Vivekananda, Letter to Mohammed Sarfaraz Husain of Naini Tal, Almora

10th June, 1898.

MY DEAR FRIEND,

I appreciate your letter very much and am extremely happy to learn that the Lord is silently preparing wonderful things for our motherland.

Whether we call it Vedantism or any ism, the truth is that Advaitism is the last word of religion and thought and the only position from which one can look upon all religions and sects with love. I believe it is the religion of the future enlightened humanity. The Hindus may get the credit of arriving at it earlier than other races, they being an older race than either the Hebrew or the Arab; yet practical Advaitism, which looks upon and behaves to all mankind as one’s own soul, was never developed among the Hindus universally.

On the other hand, my experience is that if ever any religion approached to this equality in an appreciable manner, it is Islam and Islam alone.

Therefore I am firmly persuaded that without the help of practical Islam, theories of Vedantism, however fine and wonderful they may be, are entirely valueless to the vast mass of mankind. We want to lead mankind to the place where there is neither the Vedas, nor the Bible, nor the Koran; yet this has to be done by harmonising the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran. Mankind ought to be taught that religions are but the varied expressions of THE RELIGION, which is Oneness, so that each may choose that path that suits him best.

For our own motherland a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam — Vedanta brain and Islam body — is the only hope.

I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible, with Vedanta brain and Islam body.

Ever praying that the Lord may make of you a great instrument for the help of mankind, and especially of our poor, poor motherland.

Yours with love,
VIVEKANANDA.

“Our Greatest National Sin” by Sw. Vivekananda

Nandalal Bose, Mother and Child

In this essay, Swamiji enjoins Indians to unite in loving brotherhood in protection of their sisters, wives, and daughters. He emphasizes that the uplift of India is impossible so long as the nation’s leaders ignore the inherent worth of women and the poor. The causes of their ongoing oppression lie in foreign conquests, the dishonoring of womanhood (shakti), the abuse of caste, and above all, materialism. The “don’t touchism” of puritannical untouchability is the bane of India’s progress, Swamiji argued; “The chief cause of India’s ruin has been the monopolising of the whole education and intelligence of the land, by dint of pride and royal authority, among a handful of men…Ay, in this country of ours, the very birthplace of the Vedanta, our masses have been hypnotised for ages into that state. To touch them is pollution, to sit with them is pollution! […]” It does not help if we think of women as polluting agents, as “‘despicable worms,’ ‘gateways to hell,’ and so forth.” His guru, Sri Ramakrishna, though advising chastity to his fellow sanyasins, always said that all women, irrespective of class, religion, or caste, are manifestations of the Divine Mother, Shakti. Affirming this truth, Vivekananda avers, “The Lord has said, “Thou are the woman, Thou art the man, Thou are the boy and the girl as well. And we on our part are crying, –‘Be off, thou outcaste!’–Who has made the bewitching woman?” (Our Greatest National Sin, Rebuild India)

As a result of man’s surrender to the lower instincts, the caste system has been exploited for personal and familial gain in India, particularly in the modern period. For instance, even as the Brahmin, the teacher of teachers, is held as the ideal of humanity in Vedic Hinduism, Swamiji points out that “in Travancore, the most priest-ridden country in India–where every bit of land is owned by Brahmins,” prompting mass conversions to Islam and Christianity amongst the masses. Kerala, he maintained, was a “madhouse of castes,” with each caste being subdivided into even minute “high” and “low” sub-castes within castes (OGNS). He points out that in cases of egregious land-grubbing and abuse of the downtrodden, the upper castes amongst the Hindus behaved like the “Pharisees and Saduccees,” incapable of seeing that every man, woman, and child is a soul, and thus, an aspect of Brahman, as the Hindu scriptures affirm (OGNS).

Mahaprabhu Chaitanya, Nandalal Bose
Nandalal Bose, Esraj Player

The problem, he concluded, was not the caste system, which is merely a way of dividing work, but the absence of love and an utter disregard of the inherent dignity of every form of labor that contributes to the welfare of all in India, whether one is a raja or a chandala, a businessman or a bhangi, a scientist or a shoe-maker. As he puts it, “I can mend a pair of old shoes, but that is no reason why you are greater than I, for can you mend my shoes? You are clever in reading Vedas, but that is no reason why you should trample on,my head. Why if one commits murder should he be praised, and if another steal an apple why should he be hanged?

Nandalal Bose, The Bangle Seller

This will have to go. If you teach Vedanta to the fisherman, he will say, I am a fisherman, you are a philosopher, but I have the same God in me as you have in you” (The Nation Lives in Cottages). It is this mutual recognition, as co-workers in the kingdom of heaven on earth that we want, as African-American writer James Baldwin puts it. Swamji clarifies his ideal for rebuilding India in this image of Shakti in the following terms: “no privilege for any one, equal chances for all,” with everyone being taught that the divine is within, and every one will work out his own salvation.”

One finds striking parallels in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideals for the uplift of black America; Dr. King points out in his great sermon, delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, “Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” “If it is for the uplifting of humanity, it has cosmic significance, however small it is. If you are called to a little job, seek to do it in a big way. If your life’s work is confined to the ordinary, seek to do it in an extraordinary way. If you discover that you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michaelangelo painted pictures, like Beethoven composed music, and like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well’” (King, “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life,” 24 January 1954). Indeed, Dr. King’s wife, the honorable Coretta Scott King, became a disciple of Sw. Vivekananda, remarking that Swamiji had delivered “the most definitive statement of religious tolerance and interfaith unity in history.” Under her leadership, the King Center observed the Centenary of the World Parliament of Religions in 1993, which included an interfaith tribute at the United Nations. On this auspicious occasion, she recalled her husbands words in affirmation of Vivekananda’s message to America and the world, noting that “My husband, Martin Luther Jr. said “Our loyalties must become ecumenical, rather than sectional…This called for world-wide fellowship is in reality a call for an all-embracing, unconditional love for all..that force which all the greatest religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.”

