Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why Akbaruddin Owaisi Lashed Out

By Faiz Ahmed

Recent events in India have caused a fall-out between the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and the Congress party. This led to a countrywide uproar at the words of Mr. Akbaruddin Owaisi, the sitting MLA in the Andhra Pradesh State Parliament. Owaisi is accused of having given a speech that is divisive and hateful which caused quite a stir in the media, and indeed some of the things that he did say were hurtful to Hindus and should not have been said. However, one must realize that Owaisi only said those things in frustration and after becoming emotional. The reason for his frustration and emotion, he laid out throughout his entire speech – injustice.

It is a testament to the sad state of injustice and apathy in Indian public opinion that no controversy is created when Praveen Tagodai incites people to kill Muslims, no one is outraged when genocide is perpetrated against Muslims in the state of Assam, and no one is outraged when the mass murderer of Gujarat walks free and hopes to become the Prime Minister of India, but a controversy is created when a leader from an oppressed Minority community responds only with words, albeit offensive words.

What Owaisi said was that despite India’s claim to be a secular democracy, it is in fact a society where the minorities are getting sidelined and pushed into relative poverty compared to the majority. Moreover, tension was also rife as Muslims in Assam were recently massacred and hardly any media outlets covered the incidents. The riots in Assam included for the first time ever, the use of automatic rifles against the Muslim Minority. Owaisi who was organizing relief efforts was also frustrated at the lack of mercy from the Assam government because it denied help to the affected Muslims, by labeling them Bangladeshi foreigners and requiring the victims whose houses were burnt down to bring forth proper documentation before providing relief.

The immediate cause however was the frustration at government inaction over the attempts to expand the illegal temple built at the base of the Charminar despite a court order. The Charminar is a landmark in Hyderabad and a Mosque which was closed down by the government. It is also an important part of Muslim heritage in India. The building of the temple at the base of the Charminar is similar to the efforts to build the Ram Mandir on the spot of the Babri Masjid which was brought down by Hindu extremists who were helped and supported by the RSS, BJP and even by the congress party itself which was in power.

There is an ongoing effort by radical Hindu movements like the BJP, RSS, Shiv Sena and the like to undermine the contributions of Muslims to the cultural heritage of India, the destruction of the Babri Masjid, a major mosque and testament of Muslim architecture and heritage at the hands of the Hindu radical movement is just one such example. Other such attempts to diminish Muslim achievements and heritage include the false claim that the Taj Mahal was created not by the Mughals but by the local Hindu kingdoms that existed before the arrival of the Mughals. Many smaller mosques and Muslim communities are burnt and destroyed regularly and now their attention has turned towards the Charminar. The Charminar which was a mosque is no longer used as one, moreover to add insult to the injury of not being able to use it as a mosque, an illegal temple was erected at the base and is being expanded, sending a clear message to the Muslims that their cultural and religious heritage is now under attack and will be sooner or later be usurped just like the Babri Masjid. No Muslim would have a problem if the Hindu community builds a temple to worship their deities, but there is a problem if that temple is encroaching into a mosque or a historical monument or even state property. 

This is a major move on part of radical Hindu movements to sideline Muslims by denying, demolishing or taking over Muslim contributions to India. Muslims have been a part of India for a thousand years and will continue to be a part of it. Just as the Hindus have rights to their temples and Christians to their churches and Sikhs to their gurudwaras, Muslims also must enjoy similar freedom. This is not something the BJP and RSS can understand. 

It is a known fact, that the AIMIM party under the leadership of the Owaisi brothers has always been popular and is not a fringe movement. They have been repeatedly elected to office many times. They have been active in the municipal issues, local issues, and even issues pertaining to the treatment of police officers by the government regarding their low salaries, the dangers to their health due to pollution and not being provided proper shoes etc. They have started hospitals and colleges where minorities are provided some relief. They have always been the first to respond with food and medicine and setting up medical camps for the victims of communal aggression against minorities in India. They have seen the blood and gore, the destroyed families, the broken people. A person can only witness so much barbarism and be quite. Sooner or later that anger and emotion will burst out.

Mr Owaisi has always tried to work within the confines of the system and by the law. However, frustration and desperation makes people angry. To say that he is a hate monger is to turn a blind eye to the reason why he was angry. His anger at the government, at the system and at the RSS, BJP and other right wing movements is more than justified. However, in his anger some things he said were a little too harsh and not in line with the spirit of Islam as the Quran strictly prohibits Muslims from insulting the deities of other faiths. As a Muslim I feel the need to remind my brother, Mr. Owaisi, that some of the statements were indeed uncalled for. But I realize that was not the essence of the speech. The essence of the speech was to highlight the injustices against Muslims in India, which the majority of Indians are indifferent to, are unaware of, or are too scared to speak out against. Mr Owaisi’s elder brother and leader of the party, Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi also stated and reinforced the party line saying that the party was not an enemy of the Hindu community. Rather they only oppose RSS, BJP and their ilk. Akbaruddin Owaisi got carried away in emotion and made those comments which were hurtful, the question should not be why the comments, rather why the emotion. The only answer to that is institutionalized injustice.

While listening to Akbaruddin’s speech, I couldn’t help but remember another great personality, the African American leader Malcolm X. Akbaruddin Owaisi and Malcom X are very similar personalities. It is something to think about. Both were the most hated men by the affluent majorities in their countries and in their times, both were repeatedly accused of hate speech, both were labeled as fanatics and fringe leaders, both were bold, both made exaggerated comments out of frustration that made them both infamous, both were members of a minority who were oppressed because of the status quo, both were loved deeply by their minority constituents, both were denounced by frightened members of their own minority communities who were regularly appearing on TV. Both spoke about injustice angrily yet the media and the population condemned their anger and not the injustice that caused the anger.

Malcolm X in his last year was telling White America to give Martin Luther King what he was asking for before other violent groups, the type which the media associated him with, come along, to get their rights by force. Similarly, Akbaruddin also worked with the parliamentary system and has tried to exhaust all possible methods to seek justice and only lashed out in anger when he figured out that despite all their efforts, they had zero gains.

