michael Page, ex-Army and alleged skinhead. The first responding cops exchanged fire with the gunman; one was hurt and the other killed the gunman, but not before Page killed 6 others on the temple premises. These cops, “prevented a tragic situation from becoming even worse”. Satwant Kaleka, the temple’s president succumbed to injuries he sustained while trying to restrain the attacker, perhaps saving more lives.

Now on to the (American) media coverage of the situation, CNN had some decent updates about the situation itself but the reporters and anchors showed an appalling lack of knowledge about Sikhs, the worlds 5th largest religious group. For some reason, the CNN reporters and anchors were strangely defensive, almost hostile, to the victims’ and their families’ suggestions that this could be one of those typical post 9/11 hate incidents directed towards Sikhs. Additionally, CNN anchors and reporters, played thought police, insisting that this incident should not be classified as a terrorist incident (the FBI later classified it as domestic terrorism) and CNN anchors also were quite emphatic that this was not the time for debate on issues like gun control and hate crimes (the two major issues that most likely led up to this carnage). Having said that among cable news outlets, CNN was the one with the most coverage of the incident.

Fox News, when they were not discussing topics like “Liberal Media attacks against Mitt Romney”, had intermittent coverage of the incident. Even with lesser coverage, Fox still managed to commit a faux pas as one the reporters asked a member of the Sikh temple if there had been any “anti-Semitic acts in the past against the Sikh community”. MSNBC, the other media outlet, was busy covering the Olympics and had breaking updates now and then, but largely failed in it’s mission as a “news channel”.

The other troubling fact on the media coverage was the fact they kept mentioning that this was “misdirected hate” aka “hate directed towards Muslims but incorrectly targeting Sikhs” which leads one to believe that targeting Muslims would be “normal”, which speaks to the sad state of affairs in this country.

As of this posting, Wade Michael Page has been identified as ex-Army, 1992-98, (Toma)Hawk Missile repairman, and “psychological operations specialist”. Reports are also starting to flow in that he legally owned the guns he used in this massacre and was the leader of a neo-Nazi band called End Apathy.

Largely, the media coverage and outrage among Americans has been miniscule compared to the ones we witnessed after the movie shooting incidents in Colorado. Call me jaded by post 9/11 America but none of this comes as a shock.

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