Letter from Corretta Scott King to Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of new York, Interfaith Tribute at the United Nations
Nandalal Bose, Tiller of the Soil

“It was the Brahmins,” Sw. Vivekananda, himself of the scribal and ministerial Kayastha caste, acknowledges, “who made a monopoly of the religious books and kept the question of sanction and prohibition in their own hands. And repeatedly calling the other races of India low and vile, they put this belief into their heads that they were really such” (OGNS). Rather than opposing the division of social labor altogether, which would leave India wide open for chaos and conquest, he recommends that aptitude for certain forms of labor are inherent to every human being and in recognizing these aptitudes in all irrespective of their caste position, each individual can rise higher in proportion to his learning and culture. He points out in another essay, “The Nation Lives in Cottages” that “when he is engaged in serving another for pay, he is in Shudrahood; when he is busy transacting some business for profit, on his own account, he is a Vaishya; when he fights to right wrongs, then the qualities of a Kshatriya come out in him; and when he meditates on God, or passes his time in conversation about Him, then he is a Brahmin” (TNLIC). While these duties have been obscured by the vanity of caste pride and the dint of materialism in this Kali Yuga, particularly in the wake of Western imperialism, Vivekananda points out that in truth, “it is quite possible for one to be changed from one caste into another. Otherwise, how did Vishvamitra become a Brahmin and Parashurama a Kshatriya? The son of a Brahmin is not necessarily always a Brahmin; though there is every possibility of his being one, he may not become so” (TNLIC). Social division of labor is obviously necessary for the organization of society and the progress of civilization, Vivekananda suggests. It is the motive which produces the quality of the action, which may be good or bad depending on how one performs one’s duty and for whom, the highest purpose being, the service of the God in Man, for each soul is potentially divine. When the motives of men are purified such that the aim is mutual service to mankind, caste is not inherently evil, and certainly preferable to the materialistic and color-based caste system of Western imperialism, which presumes all those not possessed of the boon of fair skin, “weak’ and “subject” races.

These points are echoed by Gandhiji, who said that the four varnas mark out “four universal occupations,” which include imparting knowledge (the office of the teacher), defending the defenseless (the duty of the warrior), carrying on agriculture and commerce (the role of the farmer and husbandman), and performing service through physical labour (the role of service and industry). While these occupations are common to all settled civilizations, like the Egyptians, Greeks, the Sumerians, the Chinese, and the Romans since its origins amongst humanity,

Bullfighter, Nandalal Bose

Gandhi underscored that Hinduism was amongst the first religions of the world to conceive of the four varnas–the four major orders of human labor comprised of the teachers and priests; the rulers,warriors, administrators; the agriculturalists and merchants; and the laborers and service providers–as the guiding purpose of our work in this fleeting world. The varna system was a way of regulating social relations, ensure production and survival, and promote good conduct and the cultivation of knowledge in human society. However, Gandhiji points out, like Swamiji, that “When Hindus were seized with inertia, abuse of varna resulted in innumerable castes, with unnecessary and harmful restrictions as to inter-marriage and inter-dining. These restrictions may be necessary in the interest of chastity and hygiene. But a Brahmana who marries a Shudra girl, or vice versa, commits no offence against the law of varnas. (Young India, 4-6-1931, p129). Gandhi did not, therefore, see the caste system, a form of social organization, as the cause of untouchability; rather the cause of untouchability was hatred, hypocrisy, greed, and rigidity. As he puts it, in 1933, “Untouchability is the product, therefore, not of the caste system, but of the distinction of high and low that has crept into Hinduism and is corroding it. The attack on untouchability is thus an attack upon this ‘high-and-low’-ness. The moment untouchability goes, the caste system itself will be purified, that is to say, according to my dream, it will resolve itself into the true Varnadharma, the four division of society, each complementary of the other and none inferior or superior to any other, each as necessary for the whole body of Hinduism as any other. (Harijan, 11-2-1933, p3).

Chaitanya and Haridas, Nandalal Bose

Likewise, Swamiji pointed out that “The degeneration of India came not because the laws and customs of the ancients were bad, but because they were not allowed to be carried to their legitimate conclusions” (TNLIC). He maintained that “Our castes and our institutions…have been necessary to protect us as a nation, and when this necessity of self-preservation will no more exist, they will die a natural death,” adding that “Indian caste is better than the caste system which prevails in Europe or America,” where society is organized on the basis of the color line and the worth of a person is defined in terms of their material wealth.

Sw. Vivekananda ends the following essay, “Our Greatest National Sin,” with a piece of advice that may prove crucial to the development of twenty-first century India, a land where religion continues to animate the movement of civilization even as the lure of a deadening neo-utilitarian materialism, and an empty, self-seeking, neo-liberal secularism encroaches upon its spiritual inheritance. Those seeking to profit from India’s misery, those who see no respite beyond the sense-objects will only see poverty and squalor when they look upon India, only see her in terms of her putative lack, “Because in their minds enlightenment means dress, education, social politeness.” However, “Utilitarian standards cannot explain the ethical relations of men, for, in the first place, we cannot derive any ethical laws from considerations of utility.” So long as the ideals of a civilization are bound by such finite and limited parameters, it will remain stagnant, incapable of transcending its own ego. Does the dress of a man have any bearing on his character? Is it not ludicrous to judge the greatness of Bhagvan Ramakrishna, a God-man scantily clad in but a few folds of fabric, by his dress? Moreover, what is an education but the enlightenment of the soul, which is beyond this “two-days life,” this body, which is but a few pounds of ashes, as Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother so often said? What is politeness, that distinctive hallmark of civilization, but the “beauty of conduct” as Rabindranath Tagore reminds us in Creative Unity? If we follow these ideals of development, we will be led to believe that the apparent is the real and the real, that is the Effulgent One, the One without a Second, is unreal. After attending school as a child, Sri Ramakrishna quickly discovered that most secular education was about money-making rather than God realization, assimilation to the false notion that this world and the perceptions we receive through our senses is reality, rather than a distortion of it. He did not bother with the study of letters much and in his short earthly life, he gained the discipleship of some of the greatest thinkers of the modern world.