Another thing that is a similarity between the two men is their commitment to preserving their cultural heritage. Malcolm X lamented that White America had robbed the black man of his history, his culture, his language, his religion and the only role models that African Americans had were grandparents who had been enslaved. Malcolm X said that “as long as you are convinced [as a community] that you have never done anything, you will never do anything” another longer quotation from Malcolm X is:

“… here your mother is being raped and you are not supposed to be emotional… your women can’t walk the streets without some (insulting term for the white man) putting their hands on them and you are not supposed to be emotional … 20 million black people that don’t even know their own name! Why? Because he took it away from you! 20 million black people that don’t even know their own language! Why? Because he took it away from you! … 20 million black people who don’t even know the history of their ancestors! Why? Because he took it away from you! … And when you try to tell them how thoroughly and completely you have been robbed they say we’re teaching hate! That’s something to think about! … and then again if we try to tell you that Negroes are being hung on the trees and are getting shot down illegally! Unjustly! And that those Negroes should do something to protect themselves, they say ‘you are advocating violence!’… If somebody tries to take you directly to the root of the problem they say that man is a hate teacher … so I just want to clear up that little point right there, because they say that we play on your emotions! And when you turn on your television tonight or your radio, or read the newspaper, they are going to tell YOU in that paper, that I was playing on your emotions! Imagine! You! A second class citizen!  That’s not getting emotional, that’s getting intelligent!”
—Malcolm X  (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz Omowale) 

There is indeed similarity between the two men, both will be hated by the majority in their lifetimes, loved by the suffering minorities, and adored and remembered for generations to come. 

In conclusion, I would like to remind Mr. Owaisi that the Quran prohibits speaking abusively about the deities of those who do not share our faith, and I would like to stress on the people of India to listen to the real message of Akbaruddin Owaisi and to understand the cause of his anger rather than get fixated on the anger itself. There is a well justified reason to be angry. However that anger should be rightly directed. I pray that God gives the people of India the courage and strength of mind to understand what Owaisi was saying. I pray that God forgives his mistakes and protects and guides Owaisi in such a way that he continues to be a force that can stand up and speak against injustice as he has been doing as the spokesman for the Muslim community for quite some time now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I just noticed that google is posting advertisements on my blog and i have not the slightest clue as to how they got there. I am trying to get rid of them, if anyone knows how to get rid of them, please let me know.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Self-Sufficient Communities: Rising through Food Sovereignty

Food: A Power Struggle

The current global economic system is fragile, threating a most basic need: food. Eric Holt Gimenez, author of ‘From Food Crisis to Food Sovereignty’ mentions that in the summer of 2008, there was massive starvation and hunger world over, despite “record harvests and record profits for the world’s major agro-food corporations.” He cites World Bank records of price hikes in food which amounted to “83%” over a period of “three years” and according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, food price hikes amounted to “45%” in just over a period of nine months. The author mentions that this caused riots. “Protests in Mexico, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Yemen, Egypt, Haiti and twenty other countries were sparked by skyrocketing food prices.” The author also mentions that according to the FAO, “There was more than enough food in the word to feed everyone in 2008 – at least 1.5 times the current demand”, and that the only problem was that “90% of the world’s hungry are simply too poor to buy enough food” (143-144).
What’s the worst that can happen?

If the worst happens, communities could be plunged into lawlessness and chaos because nations and communities alike have abandoned independent and self-reliant systems for macro-systems of global dependence for their most basic necessities. There is no quick way to change thousands of years of social and economic evolution, but the damage may be curtailed if communities such as cities and towns can increase food sovereignty – that is, the ability to feed their own people. Some argue that this concern is not real and that nothing will happen to the economy. However, in this year, 2011, the world has witnessed riots, protests, revolutions, and economic disasters, the kind which could paralyze the economy including agro-food processors. In such a situation, since communities are not independent in their food, energy or in the production of their basic necessities, crime could skyrocket causing cities to become no-go zones, just because of the city’s lack of self-reliance. This could worsen the economic, social, political and judicial problems of the country.

Prevention is better than cure, and as such, safeguarding food production, distribution and supplies locally is the best way to limit the damage caused by rising food prices and rising gas prices through these uncertain times.

Self-Reliant Communities

In this age of globalization, the ‘community’ system has disappeared. With the emergence of large metropolises, people are no longer community-oriented. Throughout history, communities have thrived and flourished in relative semi-isolation, independent in their food production, independent in their energy needs, independent in their security and independent in their education. They did not rely on industries or federal governments to provide them with jobs. They were self-sufficient to the extent that all food, employment, energy and educational needs of the community were met locally. All the surplus production which was not consumed by the members of the community was exported to other communities for the purposes of trade.

If there is an economic collapse followed by or comprising of inflation due to increase in interest rates and/or massive unemployment it will increase prices on almost everything. The hardest blow to the citizenry would be the rise in costs of food, gas, and energy.

DIY Food Production

The solution proposed by many parts of society is to gain independence in food production and to make the food supply system from producer to consumer without any go-betweens. This independence in food-related activities is termed as ‘food sovereignty’. The authors Annette Aurelie Desmarias, Nettie Wiebe and Hannah Wittman in their article titled ‘Sovereignty Now! In the Midst of Economic and Environmental Crises, People are Taking Control of our Food Systems’ mention that “food sovereignty is broadly defined as the right of nations and peoples to control their own food systems, including their own markets, production modes, food cultures and environments”. It is a community-controlled democratic form of a food system (18).

This idea of food sovereignty is not a new idea. It used to be the norm historically but it has also been implemented in current times. On a national level, Venezuela is an example of a country that is trying to achieve food sovereignty. Alan Broughton, in his article, ‘Venezuela’s Chocolate Solution’, mentions that Venezuelan agricultural policies promote ‘food sovereignty’. It is also in the Venezuelan constitution. He mentions that since the promotion of food sovereignty, cocoa farmers have had their standards of living increase (20).

A Gathering of Independent Food Communities

On an international level, Terra Madre, a global network of sustainable food communities has emerged in opposition to macro food systems and to champion the cause of food sovereignty. In Carlos Petrini’s book ‘Terra Madre’, he mentions that Terra Madre was “world meeting of food communities” and that it was attended by 7000 delegates from 153 countries, representing around 1600 different food communities.” Those who attended were “farmers, fishermen, artisans, nomad shepherds … musicians, cooks and academics”. He also mentions that in the meeting, they had “inaugural speeches”, “workshops, meetings, forums, talks, and celebrations”. The workshops that Terra Madre holds theorizes the concept of independence and self-reliance of food communities, educates the participants about issues like “seed patents, monopolies and privatization”, virtues of “de- industrializing food”, methods of “recycling and reuse” and “biodiversity”. It also educates participants about the “advantages of local economy”. If it is a viable option for Venezuela and if it is a viable option for 1600 different food communities, it can be tweaked to make it a viable option for America. If not for America then at least for Detroit or other impoverished communities.

