Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How India is becoming America (according to Americans)

My uncle moved from Egypt over 30 years ago and he has never been back. He has Canadian citizenship and will get the U.S citizenship one month after the elections, so he won't get to vote this time but come 2012, I suspect he'll be voting Republican. Since Im in New york I met him and his wife for dinner and he told me that he doesn't know what's going on in Egypt anymore and that in the U.S you can go for weeks without hearing anything about any other country because there's so much going on internally. "and frankly, there's not enough time in the day to worry about anything else". Perhaps my uncle is the perfect specimin of the "melting pot" nation. He works in a 12 billion dollar consulting agency, owns an apartment in Manhattan and takes domestic flights all around the U.S like its a bus. If thats not "the american dream" that everyone can make it if they work hard, Im not sure what is. 
but it raises another point. Why is it that americans are so inward looking. I find it hard to believe that there is more "going on" in the USA than in Egypt. There most definitely is not. What it is though is that you have to SELL the outside world to americans. how? By relating it to America. If its not related to america, American soliders, or American money (in the most obvious way possible of course since I don't think there's a corner left on earth that doesn't involve American money)- then I don't see how you would get Americans to read about it. Its not that there ISNT anything going on in the U.S, surely there is, you know- elections, hurricanes, financial crises that sort of thing- but the stories are so comprehensively and consistently regurgitated and so meticulously uncovered that it distracts and overwhelms from any other going on. 

Its a mixed blessing I guess. Its good to have such intense scrutiny of domestic affairs, it ensures accountability and hopefully, justice. But isnt there a way to do that where the only way to make americans understand India's economic situation ISNT " India is a nascant america in the making" ?- India is not an America in the making. India is its own unique set of histories and dynamics, and growth and downfalls and shit and glory. And it shouldn't have to be associated with the American shit and glory in order to be recognized in its own right.  

When I was watching T.V a couple of nights ago a panel of guests were discussing Bin Laden's motivations for carrying out 9/11 (yes, we are still speculating)...and although I guess its a good thing that no said, for example, "because he hates freedom and likes evil", all the analyses were associated with America, as such, in a way that diminishes or overwrites other independent hypotheses altogether. Finally, it was Salman Rushdie, an Indian (an American in the making, I mean) who put forth the idea that Bin Laden seized a loophole in American security to make his OWN claim for power in the Arab and ISLAMIC world. So Rushdie diminshed the role of the America in the whole thing as a punching bag in order to reach a higher goal, and that higher goal (oh horror of horrors) didnt necessarily revolve  entirely about America and hurting Americans. Im not saying Rushdie was right, personally I never try to speculate about the inner workings of any member of the Bin Laden family's minds (and I have met a few that confirmed that was a good way to go)- but at least he put it out there that people have other motivations for their actions that dont revolve so simply and directly around some kind of America-driven agenda.

No comments: