As world unites over terror-driven immigration fears, Indian liberals cry Hindu wolf

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Published: 05th November 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th November 2017 07:57 AM   |  A+A-

poor, poverty,

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus: inscribed on the plaque below the Statute of Liberty.

Pedestals honour those who make the dream of freedom come true. The Statue of Liberty, which personifies the American Dream is a symbol of friendship with France, the celebration of democracy and the end of American slavery. Inspired by French abolitionist Édouard de Laboulaye in 1865 and designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, it did not, however, come with a pedestal.

The Depression of 1873 had hit America and the government had to extend itself to raise funds for building the foundation with help from a group of New York artists, who came together to raise funds through auctions of their work. At one such sale of original works and manuscripts, poet Emma Lazarus, an elite New Yorker with Jewish origins, was asked to contribute.

In 1983, she wrote the immortal poem The New Colossus whose words are now engraved in a plaque mounted on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. She saw the statue as a divine Mother of Exiles “who welcomes the poor and tired, looking for freedom, guiding the way with her lamp”. As a member of an ancient and persecuted community of exiles with no homeland of their own, Lazarus firmly believed that it was the moral duty of rich and famous Jews to help poor newcomers to America. Since then, The New Colossus is considered the most powerful anthem of liberal and inclusive America. In the modern context, the irony is more pronounced; it having been composed by a Jew whose community has been a timeless target of Islamic hatred and violence.

For over a century, almost every American President, prominent thinkers and opinion makers from all over the world have been quoting Lazarus’ lines in their speeches to define the virtues of the United States. But now their cantos lack conviction. They doubt the country really wishes to keep the golden doors open to the homeless and poor from other countries. The reason for this changing attitude has nothing to do with economics. It rises from a fear of implacable terrorists entering America not in search of a better life, but to spill innocent blood in the name of Islam.

Last week, US President Donald Trump exploited the incident of truck terrorism in Manhattan to further leverage his dearest mission of creating a terror-mukt America. He renewed his call for restricted immigration policy, that stops Muslims from entering the States, immediately after 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, an Uber driver who came to the US from Uzbekistan in 2010, rammed his truck into a crowd of cyclists, killing eight and injuring 11 on October 31.

The President called his Cabinet and angrily announced: “I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program, I’m going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program, diversory [sic] and diversity lottery. Diversity lottery. Sounds nice, it’s not good. Not good. It hasn’t been good, and we’ve been against it.” What chilled the US administration was the remorseless fanaticism of the terrorist who wanted to keep an IS flag in his hospital room.

Growing terror strikes in various parts of the globe, including Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia, have forced the respective governments to view every immigrant with a suspicion. Since almost all terrorists have a Muslim name or affinity, Muslims as a whole are unfortunately being subjected to vigorous scrutiny. Trump has decided to review the Diversity Visa Lottery—the green-card lottery law of 1990, which came into effect in 1995.

Under this legislation, over 50,000 visas are awarded annually to applicants who are citizens of countries, from where, as a rule people do not get to move to the United States. Its purpose is to keep the inclusive social character of America intact. Since a large number are from Asia, including the Islamic countries, Trump wants an amended law to minimise or eliminate immigrants from Islamic countries. He had previously imposed a travel ban on visitors from a dozen countries since he felt a large number of suspected extremists were exploiting liberal green card provisions in the US law to slip into the country.

America is not alone in its fear.

Europe, too, is suffering, thanks to the flawed and misguided policies of bleeding-heart liberals, which have made it shockingly vulnerable to the terror planners of IS and al-Qaeda. Now they are pushing for closed borders. The concerted pressure is finally yielding results. Religion is the most powerful influence on the policies of most Muslim nations. Since oil made most of them wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice, they could ignore barbs and threats from the western world. But with technology boosting affluence and shrinking distances between nations, they now face economic and social isolationism. Hence, they are seeking ways to retain their global acceptability and access to technology, education and business.

The tone for atonement for past mistakes was set by no other than Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and future King of Saudi Arabia; a country whose most infamous son was the original founder of Islamic terrorism, Osama bin Laden. In a recent interview, the prince declared, “We are simply reverting to what we followed—a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions, 70 per cent of the Saudis are younger than 30. Honestly we won’t waste 30 years of our life combating extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately.”

Coming as it did from global capital of the Islamic Establishment, bin Salman’s words are a source of deep concern for Islamic terror organisations, which get massive support and funds from their Saudi sponsors. Under the Prince, the country would serve as model for other Islamic nations such as Indonesia to reign in extremist forces operating on their soil. Recently, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo issued a decree allowing authorities to disband organisations, which pose a threat to national unity.

The government claimed that the new order was “simply aimed at maintaining national unity and the existence of the Indonesian nation”. However, the real targets are the rising number of radical outfits such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is campaigning for Indonesia to adopt Islamic law and become a caliphate.

Ironically, as both the US and governments of leading Muslim countries prepare to crack down on terrorists-turned-refugees, Indian liberals are still rooting for their unrestricted entry and resettlement.

Muslim nations—Bangladesh and Indonesia—have refused to allow in Rohingyas, wary of extremists sneaking in hidden among refugees like the jihadists who infiltrated the Syrian influx into Europe.
But public pedestals in India are still occupied by obsolete icons who are not in tune with the tone and tenor of the modern world.

Famous film stars and liberal celebrities are raising the bogey of Hindu terror while conveniently forgetting that Islamist terrorists have abraded global peace and economy. Hopefully, the change of heart and mind of the Saudi monarchy will herald a transformation in obliterating the power of religion on governance and encourage the flowering of nations and societies, which believe in the migration of ideas and innovations instead of the death wish of bigots who wish to create an eco-system of terror to destroy liberty.

Prabhu Chawla

Follow him on Twitter@PrabhuChawla


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