If we use Detroit as an example, the same template of revival can be used for other cities as well. Detroit was once a bustling industrial city, however today it may be counted as one of the most impoverished communities, an urban jungle, a ‘food desert’. Nora Goldstein, author of ‘Vacant Lots Sprout Urban Farms’ explains the concept of a “food desert” as an area where there are very few viable sources of healthy food like “grocery stores” and the only food sources in the area are unhealthy “fast food” joints (24).

Get Set Detroit

There are vacant dilapidated buildings all over and the population of the city is on a negative downward linear. Although some may say this is a bad thing, the argument could be made that this is a window of opportunity. The more vacant land there is the better. There are a few people and organizations that recognize the potential and have been trying to take advantage of this window of opportunity. The problem with Detroit can be summed up as a loss of capital which comprises of human resource capital, financial or fiscal capital, educational capital and industrial capital. These are basically the building blocks of an industrialized and modern economy which are leaving Detroit. The best and most viable option for Detroit in this situation would be to return to an agrarian economy. If it is a lack of industrial capital that is causing the major bulk of problems, then it would be a better choice to change the direction of the community, from trying fruitlessly to compete to gain recognition in a system that has turned its back on the city towards a more fruitful direction of growing food.

The potential of growing urban farms in Detroit is being turned into reality already. Businesses, neighborhoods and community organizations are investing their time, effort and money in establishing urban farms in Detroit. In an article written by Mike Score, titled ‘Farming on Urban Land’, Hantz Farms LLC is one such organization. Hants Corporation is the brainchild of John Hantz, “a successful entrepreneur” and a resident of Detroit. In collaboration with Michigan State University and Kellogg Foundation, Hantz Farms developed a “business plan” that investigated “the variability of urban soils, potential soil contamination issues associated with urban environments, the need to fit farms between the remaining urban residences, and the realities of producing farm goods using methods that allow the urban infrastructure to remain in place” (14). The return on investment may not be large, as the business plans proposed a very modest rate. The author states, “These models consistently suggest that once the startup cost is accounted for, a Detroit farm venture should provide a modest 2 to 5 percent return on equity” (14). However, the return on investment may not necessarily be the driving force of this venture. In regards to the motivation behind the project, Score mentions that in business terms, this level of return is very modest. It certainly is not investment grade. However, Hantz’s interest in contributing to the revitalization of Detroit’s economy, making neighborhoods more livable, and exploring innovation through involvement in a new industry have allowed him, and the 600 employees of the Hantz group, to defy conventional business decision-making processes and pursue this vision (14).

Although Hantz Farms LLC is a corporation, urban farming remains a good venture even for individual and family farmers and in other cities. However Score implies that the production has not started yet when he says, “More than 90 percent of area residents directly affected by the proposed farms have signed petitions for city leaders to allow the farm to move ahead” (15). There are certain laws and city ordinances that need to be modified regarding large scale production and negotiations with lawmakers are underway. Goldstein mentions a similar project in Cleveland, and Toledo cities in the state of Ohio. These projects in have been very successful. She also mentions The Food Project, an organization in Lincoln Massachusetts as “having a long history of remediating vacant lots with contaminated soils into urban farms and gardens” (24-26).

Urban Farming: The Benefits

The benefits of urban farming are many. Garnett in making a case for urban farming in Britain states, “It could reduce the amount of food-related transport in Britain which at present accounts for one quarter of all journeys in Britain and some 12 percent of Britain’s fuel consumption” (299+). The author mentions that “locally grown food, reduces the need to travel, to distribute it and to buy it, while local employment in food production reduces the need to travel to work” (299+).

Another benefit of urban farming and food sovereignty is that it can reduce wastage and packaging. As the produce is sold relatively soon, it does not need plastic bag packaging, it does not need refrigeration. In fact, alternate industries can flourish for making bags and sacs made of fibers obtained from these farms. Even paper industries can flourish from the production of the hemp that was used to detoxify the lead contaminated soil (299+).

A major problem that could be solved through urban farming could be crime. Although there are many people who get involved in criminal activities because of the money, there are many who do this out of desperation because of a lack of jobs. If agriculture can create sufficient jobs to offer those who fall into illegal and unethical trades out of desperation, then quite a large portion of the problem of urban crime is also solved.

Yet another major merit of urban farming is the sense of accomplishment that it can provide to people. Accomplishment and self-respect always go hand in hand. A community can only respect itself based on what it has achieved. Food production raises the collective self-respect and the dignity that mankind deserves.

From a personal interview with Baraka Johnson, a community activist in Detroit and an employee of Community Legal Resource, it became clear there is an “Adopt a Lot Program”, initiated by the city of Detroit which helps individuals to take temporary possession of city land for the sole purpose of gardening or landscaping. He also said that “the city cannot disallow its residents from growing food and also raising livestock (on private property). However the city has also come to the agreement with others (those interested in urban farming) that large amounts of livestock cannot be raised in an urban setting.” The legal limitations are mainly in the form of zoning issues.

Urban Farming: Expected Challenges

A major limitation for this project is contaminated soil. Contamination of soil is mostly because of lead from roads, buildings, paints and air pollution. Tara Garnett, author of a journal article titled ‘Farming the City: The Potential of Urban Agriculture’ mentions that in order to avoid the ill effects of lead contamination of soil, some farmers “avoid” the entire ordeal of expensive soil testing by “bringing in soil or compost and by cultivating in raised beds” (299+). Other farmers, the author mentions, who do not wish to spend too much money on expensive decontamination of soils “can grow a non-food crop such as hemp, which has a variety of uses (cloth and paper making for instance) could be grown” and food could be “grown on the site a few seasons later”. (299+).

With regards to the second major limitation, that is the weather being unsuitable for food cultivation in northern cities like Detroit in the winter season, there is a remedy for that as well. Methods for winter farming which are not energy intensive and inexpensive are also being developed so that small business owners can also start profitable ventures. An article titled ‘Farming in the Dead of Winter on the Rise’, authored by Susan Keese of WNPR News, brings to light the methods used for winter farming, even in sub-freezing temperatures. The easiest method used is to create “winter greenhouses” also called as “high tunnels.” The winter greenhouse is a long arching structure that looks like a tunnel. The ceiling is a covering of “spun polyester blankets that let in light and trap the heat.” The author says, “It’s about 12 degrees outside, but inside it’s a balmy 60.” Of course winter foods have to be different from summer produce, as such the best suites produce for winter months are vegetables like spinach, carrots, potatoes, mustard greens, lettuce, turnips, broccoli, leeks, Bok choi, kale and Swiss chard are good for the winter whereas tomatoes and the like are good for summer. The winter greenhouses are completely unheated by any other means apart from the sun (Keese).

