American Turban

American Turban


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215 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - Raising Sikh awareness... · 0 replies · +1 points

Thank you for your response and insights. We only spent one day at the prison, but it is very fair to say that this experience has been quite the reality check for us, shedding (if only) a momentary light on something that many people deal with every day. It is sometimes too easy for us to take an ivory tower view.

239 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - The Indian Disconnect · 0 replies · +5 points

Again, you are ascribing assertions that I did not make. Please read what I wrote, not what you want to see in what I wrote to suit your own agenda.

Further, I agree with you that many Sikhs are thriving in India. I would argue that just as many, if not more, are suffering from population-level health crises, drug addiction, alcoholism, suicide, and police brutality, among other things.

The PM is not a popularly-elected figure, nor is he representative of the state of Sikhs in India -- rather, his success is a function of the political workings of the Congress Party.

I am glad you have equated the human rights abuses by various governmental agencies with terrorists who did their crimes in the name of Sikhi. The latter were held to account by the justice system (and this is another point of discussion). The disconnect, of course, is that the former group have not.

Finally, I have not mentioned the word Khalistan in the post. Anti-Khalistan radicals seem to want to see Khalistan in everything. Demands for overdue justice is not a call for Khalistan. Get over yourself.

240 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - The Indian Disconnect · 0 replies · +3 points

Thank you for your comment.

I never stated in the post anything about Sikhi only being about human rights of "radical Khalsas," nor was that my assertion. You are extending my argument to topics that I never even addressed.

The argument is stated clearly in the first and last paragraph.

260 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - Appear for the Disappe... · 1 reply · +2 points

I think Ravinder Singh of Khalsa Aid said it very well. However, to the point of your labeling the Ensaaf event as a "cheap gimmick", that is a matter of perspective and if that is how you see it, that is your choice. However, I disagree with this characterization.

In fact, I think what they are doing to raise awareness is very effective. It brings to light the untold and unknown stories of disappearances and abuses that are lost in global statistics. This awareness is part of their stated mission. And, re-kindling of the memory of these lost ones also connects a generation that has grown up away from what happened in Punjab to that history. I am glad that Ensaaf is telling these stories and connecting us to them in a personal way. If just for this event, it makes each participant an activist in this cause for justice.

Finally, let me say that I have no formal affiliation with Ensaaf, but I am supportive of their work and find in poor taste these accusations about the work they do. No person or organization is perfect, but these criticisms are quite unfair to the well-intentioned people behind this work.

260 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - Appear for the Disappe... · 3 replies · +2 points

What ridiculous criticisms! Such commentary is an example of what is wrong with our people in general: big egos, big jealousies. The individuals commenting here charitably on behalf of all UK Sikhs to condemn or accuse all American Sikhs for policies and politics for which they are not even a part is shallow and silly.

Ensaaf is doing challenging, delicate and complicated work. If they were to do something for personal gain, I am quite certain there are easier projects to take on.

There's absolutely no need to point fingers at efforts supporting the Sikhs in Punjab. There is enough criticism to go around on both sides of the Atlantic, and clearly there is even room to make ludicrous accusations, but the wise on each side will learn, collaborate, and support.

264 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - Fauja Singh to Run His... · 0 replies · +3 points

"I take happiness in biggest proportions though my actual diet is very small." -- Fauja Singh

270 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - The trials and tribula... · 1 reply · +8 points

Interestingly, the Sikh's appearance and behavior on that show was criticized by many Sikhs for being "unbecoming" of someone with a turban and beard. So, while some might consider such a person unattractive for wearing these articles, there are also competing expectations applied around how one will vs. should behave.

272 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - White Supremacy: The U... · 0 replies · 0 points

At the present time, I wonder if the Sikh organizations have that amount of capital to influence the FBI. As we mentioned in the article, it has taken almost two years of lobbying the FBI to make even an incremental addition to the FBI hate crimes tracking to report hate crimes against Sikhs specifically (the debate about its value notwithstanding). Even in the wake of Oak Creek and requests from members of Congress and Department of Justice officials, the FBI is still delaying making a decision. While our Sikh organizations are our major advocacy voices, their capacity to do so is not as large as some of the other voices in Washington, DC.

At the Congressional hearing in September, Sikh organizations did make calls to address domestic terror, but whether these calls are being heeded by law enforcement agencies and policy makers is unclear and remains to be seen. We know that from Daryl Johnson's testimony that domestic terror was significantly de-prioritized by the government and its agencies. Since the hearing, the discussion about the impact of white supremacy has certainly not been obvious or apparent otherwise from government or in media. It didn't even come up as an issue in the campaign, despite that the Oak Creek attack occurred in the middle of the election (and in the Republican Vice Presidential candidate's home state, no less) and certainly does not appear on the radar now.

I do agree that a coalition of groups, including the Sikh organizations, needs to come together to actively keep the focus on white supremacist extremism in this country.

275 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - Be Proud? · 0 replies · +3 points

I think we need to explicitly tease out a few of the themes in this discussion.

