Two visitors to the United States

One speaks candidly about wrongs done in the past. The other, a coward, can’t face the press.


Kshitij Urs, a prominent Bangalore-based environmental and human rights activist, posted the following query on his facebook wall:

“Two well known visitors in the US (last) week. One seeks peace, justice, healing and ecological rejuvenation while the other is an expert in social polarisation, wants to sell off his country for a song and is happiest in Murdoch’s company. Any guesses?”

Here are a few guesses:

One has apologised for the genocidal crimes committed by the Spanish Conquistadores and has had the gall to remind members of the US Congress late last week of the genocide carried out on the original inhabitants of the Americas.
The other is a puny coward who can’t face questions regarding his role in a pogrom against a minority in his state, who has sold his soul to corrupt businessmen and is out to wreak havoc on some very basic features of the constitution. He infamously walked out of an interview with a reputed television talk host and the closest he came to addressing the issue was in an interview with Reuters, when he compared the violence against the minority community to a “puppy” coming “under the wheel”.

One has been a doughty voice on climate change. In his address to the US Congress, he called for a “courageous and responsible effort to ‘redirect our steps’ and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity”. He wants to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral”.

The other has followed his predecessor government’s disdain for environmental norms and his own regime has intensified the blitz against NGOs including Greenpeace which have been struggling to protect the livelihoods of indigenous peoples in their forest and mountain habitats as well as other impoverished communities.

One calls for combating “violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms… The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarisation which would divide it into these two camps.”

The other thrives on religious polarisation, lets his minions foment communal riots so that his party can benefit from a majoritarian vote bank and cares two hoots for the violence unleashed on the estranged communities who had earlier been living in peace and amity.

One says that even in the developed world, “the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples.”

The other has been a friend of industrialists, doling out massive largesse to them and using state machinery to terrorise indigenous peoples whose lands, forests and mountains are being seized for environmentally destructive mining.
One says, “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected… when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbours’ and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best.”

The other thrives on xenophobia, that being the basic ideology of the hate group of which he had been a propagandist until he turned a politician. His party has long sought to label people of a certain community in some states as foreigners, even though they have been living there for decades if not centuries.

One is fervently opposed to the death penalty, holding that “every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes ” and that “a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”

The other’s chief in a western state two months ago executed a member of the minority community who had made the mistake of reposing too much trust in the fairness of the authorities and the courts.

One skipped lunch with a galaxy of top US politicians to break bread instead with the homeless.

The other prefers to bask in the company of billionaires and has won a certificate for being “the best leader since independence” from that leading media marauder Rupert Murdoch.

This can go on and on until the cows come home. Ah, cows!




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