An Example to Follow

The rural lifestyle serves as the best model for communities that are self-reliant in their food, energy, security and educational systems. A prime model of this lifestyle are the Amish communities. Although Amish communities shun technology, and urban luxuries, they are better prepared to cope with rising prices and food shortages. On the other hand, communities like Detroit that are not independent in food systems have suffered. Goldstein mentions that a congresswoman from Ohio said that “only 2 percent of the food consumed by Ohio families is actually grown” in that state (25). It would be wise for communities, cities, states and nations to become independent in their basic necessities.

A Misconception

This is not communism or socialism, this is democracy. It is a system where people have more control of their own lives rather than a federal or state government that has too many problems to deal with and usually has no idea or interest in the living conditions of these communities. This concept of food sovereignty is a cornerstone to conservative small government ideologues. However these right wing ideologues fail to recognize that unless communities have reliable self-sufficiency, small government is unsustainable. Forcing small government on communities that are dependent on bigger systems and do not have alternative means of stability can cause the break-up of social cohesion and can be destructive.

Images taken from Google Images Database

First Published in East West Link News -

Monday, August 29, 2011

Benefits of Organic Small Farm Meat Over Supermarket Meat

Meat from large factory line food industries must be avoided. First, large corporations destroy the way of life for the rural farming communities, by running small family farming businesses into the ground because they can afford to sell meat at a lower price. Second, the meat that they do provide is associated with many health problems. Third, the industrial farming method is energy intensive and contributes in a large way to the contamination and pollution of our environment in ways that organic and natural farming does not. Fourth, employees suffer health risks because of the factory system and the fumes, usually are underpaid and do not have benefits. Fifth, the animals themselves are treated in very unethical ways. The meat that consumers get looks good but is in antagonism to their needs, ethics, health and the environment. Meat that is accessible in the supermarkets or restaurants should be avoided at all cost, rather the meat that we must consume should be purchased from local farmers whose priority is to provide meat that is healthy rather than cheap so as to bypass factory farmed meat.

The big food processing companies also cause certain problems for the small farmer. The small farmers who used to have their own freedom and had higher standards of living become dependent on the food processing corporation and their standards of living are brought down. Monica Potts, author of an academic article titled ‘The Serfs of Arkansas: : Immigrant Farmers are Flocking to the Poultry Industry—Only to Become 21st -Century Share Croppers for Companies Like Tyson’ argues that the industrialization of farming is causing large scale disruption to farmers and is in effect enslaving farmers “on their own lands”. She explains that since big companies take advantage of their large scale production, and as such sell their meat at very low costs, small scale poultry farmers are confronted either with the choice of going bankrupt, or contracting with the companies that drove them out of business to try and earn a livelihood and retain their land. She uses the example of an immigrant chicken farmer named “Tawr” who had been duped into buying a chicken farm at an “inflated price” and signed a contract with a chicken company named Tyson. Although the contract and the entire picture appeared “rosy” it was a very unfair deal. She goes on to say that the “contracts that seemed like a good deal really weren’t” and although he had hoped to have the freedoms of an entrepreneur, the conditions that Tyson imposed on him made him “more like an employee—but without guaranteed pay and benefits”. She claims that there are many families who have been duped into contracts similar to this or worse. The big “Agriprocessing [SIC] companies”, having contracted with the farmers, “dictate” terms and conditions often at the threat of “terminating the contracts” to make changes to the hen houses. These changes are financed by the farmers themselves and often drive them into debt. Since it is impractical to transport the chicken long distances to other food processor companies, farmers are usually confronted with a single regional food processor and thus helplessly have to obey, Due to this, Tawr and other farmers have been going deeper and deeper into debt and as such living lives of stress and fear of imminent bankruptcy. However, chicken growers are not the only ones in this plight. Potts mentions that hog growers also had to shift to a similar contract system, so as to stay in business as did the cattlemen. This system is not beneficial to the farmers as they had a higher median income before the arrival of these corporations since the time of Ronald Reagan’s less government policies (23+). The Industrial agricultural system has slowly driven farmers into bankruptcy and near extinction.

Carlo Petrini, author of the book “Terra Madre”, notes that “fifty years ago, half the population of the western world worked in agriculture in some capacity: today the number has dropped somewhere between 2 and 7 percent” (66). He states, “The depopulation of the countryside and the wholesale impoverishment of farmers inevitably tears apart the social fabric of communities. Seen through the farmer’s eyes, the face of industrial agriculture is inhuman and harrowing” (68).

With regards to health and environmental hazards, emanating or worsening from the industrial food system, foremost was the problem of unnatural diets being fed to animals which then causes newer diseases, environmental degradation caused by mass production of cattle feed using unsustainable methods, poisoning of the environment because of large quantities of cattle waste, and the abuse of animals. In an article titled ‘How Sustainable Agriculture can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture’, the authors, Leo Horrigan, Robert S Lawrence and Polly Walker note that the “diet” the “livestock” used to eat has been altered. Animals that used to eat grass diets now eat more grain based diets and as such, “the grain raised to supply feedlots (cattle) and factory farms (chicken, hogs, veal calves) is grown in intense monocultures that stretch over thousands of acres, leading to more chemical use and exacerbating attendant problems (e.g.,[SIC] pesticide resistance in insects and pollution of surface waters and aquifers by herbicides and insecticides” (445). Since grass is no longer being used to feed cattle which used to be the natural diet, the food that these animals now eat has to be grown of large fields thousands of acres in size, and to ensure the safety of the grain innumerous chemicals are used. These “monocultures are eroding biodiversity,” the chemicals in the form of “pesticides”, insecticides and “fertilizers” are ruining the “soil, water and air, harming both human health and the environment.”.The water is also being used up at a high rate along with soil erosion. This causes “desertification” on the long run (445,447). Another problem that emerges is the animals’ fecal waste that is usually too much to fertilize nearby fields and as such it is stored in “open air pits”, these pits often seep into water sources and the fumes from the pits also cause health problems for employees and neighboring residents (Horrigan, Lawrence and Walker 451).

