Movie Review: Dazed and Confused

Most of the films I’ve reviewed for this blog were released within the past couple of years. So, I thought a change of pace was in order. And so, my devoted reader, I present to you my take on Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. 

Dazed and Confused images-7is a 1993 coming-of-age comedy set in the suburbs of Austin, Texas in 1976. The film is most notable for launching the careers of Mathew McConaughey and Ben Affleck into stardom. Dazed and Confused was one of many cinematic productions that capitalized off of the nostalgic idealization of the 1970’s that implanted itself in pop culture during the better part of the 1990’s. Sort of like how we, today, are infatuated with anything from the 1990’s.

I’m not going to debrief on the synopsis because…well…there really isn’t much of a story MCDDAAN EC010to tell. It’s just a bunch of stereotypically rebellious teenagers from the 1970’s idly dawdling from one scene to another. This movie reminded me of That 70’s Show (and I wouldn’t be surprised if That 70’s Show was inspired by Dazed and Confused). However, unlike The 70’s Show, the characters in Dazed and Confused weren’t likeable, nor very interesting.

Sure, there were a handful of quotable lines including the semi-pedophilic “That’s what I like about high school girls. I keep on getting older, they stay the same age” along with the contrarian yet all too real “Okay guys, one more thing, this summer when you’re being inundated with all this American bicentennial Fourth Of July brouhaha, don’t forget what you’re celebrating, and that’s the fact that a bunch of slave-owning, aristocratic, white males didn’t want to pay their taxes.”. But that’s about it.

The only reason you should watch this movie is for the sake of cultural literacy. This movie has been referenced countless times on TV shows, comedy specials and even movies. I suppose Dazed and Confused is akin to films like Forrest Gump, The Breakfast Club or Home Alone. While you, personally, may not appreciated them, if you haven’t seen any of those aforementioned movies, you can’t call yourself a true, red-blooded American.

 

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Oh Look, Another Rampage on Campus

Yesterday, in Ohio State University, it was reported that a third-year student named Abdul Razak Ali Artan carried out a knife attack on campus, injuring 11 people. The assailant has been killed by police and the 11 who are injured are now hospitalized under intensive care.

The motives of Artan’s attacks aren’t 100% clear. However, in a Facebook post before the rampage, Artan urged America to “to stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah”. He continued “By Allah, we will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims. You will not celebrate or enjoy any holiday”.

In addition, Artan was profiled by the campus newspaper where he expressed his fears of being a Muslim in America, claiming that he was “struggling to find a place to pray in peace in large campus but scared of everything going on in the media”.

Although a myriad of self-described liberals may disagree, Artan’s rampage was clearly motivated by his Islamic beliefs. At the moment, we don’t have a list of all the imams and sheikhs he subscribed to. However, he was blatantly influenced by a radicalized ideology which ignited a fire of rage urging him to stab those eleven innocent people.

However, contrary to the views of many, Islam is not the sole culprit. And although Abdul Razak Ali Artan is a refugee originally from Somalia, his refugee status has nothing to do with his actions. However, rather than digging through the layers of motives behind the rampage, most people would rather spout anti-Muslim/anti-refugee rhetoric to score political points. This is unproductive.

Mass attacks are becoming more commonplace in America. From the Columbine shooting to Eliot Rodger’s rampage in Santa Monica, California, the majority of these attacks have been perpetrated by young men between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. Every time we hear of an attack, we instinctually blame video games, or violent TV shows, or music, or drugs.

However, in the majority of those attacks, social isolation and self-victimization are often the most significant factors. They often ferment an identity crisis, causing one to perceive the world in terms of us vs them.

 Artan was feeling isolated as a Muslim in America. He clearly stated that he was “struggling…and scared of everything”. Eliot Rodger was also undergoing a similar internal struggle, as he was constantly being rejected by co-eds and ostracized from social life. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were similarly deemed as outcasts during their senior year at Columbine High School.

By the viewing the world in terms of us vs them, a person would perceive his peers as his enemies. Enemies he needed to destroy. This mode of thinking becomes even more apparent when one embraces a radicalized ideology, which is often the case for socially-isolated young men who, being young, are easily impressionable. Eliot Rodger frequented PUA and MRA forums. The Orlando shooter was influenced by the activities of ISIS. Even Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were inspired by the Oklahoma City bombings carried out by Timothy McVeigh. Similarly, Abdul Razak Ali Artan may have been impassioned by a series of sermons given by some Salafi imam.

