Maelo has been asking me all day to help her make sense of Trump’s meeting with a dictator held on the tiny island of Singapore which, apparently, many people had never heard of before but which Britain’s elite Brexiters want us to emulate post-Brexit.
Maelo has the flu and has been bed ridden for four days now. She keeps telling me that her “brain isn’t working” and wants me to interpret the world for her while she lies closeted and frustrated in her bedroom. Her questions and arguments normally spark thoughts and ideas within me but I was at a loss today to explain what Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, had been about.
Was the summit about making deals or foreign policy? Was it about real estate or world peace? Are Condos and hotels the new American export equivalent of Liberal Democracy? Is international relations now conducted along the lines of clairvoyancy because Trump declared that he would know within the first minute or so whether Kim was sincere in his efforts simply through touch and feel?
If Kim was sincere about denuclearization the question arises as to why he would give up the one thing that seems to hold the world in thrall to him? Would he not be just another puppet of China without all that arsenal? Or more of a puppet should I say?
Then there’s Trump’s sense of Alpha Male-ry which borders on Gorilla typesque diplomacy. Justin Trudeau who is seen as being as closest to God that a politician can be is called ‘meek and mild’ while Kim is a man of many ‘talents’ and loves his country. Trudeau would never let Canadians starve to death while Kim does it all the time without seemingly giving it a second thought. Trump, nevertheless, told us that Kim loves his country very, very much. Perhaps Kim would love his country more if his people died out and he was able to sell the land to Trump which may explain the references to ‘real estate’ by Trump. Also, how much ‘talent’ does it take, if any, to be the hereditary son of a dictator as Kim is? There is no art of politics involved is there when you simply command people to do your bidding?
Go figure. I couldn’t and took the easy way out by telling Maelo to look at Twitter and the Guardian live blog. When she was little and needed distracting I would turn the TV on. The modern equivalent is social media and the distraction ploy still works.
CNN has compiled a list of confusing Trump quotes which makes me feel so much better for not being able to make head or tail of it all today.
I was watching the Newsnight interview with Arundhati Roy regarding her views on how nationalism has been a potent force in encouraging the Indian rape culture. The brand of nationalism that is practised in India is extremely dangerous for the way that it cuts across class, caste, gender and age in commanding an uber sense of loyalty to religion. I contribute to ‘Feminism in India’ which is a leading South Asian feminist website. Below is an article which I wrote for the website after witnessing the masses of Indian nationals living in the UK who came out onto the streets in Westminster for Modi’s visit to London in April.
You could not have missed that Narendra Modi was in Central London for the hundreds of Indian men and women who turned out to either demonstrate in support of or remonstrate against him. Modi was attending the Commonwealth Heads Summit. In all my years of living in London I have never seen quite so many Indians crowded together in one area within London. Such is the power of Modi but it has attracted much controversy in the British press.
I went along to observe and report for Feminism in India. It was an experience that shook me and left me wondering whether there is any such thing at all as ‘Indian Values’ or have these, if they ever existed at all, been transmuted into ‘anti-women Cultural nationalism’.
I felt as if I had walked into a parallel universe. Both pro-Modi and anti-Modi groups were in attendance but situated a little distance away from each other. I happened upon the pro-Modi group first but it took me a few seconds to recognise this. The reason for my initial bewilderment was because this group consisted predominantly of women. They were full of defiant swagger and were chanting pro-Modi phrases.
Where was the recognition of the hostile environment that has been created by Modi’s politics which does not take paedophilia and rape seriously? Where were the banners calling for justice for Asifa? Instead there was merry making and music and colourful clothing that one could have been forgiven for wondering whether a wedding was taking place. Quite ironic considering that there are funerals taking place all over India for victims of rape and paedophilia.
The anti-Modi demonstration was, by contrast, much much smaller and serious. They held banners with Asifa’s photograph and against rape. There was no music and their mood subdued but concern over the level of rapes in India has been reflected in UK reporting.
If the numbers of women who turned out in support of Modi in London are anything to go by then Cultural nationalism is Indian feminism’s enemy. I don’t live in India and can only comment on what I saw in London.
I spent all day unravelling my long-held belief that Indian values equalled Liberal values. Perhaps my beliefs were far too subjective and devoid of evidence. There was so much to unpick. Little girls have been raped, tortured and murdered. Their relatives denied justice. The father of one rape victim was killed while in police custody. Having endured colonialism should South Asia not have a higher sense of justice? Even on a simple level of justice paedophilia should not be tolerated.