Never mind these illusions, says Swamiji! The wealth of India’s spiritual inheritance as Shankaracharya opined, is endless. However, there are “two curses” we must reverse through sincere devotion and renunciation in order to renew our commitment to this ideal, which has its basis, the concept of infinity and oneness: “first, our weakness, secondly, our hatred, our dried-up hearts.” We may talk of scientific, theological, artistic, doctrines by the millions, till we are blue in the face, splinter into warring sects “by the hundreds of millions,” and yet, nothing will manifest, until we “have heart to feel” for fellow brothers and sisters. “Feel for them as your Veda teaches,” Swamiji sang, “till you find they are parts of your own bodies, till you realise that you and they, the poor and the rich, the saint and the sinner, are all parts of the One Infinite Whole, which you call Brahma.”

Introductory essay by R. Divya Nair

OUR GREATEST NATIONAL SIN BY SW. VIVEKANANDA

I consider that the great national sin is the neglect of the masses, and that is one of the causes of our downfall. In India there are two great evils. Trampling on the women and grinding the poor through caste restrictions […]

Sw, Vivekananda, Sw. Tadatmananda

Those uncared-for lower classes of India–the peasants and weavers and the rest, who hae been conquered by foreigners and are looked down upon by their own people–it is they who from time immemorial have been working silently, without even getting the remuneration of their labors.

Where are they through whose physical labour only are possible the influence of the Brahmin, the prowess of the Kshatriya, and the fortune of the Vaishya? What is their history , who, bbeing the real body of society, are designated at all time in all countries as ‘base-born’? Ye labouring classes of India, as a result of your silent, constant labours, Babylon, Persia, Alexandria, Greece, Rome, Venice, Genoa, Baghdad, Samarqand, Spain, Portugal, France, Denmark, Holland, and England have successively attained supremacy and eminence! And you?– Well, who cares to think of you?

Engrossed in the struggle for existence, they had not the opportunity for the awakening of knowledge. They have worked so long uniformly like machines guided by human intelligence and the clever educated section have taken the substantial part of the fruits of their labour. In every country, this has been the case. But times have changed. The lower classes are gradually awakening to this fact and making a united front against this, determined to exact their legitimate dues […]

The root of all evils in India is the condition of the poor…Priest-power and foreign conquest have trodden them down for centuries, and at last the poor of India have forgotten that they are human beings….The poor, the low, the sinner in India have no friends, no help–they cannot rise, try however they may. They sink lower and lower every day, they feel the blows showered upon them by a cruel society, and they do not know whence the blow comes. They have been compelled to be merely hewers of wood and drawers of water for centuries, so much so, that they are made to believe that they are born as slaves, born as hewers of wood and drawers of water […]

The mass of Brahmin and Kshatriya tyranny has recoiled upon their own heads with compound interest; and a thousand years of slavery and degradation is what the inexorable law of Karma is visiting upon them.

They who sucked the life-blood of the poor, whose very education was at their expense, whose very power was built on their poverty, were in their turn sold as slaves by hundreds and thousands, their wives and daughters dishonored, their property robbed for the las 1,000 years and do you think it was for no cause? […]

If anybody is born of a low caste in our country, he is gone for ever, there is no hope for him. And come and see…in Travancore, the most priest-ridden country in India–where every bit of land is owned by Brahmins…nearly one-fourth has become Christian! Just see, for want of sympathy from the Hindus, thousands of Pariahs in Madras are turning Christians. Don’t think this is simply due to the pinch of hunger; it is because they do not get any sympathy from us.

Why amongst the poor of India so many are Mohammedans? It is nonsense to say, they were converted by the sword. It was to gain their liberty from the…zemindars, and from the…priest, and as a consequence, you find in Bengal there are more Mohammedans than Hindus amongst the cultivators, because there were so many zemindars there.

Who reduced the Bhangis and the Pariahs to their present degraded condition? Who is responsible? And the answer comes every time; Not the English, no, they are not responsible; it is we who are responsible for all our misery and all our degradation, and we alone are responsible. It is the Pharisees and Sadducees in Hinduism, hypocrites, who invent all sorts of engines of tyranny in the shape of doctrines of Paramarthika and Vyavaharike […]

We speak of many things parrot-like, but never do them; speaking and not doing has become a habit with us. What is the cause of that? Physical weakeness. That physical weakness is the cause of at least one-third of our miseries. We are lazy, we cannot work; we cannot combine, we do not love each other; we are intensely selfish, not three of us can come together without hating each other, without being jealous of each other […]

Our nation is totally lacking in the faculty of organisation. It is this one drawback which produces all sorts of evil. We are altogether averse to making a common cause for anything. The first requisite for organisation is obedience.

There are two curses here: first, our weakness, secondly, our hatred, our dried-up hearts. You may talk doctrines by the millions, you may have sects by the hundreds of millions; ay, but it is nothing until you have heart to feel. Feel for them as your Veda teaches, till you find they are parts of your own bodies, till you realise that you and they, the poor and the rich, the saint and the sinner, are all parts of the One Infinite Whole, which you call Brahma.

From Sw. Vivekananda Rebuild India

Mahatma Gandhi in Sudan

“In 1935, Mahatma Gandhi stopped over in Port Sudan (on his way to England through sea) and was welcomed by the Indian community there. In 1938, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru stopped over in Port Sudan on his way to Britain and was hosted through a function at the home of Chhotalal Samji Virani. The Graduates General Congress of Sudan formed in 1938 drew heavily on the experience of the Indian National Congress.”

“British Indian troops fought alongside Sudanese in Eritrea in 1941 winning the decisive battle of Keren (Bengal Sappers won a Victoria Cross for mine clearance in Metemma, now on the Sudan-Ethiopia border). The Sudan Block at India’s National Defence Academy was partly funded with a gift of one hundred thousand pounds from the Sudanese Government in recognition of the sacrifices of Indian troops in the liberation of Sudan in the North African Campaign during World War II.”

“At the 1955 Bandung Conference, the delegation from a still not independent Sudan did not have a flag to mark its place. Taking out his handkerchief, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote “Sudan” on it, thus reserving a place for Sudan in the international community.”

Source: http://www.eoikhartoum.gov.in/India-Sudan-Bilateral-Brief.php

Observation of Vivekananda’s 157th Jayanti

Today marks the 157th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda was only 29 when he gave his address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. As he put it in his lecture, “I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects…. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.”