I’m not excusing the perpetrators of their horrific actions. However, if we really want to curb the instances of mass shooting and rampages, we have to seek out the multi-layered motives behind such actions.

My Disorganized Thoughts about Fidel Castro’s Death

  • Whether you love him or hate him, you’ve got to admit that Fidel Castro was a fucking badass! The CIA has been attempting to assassinate him for sixty years and that cigar-smoking bastard managed to outlive all his Cold-War era enemies!

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  • I don’t think anyone has had a more glorious, majestic beard than he

 

  • Liberdownload-14als and Leftists who insist on overlooking Castro’s human rights violations by repetitively chanting about “Free Healthcare and Education in Cuba” are just futilely defending an broken ideology. Just quit it before you embarrass yourselves any further!

 

  • What kind of eulogy would Justin Trudeau give for Bill Cosby? “He was a gracious host who had the courtesy to wine and dine his victims”#Trudeaueulogies
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Nevertheless, even as a heterosexual guy, I still think he’s yummy!

  •  Not to minimize the atrocities committed by Castro’s regime, but I don’t think he’s any  worse than Augusto Pinochet, Manuel Noriega, Anastanio Somoza, Carlos Castillo Armas or even Castro’s predecessor, Fulgencio Batista.

 

  • In case you’re wondering,  the guys mentioned above are Latin American dictators and autocrats who were backed by the United States government. Remember that the next time you come across some hyper-patriotic blowhard pontificating on America’s virtuous endorsement of democracy and freedom.

 

  • I’m glad I don’t leave in Miami. Florida Cubans have every right to celebrate (and no, I don’t think it’s wrong to celebrate a person’s death) but I cannot stand noise pollution!
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Fiesta!!!

The Folly of the Pro-Life Movement

So in light of a recent publicity stunt pulled by Frank Pavone, I want to discuss the so-called ‘Pro-Life Movement’.

On November 7th, Frank Pavone, a Roman Catholic priest and pro-life activist, posted a video of himself on Facebook placing an aborted fetus on an altar as an appeal to Catholics to vote for Donald Trump. When questioned why he undertook such a disgusting stunt, he claimed that “the only way America will ban abortion is if they see it with their own eyes”.

Pavone’s stunt is the apex of everything that is wrong with the Pro-Life Movement. It seems that this movement, once devoted to protecting the sanctity of unborn life, is now more interested in scoring political points and garnering attention for themselves.

Before I proceed to break down the Pro-Life Movement, I must emphasize that I have nothing against anyone who espouse anti-abortion views, nor do I hold resentment towards religious people in general. Everyone has their own reasons for their beliefs, opinions, and values, and I can accept that. This post is merely an indictment of the cringeworthy tactics employed by Pro-Lifers.

‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’

Crisis Pregnancy Centers are disgustingly deceptive in their strategy of luring unassuming, yet frightened young women. Vice News did a brilliant undercover expose of these centers. Basically, these Crisis Pregnancy Centers advertise themselves as a typical women’s health clinic on their website. If a woman calls them, seeking information on abortion procedures, rather than being straightforward about the services they actually provide, these crisis pregnancy centers invite these women to their clinic, giving them the impression that they provide abortions. 

However, upon arriving at the crisis pregnancy centers, these female patients are subjected to emotional manipulation by the employees in order to dissuade them from going through with the abortion.

I have no problem with a clinic willing to offer alternative services to abortion. After all, there are pregnant girls who, while reluctant to terminate the pregnancy, are worried about the prospects of their unborn child. 

I think it’s laudable for centers to provide counseling and financial support to reassure a pregnant girl with limited resources. However, deceit only hurts the Pro-Life cause. You can’t stop everyone from going through with an abortion.

“Doesn’t this picture touch your heart”

It’s typical to see pictures of aborted fetuses hoisted up in one of many pro-life rally. Apparently, the disturbingly gruesome image of a bloody dead fetus is meant to reach the hearts of bystanders. As Frank Pavone stated, “America won’t reject abortion until it sees it”. 

