Rip It From the Womb

As we approach the conclusion of one of the most contentious political seasons in modern history, I thought it would be timely to tackle the most divisive issue in the American political arena: Partial-Birth Abortion.

Looking forward to reading those hate comments!

Unsurprisingly, the term ‘partial-birth abortion’ is actually one of those misleading political buzzwords devised to emotionally manipulate voters and the general public. The actual medical term is Intact Dilation And Extraction (or D&X).

During one of the presidential debates, Donald Trump eloquently described this procedure

donald-trump-bankruptcy-lies

“Of course I’m pro-life. I’m the MOST pro-life person EVER in history. In twenty years, those fetuses will be dating me!”

as ‘ripping the baby from the womb’. Obviously, that is a gross mischaracterization.

D&X is one of several abortion procedures used for terminating a pregnancy within the last four months. The cervix is dilated, allowing for the passage of the head of the fetus. The head of the fetus is reduced in diameter by puncturing.

Contrary to popular belief, the procedure is not performed while the woman is in labour (as the term ‘partial-birth abortion’ might suggest). After all, it’s unrealistic to picture a woman, during the last moments of her labor, arbitrarily deciding that she doesn’t want a baby. It would be even more ludicrous to suggest that medical professionals would comply with the woman’s request for the sake of upholding feminist ideals.

Late-term abortions are performed on women who were hoping to give birth to their child. In those particular cases, something has gone dreadfully during the pregnancy. Either the mother’s health is at risk or the baby is deformed to the point where it has minimal chance of surviving. D&X is usually performed when the head of the fetus is abnormally large, due to a terminal birth defeat called hydroencephalitis. However, the procedure is also typically performed when the woman is suffering from internal bleeding.

One of the most irksome features of modern American politics is the prevalence of politicians attempting to play doctor. Fueled by ideological motives, they propose these ridiculous laws to curtail access to abortion. Many even aspire to overturn the 1973 Roe V Wade decision and transform America into a ‘pro-life’ nation.

I find it more disturbing that some physicians refuse to perform abortions for their patients. Furthermore, there are pharmacists who refuse to dispense birth control pills to their customers. They hide behind the cloak of religious freedom. Yet, they’ve become so blind by their religious beliefs that they’re inadvertently sacrificing medical ethics.

I’m no fan of abortion. Neither are most who advocate for abortion rights. Termination of a pregnancy is sometimes necessary. I don’t think a female patient should die in a religiously-affiliated hospital because its medical professionals refuse to perform an operation that could have saved her life. I don’t think politician should write legislative bills on issues of which they know very little. And I don’t think we, as the citizenry, should be so easily swayed by buzzwords, emotional rhetoric and bumper-sticker slogans.

“My Culture is not a Costume”

Halloween is fast approaching which means self-victimizing memes, like to the one below, are destined to flood your social media wall


As the risk of sounding like I’m overdosing on ‘member berries, I can’t

‘Member when there weren’t any Mexicans? Oh I ‘member!

help but recall a time when Halloween was simply a playfully innocent holiday. Halloween is supposed to be about haunted houses, ghost stories, sugary treats (that may or may not cause cavities) and slutty vampires(who may or may not put out).

When did White Guilt come into the picture?

I’ve grown unbearably frustrated with this trend of manufactured fake outrage permeating every aspect of our society. We can’t even discuss a bloody TV show without bringing up the lack of racial diversity amongst the characters! Yes, I realize the cast of Seinfeld is whiter than Mitt Romney in a snowstorm. Who cares! It’s a well-written sitcom performed by skilled actors with impeccable comedic timing. I’d understand if a ‘show about nothing’ is not your cup of tea. However, suggesting some bizarre racial quota is an indication of your own racial bias.

I’m of South Asian descent, but you don’t need my approval if you want to dress up as a genie or a maharajah. It’s Halloween. You’re free to wear any costume.

Ive never heard of any complaints over someone who had the audacity to don a cowboy outfit . Accusations of appropriating Texan culture are completely nonexistent.

