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April 15, 2021

Murdering minorities

Opinion

April 15, 2021

In a bold and defiant recent book, This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto (2019), Suketu Mehta has written a deeply erudite defence of global migrants and refugees who roam the globe and make the cruel wheels of predatory capitalism run their cycles.

Mehta begins his book with the story of his own grandfather sitting in a park in a suburb of London when a nasty old racist “white man” – an avid reader of Rudyard Kipling no doubt – approaches him and wags his finger at him demanding to know why he was in “his country”. “Because we are the creditors,” responds Mehta’s magnificent grandfather, who was born in India worked all his life in colonial Kenya and had retired in London, “We are here, because you were there.”

We are all here because they were there. The Africans are in France, the Indians are in the UK, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, and the Iranians are in the US, the Palestinians are in refugee camps, the Congolese are in Belgium – just roam around the globe and see we are all the gushing wounds and open scars European and US barbarities have left behind in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

People from around the globe whose countries have been at the mercy of their colonial and imperial savageries are roaming the globe in search of a haven for their families.

Migrants from poorer countries to richer climes are escaping poverty, climate change, rampant violence caused by localised tyrannies and the globalised imperialism of the US and its European and regional allies. The Chinese and the Russians are not any better, they are worse.

In just one statistic, Mehta says the amount of silver stolen between 1503 and the early 1800s “would amount to a debt of $165 trillion that Europe owes Latin America today.” Just look at that number and grasp its enormity – the entire budget US President Joe Biden has at his service to rebuild this dilapidated country is just three trillion.

“How Britain stole $45 trillion from India – And lied about it”, wrote Jason Hickel in an essay for Al Jazeera in 2018. He cites the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik from a book published by Columbia University Press in which she calculates that: “Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938.”

These staggering numbers are only the indices, the tip of the iceberg of the incalculable human suffering caused by the predatory capitalism and racist colonialism the “white man’s burden” inflicted upon the globe.

There is no number one can put on the whole history of human misery the “white man” has caused on this ravaged earth. There is no rhetorical citation of the American folk singer Woody Guthrie’s 1940 song, This Land is Our Land, either. This land is not our land. This is the Native Americans’ land. I write this essay from the land that belonged to the Lenape Nation on which eventually Columbia University was built. I am their uninvited but grateful guest.

“The white man’s burden” is not real. It is a cruel joke. It is a dangerous delusion. It is an ugly “poem” spat out by a racist English poet and lived by generations through centuries of wanton cruelties around the globe, now on stage on a daily basis here in the United States.

Excerpted: ‘Murdering minorities in America: ‘The white man’s burden’’

Aljazeera.com