Don’t these pro-lifers realize that holding up those gory, cringeworthy pictures makes them look psychotic and deranged? No one wants to see that shit! And attempting to garner attention through those pictures is crude and emotionally manipulative 

“Condoms will make your penis fall off”

I will never understand why the staunchest opponents of abortion also happen to be the most vocal critics of contraception and comprehensive sex education in high schools. Abortions are normally the results of unplanned pregnancy. Contraceptives are designed to prevent pregnancies during sexual intercourse. I think you get the picture. 

Prolifers unrealistically expect any teenager to remain abstinent until marriage. However, since the dawn of man, teenagers have been recklessly hooking up, unmindful of the potential consequences. A one night stand could not only result in an unplanned pregnancies but also the potential contraction of an STD. This is why it’s so crucial for people, especially teenagers, to have access to information on contraceptives. 

“If you’re pre-born, you’re fine. If you’re preschool, you’re fucked!”

The Democratic Party has continuously been denounced and demonized by Pro-Life organizations for their unwavering support for abortion rights. Therefore, in our two-party system, Pro-lifers usually endorse or advocate for Republican politicians, who have been pandering to the conservative Christian voting bloc since the early 1980s.

However, Republican politicians are aggressively hawkish in foreign policy. Some are even connected to private military contractors. In addition, Republicans are typical supportive of the capital punishment and they advocate for  public spending cuts, which involve depriving funds from government programs which the poor rely on. 

Pro-lifers have a very narrow perspective on being “Pro-Life”. They would rather vote for a man who stated he would “carpet bomb the Mid-East”, rather than a politician who merely seeks to uphold a 40-year old Supreme Court ruling. 

The Pro-Life Movement needs to approach this delicate situation in a compassionate and practical manner. Instead of attempting to score political points through hyperemotional rhetoric and blatent misinformation, Prolifers should seek to educate and inform the public. And they should understand that ultimately, the decision concerning abortion is up to the woman, herself b 
 

 

 

 

Movie Review: Vettah

Vettah was Rajesh Pillai’s final cinematic work before his untimely death in February of this year. Like many of his films, including the widely-acclaimed Traffic, Vettah utilizes hyperlink narrative techniques in conveying a riveting tale about two dedicated police officers attempting to tear through web of lies, conjured by the mysterious, yet crafty Melvin Phillip, in order to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of a beloved actress.  

Commissioner Sribala IPS, portrayed by Manju Warrier, is what every schoolgirl in the 21st century aspires to be. She is a high-ranking law enforcement professional working in a male-dominated field. She is collected and quick-witted in the face of danger. Unfortunately, her personal life is troubled. Because of a dire accident, Sribala’s father, a once respected police officer, has been left in a paralyzed mental state. 

Sreebala’s partner is Assistant Commissioner Xylex Abraham (okay, I know Malayali Christians are notorious for bizarre given names, but no one would go that far!). Despite their working relationship, Sreebala has a nagging suspicion that Xylex, played by Indrajith Sukumaran, was involved in her father’s accident, causing her trust in him to erode. 

Enter Melvin Philip, portrayed by Kunchacko Boban. He is arrested by the police for allegedly being connected to the news-worthy disappearance of Uma Sathyamoorthy, a fictionalized Malayali Hindi film actress. When brought to Sreebala and Xylex for questioning, Melvin Philip confesses to murdering his wife for cheating on him with a man who happens to be the husband of Uma. Phillips further reveals that he killed the husband and Uma happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Sreebala and Xylex learn that Melvin, who continuously wears a sinister smile, has left out several details from his story. As the film progresses, the two police officers realize that they’re being manipulated by Melvin, entangled in a convoluted web concealing a heartbreaking, personal tragedy. 

This current wave of experimentation in Malayalam cinema is both refreshing and exciting. From the nonlinear storyline, to the creative cinematography and visually-stimulating shots, Vettah definitely keeps you at the edge of your seat. The unexpected plot twists is guaranteed to magnetize your attention. 

Unfortunately, the film’s novel techniques cannot compensate for its disappointing drawbacks. The action scenes were poorly executed, which one would want to avoid for this type of film. In addition, the acting wasn’t on par. I don’t think Manju Warrier, Indrajith Sukumaran and Kunchacko Boban are terrible actors. In fact, they’ve proven themselves to be exceptional in a number of movies. However, in this film, they didn’t bring their A game. 

So, in conclusion, Vettah could be described as watchable. It’s undoubtedly not a best Malayalam movie of 2016, nor does it qualify for the top five. However, it’s a film you could watch if you want to kill a Sunday afternoon. 