I will concede that racism is an ongoing problem that should be addressed. We’ll never get anywhere by cloistering ourselves in an echo chamber so by all means, let’s talk about racial profiling. Let’s talk about police brutality. Let’s talk about the stigma of driving while black…or flying while Muslim. And let’s talk about  the shockingly regressive tone of the Donald Trump campaign!

However, highlighting trivial matters like Halloween costumes is a infantile distraction from crucial issues regarding racial relations.

Bigotry and xenophobia are deep, visceral wounds in American history. Although we as a nation have come a long way from the Jim Crow era, our country is still healing. Unfortunately, our fake outrage culture is only succeeding in pouring salt on those wounds. The more salt poured, the further we regress.

Puritanical Teetotalers and Social Drinkers

I have a complicated relationship with alcohol.

I’m over 21, which, in the United States, is the legal age for alcohol consumption (yet somehow, the government considers 18-year-olds, who are barely out of high school, mature enough to enlist in the armed forces. Go figure)

Nevertheless, I’m not a connoisseur of hard drinks. In fact, I could count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had a drink.

I’m just not a fan of that cringe-worthy, bitter aftertaste. The only type of drink I can tolerate is a glass of merlot, where the alcohol is diluted by the high sugar content.

However, I could never understand the two dominant attitudes concerning alcohol consumption competing in our society.

The first view decries alcohol as the devil’s drink. It’s no surprise that the majority of those espousing such an extremist opinion tend to be hyper-conservative churchgoers. According to that camp, alcohol is the root of numerous social evils and ideally, should be banned.

The second view holds drinking as a social imperative. Apparently, if you dare make an individual choice to decline an alcohol beverage, you’re as risk of being a debber-downer, repelling everyone around you.

What is it about alcohol that inspires such polarizing perspectives? I’ve always viewed alcoholic drinks as..well…drinks. A person is endowed with the individual choice to accept or decline a drink. We don’t hold the same attitudes for tea, coffee, or pop (soda). So why do we do so for alcoholic beverages?

Provided that a person is capable of drinking responsibly, he/s should be free to consume a glass of brandy without fearing the scorn of the few puritans lurking from the corner. If a person refuses a drink, for a range of personal reasons, he/s shouldn’t be questioned for his/her own choice.

Some people just have this inexplicable desire to impose their own values and beliefs on others. Apparently, that ambition expands to personal habits as well.

In the words of the theme song to that 80’s sitcom starring a wise-cracking Black midget (oh I’m sorry, I meant little person)

“Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum,
What might be right for you, may not be right for some. ”

(You know, say what you want about 80’s sitcoms, but they don’t write  catchy show tunes like that anymore!)

 

‘Participation Trophies’

Millennials are consistently disparaged for being narcissistic and over-entitled. According to media pundits and mall-walking retirees, we’re just a bunch of basement-dwelling losers parasitically scavenging for hand-outs. I mean, why else would we have passionately supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries?

Now according to those same insightful journalists, the root of our ineptitude and entitlement is traced to the numerous ‘participation trophies’ we undeservedly received as children.

Many claim that participation trophies foster an delusional sense of accomplishment. After all, if we reward kids just for showing up, they won’t have any incentive to put in any effort, thus, they’ll grow up to be unsuccessful losers.

Obviously, most people misunderstand the objective behind participation trophies. When preschool-aged children first venture out into the world, it’s very easy for them to feel intimidated and discouraged

For example, at a soccer match, a child may feel that his/her skills don’t match up to his/her fellow teammates, and therefore, he/s may be reluctant to participate in the game.

Because of their lack of self-worth, a child may feel disinclined to try anything new. Childhood is a very important stage for one to step out of his/her comfort zone. The goal behind participation trophies is to enable positive enforcement.

Rewarding a child with a participation trophy sends a message along the lines of “Hey, I know it’s always hard when you try to do something new. You may have not been the best player but I think it’s really cool that you gave your best effort. And who knows, maybe next time, you’ll do even better and probably win that big trophy”.