A major human health concern that the authors, Horrigan, Lawrence and Walker also mention is that due to the increase in “growth promoting antibiotics in animal agriculture”, there is an “increase in antibiotic resistance in humans” (445). The problem of “food borne pathogens” also is amplified in the industrial food system (451). The reason this happens is because of “crowded conditions in factory farms”. Due to the overcrowding, and the “high speed automated methods of slaughtering and processing” the risk of contamination is higher (451).It was also mentioned in the same article that “the US centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) have estimated that food borne diseases cause 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5000 deaths in the united States each year” (451). “75% of the 1,800” deaths caused by “known pathogens” are “blamed on Salmonella, Listeria, and Toxoplasma” which are “transmitted through meat” (451). Yet another disease that became epidemic “in cattle” was the “bovine spongiform encephalopathy” caused by feeding cattle a diet that was “prepared from the dead carcasses of other ruminants” (451). This caused a “neurological degenerative disease” to appear in humans who had consumed that meat from cattle which were infected (451).

In an article by Chuck Jolley, ‘Meat Safety Under the Microscope’, the author explains that although many meat suppliers label their meat “all natural”, it is not necessarily so. The label ‘all natural’ has many loopholes in it and what major meat processor corporations mean is that the meat is “minimally processed with no growth hormones or antibiotics”. However, it does not mean that the animals have a natural diet. Unnatural diets can still cause “Mad Cow Disease” and Mutated E-coli bacteria may still remain in the manure and get into the meat (21).

Gowri Koneswaran and Danielli Nierenberg, in their article, ‘Global Farm Production and Global Warming: Impacting and Mitigating Climate Change’, mention that since cattle that is “confined to feedlots” and fed unnatural “high protein” diets, they gain weight rapidly. This “can cause a range of illnesses” and this unnatural diet also “leads to increased methane emissions”. “In contrast” they say, “cattle raised on a pasture, eating a more natural, low-energy diet composed of grasses and other forages, produce manure with about half of the potential to generate methane”. They also mention that the “agricultural sector” is “responsible for 35-40% of annual anthropogenic methane emissions” caused by “enteric fermentation in ruminants” (digestion) and “from the animals’ manure” (580).

Another problem with industrialized factory farming is essentially an ethical issue pertaining to the abuse of animals awaiting slaughter. Overcrowding of animals in a small space makes these animals very “aggressive”. The author mentions that there were instances when chickens become so aggravated by the overcrowding that they would fight and often “eat each other”. This had led to the industrial process of “painful de-beaking”. Other animals also display similar tendencies and have been dealt with in similar fashion. Calves are held in tight compartments to prevent mobility so as to ensure that they do not “develop muscles” causing the meat to be “tender”. They are also kept in “darkness and isolation most of their lives” to make them “anemic” so that the “flesh develops the pale color prized in the market” (Horrigan, Lawrence and Walker 449).

Jolley mentions some of the techniques that corporations now use to ensure safety from E-Coli. The “irradiation method” where meat is exposed to minimal amount of radiation is used by some. Cattle Showers to get rid of the manure stuck to the hides of animals is also popular. He also mentions a technique called “UHP” or “ultra high pressure” which applies pressure on the meat that kills off all the microbes. These are some of the ways that the health effects have been controlled (22). A better diet would be one that relies more on vegetarian diet with a lower frequency of meat consumption. If meat is to be consumed, it must be purchased from local organic farms. This is not an elitist solution, but families and individuals must prioritize their spending. It would be better to spend more money on eating a healthy diet than to spend that same money on expenses that are not essential like an internet or phone bill with data packages. Good decent clean food must be a high priority. Unsustainable eating patterns of modern city dwellers creates an unnatural demand for meat which must be met by unnatural supply patterns which use unnatural means to harvest as much meat as possible over short time and at such an unnaturally fast pace that the balance of nature goes off course.

Works Cited

Horrigan, Leo, Robert S. Lawrence and Polly Walker. “How Sustainable Agriculture can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture.” Environmental Health Perspectives110.5 (2002): 445-456. JSTOR. Web. 25 July 2011.

Jolley, Chuck. “Meat Safety Under the Microscope: The Initial Bull Market for Beef Created Huge Trade for Meat. But it also Opened the Door to Major Health Issues.”Food Processing 66.5 (2005): 21+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 July 2011.

Koneswaran, Gowri and Danielli Nierenberg. “Global Farm Animal Production and Global Warming: Impacting and Mitigating Climate Change.” Environmental Health Perspectives 116.5 (2008): 578-582. JSTOR. Web. 27 July 2011

Petrini, Carlo. Terra Madre: Forging a new Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. 2009. Print

Potts, Monica. “The Serfs of Arkansas: Immigrant Farmers are Flocking to the Poultry Industry—Only to Become 21st -Century Share Croppers for Companies Like Tyson.” The American Prospect 22.3(2011): 23+. Academic OneFile. Web

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pakistan’s Dismal Future, The Arab Spring and The State of Israel

By Faiz Ahmed

Oakland University

Rarely, has the world ever seen so many world changing and tumultuous events taking place in such a short period of time. From the start of the year 2011 the world has seen massive revolutions and protests across the globe especially in the Arab world however not limited to it.

Europe has had its own protests’, USA has had its protests, nuclear disasters and earthquakes in Japan, tornadoes in USA. This leads me to think, that we are living in monumental times when wars, revolutions, poverty and destitution and natural disasters are all coming about at the same time. All these are culminating at the same time. Is this all by chance or is the world, in its political, economic and in its cosmic and ultra cosmic realities shifting? Is the world reaching the climax of this era?

Last month, the USA, went into Pakistan and supposedly killed Osama Bin Laden, its arch nemesis.

In the eyes of the Pakistani people, the USA invaded Pakistan, killed an old man and dumped his body into the ocean.

Whether the man was Bin Laden or not, whether Bin Laden, who was the prime “SUSPECT” of the 911 atrocities was guilty of that monumental crime or not, the question to ask is what implication will this have on international politics.

Since the USA invaded Pakistan and killed a man inside Pakistani territory, the people of Pakistan have taken offence to their territorial sovereignty being compromised.

Having kept a keen eye out on the news, I think it would be safe to say, that the alleged killing of Bin Laden has brought a few political dividends to the world’s political elite, namely the USA, Israel and their allies.

First, it has lead to a hike in President Obama’s favorability in the USA. Second, it was a successful test run to see that if Pakistan were to ever fall into civil war, would it be easy for the US army or the UN army or NATO, to move in and dismantle or remove Pakistan’s nuclear weaponry.

The third political dividend is to get a civil war or a revolution started inside Pakistan, to create such conditions so as to justifiably invade Pakistan and do just that, that is, to remove or dismantle Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, of course for the safety of the ‘free’ world so that the weapons may not by any chance fall into the hands of the “islamist” revolutionaries.