A staunch critic of Western imperialism, he railed against American Christian missionaries who traveled to India to “convert the heathens”: he remarked acerbically in one speech he gave while in America, “You train and educate and clothe and pay men to do what? — to come over to my country and curse and abuse all my forefathers, my religion, my everything. They walk near a temple and say, ‘You idolaters, you will go to hell.’ But the Hindu is mild; he smiles and passes on, saying, ‘Let the fools talk.’ And then you who train men to abuse and criticize, if I just touch you with the least bit of criticism, but with the kindest purpose, you shrink and cry: ‘Do not touch us! We are Americans; we criticize, curse, and abuse all the heathens of the world, but do not touch us, we are sensitive plants.” Like Gandhi and the vast majority of Indian people, Vivekananda recognizes that Christianity of the West was a bankrupt enterprise, deployed in the justification of slavery and empire.

Well versed in Western philosophy, logic, and science, and the greatest disciple of his master, Sri Ramakrishna, he sought to bring to the Western world the knowledge of the Vedas, the ancient learning of India. Though largely uncredited for his contributions, he, in fact, developed a new science of the mind. It was in America that he composed his major work, Raja Yoga. His role in the founding of modern psychology has been relatively unacknowledged. He had a profound influence on William James, who was one of W.E.B Du Bois’ professors at Harvard University. James met him in 1894 and again in 1896 when Vivekananda gave a lecture at Harvard, on the religions of India and comparative religions. Many of of James’s colleagues at Harvard (and Du Bois himself who drew on Hindu philosophy constantly in his own work) and the wider community of Cambridge, MA were drawn to the truth of Vivekananda’s teachings about religion, science, and the freedom of the soul. One sees the influence of Vivekananda in James’s 1902 work The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature, particularly in the connections between religion and neurology, the reality of the unseen, and the fundamental unity of the self and the universe.

Martin Luther King, Farewell Statement for All India Radio, March 9, 1959 (Audio)

King_press conference in Madras_meets Swami Vishwananda_untouchability

Farewell Statement for All India Radio

Leaders in and out of government, organizations—particularly the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and the Quaker Centre—and many homes and families have done their utmost to make our short stay both pleasant and instructive.

We have learned a lot. We are not rash enough to presume that we know India—vast subcontinent with all of its people, problems, contrasts, and achievements. However, since we have been asked about our impressions, we venture one or two generalizations.

First, we think that the spirit of Gandhi is much stronger today than some people believe. There is not only the direct and indirect influence of his comrades and associates but also the organized efforts that are being made to preserve the Mahatma’s letters and other writings, the pictures, monuments, the work of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, and the movement led by the sainted Vinoba Bhave. These are but a few examples of the way Gandhiji will be permanently enshrined in the hearts of the people of India.

Moreover, many governmental officials who do not follow Gandhi literally apply his spirit to domestic and international problems.

Secondly, I wish to make a plea to the people and government of India. The issue of world peace is so critical that I feel compelled to offer a suggestion that came to me during the course of our conversations with Vinoba Bhave.2

The peace-loving peoples of the world have not yet succeeded in persuading my own country, America, and Soviet Russia to eliminate fear and disarm themselves. Unfortunately, as yet, America and the Soviet Union have not shown the faith and moral courage to do this. Vinobaji has said that India or any other nation that has a faith and moral courage could disarm itself tomorrow, even unilaterally.

It may be that just as India had to take the lead and show the world that national independence could be achieved nonviolently, so India may have to take the lead and call for universal disarmament. And if no other nation will join her immediately, India may declare itself for disarmament unilaterally.3

Such an act of courage would be a great demonstration of the spirit of the Mahatma and would be the greatest stimulus to the rest of the world to do likewise.

Moreover, any nation that would take such a brave step would automatically draw to itself the support of the multitudes of the earth, so that any would-be aggressor would be discouraged from risking the wrath of mankind.

May I also say that since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation.

Many years ago when Abraham Lincoln was shot—and incidentally he was shot for the same reason that Mahatma Gandhi was shot for, namely, for committing the crime of wanting to heal the wounds of a divided nation. And when he was shot, Secretary Stanton stood by the dead body of the great leader and said these words: “Now he belongs to the ages.” And in a real sense we can say the same thing about Mahatma Gandhi and even in stronger terms: “Now he belongs to the ages.” And if this age is to survive, it must follow the way of love and nonviolence that he so nobly illustrated in his life.4

Mahatma Gandhi may well be God’s appeal to this generation, a generation drifting again to its doom.5This eternal appeal is in the form of a warning: “They that live by the sword shall perish by the sword.”6We must come to see in the world today that what he taught and his method throughout revealed to us that there is an alternative to violence and that if we fail to follow this we will perish in our individual and in our collective lives. For in a day when Sputniks and Explorers dash through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can win a war.

1. Earlier in the day King read a version of these remarks during a press conference at the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi. His typescript included two introductory sentences: “Our much too brief pilgrimage to India has regretfully come to a close. I wish to thank everyone for the way your doors and hearts have been opened to me, my wife and Dr. Reddick” (King, “Farewell statement,” 9 March 1959; see also “Need for Universal Disarmament,” Hindustan Times, 10 March 1959).

2. On 3 March, King walked for several miles on a padayatra (walking tour) with Vinoba, a disciple of Gandhi and founder of the Bhoodan movement, an effort to convince landowners to give land to the poor. King questioned Vinoba about his strategies for change and the future of India. For Vinoba’s replies, see “Dr. Martin Luther King with Vinoba,” Bhoodan 3 (18 March 1959): 369-370; see also Bristol to Johnson, 16, 17, and 22 April 1959.

3. At the press conference this suggestion provoked a flurry of questions from reporters. When asked if he meant that the Indian army should disband, King told the press that he favored the elimination of “all major weapons of destruction” (“Need for Universal Disarmament”).