Movie Review: Doctor Strange

Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange provides a visually-captivating backstory to one of Marvel Comic’s most intriguing characters. Dr. Stephen Strange is Stan Lee’s answer to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and appropriately played by Benedict Cumberbatch. He is a well-accomplished neurosurgeon known for his acute wit, extraordinary depth of knowledge and overbearing ego. After a brief, yet life-changing rendezvous with a horrendous car accident, Strange is left with crippled hands, unable to perform surgery, which was the only thing that brought meaning to his life. After an encounter with a former paraplegic who was mysteriously healed, Strange is directed to Kathmandu where he encounters the Ancient One. The Ancient One reveals to Strange a realm of reality incomprehensible to his scientific mind. Yet, Strange’s encounter with the astral plane and other dimensions would began to change his life forever.  

This film is one of the best example of cinematography. The way the film portrayed the complexity of interwoven dimensions was enough to leave the audience bewildered, yet mesmerized. The visual effects effectively captured the audience’s imagination while allowing a relatively conovulated topic to be easily understood. 

I was impressed by Cumberbatch’s affected American accent. I’ve always been puzzled on how effortlessly British actors can imitate the American accent. Somehow, we, on the other side of the Atlantic, received the short end of that stick. 

Cumberbatch’s chemistry with Rachel McAdams’ character, Christine Palmer, was watchable, but completely tame and unremarkable. Both actor are competent in their craft, no doubt. However, for some inexplicable reason, I don’t think they make a convincing pair. 

The rest of the cast did exceptionally well for their respective roles. I think they brilliantly captured the moral ambiguity  of their situation and the conflicting emotions associated. Marvel comics have typically been more realistic in their portrayal of flawed heroes being overshadowed by murky circumstances. 

A minor disappointing facet was its depiction of the culture of eastern mysticism and spirituality. When Strange is directed to Kathmandu, where he encountered the chosen one, I expected him to have an enlightened encounter with the esoteric profoundness of the Eastern schools of philosophical thought. However, Strange is merely exposed to some vague, cliched proverb of “mind over matter” which enables him to acquire superpowers and access to different dimensions.

Speaking of misrepresenting Asian culture, I have to turn into SJW mode. In the original comics, the Ancient One is depicted as an elderly Asian man. However, in the film, the Ancient One is not a he, but a she (well, a bald-headed, androgynous-looking she). Derrickson was apparently worried that the image of an aging Asian man would evoke the outdated Fu Manshu stereotype. He further claimed that an elderly Asian woman would evoke the Dragon Lady trope and a younger Asian woman would be perceived as “exploiting the Asian fetishes of Marvel fanboys”. Honestly, I don’t understand the logic of this explanation. Not to mention Derrickson unintentionally exemplified another old Hollywood stereotype: Casting white actors to play Asian roles!

As if Ghost in the Shell wasn’t enough!!

Nevertheless, Doctor Strange is an eye-dazzling masterpiece with an intriguing story coupled with abstract themes and sprinkled with sardonically witty one-liners. If you enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy or Sherlock Holmes, this movie is definitely for you 

Imposing Diversity

Over the past year, Hamilton has ignited a new wave of enthusiasm for theater and Anerican History. As the brainchild of Lin-Miranda Manuel, Hamilton has drawn attention to one of the most influential founding fathers of this country through hip-hop, an up-and-coming musical genre that has only had thirty years of mainstream exposure. 

Another selling point of Hamilton is its diverse cast. Where else would you see a Latino dude playing Alexander Hamilton or a Black guy portraying George Washington? This musical was an endorsement for a progressiveAmerica that celebrates tolerance and diversity!  

I’m surprised that the wealthy, White patrons of this captivating show never found it ironic that Black actors were chosen to play slave-owners. Honestly, I find Hamilton to be another nauseating example of superficially imposed diversity in pop culture. 

This reminds me of a few months ago when Internet forums were raving over the announcement that Idris Elba, a Black British actor, was being tapped to play agent 007 in the new James Bond movie. The prospects of a Black man playing James Bond was seen as a testimony to racial tolerance in the 21st century. 

However, I thought to myself, “What crap!”. James Bond was conceptualized by Ian Fleming to be a White British man of Scottish and Swiss ancestry.  Casting Idris Elba to play James Bond would be akin to recruiting Leonardo DeCaprio to play Gabbar Singh! It diminishes the authenticity of the characters being portrayed!! 

khurach khurach!!