BeProud, the media campaign:
I don't think anyone would argue against the benefits of a media campaign (and Nina explicitly endorsed its vision and intention). I think Gurbaksh Chahal deserves credit in undertaking the project. There has been a vacuum where it pertains to a public awareness campaign around hate crimes, bullying and the like. Notwithstanding its isolated operation, the organizations and individuals who have long worked on these issues certainly benefit from the awareness that this activity can bring.

Having said that, I also don't think it's unfair or slanderous to critique the strategy. It is a public social media campaign and therefore to expect that it will not or should not receive any due evaluation is not reasonable. Kony-2012 was a great marketing campaign in terms of raising awareness, but as we saw, it had major flaws. Let us also note that part of the social media appeal of this campaign was that it focused on the viewers of the media to take actual steps against an identified "enemy". There was a bad guy, and here's how we all can take down the bad guy.

I'm not sure that BeProud provides something as tangible at this time. And, I do think that the fallout from Kony-2012 has now put a magnifying glass on subsequent social media campaigns. There are learnings to be had.

The "Just Say No" campaign, alongside the war on drugs, to fight drug use among children was another marketing campaign that may have brought forth some awareness, but as we can see from the current drug culture in this country, it's hard to say that this campaign has been successful. Rather, perhaps it has been a bust in the context of its apparent objective.

Can we point to a media campaign that has been successful in addressing an issue beyond bringing awareness? I ask, because the stated objectives of the BeProud campaign is more than simply raising awareness, and I would be curious to see how successful campaigns have been modeled and positioned within their issue arenas.

There is a "market" process through which a product is evaluated and refined to be more effective and appropriate to its purpose. I think Nina has provided some legitimate avenues and considerations to pursue as she places the media campaign in the context of addressing hate violence. Whether the founder of BeProud wishes to accept these considerations or not is up to him, but it would behoove anyone who is seeking public support to also be open to suggestions around strategy and implementation, rather than respond with disdain about any opinion not in line with his own.

BeProud, the "movement":
To date, the BeProud appears to be in its beginning stages, so perhaps it is unfair to judge its credibility as a movement. I wouldn't put it in the latter category at this time. At present, it is an "ivory tower" attempt to bring awareness to an issue that people struggle with every day. There's no real grassroots activism attached to BeProud specifically (yet?). Those who are on the front lines on this issue do not appear to be formally collaborating with this project, and I think that is a deficiency.

BeProud, the messaging:
I also don't think it's unfair to express whether the messaging is effective. I think there certainly needs some work to do in that regard. "BeProud" and "end hate" do not appear to be complementary concepts on the face of it. I also wonder whether the opinions of a Bollywood actor or South Asian celebrity in the UK really has any weight to the average American. Again, perhaps this is what is available to BeProud at the present moment.

If this campaign really is going to take root, I think there needs to be more of a collaborative and open approach. A movement is only so when there is grassroots activism on the ground. A media campaign is like icing on the cake, but you still need the cake.

On Narinder Singh's point above regarding the "elephant in the room", it is difficult to say that the BeProud campaign is receiving scrutiny because of the lifestyle that Gurbaksh Chahal chooses for himself. I did not detect that in Nina's post.

Further, I would say that Waris Ahluwalia or Fauja Singh, as examples, are celebrated for their achievements while still maintaining their Sikh articles of faith and I don't think it's unfair to recognize this, particularly when we see many others discard them due to convenience or practicalities in the business world, for example. Waris Ahluwalia and Fauja Singh are living examples of being proud of one's identity. The discussion of whether BeProud would be subject to the same criticism if they were at the head of this campaign incorporates significant assumptions that is very hypothetical.

280 weeks ago @ The Langar Hall - Congressional Candidat... · 2 replies · +1 points

I think issues related to Punjab are still the US community's concern -- the community's objection to the honoring of GOI representatives appears to be the reason why the Gala was postponed in the first place. Let's also not forget the participation of the US Sikh community during the Rajoana protests.

However, how and why these GOI representatives are being "honored" by some of our community members is a needed -- and separate -- discussion. And, let us not forget that certain Indian politicians implicated in the 1984 massacres have been treated the same way in Canada (see Ruby Dhalla).

In terms of advocacy of Punjab issues to the US government, I agree that Sikhs in the United States have traditionally been more passive compared to our communities in Canada and the UK -- in those countries, the Sikh voice is louder and more powerful. That is both a function of those communities and the nature of the politics in those countries.

In my opinion, the US voice is still in its early stage of development. I also think there has been a gap in this advocacy created partly by our focus on post-9/11.

We're also operating in an environment where we are trying to get our politicians to even pronounce "Sikh" properly (see Mitt Romney, Herman Cain). If we are still at this level of ignorance in the US, it's hard to advocate about what has been and is going on in Punjab.

So yes, I acknowledge Blighty's original point about the insular nature of US politics. But, in the UK, the position and history of engagement of Sikhs in that society is different than here. Leveraging the US diaspora voice in support of issues of Punjab is needed. But, I don't think asking questions of a domestic nature necessarily amounts to abandoning that cause.