4. King underlined the following passage in his copy of missionary E. Stanley Jones’s Mahatma Gandhi: An Interpretation (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1948), p. 154: “When Lincoln was shot for the same reason that Gandhi was shot, namely, for the crime of wanting to heal the wounds of a divided nation, Secretary Stanton said as he stood beside the dead leader, ‘Now he belongs to the ages.’ Of Mahatma Gandhi it can also be said, and said with deeper meaning, ‘Now he belongs to the ages’; for if there are to be any ages to come for man on this earth, we will have to apply his way of truth and nonviolence.” Edwin M. Stanton was Lincoln’s Secretary of War.

5. Jones, Mahatma Gandhi: An Interpretation, p. 159: “So Mahatma Gandhi is God’s appeal to this age—an age drifting again to its doom.”

6. Cf. Matthew 26:52.

Source:  Gandhi Centennial Radio Program, 1968. The Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project, Stanford University

Tagore on Scientific Inquiry and Self-Realization

Yet no one really believes that science is the one perfect mode of disseminating mistakes. The progressive ascertainment of Truth is the important thing to remember in the history of science, not its innumerable mistakes. Error, by its nature, cannot be stationary; it cannot remain with truth; like a tramp, it must quit its lodging as soon as it fails to pay its score to the full.

–Rabindranath Tagore, Sadhana

The Garland March: From Selma to Montgomery, 1965

The flash and flutter of a lens can capture a moment in eternity. In the photograph below, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., second from left, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right, wear garlands in the Hindu tradition. It is 1965 and they are marching from Selma to Montgomery. I am unsure which of three marches this photo is taken from. Protestors marched 87 kilometers to the state capital, where King delivered his speech “Our God is Matching On.” In the sermon, he reaffirms the people’s faith in God as love, truth, and peace, compelling them to test their faith in peaceful non-cooperation so as to win the protracted struggle for civil rights. In 1930, Gandhi would lead a similar kind of march, leading thousands of people from Sabarmati to the sea to make their own salt in protest of British taxation of the mineral.

The wreaths encircling the marchers’ necks recall the garlands with which the nascent government of independent India greeted the King Embassy, which would visit Gandhi’s tomb. Witnessing this example, I heed Gandhi’s advice about faith—that it transcends reason, that the precipitate of this transcendence is none other than love.

Like King, Gandhi was assassinated by reactionary elements in the struggle against imperialism and white domination. Recognizing the Indian leader’s martyrdom, King proclaimed that “Christ showed us the way, and Gandhi in India showed it could work” at a a gathering in Brooklyn, New York following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Montgomery’s bus segregation was unconstitutional.

The significance of these words must be weighed in light of the Thurman delegation’s visit to India in 1935-1936, which was central meditation in the latter’s seminal work, Jesus and the Disinherited (1949)? Jesus and the Disinherited is a moral inquiry into the condition of Christian civilization in the modern epoch, which witnessed a deplorable distortion of the faith, as the loving teachings of Christ–who stood with the poor and the disinherited–were twisted into a diabolical defense of colonialism, black enslavement, and the psycho-social subordination of the darker races to the white masters of the world . King carried the book with him everywhere.

Above, King removes his shoes at the Gandhi Memorial, to pay homage to India’s fallen Mahatma known to the people and his loved ones as Bapu. If a camera illuminates the truth by flooding light into the aperture of a lens, then the revolutionary prophecies of these great leaders illuminated the world by flooding it with love, chiseling into presence a grand legacy of peace and culture amongst humanity over the course of their lifetimes which we now inherit in our own. Contacts between India and African-America in the twentieth century germinated a cultural renaissance, manifesting a new plane of human understanding and civilization—aesthetically, politically, scientifically, and above all, spiritually. Where will these liaisons lead in the fulfillment of our common destiny in the twenty-first century of the Prince of Peace?

The Thurman Delegation in India, 1935-1936

Howard Thurman and Sue Bailey Thurman in India, 1935
Howard Thurman and Sue Bailey Thurman in India, 1935

Sue Bailey Thurman and Howard Thurman travelled to India, Burma and Ceylon, as part of the first African-American delegation to colonial India in 1935-1936, at the height of its anti-colonial struggle against the British Empire. Known as the Pilgrimage of Friendship to the East, the delegation was organized by the Student Christian Movement in the United States in tandem with Christian student organizations in India, Ceylon, and Burma. The leader of the Christian student organizations in southern Asia at this time was a man named Augustine Ralla Ram, who felt that a black Christian delegation would be more accepted than white missionaries who cooperated with the British Empire, as Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt discuss in their new book, Visions of a Better World: Howard Thurman’s Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African-American Nonviolence. He called the delegation because “Christianity in India is the oppressors religion” and that “there would be a unique value in having representatives of another oppressed group speak on the validity of the contribution of Christianity” (quoted in Dixie and Eisenstadt 70). An article in the Spelman Messenger reported Augustine Ram Ralla’s interest in “The social and class distinctions to which Negroes in America are subjected” which “seemed to parallel, to some degree, caste distinctions in India” (70).

The delegation was chaired by Howard Thurman, a renowned theologian and civil rights agitator who would become a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr., introducing the young King to Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. The significance of their visit to furthering mutual understanding between India and African-America cannot be underscored enough as it was the first Black Christian delegation to tour India. The pilgrimage would also constitute an crucial dimension of Thurman’s 1949 book, Jesus and the Disinherited, a work of great spiritual striving and erudition, which King carried with him everywhere. Knowing this history is vital to understanding King’s oft-quoted remark that while he went as a tourist to other countries, to India he came as a pilgrim. In this book, Thurman would argue that

American Christianity has betrayed the religion of Jesus almost beyond redemption. Churches have been established for the underprivileged, the weak, the poor on the theory they prefer to be among themselves. Churches have been established for the Chinese, the Japanese, the Korean, the Mexican, the Filipino, the Italian and the Negro with the same theory in mind. The result is that in the one place in which normal, free contacts might be most naturally established – in which the relations of the individual to his God should take priority over conditions of class, race, power, status, wealth or the like – this place is one of the chief instruments for guaranteeing barriers. (Jesus and the Disinherited 98)

Thurman was King’s senior by thirty years, sharing the same birth year with his father: 1899. His proselytization, teaching, and scholarship at Howard University and Boston University, had a profound influence on the civil rights struggle and black leadership in the twentieth century. His philosophy emphasized the oneness of humanity and his theology emphasized communion with God and nature as a way of arriving at the truth about human existence. He saw the segregation of the Christian church in the United States as a great evil and his search for peace took him to India, where he and Sue Bailey Thurman, lectured widely and built relations with prominent figures like Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.