A point to remember is that under Musharraf’s regime, the USA had agreed to help safeguard Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

Pakistan then having lost its nuclear arsenal, and in a moment of internal chaos, will be easy to break up into smaller states probably un.der the control of India. Part of Pakistan may assimilate into greater Afghanistan.

What consequence will this have on the Arab uprisings, and the Arab revolutionaries? Will they remain quite? Or will they try to organize and take on Israel.

Egypt has already opened up its borders to Gaza through the Rafah crossing. The Hamas and Fattah factions have united, along with the Palestinian people living inside of Israel’s territorial boundaries. The call for the third Intifada has gone out on facebook and every time facebook shuts the page down, five new ones pop up and get millions of supporters within hours.

American and Israeli allies in the region have lost their control over their own governments, Egypt, Jordan etc. Turkey which has traditionally been an ally of Israel has now allied itself with Iran. It must also be noted that Israel had sent in crowd control weaponry to Hosni Mubarak to try to quell the Egyptian uprising.

The world which has been pressurizing Israel by way of flotillas and United Nations resolutions, now is forcing Israel to accept a Palestinian state. The pressure on Israel is indeed rising not to mention that Israel is fast running out of water resources.

The USA is already involved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and the US economy is collapsing because of excessive spending on the part of the Bush and Obama administration.

If the Arab youth, angered by the loss of the only Muslim nuclear power, try to take on Israel, backed by Iran and Turkey or if Israel starts something preemptively, it may usher a new and devastating war in which the Arabs being heavily under-armed will most likely loose.

The anger has also been building up because of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo scandals, Islamophobia, poverty, and occupation.

Professor Norman Finkelstein has been active in saying the Israel is preparing itself for a big war which may encompass the entire middle east.

Is this the near future, will the Arab world be transformed into a massive Gaza strip? If the USA enters into that war, what will happen to its economy? Will there be internal chaos in the USA at the hands of the Tea Party and the right wing militias? What will be the fate of the minorities living in the USA is such a time of chaos? Just like how in WW2, Britain the ruling state in the world, gave way to the USA to be the next ruling state in the world, will this next war make the USA which is the current ruling state in the world, give way to Israel, then next new ruling state in the world?

Will the False Messiah rule the world from Jerusalem and bring about Israel’s golden age thereby successfully claiming to be the real Jewish messiah who achieved what the real messiah Jesus (PBUH) seemingly failed to do during his first trip to earth?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Advertising – Good for Society or Bad?

By Faiz Ahmed

The question was posed to me about whether advertising is a positive activity in relation to society or whether it is a negative one.

There are two types of advertisements, informative advertisements and commercial advertisements. Informative advertisements are just that – informative. Informative advertisements are used to inform us about health issues, political issues, social issues, religious issues etc. Commercial advertisements on the other hand, are used to inform people about goods and products in the market. There is nothing wrong with that, however when advertisements start effecting the consumption patterns of people, wherein people become so attached to acquiring material possessions that the rest of the world suffers, then advertising in indeed a danger to society.

Materialism, through advertising and marketing has created some of the most dangerous problems for the world as a whole. Materialism has created the problems of global warming and global poverty and even oppression of people by way of wars, power coups, dictatorships and covert and overt regime changes and civil strife in many parts of the world.

The first problem is global warming. Global warming is the heating up of the earth’s atmosphere due to green house gasses. Green house gasses are generated by factory emissions, by automobile emissions, by natural gas consumption and by aerosols. These gasses heat up the earth’s surface, causing the polar ice caps to melt thereby causing an increase in the oceanic water level. If the water level keeps on increasing at the present rate, many islands will drown, and the coastlines of continents and landmasses will recede.

So how does global warming relate to advertising? People who live in an urban lifestyle are very wasteful, energy dependant and are big consumers. Consumerism is the norm. Advertisements create a constant demand for goods and services in the urban consumer society. Most of these products are really useless, needless and unnecessary. This constant demand for manufactured goods is in reality making us use the earth’s resources very unsustainably. Not only are we causing deforestation on a massive scale, we are also releasing all kinds of harmful gasses into the environment.

If people want to combat global warming, all they have to do is control themselves and their urges when they see advertisements enticing them. If people can reduce their consumption on a massive scale, the demand will automatically reduce. As soon as the demand for these unnecessary goods and services is reduced, the production will decrease. The point is that do people really need an iPhone 5 if they have an iPhone 4? Do they really need a brand new pair of Oakley sunglasses if they already have five pairs? Do people really need a brand new car every five years even though they have two cars sitting in the driveway? If people can control themselves, and not fall for the advertising then people can say, they have a solution.

The second problem that is created by commercial advertising is wars and bloodshed, be that civil war, declared war, undeclared war, covert or overt regime changes and the rule of dictators and tyrants. Of course, you might either have widened you eyes or furrowed your eyebrows as you read this. But what I am articulating is indeed very true.

What is the real reason that the underdeveloped world is at loggerheads with the developed world? The industrialized nations in the world have one of the largest demands for oil, rubber, metals and other raw materials, and these companies have lobbying groups that pressurize the governments to keep a military presence in these resource rich countries. This is done by keeping the puppet rulers in power because they allow corporations to take control of the resources at very cheap prices in return for safety and protection and continued dominion. These rulers would not be in power for more than a month if the U.S.A and her allies would remove their military support.

This is in fact one of the major grievances of most of the victims of the multinational corporations.

The Texaco oil company ruined the health and the communities and the environment of the Ecuadorian people, and human beings as young as 30 are coming up with diseases and cancers. This is also the case in the Middle East, in Latin America and in Africa.

If a country wants to keep its resources to itself and sell it at its own terms, or if some leader chooses not to trade with a particular company, sooner or later, that leader will be removed either by coup, or by war or by covert or overt military interventions. People who live in these countries remember their grievances even if others do not, because it was their family members who died.

If you do a root cause analysis, the reason for all this is the demand for raw materials is because the people in developed nations have so many wants and desires.

Is it necessary to buy new clothes every week? Is it so important to be able to buy a new computer every year to be able to play those computer games whose technological requirements keep increasing?

The third problem is that of global poverty. The metropolitan way of life is fuelled by advertising and it is fuelled by marketing because of all the cut throat competition. It is the same in Chicago, New York, Bombay, Karachi, Dubai or Singapore.

The sad truth is that although this seems to be a very beautiful and luxurious lifestyle, it is based on a very unfair system.

A major part of the world population is under poverty. When one group of people is getting spoilt fat by riches, always another group of people will be starving thin.

How did the disparities come to such an extent?

