Khaab Khayaal Saraab

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

One might be tempted to dismiss the following as just so much


And I would if I hadn't reached the same kind of conclusion based on my
own first-hand (non-voluntary) research on the matter. I could have
given the poor bureaucrat stuck with entering my data the number of the
credit card I cancelled in 1998 and he would have happy to just finish
the damn process of data entry after three tries and three hours of
trying to populate 5 screens of data.


Collaborations that make it okay for a rabid nationalist to tune into a piece of art, a concert,
etc. are really useful at breaking down barriers. Over the weekend, we went to the Asha Bhosle/Adnan
Sami Khan concert at the Oakland Area. Though obviously an Indian organized and run show with one
Pakistani on the billing--and a person who actually did the Ra-Ra songs for the *Indian* team during
the World Cup--I met one or two Pakistanis there that quickly said "Adnan koe sun nay aayay haiN."

We need more collaborations like this one:

Indian director plans to film love story in Pakistan
Daily Times, Lahore. Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Good News is...

... I have better standing with the HSA ("Homeland Security
Administration" said the patches on folks upper arms) than a French TV
crew; but that's not saying much:

The lady behind the counter at RDU Tuesday morning disappeared with my
[and my wife's] photo IDs for about half an hour [a chain of events that
lead to a "late check in" and our baggage and car seat getting home a
day late]. She went behind a door that I noticed much coming and going
to and from by people with the TSA and HSA logos on their shirts.

And then I see today's editorial from the Cincy Post:

Welcome. You're under arrest

Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security's crack gumshoes
at Los Angeles' airport jailed six French TV journalists for more than a
day; interrogated, body-searched and fingerprinted them; then forcibly
repatriated them to Paris. The six had planned to cover the annual video
game exposition in Los Angeles, a trade show that received worldwide
This kind of bureaucratic overkill could redound against American
reporters overseas, tarnishes our ideal of a free press and makes us
look like idiots. Now we have eroded our moral ground to object to this
sort of Third World treatment when it is inflicted on our own reporters

There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence of people arbitrarily
detained at airports or bumped off flights because of "watch lists."
Getting a name removed apparently means going through a Kafkaesque

France is one of 27 countries whose nationals need no visas to enter the
United States for 90 days for business or pleasure. It is a courtesy
other countries extend to our own citizens, although who knows how much
longer if this sort of nonsense keeps up.

Certainly, a trade show sounds like a legitimate mix of business and
pleasure. But apparently there is an obscure and rarely invoked
requirement for an "I-visa," which attests the holder is "legitimately
engaged in journalism." The U.S. government should not be in the
business of deciding who and who isn't a journalist, in effect
licensing, and certainly now deciding what is "legitimate" journalism.
This was a common technique for the old Iron Curtain countries to try to
control the press. As long as they have a passport and obey the laws,
let visitors write what they want.

Sept. 11, 2001 did a lot of damage to our country, but at some stage we
have to start undoing the damage we're doing to ourselves.


The interesting thing is that, as the article says,

"Some mosques -- although none that are predominantly Pakistani -- have
been linked to fundamentalist clerics."

None of the Pakistani-American clerics are militant; which is not to say
that Pakistanis are not prone to being fanatics and/or anti-American.
Just that the dynamics of what we are up against and what is being done
to "combat" it just don't seem to mesh--remember, it took a DA and then
mayor of Italian descent to take down the mafia.

One day, we will all look back at this and think of it as an
embarrassing detour from trying to build a more perfect union...like we
do the detentions of Japanese-Americans during WWII...or maybe y'all

> what's an american muslim ... a muslim with an american citizenship?

Used to be. But 2-3 generations is enough time to develop a separate
communal identity; with all that it entails. My (developing) thesis is
that the mainstream of american muslims is dominated by a certain world
view and attitudes. And they are very close to the kind of Muslim we--I,
at least--*don't* usually associate with back home; Rationalist/Qutb'ist
and Salafi/Deobandi/Wahabi. I need to organize my thoughts, but that's
the core.

You are most probably an exception in not being Salafi, but take
yourself for example. You're not just an muslim who happens to have
american citizenship. (Or an American who just happens to be of Muslim
origin, either.) You've been shaped by the overlapping worlds of
American culture and Muslim as well as South Asian cultures. And by the
experience of growing up Muslim in the US; how your parents reacted to
living here, how you evolved as you negotiated life in the US of A...

Am I making sense?

as an activist, two things scare me: American
Muslims and Deobandi/Salafi/Wahabi influence on the Muslim Main Street
around the world. As an example, here's my reply to a mail I received
about "Bridges TV" [are you following that, btw?]:

"Frankly, American Muslims scare me. Pakistanis don't scare me;
Indian Muslims don't; not even Palestinians or Saudis. But American
Muslims scare me.

Especially when, it seems--for example, from this ad--that the only
reason we should vote is because Jews do--not because Islam imposes upon
us a responsibility to make the community and country we live in a
better place; not because it will help us make a better life for
ourselves and our kids; but because Jews vote and we need to fight them.
Is that all Islam is? As we say back home, always "bughz-e-Muawiya";
never "Hubb-e-Ali"?

frankly, I am getting really, really tired of the self-congralatory intellectual masturbation of Pakistani and Pakistani-American engineers and the rationalist-obscurantist attitudes of American Muslims