Though Gandhi had embraced the teachings of Christ by the time the Thurman delegation came to India, most Indians were antagonistic towards Western Christianity given its repression of native spiritual traditions and saw great hope in African-American interpretations of Christ’s teachings. As Gandhi put it, he loved Christ, but couldn’t say the same about white Christians, who invoked the Bible to justify colonial violence against the darker races: “Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” King also drew attention to this central contradiction in Christianity, noting in a fiery 1956 sermon about “Redirecting Our Missionary Zeal“:

The paradox of it all is that the white man considers himself the supreme missionary. He sends [millions] of dollars to the foreign field. And in the midst of that he tramples over the Negro.

Gandhi began developing his own interests in Christianity as early as South Africa, after having come in contact with an English priest named Charles Andrews, who decried the white church’s treatment of Africans and Indians and lent his support to Gandhi who was there to study the condition of Indian laborers. In 1929, Andrews traveled to the United States and spoke on the theory of nonviolence at black colleges and universities. At the time, Gandhi was organizing the Indian people against the repressive imperialist tax on salt, which culminated in the great Dandi Satyagraha, where he marched more than. 150 miles from Sabarmati, with upwards of 60,000 Indians vowing to produce their own salt, in defiance of the British tax on the sale of salt. The act commanded the attention of the world to the struggle of the Indians, and was widely covered by the international press.

But Gandhi’s ambition was much higher than independence. “Through the deliverance of India,” he said, “I seek to deliver the so-called weaker races of the Earth from the crushing heels of Western exploitation in which England is the greatest partner” (seeIndependence vs. Swaraj, 12 January 1928). White Christianity was an integral part of Western exploitation. Like Thurman, Gandhi believed that the consequences of racial strife and Western exploitation were manifested them most tragically in the inner life of human beings, in the dilapidation of the soul, in the breaking of the spirit, in the negation humanity’s fundamental interconnectedness to each other as well as to God and nature.

As King put it later, we are all wrapped in a single garment of destiny and so responsible to the “cosmic partnership.” Western civilization, by contrast, had done great violence to this unity and oneness of mankind, valorizing in its wake man’s inhumanity to man. It was for this reason that Gandhi would refer to segregation as a “negation of civilization,” a thought that King would echo in his sermon, “Paul’s Letter to American Christians,” whose allegorization and ventriloquization of the Apostle Paul as a character requires King to go into a dramatic monologue. Here, he impresses upon the Afro-Asiatic origins of Western civilization, like Gandhi, drawing attention to the fact that Paul would have been writing in Greek. The irony of reading this speech through a Gandhian looking glass tripled when we consider the fact that Paul is beaten, arrested, jailed, and beheaded by the Emperor Nero for his bearing and conveying the teachings of Christ, king of the Disinherited, as Thurman knew him to be.

As is somewhat well-known, King came to the teachings of Gandhi during his time in Pennsylvania, where I am writing this from. He studied at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, where in a homework assignment, he recognized Gandhi for having revealed to him “the working of the spirit of God in bringing about moral transformation within the individual.” He confesses to becoming a disciple of Gandhi upon listening to a lecture given by Mordecai Johnson in Philadelphia, shortly after the Howard University president’s own trip to India.

Mirabehn (née Miriam Slade), an English disciple of Gandhi’s, played an important role in the concretization of the Thurman delegation’s invitation to India. Mirabehn who was christened as such by Gandhi himself, was a prominent British admiral’s daughter. Thurman, who had been searching for a way to organize a meeting with Gandhi, intercepted her during her visit to the U.S. As he writes of her in his autobiography, With Head and Heart

She was an Englishwoman who had given up her life in England not only to become a mere follower of Gandhi but also to live in his ashram as a member of the family community of which he was the center…Her situation was unique because she was a woman of the upper class And had given up her way of life, abandoning the goals of her peers, including wealth and status.

Now an Englishwoman who had renounced imperial Christianity, Mirabehn took it upon herself to defend Gandhi against his Western critics, leveraging her position as an upper-class white woman . By this time, Gandhi had transmuted the existing Indian National Congress into a mass movement clamoring for Indian self-rule through a constructive program, which included the boycott of British goods and cultural institutions, an act that led to the mass jailing of thousands of satyagrahis, as his disciples were known, including Gandhi himself who was arrested and jailed in 1922 for two years on charges of sedition.

After making many inquiries as to her whereabouts, Thurman arranged for Mirabehn to give a lecture at Howard University:

I told her as Howard was the only Negro university of its kind in the United States, her experience there could not be duplicated anywhere else in the world.

In her address, she analyzed the connections between Gandhi’s teachings and those of Christ. She emphasized, that Christianity had arisen in the Near East, remarking that “the greatest spiritual teachings of the world have all come from the darker races.” As Gandhian philosopher-poetess Sarojini Naidu, had put it, “Jesus was an Asiatic, like me.” Watching Mirabehn speak passionately about these matters, Thurman came to a new awareness of the interconnectedness of Negro and Indian spiritual striving. Grateful for the experience at Howard, Mirabehn assured Thurman that she would relay his interest in visiting Gandhi’s ashram and she made good on her promise for Gandhi wrote back to Thurman:

Dear friend… I shall be delighted to have you and your three friends whenever you can come before the end of the year.

British officials initially opposed the trip, seeing the political connection between Afro-America and India as a threat to white supremacy and the colonial government. Sue Bailey Thurman, who was also invited as an official member of the delegation (not simply in her capacity as Thurman’s spouse), served as an important adviser on African American affairs to Mahatma Gandhi. During the visit to Shantiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore’s University, she lectured on the historical and aesthetic development of Negro spirituals in America called “The History Of Negro Music,” after Tagore impressed upon her how much the Indian people found inspiration in African-American spirituals and traditionals. Coretta Scott King would discover the same sentiments amongst Indians, who had a great regard for the spiritual strivings of their black brothers and sisters in struggle. While in India, Sue Thurman taught local choirs how to sing spirituals and continued to develop these interests upon her return to the U.S. Thurman writes in his autobiography, “Sue delivered [lectures on the beauties of Indian civilization] at many campuses and communities in the United States and Canada on her return home.” She stayed at Shantiniketan longer than Thurman because “she wanted to learn more about India’s ancient musical instruments,” particularly the veena, a long-necked string instrument with a domed gourd on either end.

