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."
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.
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.
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.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004