Millennials are the most highly educated generational group. And considering the contributions Millennials have made in both technology and the arts, we’re far from being spoiled underachievers.

We, Millennials, came of age during one of the worst economic crisises the world has ever witnessed. Let’s not forget that the Global Recession was the direct result of numerous ill-conceived policies implemented in the spirit of the Gordon Gekko philosophy.

Turns out greed isn’t good!

But somehow, Baby-Boomers and Gen Xers are immuned from being criticized for their avarice and carelessness. It is an undeniable truth that youngest generation of any era will always be the scapegoat for all the world’s problems

A Response to a Salon Article

In our age of fake outrage, it’s practically mandated for online news outlets to feature sanctimonious, virtue-signaling drivel disguised as groundbreaking articles exposing bigotry and ‘microaggressions’. Here’s my response to a little doozy written by Salon contributor Silpa Kovvali called Stuff white people like: Yoga, tacos and pretending the white supremacy that fuels cultural appropriation doesn’t exist.

Oh yeah, it’s one of those loaded pieces!

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to 2016!

First, notice the title. You can clearly assume this is going to be an professionally-written piece objectively examining the nuances of racial relations in contemporary America. I’m sure we’re not going to stumble upon any race-baiting rhetoric or unfair strawman depictions of White people. Nope, I’m sure this will be a balanced article….

In 2010, the Hindu American foundation launched a campaign titled “Take Back Yoga.” As the New York Times described it, the campaign did “not ask yoga devotees to become Hindu, or instructors to teach mo­re about Hinduism…the group…suggests only that people become more aware of yoga’s debt to the faith’s ancient traditions.”……. I thought, especially, of how a few white friends had sent me the article aghast, expecting me to roll my eyes at the silliness of the notion. Instead, I drew their attention to a quote in the article from a second-generation Indian-American parent. “We started this, really, for our kids,” he said. “When our kids go to school and say they are Hindu, nobody says, ‘Oh, yeah, Hindus gave the world yoga.’ They say, ‘What caste are you?’ Or ‘Do you pray to a monkey god?’ Because that’s all Americans know about Hinduism.” The description was consistent, I told them, with my own experience.

The Hindu American Foundation(HAF) is a very peculiar organization, famous for making headlines over the California Hindu Textbook Controversy. That nauseating episode in 2006 featured the leaders of the HAF bemoaning over the allegedly-biased portrayal of ancient Hindu civilization by  6th-grade history textbooks. The HAF shrewdly played the victim card, propagating the narrative that their faith was being unjustly maligned by a  predominantly-White school board members who had no regard for the sensibilities of its minority student.

Ironically, the Hindu American Foundations maintains solid ties with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing, Hindutva-endorsing organization responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. In fact, Mihir Meghani, one of the founders of the HAF, defended the demolition of the mosque, claiming it ‘was a release of thousands of years of anger and shame”.

Yay, honor culture!!

But of course, one cannot question the noble objectives of the Hindu American Foundation.

I find it hysterical how the HAF passionately spearheads a campaign to emphasize yoga as an intrinsic part of Hinduism while distancing themselves from the roles jati and varna play in their religion.

I suppose the old joke holds some truth

‘What do you call a Brahmin who denies the existence of the caste system’

‘An NRI (non-resident Indian)’

Indeed, part of the frustration stems from the fact that the same practices and traditions which white people enjoy to the benefit of their hip and tolerant brands are practices and traditions which young brown children were mocked for indulging in, which were used as evidence that they weren’t working sufficiently hard at assimilating. It’s hard not to flinch when white acquaintances eagerly brag about having ordered Chicken Tikka Masala the other night, knowing that white classmates once refused to come over for playdates because they’d heard my house smelled like curry.

First, not many people know this but Chicken Tikka Masala was actually invented in Glasgow, Scotland, most likely by a Bangadeshi immigrant attempting to put together a Desi dish palatable to the customers of his adopted country. Nevertheless, it is considered to be Britain’s national dish.