M.S. Subbulakshmi, known as one of Gandhi’s favorite singers, with a veena

The delegation only met with Gandhi about five months into their visit, two weeks shy of their return. Gandhi, realizing that their stay was coming to an end, wrote them a note inviting them to Bardoli, where he was resting, rather than the sevagram. Thurman was lecturing at the University Of Bombay at the time. In his autobiography, Thurman writes of their discourse:

Never in my life have I been a part of the that kind of examination: persistent, pragmatic questions about American Negroes, about the course of slavery and how we had survived it.

Mohandas Gandhi and Sue Bailey Thurman, India, 1936.

The conversation about slavery took them to the question of religion and civilization, namely the existence of hierarchies amongst worshippers in all world religions except Islam. Gandhi reserved the highest respect for the Muslim Faith, noting that

If you had become Muslim, Then even though you were a slave, in the faith you would be equal to your master.

Likewise, he argued that Hinduism had been corrupted by caste and that as Hindus, we have lost our self-respect not because of the colonizer, primarily, but because of the presence of untouchability in Hinduism, which was–and remains–the greatest hurdle to be overcome by modern adherents of the faith.

As their three-hour conversation drew to a close (The Thurmans had to catch a train back to Bombay), Gandhi requests a song of them, the spiritual, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” (see here for Paul Robeson’s rendition which Gandhi likely encountered):

I feel this song gets to the root of the experience of the entire human race under the spread of the healing wings of suffering.

Thurman remarks that his wife was the real musician, but that he and the others would accompany her and so they joined in song as “Gandhiji and his friends bowed their heads in prayer.” As they took leave, Gandhi bestows a basket of tropical fruit to Sue Bailey Thurman, at which point Howard Thurman requests of him a gift of his own. After gazing upon the spinning wheel which accompanied Gandhi everywhere, he asks for a piece of khadi, the revolutionary fabric that would set India free:

I would like a piece of cloth that you yourself have spun from the flax.

The gift arrived as promised a year later.

© 2019 Divya Nair

Western Zionism and the Promise of Peace in Palestine

From the time of the Balfour Declaration (during World War I) Palestine was under five British mandates, and England promised the land back and forth to the Arabs or the Jews, depending on which horse seemed to be in the lead.  The Zionists – as distinguished from the people known as the Jews – using, as someone put it, the ‘available political machinery,’ i.e., colonialism, e.g., the British Empire – promised the British that, if the territory were given to them, the British Empire would be safe forever…the state of Israel was not created for the salvation of the Jews; it was created for the salvation of Western interests.  This is what is becoming clear (I must say it was always clear to me).  The Palestinians have been paying for the British colonial policy of ‘divide and rule’  and for Europe’s guilty Christian conscience for more than thirty years…The collapse of the Shah not only revealed the depth of pious Carter’s concern for ‘human rights,’ it  also revealed who supplied oil to Israel, and to whom Israel supplied arms.  It happened to be, to spell it out, white South Africa.”

—James Baldwin

The contests between European nations for world imperial hegemony in World War I–whose causus belli, as Du Bois crucially observes, lay in Europe’s scramble for Africa and suffocation of Asia–created the conditions for the rise of fascism in Germany, which subsequently conducted a pogrom against its Jewish citizens in the name of advancing whiteness which it erroneously named Aryanism, an ideology that emerged out of Europe’s colonization of India and a desire to recognize the common origins of so-called “Indo-Aryan” civilizations so as to suppress the historical connections between African and Asiatic civilization. However, as I make clear in an earlier post, this is not the case, for Indian and Asiatic civilizations are more akin to African civilizations than Western civilization in their political struggle. moreover, from a sociological standpoint, share distinct patterns of continuity with respect to art, religion, cosmology, science, amongst other civilizational developments over time.

Shortly after the First World War, the British government, under the leadership of Lord Balfour led the way in recognizing Zionist aspirations for a national homeland for European Jews. Arab Christians, Jews, and Muslims have lived in this region for many centuries; the Zionist crusade in Palestine was thus a racial program in that it created a home for European Jewry in the name of preserving their whiteness. It is no wonder, then, that the state of Israel would form a military alliance with apartheid South Africa, as Baldwin pointed out.

Too often Hitler’s rise and the outbreak of the Second World War are unmoored from historical hindsight. Particularly, the rise of German cultural nationalism–Nazism–is deliberately severed from the crisis of European imperialism, which was rapidly collapsing in the mid-twentieth century as the dark nations emancipated themselves from European bondage. In 1929 the world found itself in a serious depression not unlike our own. Those who believed in communism and the planned production and distribution of goods were severely persecuted. Indeed, there were many Jews who stood against imperialism, particularly in the United States; many joined the Communist Party in the 30s which witnessed a new lurch towards socialism under Roosevelt. We think of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Herbert Aptheker, and others who heroically stood with African-Americans in their struggle against segregation and lynching.

Hitler, we must not forget was not simply an anti-Semite; he was an anti-communist, seeing communist internationalism as an obstacle to German expansion–the rationale of seeking lebensraum. In the wake of the Second World War, Europe needed Israel to rebuild itself and the anger and humiliation faced by Jews under Hitler was quickly converted into nationalism chauvinism as the Europeans flocked to Palestine, Perpetrating all manner of evils against Arab citizens who we must remember we’re also being oppressed by the British and other European powers. For this very reason, Mahatma Gandhi whose own country was being exploited by the British wrote in a series of letters that it was historical folly on the part of European Jews to impose themselves on the Arabs whose own civilization was being suppressed by Europeans:

My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became life-long companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews.

But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice. The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine. Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood?

Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. 

White America, on the other hand, needed a steadfast business partner in Western Asia in order to assert hegemony Asia Europe collapsed in the wake of two world wars.