It is unfettered capitalism. Advertising is its main tool. For example let us see what would happen to the world if advertisements did not create a larger market for eating expensive food at posh restaurants or binge eating at fast food joints. For the sake of understanding, we need to understand that the so-called third world countries have a surplus of food production each year. Let us take India as an example. Bombay City in India has the fourth largest number of millionaires. Yet starvation remains a big problem, in Bombay. The GDP of India is increasing rapidly every year and the major contributor to Indian GDP is the agricultural industry. In India there is a surplus in the production of food. Some of this food is exported to countries that have a high demand, some is stored and the rest is sold locally at high prices. If it was not for advertising, the developed countries would not have such a big demand for binge eating or for eating at fast food joints. If the demand was not there, then all that excess food would not be exported from India. If the lesser developed countries were not exporting so much food at exorbitant prices, then the profits from exporting the food would be lesser and at least nearer to the profits gained from selling it locally. If the price of food would be lesser than the current price in underdeveloped countries, then I am sure the poorer strata of society could afford it. It is the second law of supply and demand in economics, that is, “if the demand decreases, with supply remaining the same, the price will decrease”.

Materialism is the root cause of many of the problems of the world. Advertising and marketing are its tools. Advertising and marketing are not always bad, but the problems begin when advertisers start using psychoanalysis by studying psychological methods of mass persuasion, and then, advertising becomes diabolical.

Robert Griffith and Paula Baker, in their book “Major Problems in American History Since 1945” record an excerpt from Vance Packard’s bestselling book, “The Hidden Persuaders”.

In the excerpt, Packard mention that “two thirds of America’s hundred largest advertisers” are using what they call “motivational analysis” (Griffith and Baker pg94).

He also mentions that “ many of the nation’s leading public relations experts have been indoctrinating themselves in the lore of psychiatry and social sciences in order to increase their skill at ‘engineering’ our consent to their propositions” (Griffith and Baker pg94)

Advertisements create demand for products where the demand was not there by picking at our impulses and picking at our material desires. The least we can do to contribute to solving the problems or at least to be able to tell ourselves “I had no part in it” is to reduce our unnecessary consumption and by not reacting to advertisements impulsively. We must make a difference between needs and wants and stop falling prey to psychoanalytical advertising schemes.

First Published with East West Link News -

Monday, March 14, 2011

What is McCarthyism? Why is it Bad?

Faiz Ahmed

---“The domestic anti-communist crusade of the 1940s and 1950s was essential during a time of great peril. American communists posed a legitimate threat to national security and the American way of life. Indeed, many American communists were spies and traitors. Although it is possible that some innocent people suffered, that was a relatively small and necessary price to pay to defend American freedoms. Those who fought communism at home deserve our nation’s highest praise”----

McCarthyism was a phenomenon in the history of the United States at the time of the Cold War, when elected officials used extremely exaggerated fear mongering tactics to marginalize Socialists, Communists, Leftists and even Liberals. Many patriotic Leftist, centrist and even conservative people suffered because of the actions of a few members of the communist party.

McCarthyism brought about a lot of repression and many of the constitutional rights of people were trampled upon.

Senator Joe McCarthy is the namesake of the phenomenon of McCarthyism. It was because of his eccentric and dramatized behavior and allegations that people today look at the period in history as something unpleasant.

What McCarthyism did was that it made the allegation of Communism, the ultimate allegation against a person. Even if a person was a Communist because of their leftist ideology and was still loyal to the United States, it was assumed that their loyalty was with the USSR.

The notion that American Communists posed a legitimate threat to the nation is true. There were many members of the Communist party who were spies for the USSR. However to say that those Americans who fought Communism at home deserve the nation’s highest praise is not something I can digest because in trying to fight Communism, many of these heroes, descended to the level of authoritarianism and betrayed the Constitution of the USA and betrayed the universal principles of justice and of personal privacy.

Every organization has more than one level of hierarchy. There is the intellectual leadership and there is the rank and file membership.

The rank and file membership of the Communist party were made up of many good hearted, law abiding citizens. For instance the narrative of Howard Johnson in Ellen Schrecker’s ‘The Age of McCarthyism’ mentions that, “Most of the black intellectuals joined the party because they were attracted to it for the same reasons I was. It was an organization that was really doing something, that was there. That was picketing, that was demonstrating, that was getting jobs for blacks in this union and that union…” (Schrecker 111)

The Communist party invited many people who were struggling for civil rights. This was a local focus that the communist party had. These were people who were loyal to the USA.

David Friedman’s narrative also shows that he joined the party because of the local impact that the party had. The communist party was involved heavily in the rejuvenation of the educational system and the restoration of businesses and shops. This was also a local focus on trying to revive the community. He also was pretty incensed by certain things done by big businesses like “burning wheat and spilling milk in order to keep the prices from going too low … creating an artificial scarcity.”(Schrecker 114)

The Communist party also was an anti-Nazi, anti-fascist hub of political organization and activity. This also brought many people to join the Communist party. (Schrecker 114)

However the intellectual leadership of the Communist party changed its party line after the WW2. The speeches of William Foster, fostered a lot of anti-American and pro-Soviet feelings in the Communist party membership. An example of this is in Foster’s speech after WW2, “Besides this economic fear, the big American capitalists also have profound political fear. They view with the greatest fear, the alarming democratic tide throughout Europe and the world, and they know that the USSR is the main bulwark of this new world democracy.” (Schrecker pg 121)

The Communist movement did pose some threats such as espionage and spying. Delivering or the intent to deliver nuclear and military secrets to the USSR were some of the glaringly obvious signs of anti-Americanism and betrayal of the USA by the hands of some American Communists.

Covert operations and espionage were carried out by both sides and both sides had the right to punish their traitors. The Americans went after their traitors which was natural. Some of the most prominent cases were that of Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss. Hiss was an employee of the state department. Chambers was the transmitter of information to the soviets. Chambers provided evidence of secret documents that Hiss had given him from the state department to transmit to the Soviets. (Schrecker 148-151)

The other case was of Klaus Fuchs who was a physicist who was involved in providing the USSR with information regarding the atomic bomb. (157-158)

There was also the long roster of names of government employees who spied on the USA for the USSR. The list was furnished by Elizabeth Bentley who was a spy and divulged names. This was how Chambers was apprehended and through him Hiss. (Schrecker 138-139)

The fact is that there were many people who were spying on the government for the USSR who were members of the Communist party. This in effect lent legitimacy to the anti-Communist witch hunt. It legitimized the repression against the Communist party.

However there were many instances of injustice carried out by the Congress, the Supreme Court and the House committees, and even unofficially government sponsored harassment that citizens suffered.