Second, the talking points I frequently hear from the opponents of ‘cultural appropriation’ always include some traumatic story involving a Desi child who was ruthlessly ridiculed by a White classmate for bringing rice and paneer for lunch. Somehow, the entire White race bear the sins of that White child and therefore, barring White people from indulging in anything Desi is completely justified.

I can’t believe I have to say this. White people shouldn’t feel guilty for relishing a plate of Chicken Tikka Masala because your uncultured White classmate inanely belittled your mother’s cooking ten years ago.

And what we complain about when we complain about appropriation isn’t so far removed from this base, emotional reaction that results from traumatic instances of overt racism. In fact, the entire practice of appropriation stems from, is grounded in, white supremacy. The very reason that people who hate Indians still feel comfortable practicing yoga is that, when the practice was popularized in the West, immigration from Asian countries, including India, was severely limited due to unabashedly racist laws. As is true of so many cases of cultural contact, what resulted from unfair circumstances was not an exchange, but an acquisition: white people unilaterally benefitted from their brushes with Indian traditions, profiting economically and, yes, culturally as a result.

Yes, there was a time when White American lavished themselves in Brahmic literature, yoga, silk cloths, exotic spices etc. while fervently supporting immigration policies that prevented South Asian immigrants from settling in California.

That was a hundred years ago….

Today, Indian culture and Indian people are graciously appreciated by Bollywood aficionados and yoga enthusiasts who happen to bare a paler skin tone. A suburban White girl donning a bindi on her forehead is not a exercise of White supremacy.

Now, I will admit that there are certain ignorant airheads who practice yoga and feast on kung-pow chicken while heeding to the divine words espoused by The Donald (PBUH). However, last time I checked, they are a rare few who definitely don’t represent all White people.

Maybe we should stop collectively stigmatizing an entire race of people.

 

The ultimate goal is not to stifle white Americans but offer greater freedom to their non-white fellow citizens. It’s evident from the qualifications the Take Back Yoga campaign offered years ago — non-Hindus needn’t convert to Hinduism to enjoy the practice, they should simply be aware of its origins. This awareness is crucial to dismantling the white supremacy which precludes a more equitable cultural exchange. Without it, the very customs absorbed from others are pointed to as examples of America’s inherent greatness — a greatness that stems from the superiority of one culture over another, and complains of that culture’s contamination should it renounce control. It allows us to absorb those customs with no meaningful contact with or exposure to people who don’t look or talk or act like us, to view these differences as flaws or threats, rather than opportunities to not just teach, but learn.

*sigh*. The fundamental problem with this article is its homily on the unforgivable transgression of ‘cultural appropriation’. The concept of cultural appropriation stems from the misguided notion that a specific ethnic community can claim proprietorship over a cuisine, a musical genre, a dance routine etc.

However, culture is fluid and constantly in flux.

Culture is akin to open source software, free for anyone to participate and alter if he/s so pleases. We are all cultural mongrels. In fact, we have been even before our current, social-networking era.

For example, tapioca (or kappa in Malayalam), consumed with fish curry by every lungi-clad, toddy-drinking, Yesudas-listening, Gulf-residing Malayali, was actually brought to modern-day Kerala from Brazil by the Portuguese conquitadores. Samosas, a treasured delicacy in Northern India, were introduced by Central Asian merchants in the 10th century. And, as heartbreaking as it is for every patriotic Indian to accept, chai is a product of the British Raj!

#Themoreyouknow

And I could go on! The china poblana, regarded as the traditional attire of Mexican women, is attributed to an (east) Indian princess. The quintessential American hot dog is actually a rip-off of the German frankfurter.

Surprisingly, I actually agree with Silpa on one point. We should be aware of the cultural origins of whatever practices to which we indulge ourselves. Learning is an enriching experience that brings to light the fact that we live in a small world. Therefore, it is completely imprudent to speak in terms of ‘your culture’ and ‘my culture’. It is evident that we all partake in the same culture.