Monday, September 15, 2008

Real Time demolition of Bill Maher's guests

If you've HBO, then you probably watch Bill Maher's Real Time live on Fridays. It's a great show. If you don't have HBO take heart. Most of his segments are uploaded on YouTube in real time; well, almost. 

Bill Maher is a liberal; he skewers Republicans and Christist fundamentalists like there's no tomorrow. His audiences are mostly democrat-leaning, and so are his guests. Suffice to say that his panel is dominated by Democrat supporters, including a Hollywood personality or two. No, it's not exactly like the perversion witnessed on CNN-IBN aka Rajdeep TV-- or, Barkha TV, for that matter. Bill Maher is smart, intelligent and witty as hell. Totem to any South Asia-type anchor. He is secular, as in real secular, and atheist, as in real atheist,  unlike our homegrown variety. He is liberal in the real sense, too. For example, he had a  fundamentalist fashion show on his show(forgive the tautology) with women wearing veils. Bizzare? No. Funny, yes.

He is not a bleeding-heart liberal either. He wants a strong military for USA-- "I want America to have the biggest di*k in the world," his words; he is hated by the 9/11 truthers, the siblings of Godhra apologists who peddle the same conspiracy theory that the victim societes had brought it upon themselves, that is unless they themselves set themselves on fire. Yeah, despite the videos of 9/11 hijackers, despite the tapes of Osama bragging to his fellow jehadis that 9/11 was their doing their are some leftist geniuses out there who think it was a US gov, CIA, Mossad conspiracy. 

Anyway, this is about the latest episode of Real Time. He had three guests, eventually four and an interview: Salman Rushdie, Janeine Garofalo, and John Fund, later joined by Roseanne Barr. He interviewed Paul Begala, a Clinton strategist who is ubiquitous on CNN. But, as Bill Maher himself later acknowledged, John Fund did extremely well despite the hostile crowd and substantial opposition to him in the panel itself. 

You can view Fund's performance and conclude for yourself, but the important reason I cite it here is something else: a disturbing trend we witness among well-meaning Indians on various forums. A usual refrain in such places is to ignore this or that 'secular' personality, institution, publishing group rather than confront them with counterpoise. I agree banning, sequestering, ignoring can have its own merits, but there's no option to head-on confrontation sometimes. What John Fund did here is precisely that. What Swapan Dasgupta, Arun Shourie and Arun Jaitley do back home is not any different either. What Narendra Modi does time and again within the limits afforded to a politician is the same, too. This is not advocating for endless debate with the other side either. But way too often is the 'secular' hooting met with silence, which is in itself quite disturbing. It needs to change

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Religion of StrangeLove

I don't know how else to say it. Calling it Religion of Love would be a misnomer. How else do you explain recent events in Orissa?

An 80-year old Swami is murdered for doing charitable work. And their is not a word of remorse from the Christian groups. I guess he was thy neighbor thou couldn't love. Perhaps they expected that their eye won't be met with an eye, and the only person not just blinded, but permanently eliminated from this world would be the Swami alone, with nary a consequences for those with the blinders of proselytism encoded in them.

Perhaps the missionary zealots forgot the wise words of their own, Pastor Niemoller, who's warning the local Hindus seemed to have picked up. They knew that they will have to act to protect themselves else there would be no Swami or ordinary Hindu left to speak for with them.

Predictably, there's a high-decibel chorus of outrage, lead by no less than the good ol' Pope Ratzinger. The Italian govt. on the Pope's prodding even dispensed with protocol and summoned the Indian ambassador over a sovereign country's internal issue.

The church establishment in India is vicious in its response. It has politicized school kids, forcing them to participate in wholly communal, orchestrated protests. Such egregious behavior on part of the church, poisoning precocious minds that is, has again been met with, what else but, silence.

They even made the kids carry placards with innocent-sounding messages such as 'eye for an eye makes the world blind' etc. Ironically, just the next day Pastor Strangelove, allegedly a church leader, who wished to remain anonymous, threatened that 'Christians may form militia for self-defense.' Whatever happened to the much touted turning other cheek and forgiving thing,  we can only guess. It reminds me of the missionary widow Gladys Staines who did "forgive" the hapless Dara Singh but lobbied hard to ensure that the might of Australian govt. would go after him.

Different forgiving strokes for us heathen folks?

All these for what? Numbers?! Is Christianity so weak that it won't survive without satiating the voracious church appetite for numbers? The underlying principle of proselytism is nothing but a darker shade of greed, which demands "More! More!! More!!!" It's the same delusion that has possessed those who dream of global domination, and total control. And it is antithetical to the tolerant ethos of modern world. Certainly that of a "secular, socialist, democratic republic." Which India is, constitutionally at least.

It is, as such, our civic duty to banish the intolerant credo of proselytism from public life. And if some fundamentalists among the Church groups cannot dissociate themselves from proselytism then they should start calling theirs Religion of Strangelove, malevolent and divisive. Because it's a scourge that we, and they, can do without. Otherwise we risk disrupting communal harmony and the secular fabric of India. And if the ruling secular class can't do it, then the aam aadmi will have to seize India back from them.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hmm...sign of things to come?

Speaks for itself.

(Pic courtesy Indian Express)

Don La Fontaine

You might ask who the heck is that? Well, he was the guy who did voiceovers for movie trailers. A man who charted his own path when there was none such. He was a trailblazer in his unique profession, but to which, today, we're so used to.

Two trailers which offer a unique tribute, and which will perhaps tell you who he was:

The Don

A great parody of His voice