Everyone, particularly Asian-Americans, was infuriated when Scarlet Johannsen was cast to play Moroto Kunagani in the cinematic adaptation of the manga series Ghost in the Shell. The fact that the character’s name was changed to “Major” also added insult to injury! 

Or remember when Mickey Rooney was cast to play Mr.Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Honestly, whoever allowed that abomination to happen deserves to be castrated!!

You disturb-aaa me!!!!


Yet I don’t understand why no one bats an eye when the producers of Hamilton issue a casting call specifically for non-White actors to play very White historical characters. 

If Lin-Miranda Manuel was genuinely interested in presenting a historical tale with a predominantly non-White cast, why not direct a musical that revolves around non-White historical figures like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King or Cesar Chavez. Maybe write a script that draws attention to Chinese railroad workers or Mexican migrant farmers.

It seems that the entertainment industry is overcompensating for White guilt by intentionally casting non-White artists to portray White character roles. A Black woman was cast to play Hermione in a theatrical adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Although Hermione was clearly written as a typical White girl, JK Rowling grants her approval claiming she never assigned a race to Hermione. Of course, Rowling is blatently attempting to appease the Tolerence&Diversity Police by displaying her acceptance of the darkies.

Alexander Hamilton should be portrayed by an actor who actually looks like him. The same goes for Moroto Kunagani. The same goes for Gabbar Singh. We’re really doing a disservice when we intentionally miscast characters/historical figures in order to fulfill a virtue-signaling agenda.

Iconoclastic Hellraisers: Nirad C. Chaudhuri

From reading my previous post, I’m sure you were dumbfounded when you found out that there were Black opponents to the Civil Rights Movement. Well, prepared to be baffled again. If you’ve watched Ben Kingsley’s Gandhi, from 1982, I’m sure you’re familiar with the Indian struggle for independence. But did you know that there were Indians who were actually opposed to the prospects of self-rule?

Nirad Chaudhuri is one of a kind. An anomaly some might say. Despite possessing a body of a dwarf, the magnitude of his intellect and mental stamina knew no bounds. Chaudhuri was born in a village called Kishoreganj, located in present-day Bangladesh. He was educated in Calcutta and aspired to earn an MA in History, though failed to complete his course. He was later hired as a clerk for the Accounting Department of the British Indian Army and worked there for several years while moonlighting as a essayist, contributing articles for Modern Review, one of the most prestigious English magazines in Calcutta.

In 1938, at the age of 41, Chaudhuri was recruited by Sarat Chandra Bose, a freedom fighter and brother of the now-venerated Subhas Chandra Bose, as his personal secretary. Chaudhuri’s interaction with the influential freedom-fighting trailblazers fermented a deeply-held cynicism for the Indian National Congress and the Quit India Movement. In fact, Chaudhuri commented that Jawaharlal Nehru, who would later become India’s first Prime Minister, was “completely out of touch with Indian life even of his time, except with the life of the self-segregating Anglicised set of upper India who lived in the so-called Civil Lines”. In addition Chaudhuri remarked that Gandhi was “the apotheosis of all the primitivist tendencies of Indian culture that the Bengal renaissance had sought valiantly to defeat”.

 In 1941, Chaudhuri was appointed as a political commentator for All India Radio, where he unhesitantly pontificated his pro-British views to the listening masses. 

Every morning, before he departed for work at the All India Radio station, Chaudhuri contributed a few paragraphs to what eventually became his autobiography entitled The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, which was published in 1951.

The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian chronicles Chaudhuri’s life from his early childhood to early adulthood, making apt observations of vanishing landmarks through the dual perspective of an Indian and a British subject. It was Chaudhuri’s magnum opus, lauded for its eloquent prose, poetic metaphors and astute wit. 

Unfortunately, Chaudhuri’s work ignited a wave of rage throughout the newly-formed India. Many of his critics referenced Chaudhuri’s dedication as evidence of his unforgivable anglophilia:

“To the memory of the British Empire in India,

Which conferred subjecthood upon us

But withheld citizenship

To which yet every one of us

Threw out the challenge

“Civis Brittanica Sum”

Because all that was good 

and living with us

Was made, shaped and quickened

By that same British rule ”

The outraged masses didn’t realize that Chaudhuri was making an allegory, comparing Indians under British rule to the Ancient Sicilians in the Roman Empire, who longed for respect and dignity from their imperial overlords. Nevertheless, Chaudhuri was branded as an irredeemable British CCP(chi-chi poo, a Hindi slang for ‘shit-wiper’). 