Finally, it is worth remembering that it was not the Allies but the Soviet Union that defeated Adolf Hitler, precipitating his suicide. Herein lies the failure of Hannah Arendt’s argument: she mistakenly conflates Hitler’s Germany with Stalin’s Soviet Union, which though attacked by the German military in Leningrad, heroically routed it from Russian soil, drastically diminishing Hitler’s power. Israel as it was envisioned by the world communist movement differed markedly from its present form. As W.E.B Du Bois, a Pan-African socialist, warned at the close of the war, Israel should align itself in the struggle against imperialism–not join with it. As he put it, Jewish and African history have been intertwined for more than 3000 years. It was the Soviet Union, which Du Bois also supported, as a black man in segregated America, which defeated Hitler’s army under the leadership of Josef Stalin.

Gandhi similarly argued that if the Jews were to settle in Palestine, they ought to offer satyagraha to the Arabs. He had encountered the Jews in South Africa and had many beloved friends in the Jewish community, including Herman Kallenbach, with whom he established Tolstoy Farm, in South Africa. He, like Du Bois, saw that it made more sense for European Jews to cast their lot with colored Asiatics and Africans. Thus, he recommended that they offer Satyagraha in Germany and as a last case scenario offer satyagraha to Arabs in the interest of their own cause against the British Empire. As he noted,

It is hardly necessary for me to point out that it is easier for the Jews than for the Czechs to follow my prescription. And they have in the Indian satyagraha campaign in South Africa an exact parallel. There the Indians occupied precisely the same place that the Jews occupy in Germany. The persecution had also a religious tinge. President Kruger used to say that the white Christians were the chosen of God and Indians were inferior beings created to serve the whites. A fundamental clause in the Transvaal constitution was that there should be no equality between the whites and coloured races including Asiatics. 

While he is careful not to endorse the violence of the Arab either in their struggle for freedom, as a proponent of ahimsa, he also points out that is utter hypocrisy for the European Jew to visit the same injustice on the Arab as was done to him by Hitler’s Aryanism:

And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it in the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart. They can offer satyagraha in front of the Arabs and offer themselves to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger against them. They will find the world opinion in their favour in their religious aspiration. There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-shares with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them.

I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

In hindsight however, The state of Israel chose, however, to establish itself as a bastion of Western imperialism which is organized around the twin turpitudes of Western supremacy and capitalism.Today, the liberal Jew bemoans the treatment he received in Nazi concentration camps, rather than join with the struggles of the darker races for self determination against Western civilization. Following the Second World War, after immigrating to America, European Jews assimilated into the white world and became its chief gatekeepers, and in Palestine, Jewish settlers drove brown Arabs from their homes, destroyed their fields, and began the process of creating a white supremacist state not unlike America and South Africa. And all this with the ardent approval of America and Europe.

In the face of these historical truths, the descendants of European Jews in America continue to invoke the tale of Nazi atrocity to corroborate their special victimhood–and this at a time when the darker races continue to remain in a most depressed socioeconomic stage throughout the world. Thus, the problems of the European and now, American, Jew are problems of their own making, problems created by America’s and Europe’s greed, barbarism, and avarice in its relentless pursuit of the rape of Africa, the plunder of Asia, and the devastation of the black man and woman in America.

I dare say that we do not need any more Holocaust monuments that do not come to terms with the truth that European Jewry, which claimed the status of an oppressed nation, did not join with the struggle of the dark proletariat for self-determination, peace, and freedom, though the promise remains. Rather they contented themselves with preserving imperialism–like the white worker of the American South, the European Jew in the twentieth century strove to advance the project of Western imperialism by settling and partitioning Palestine. And it was base Britain–the so-dubbed bastion of liberal democracy and Germany’s arch foe and leader of the Allied Powers in the Second World War–which paved the way for the Palestinian demise.

We are by now altogether too familiar with the false prophets of Christianity who angle after the souls of the darker races in order to reinforce the cosmology and morality of white civilization. Baldwin said it best: “all that a slave can learn from his master is how to be a slave, and that is no morality at all.” We must look to the poor, the disinherited for moral guidance, not the morality of the master. Today, liberal and Zionist Jews alike continue this work through their direct and indirect support for the state of Israel, which was established–I hope I have adequately demonstrated–as a colony of Britain and though embarking upon the promise of democracy and freedom, chose the route of oppression. In America, Jews now constitute the new elite, heading publishing houses, university administrations, public health, prisons, public housing, banking, sports, arts, Wall St., Congress. This new class, though positioned to help the oppressed, has sadly become the new oppressor, financing Israeli violence against a decimated Palestine. This is also true of upper crust of Asian immigrants in America, who rank among the wealthiest. Of course, a class of poor exist among all races. In the United States, the advancement of newcomers like Asians and Jews who arrived in large numbers following the Second World War Is achieved at the expense of the African-American and even the white poor, though the latter continue to uphold their traditional role as peons, police, and overseers of black workers.

Finally, the partition of Palestine during this crucial moment follows the general strategy deployed by the British in Africa and Asia which were also summarily partitioned in an utter betrayal of their national independence movements. As such, the colonization of Palestine by Europe must be treated as part of the same broad pattern in the movement of history: one discovers a similar motif in historical developments in India and the Congo in the wake of decolonization as Africa and Asia were partitioned in the interests of Western empire and against the interests of their native peoples.

This profound obfuscation of the continuity of political developments in western Asia (code: “Middle East”) with its eastern and southern reaches and Africa contributes to a fragmented understanding of their conjoined history and moreover, the unity of the imperial system. Indeed, it is this ideological confusion that the West continues to exploit in its quotidian game of divide and conquer today as we enter the twentieth year of the War on Terror.

Given that there is greater contiguity between the laws of social development in Asia and Africa than either to Europe or America, it behooves us to see the civilizations of these two continents in terms of their longer history of relations before the rise of Western dominance in the world and examine the similarities in the strategies used by whites to gain social and economic control over both continents. Only then will we see peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Only then will we see the current struggle of Palestinians as an anti-colonial struggle whose only resolution is freedom from Euro-American intervention and unity with the rest of Asia and its longtime neighbor, Africa.