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     Volume 4 Issue 2 | July 2, 2004 |


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One Off

Thank you,
no more”

Aly Zaker

I was pained to have read a letter to the editor of the "Daily Prothom Alo" written by a very dear friend of mine -- Ramendu Majumdar. The title of the letter, translated in English would read " America? Thank you, no more."

Ramendu Majumdar is one of our foremost cultural activists. The President of the "International Theatre Institute (ITI)" , Bangladesh center, Member of the ITI's International Board of Directors, a Past President of the combined cultural movement of Bangladesh, a past Chairman of the Group Theatre Federation of Bangladesh and the prime mover of his group "Theatre". He wrote about his experience with the immigration at Houston, USA on his way back from Mexico after attending the International Convention of the ITI. He was harassed beyond unbearable limits by the US Immigration whereby he missed his connecting flight and was put to so much of agony that he was prompted to take recourse to a letter as the one mentioned above. His suffering was aggravated by the fact that his Passport bore two visas, one of Iran and the other of Afghanistan. He had to go to Iran for a board meeting of the ITI and to Afghanistan on an invitation from the UNICEF to address the need of communication in the Health Sector. It may not be out of place to mention here that for a living he works as a Communications Consultant. Ramendu explained in detail all these to the immigration at Houston but in vain. He was even asked why he had gone to Singapore. He said that he went there for his wife's treatment. They did not want to believe it. You might say the quandary of Ramendu may just be one unfortunate incident of indiscretion on the part of the US Immigration in Houston but you have only to look around and hear similar experiences from many Bangladeshi's who have been to the US in the recent past. It is just that they do not bring to light such experiences as they feel that this would unnecessarily put off the US immigration and create problems while gaining entry into that country for work or to meet their near and dear ones.

Clearly, The US Government is going through a knee-jerk reaction at present because of their not so pleasant worldwide experience. This is not the best of time for that country. But who is to blame for this? Not the people of the world? Nor the general public of America. If someone has to be blamed for the misery of the Americans, it is their Leadership. Unfortunate though it may sound they have managed to progressively tarnish their image and therefore destroyed their relationship with the people of the world. Their leaders' near-sightedness has been responsible for blaming Dick for the crime of Tom and hang Harry for it. There is no denying of the fact that extremism and the terrorist activities indulged in by a section of people claiming to be Muslims is not only undesirable but has to be fought and brought under control before any further destruction is done to humanity. But at the same time it will have to be done in agreement with and consensus of all the right thinking people of the world. The present American leadership with a few of its sidekicks around the world cannot do it alone. They stupidly thought they could. And that has put all of us human kind into an inferno, to say the least. This might sound like bad taste as comment on someone who has just passed away is not proper, but in order to put the perspective right wasn't it late. Mr. Reagan who in his spirit of half educated Americanism never really tried to see what goes on beyond the shores of the Americas? Isn't it he who had given birth to such megalomaniac philosophy of "either you are with me or you are against me", later to be verbalised by their not so cerebral present President? Mr. Reagan had once called the Soviet Union the Godless Devil. Can it be imagined that a president, that too of the most powerful country of the world frequently uses such brash comments about another country? Is it civil or polite? But who cares. A highly insular president of a highly insular nation has the mighty right to thrust upon the rest of the world whatever he wishes.

This far and no further. Because, like Ramendu, I also work as a Communications Consultant. I have also been to Afghanistan on work of the United Nations and I also travel around the world quite frequently. Who knows whether I would have to join Ramendu in saying "America? Thank you, no more" in not so distant a future.

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