Nevertheless, Nirad Chaudhuri seemed to revel in the hate. For the next couple of decades, he contributed a number of intentionally provocative essays with colorful titles like “Why I Hate Indians”. In other words, Chaudhuri was trolling long before it was cool! 

Chaudhuri even found the time to write another book, The Continent of Circe, which earned him the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, being the only Indian to achieve that feat. In his 1965 work, Chaudhuri contradicts the pacifist narrative propagated by Mohandas Gandhi that depicted India as a ‘peace-loving nation’. Instead, Chaudhuri asserted that Indians were always war-hungry since the days of Ashoka, through the Guptas, until the invasion of the Mughals. Epic works including Mahabharatha and the Ramayana were also cited to support Chaudhuri’s thesis. 

By the 1970s, Nirad Chaudhuri decided he had enough of India, and promptly relocated and settled in Oxford, England. He redirected his brutal critiques toward post-war Britain, which he perceived as a “civilization in decline”. Like most old, grumpy retirees, Chaudhuri nostalgically longed for the idyllic picture of his young adulthood. He was often seen taking a stroll through the streets of Oxford, sticking out like a penguin in Africa as he donned a three-piece suit and a top hat in the sea of casually-clad pedestrians. He held tremendous admiration for Britain as an imperial powerhouse, fueled by high-brow sophistication and cultivated refinement. As the UK gradually relinquished its colonies, Chaudhuri felt Britain had lost its cultural identity and national essence. He saw his English neighbors as a people “without a culture”

In 1987, at age 90, Chaudhuri published a sequel to his 1951 autobiography, Thy Hand, Great Anarch. In his work, he provides his idiosyncratic perspective of the Indian political scene during the 1920s and 1930s. While he reserved several critiques for Mohandas Gandhi, Chaudhuri also expressed admiration for the man who managed to unite an entire subcontinent. 

Nirad Chaudhuri lived to be 101 years old. In his last days, as a centenarian, the old geezer continued to write! He compared himself to a fox, “like a fox hunts, I write”. Whether you like him or hate him, you’ve  got to admire the fortitude and stamina of the guy! 

Nirad Chaudhuri passed away on August 1st, 1999 in his home at Oxford. India paid no tribute to him. 

Nirad Chaudhuri was the last-surviving member of a now-extinct species: The quintessential  Babu. 

The Babu class consisted of urban, often upper-caste, educated Indians who were typically employed as low-level Civil Servants. Unlike their village counterparts, the babus were refined, groomed, cultured and classy. They were well-mannered, often to the point of being excessively polite. Their liberal arts education enabled them to quote from a plethora of poems, sonnets, and other renowned literary masterpieces, from Shakespeare to Keats. In fact, you could say that despite their sepia complexion, they were more English than the English. 

The babus absorbed every facet of English high culture in their desperation to be accepted. Unfortunately, their dark skin cursed them to second-class citizenship. Thus, the babus were doomed to embrace a contrary, hybrid identity. 

As the last member of his species, Nirad Chadhuri watched the world of his youth be swept away. The British left, leaving him stranded in a country that hated him. When he finally found the opportunity to move to the UK, he realized that everything he admired about British life was no more. 

Even his childhood home of Kishoreganj is now situated within the boundaries of an Islamic nation called Bangladesh. This probably led to his aversion towards everything Muslim. After the bombing of the Babri Masjid by Hindu extremists, Chaudhuri commented:

“Muslims do not have the slightest right to complain about the desecration of one mosque in Ayodhya. From 1000 AD every temple from Kathiawar to Bihar, from the Himalayas to the Vindhyas has been sacked and ruined. Not one temple was left standing all over northern India. They escaped destruction only where Muslim power did not gain access to them for reasons such as dense forests. Otherwise, it was a continuous spell of vandalism. No nation with any self-respect will forgive this. What happened in Ayodhya would not have happened had the Muslims acknowledged this historical argument even once”

If Nirad Chaudhuri was alive today, he would find himself in good company with Narendra Modi and Donald Trump!!