The Rosenberg case was the most intense case. Julius Rosenberg was accused of having given nuclear and military secrets to the Soviets and his wife Ethel was accused of having supported him. They were both sentenced to death. (Schrecker 156, 168)

The problem here is that in the official memorandum from J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI to the Attorney General, it is apparent that they both knew that Ethel Rosenberg was innocent. They decided to use Ethel Rosenberg as “leverage” to get Julius Rosenberg to confess and since he did not confess, they were sentenced to death.(Schrecker 164,165)

Another issue that came up was the federal loyalty security program. Federal employees were required to go through a political screening process and the investigators and interrogators exceeded their limits by intruding into the private lives of those being interrogated. (Schrecker 177-178)

A good example of this is the case of a substitute postal employee. The employee was a member of a union which was linked to another organization which was communist-dominated. The particular employee moved his union away from communist infiltrated organization, quit his position and then joined the federal government as an employee. Despite his loyalty, the employee was accused repeatedly and brought before the federal loyalty committee repeatedly and finally even lost his job. (Schrecker 178-182)

There was another case of a meat inspector who was fired from his job. Character witnesses all said that he was either democrat or republican or even centrist in his political outlook. Yet the man lost his job. (Schrecker 183-187)

The repression became more intense when the Attorney General’s office created a list of numerous organizations that the attorney general’s office ‘felt’ were against the USA and were working from within to destabilize the country. This list was huge and comprised of all types of organizations. (Schrecker 191-196)

There was also the case of the Hollywood ten. These were members of the movie industry who were brought before the HUAC committee (Congressional committee), “they argued with the committee”, they were charged with contempt of congress, and they served short prison sentences and were “blacklisted by the movie studios”. So much for the first amendment. (Schrecker 229-230)

Many people in the entertainment business also suffered because of the unofficial blacklisting for reasons of political expediency on part of production houses and advertising agencies. Advertising agencies took special precautions to protect themselves. According to David Susskind’s and Mark Goodson’s testimonies, it was becoming increasingly difficult to hire talent which was politically clear of the taint of Communism. Goodson describes the problem in his testimony in the Faulk vs. AWARE litigation. Goodson said, “… All I can say is there were no differentiations made between Communists, Communist sympathizers, those who had lunch with Communist sympathizers, those who knew somebody who had lunch with Communist sympathizers, and so forth, but there was an overall list and the differentiation was not made for us … sponsors and their agencies wanted to keep out of trouble with the public and, therefore, wanted to eliminate anybody that might be accused of anything which could involve the sponsor in controversy.” (Schrecker 250-254)

There was another instance where 11 top leaders of the Communist party were dragged into court and were accused of trying to overthrow the government by subscribing to the Marxist-Leninist philosophy. The court used the Leninist concept of ‘Aesopianism’, the art of “writing in a roundabout, protective language”, to point out that the American communist party was using Aesopian language and that even if they swore loyalty to the USA they were secretly planning to try and bring about violent revolution. (Schrecker 204-205)

There was a fundamental problem with the court using the excuse of ‘Aesopian language’, because “Aesopian language is a way of making revolutionary and political statements by way of hints”. America was not an authoritarian government, at least before this court case. American society spoke about giving freedom of speech and did not clamp down in its citizens for voicing alternate political philosophies at least in principle until then, so in all practicality, the Communist party did not need to resort to Aesopian language, because they did not have to fear censorship. (Schrecker 205)

However Edgar Hoover in his testimony to the HUAC, a few years before, spoke of this same Aesopian language and charged that “Lenin used it for the purpose of avoiding censorship, Communists today use it to mislead the public.”(Schrecker 129-130)

However, in all of the speeches and testimonies of the Communist leaders, they were pretty much plain and straightforward and made it clear that they did not like capitalism and they intended to try to change the system of government by legal and constitutional means.

Another of Lenin’s statement that was commonly expounded by the anti-communist leaders such as Sydney Hook and J. Edgar Hoover was Lenin’s call to “resort to all sorts of devices, maneuvers and illegal methods, to evasion and subterfuge”, “to penetrate the trade unions, to remain in them and to carry on communist work in them at all costs”. (Schrecker 130,265)

In the narrative provided by David Freidman he mentions that, “People would reveal themselves [as Communists] when they saw that I was an active union member … I realized that the people that I later found out and subsequently or almost immediately found out were party people, certainly sympathetic to the party, were the most active and the most dedicated…”(Schrecker 113)

This narrative could give some credibility to the concerns that the Communists were trying to infiltrate the unions secretly.

However the top leadership of the American Communist party, who were tried in 1949 Smith Act Trial, always maintained their adherence to peaceful and constitutional methods, and were never accused of anything illegal or even of promoting violent revolutionary ideas. Rather, they were accused of following the Marxist-Leninist ideology that promoted violent revolution.(Schrecker 197)

Therefore the first part of my starting statement stands true, that “The domestic anti-Communist crusade of the 1940s and 1950s was essential during a time of great peril. American Communists posed a legitimate threat to national security and the American way of life. Indeed, many American Communists were spies and traitors.”

However the second part of that statement, “Although it is possible that some innocent people suffered, that was a relatively small and necessary price to pay to defend American freedoms. Those who fought communism at home deserve our nation’s highest praise.”

This part of the statement, I would differ with. The function of the ‘Department of Justice’ is to provide justice, not to help the government gain cheap political points by executing Ethel Rosenberg and thereby breaking up her family and orphaning her children, otherwise it should be named the ‘Department of Injustice’. It was also the Department of Justice’s duty to uphold the First Amendment rights of the ‘Hollywood Ten’ but this was also disregarded.

There was another point, that it is unjust to punish a person for a crime and not give the same punishment to another person for the same crime just because they confessed or named names. The Crime of all those charged with spying should have been the same including Whittaker Chambers, Alger Hiss, Julius Rosenberg and all other Americans who were betraying the USA.

Those men who fought Communism do not deserve the nation’s highest praise for they betrayed the constitution of the USA and they betrayed the universal principle of justice.

In trying to repress the Communist movement, the US government and all those who contributed to the many injustices did indeed bring the standard of the USA down to that of an authoritarian monolithic society.

The ultimate question remains that if the USA is a democracy, is there room for dissenting and different political philosophies?

If there is room for allowing dissenting philosophies to take part in society and in the discourse, then the dissenters will not have to resort to anything illegal or sinister or even Aesopian. If, however, dissenters are persecuted for their heresy, then they might resort to covert means to get their work done, as was witnessed in the era of McCarthyism.

First Published with East West Link News -