After a day of contemplation, I began to see quite clearly the causal connection between long-held Indian prejudices and the current anti-female dogma. The female value was demeaned right from decades ago when female babies were aborted without a hesitation. I remember ‘aunties’ talking about their selective abortions quite openly in my childhood.
Then there was the stigmatisation of women for not dressing in the right way. This fanned out to the use of ‘class’ as a dangerous cleavage between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ women. When girls from well-off families were raped they were referred to as ‘low class’. ‘Undeserving women’ were blamed for rapes and sexual violence, sometimes even for domestic violence. People turned a blind eye to so called ‘cultural practices’ of cruelty to daughters-in-laws.
Those who choose to ignore the plethora of wrong doings are foolish and naïve. In Nazi Germany, there was a Pastor called Martin Niemoller who railed against the German Intellectuals for not speaking up against Hitler. Niemoller’s ever famous phrase, “ …then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me” is part of a wider speech given about how society did not speak up for various persecuted groups as it happened till, finally, the silent were persecuted themselves.
Those who tolerate a lack of female justice take delight in the fact that they see themselves as belonging to some special cultural group which, they think, affords them a high level of protection. Their anti-female hatred is subsumed within Cultural nationalism. What they don’t realise is that any form of nationalism is an abstract concept. It is not material. In practical terms, what this means is that NO woman is safe while hatred against women prevails. When a woman who adheres to the dominant Cultural nationalistic fervour goes out she is just as easy a target as a woman who isn’t. (This, by the way, could apply to any anti-feminist of any race who thinks that the rape culture is contrived and overblown)
A Russian journalist, Arkady Babchenko, who lives in Kiev was reportedly murdered by Russian forces earlier this week for his frank and outright reporting. Much to everyone’s shock, especially his wife’s, he appeared the next day surrounded by Ukrainian security personnel who had set up a sting to, allegedly, foil the Russians who wanted to murder him. It is a situation that would be outright comical and straight out of a Hollywood movie if it did not have serious repercussions.
This is an incident that happened ten days ago and I am still scouring the streets for a dog which has caused no end of misery in my household. My daughter, Maelo, was followed by a dog from the end of our street to our home. We live in a neighbourhood over run by cats. Dogs? A rare sight for some unknown reason.
Maelo called me from the street in bewilderment over this dog. She was convinced that it was a stray needing rescuing. I stepped out and examined the dog. It seemed incredibly excitable and was literally bounding around us. Maelo wanted to bring it into our place and look after it till it was ‘rescued’. It’s been decades since I have had any personal contact with a dog.
Instead of immediately agreeing to her request, I drew upon my childhood growing up in Asia where dogs were allowed to roam the neighbourhood till their owners returned from work and reclaimed them off the streets. My own father would walk around the streets, lead in hand, calling out to our dog. Most dog owners did this. The hour between 6 to 7pm was the ‘dog hour’. Quite often it took longer because the dogs weren’t keen on coming back and preferred roaming the streets with their pals. It all seemed sensible especially when I compare this practice to the high dog walking rates being charged currently. Anyway, I digress.
Drawing upon my personal experience I declared that the dog was probably enroute back home and did not need any saviours. Maelo counter declared that she was going to call an “English friend” for an opinion because this was “not Asia”. Her friend did not answer her call and the dog sped off at that moment.
Maelo was distressed and adamant that the dog was lost. In the meantime, our ‘rescue cat’ which officially moved in with us on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral (I kid you not) was cowering at the window watching all of this. This cat lives in a semi-permanent state of anxiety after having been abused for two years prior to becoming Maelo’s pet. Bringing a big dog in would have caused it major trauma.
Minutes later the ‘English friend’ returned the call and surmised that the dog was a stray because “dogs aren’t allowed out on their own in this country”. In that instant I felt the weight of a culture clash which was further compounded by Maelo’s accusing look and distress. We went out looking for the dog straight away but couldn’t find it. No ‘lost’ posters have been put up either in the area since. The photo accompanying this blog is something that I took off the internet after Googling ‘Golden Dog’. Sigh, it will be another stick for my daughter to beat me with.
I have spent decades putting time and effort integrating into British culture and all it took was for a dog to propel me back to those days when I thought ‘Marylebone’ was pronounced as ‘Mary-Lee-Bone’. The perils of being an immigrant.