Chaudhuri represents a chapter in Indian history that is frequently skipped over. In a nation that deifies Gandhi and Nehru while desperating seeking to repudiate everything that is British, Chaudhuri’s legacy, unfortunately, has been extinguished. However, despite his contentious views, a prolific writer like him should be remembered.

 

Iconoclastic Hellraisers: George S. Schuyler

This series, Iconoclastic Hellraisers, will be featuring a number of intellectuals and public figures who espoused unconventional, and often, controversial views. Whether you agree with them or not, it can’t be denied that these men and women ventured outside the realm of the intellectual orthodoxy, and for that, they deserve our admiration. Our first subject of interest will be journalist and author, George S. Schuyler.

George Schuyler embodied an idiosyncratic stream within the Black intelligentsia. His george-s-schuylerperspective on the Civil Rights Movement and Black culture is rarely discussed in the mainstream media or even in the narrow corridors of academia. Nevertheless, his voice deserves to be heard.

Schuyler was originally from Providence, Rhode Island and spent the majority of his childhood in Syracuse, New York. Upon reaching adulthood in 1912, Schuyler joined the US army and was stationed in Seattle, and later Hawaii. His experiences with racism within the armed forces persuaded him to go AWOL, for which he was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to prison for five years.

However, after nine months in prison, Schuyler was released on good behavior. He relocated to New York City and did a number of odd jobs to support himself. Seeking intellectual stimulation, Schuyler immersed himself in Socialist circles despite his slight disagreements with the ideological discussions. His astute writing abilities and sardonic wit earned him a position as a columnist for The Messenger, a political and literary magazine founded by A. Phillip Randolph and Chandler Owens.

Schuyler’s column, “Shafts and Darts: A Page of Calumny and Satire” caught the attention of Ira F. Lewis, manager for the Pittsburgh Courier. In 1924,  Lewis offered Schuyler a position at her paper, which he accepted and subsequently wrote for the Pittsburgh Courier for the entire duration of his career.

Schuyler completely disavowed Socialism by 1925, asserting that socialists were frauds who were only utilizing Blacks as tools to advance their own ambitions. In 1926, Schuyler became chief editorial writer for the Courier. In that same year, he published a very controversial essay called “The Negro-Art Hokum”, in which he lambasted the very notion of ‘Negro Art”, asserting that there was no such thing as a “negro style” in art. Furthermore, he insisted that Blacks were “merely a lampbacked Anglo-Saxon”, thanks to 300 years of Euro-American dominance, and art should be judged by merit and not by racial standards.

In 1931, Schuyler published Black No More, a tale of a scientist who constructed an experiment that turns Black people to White. In his novel, Schuyler chastises organized religion, particularly Christianity. He maintained that both the Black and White churches were led by conniving preachers who perpetuated racism and mass ignorance. In an article for H.L. Mencken’s American Mercury, Schuyler wrote “In the horizon loom a growing number of iconoclasts and Atheists, young black men and women who can read, think and ask questions; and who impertinently demand to know why Negroes should revere a god that permits them to be lynched, Jim-Crowed, and disenfranchised.”

In addition to Black No More, Schuyler published another novel, Slaves Today: A Story of Liberia, which, controversially, described how freed Black slaves from America settled in Liberia, a West African nation established by the American Colonization Society, and, ironically, enslaved the native African tribes in the region. Goes to show that truth is a lot stranger than fiction.

During the late 1940’s and 1950’s, Schuyler shifted further to the Political Right. He joined the John Birch Society, a staunchly anti-communist organization, and became an avid supporter of Joseph McCarthy’s crusade against potential communists residing the country. Schuyler’s anti-leftist persuasions and strong aversion to Christian preachers catalyzed his antipathy for the Civil Rights Movement.

In addition, he was vehemently opposed to MLK’s recognition as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, stating “Dr. King’s principal contribution to world peace has been to roam the country like some sable Typhoid Mary, infecting the mentally disturbed with perversions of Christian doctrine, and grabbing fat lecture fees from the shallow-pated.”

