Another ignorant American runs amok
I have always found the column of TJS George, the old war-horse of The Indian Express, and eminent journalist and Editorial Advisor, of The New Indian Express, a pleasure to read. There is a lot of practical wisdom in what he writes. Though his column appears only once a week, as Point of View, in The New Sunday Express, he has several other things to his credit:
Krishna Menon - A Biography; The Life and Times of Nargis; Revolt in Mintanose; Liquan Singapore; Biography of Pothen Joseph ; The First Refuge of Scoundrels: Politics in Modern India; MS. A Life in Music, are some of the books authored by George.
Reading George’s column once a week gives enough ideas to think of the political and other tomfooleries of the past week and of those likely to unfold in the weeks ahead.
This week, Georgie’s take is on the American political nitwits who dictate the rest of the world on their “dos” and “don’ts”, or “solicitously” prepare their long laundry lists.
George tells the readers to imagine the unimaginable, if they can. That is, a senior M.P. from India going to America and saying at a press conference that the Bush Administration must treat the Blacks in New Orleans more humanely; and wonders if we can imagine Vajpayee or Somnath Chatterjee saying in Washington DC that America's policy of torturing detainees is illegal and barbarous.
George admits that we may have strong opinions on the atrocities that go on in America under the smokescreen of democracy ; but wisely adds that our civilization stops us from expressing them in diplomatically uncivilized ways; and that whatever the reason, no M.P. or Government representative from India will break conventional decencies while on foreign soil.
Take it as a compliment to the niceties of the world’s largest democracy, that is, India’s democratic polity, though it is nascent by western standards, and not yet a developed democracy.
But what about the world’s supposedly most developed and the oldest of modern democracies, the U.S.? As George has said, America's official representatives seem to consider themselves above (or is it below?) such decencies which countries like India observe.
In his latest column he has given the example of an American Congressman named Dan Burton who has been visiting India and talking wildly about how India should behave. Stating that, in the first place, Dan and a bunch of fellow members of the U.S. Congress are here to discuss the Kashmir issue, George asks, who gave them the right to do so when Indian MPs do not go to America to discuss New Orleans racism.
The long and short of what George says is the American political nitwits who fit well into George Orwell’s Animal Farm, come all the way to India – among other countries – to fart around; when they do so, they use the wrong outlet; the Americans need elementary lessons in professional courtesies and decencies when dealing with other countries, especially when they are on the soil of these countries; and even when they are entitled to say what they do, it should not be a case of betraying their ignorance and misleading other countries. Well said, Georgie.
Can the American representatives do the same thing in China? When George Bush tried to fart around in China recently, the Chinese Premier tolerated the foul smell for a while, but told him in as many words that China knows what is good for it, it does not need lessons in developing what George Bush considers democracy in China, and China will not tolerate any foreigner farting around it for long. Well said, Premier!