Furthermore, Schuyler justified his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by writing “a country like America, which grew out of conquest, immigration, revolution and civil war, is prone to speed social change by law, or try to do so, on the assumption that by such legerdemain it is possible to make people better by force…..it takes lots of time to change social mores, especially with regard to such hardy perennials as religion, race and nationality, to say nothing of social classes.” In other words, Schuyler echoed a common libertarian belief insisting that federal imposition is an infringement of individual liberty and the Civil Rights Act exemplifies government coercion.

schuyler-the-schuylers-at-home-in-harlem-1950sIn addition to his contrarian views, Schuyler did something no Black man in his time would dare. He married a White woman. As a staunch opponent of anti-miscegenation laws, Schuyler practiced what he preached and married an aristocratic White Texan named Josephine Lewis Cogdell, proving that he, indeed, had cojones! The couple had a daughter named Phillipa who followed her father’s footsteps and became a journalist before she was tragically killed in 1967 while on an assignment in Vietnam. Unable to bear the pain of her daughter’s death, Josephine committed suicide two years later.

After his heart-wrenching losses, Schuyler continued to write, contributing to a syndicated column for The North American Newspaper Alliance. As he became older, Schuyler gradually evaporated into obscurity. After all, people like Martin Luther King, John Lewis, Rosa Parks and even Malcolm X secured a place for themselves in the pages of history, leaving no room for the likes of George Schuyler. In fact, by the 1970’s, it was taboo to mention Schuyler’s name in Black circles. And so, unattended as his bedside, George Schuyler died in 1977, at the age of 82.

Writers like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell could aptly be referred to as the intellectual heirs of George Schuyler. After all, they echo similar free-market conservative views and  contrarian opinions on Black culture. I think it’s a shame that George Schuyler is never mentioned in the classroom while a halo is hoisted on the legacy of Martin Luther King.

Personally, I can’t honestly say that I agree with George Schuyler on everything. I don’t think I can identify with his unconditional faith in the free market. However, his perspective on the Civil Rights Movement opens a lot of room for a productive debate. The outcome of the Civil Rights Act, while well-intentioned, could be scrutinized and critiqued even today. Was the bill an unnecessary infringement on private businesses? Did integration exasperate racial hostility? I think we should be able to openly discuss these questions without fearing accusations of bigotry.

 

“The White Working Class”

So remember when I said that I was going to refrain from political commentary until the Inauguration? Well, this wouldn’t be the first promise I’ve broken…

In the aftermath of the election results, in which Donald Trump was anointed as the president-elect (to the shock of many), Democratic party strategists, left-leaning PoliSci professors and liberal media pundits have dived into a whirlpool of soul-searching and naval-gazing, wondering how on Earth could White Working Class folks vote ‘against their interests’.

If you ever need to look for conclusive evidence indicating the elitist snobbery of limousine liberals, look no further. Of course, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that well-educated, upper-middle-class suburbites might be slightly out-of-touch with average working folks.

White Working-Class folks are being treated as a monolith. After all, what do farmers, factory workers, waiters/waitresses, domestic servants, grocers, oil-rig workers, technicians, and coal miners have in common? Have we deluded ourselves to assume that they all share the same interests, just because they can’t afford to reside in notably affluent suburbs like Bel-Air, Fairfax, or Grosse Pointe?

Liberals unconsciously assume that the Democratic Party (or even the Green Party) will never fail to address the concerns  of the working class. But do we really expect coal miners and oil-rig workers to identify with a political party that aims to implement green initiatives that potentially threaten their job security?

Personally, I think that the transition towards sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy is welcoming and necessary. However, it’s naive not to expect a backlash from forty and fifty-something year old coal miners, who lack the time to abruptly learn a new job skill to sustain their families.

And it definitely doesn’t help that their economic concerns are ruthlessly dismissed while undeservedly referred to as ‘rednecks’ and ‘hillbillies’. It doesn’t help that their voices are being ignored while Democratic strategists blatantly, and shamelessly, attempt to secure the minority voting bloc.

It can’t be denied that there are more than a handful of racists at those boisterous Trump rallies. However, to disparage all Trump voters as bigoted and misogynistic is myopic. I (reluctantly) voted for Hillary Clinton, despite my opposition to the military intervention of Libya, drone strikes and other hawkish policies endorsed by her, along with the Obama administration. Like many Trump voters, I held my nose as I submitted the ballot and I walked out the voting booth with a cold chill running down my spine.

Hey, at least I got a sticker!

If the Democratic Party is really interested in securing the White Working-Class vote, then maybe they should tap into the concerns and anxieties of the blue-collar workers, rather than conjuring fanciful assumptions about them. Maybe these liberal pundits should acknowledge working folks as real people, rather than a monolithic voting bloc.