Monday, January 19, 2009

Twentieth January 2009: Mubarak Ho Obama

Twentieth January of any year happens to be my official birthday. It’s just another birthday. I will be 67 years older. The numerals 6 and 7 add up to 13 and would be an unlucky number in some systems. 13 is not specifically listed as an unlucky number in Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, or Marathi systems. So I guess it’s alright. Some may also ask unlucky in what? Good question. In any case we should not wait upon luck. Right?

Twentieth January 2009 should be a special day when one is conscious of some seeming disparities based on colour perhaps. It is the day Barack Hussein Obama (BHO) becomes the first black (non-Christian?), president of USA. Barack is a Hebrew name meaning "lightning" or "farm for grains". This name could have come from the lost or nearly lost Jewish community of Sudan. Jews were black in those days, perhaps. This may not be of much comfort to modern Israelites still desperately seeking a legitimacy, but Barack would still be a Jewish name. Barack could also be short form of Mubarak? Mubarak means blessed.

You may ask “So what?” We and rest of the non-white world have been having black and yellow presidents including some black-“Aryan” presidents in India. We also have a HusnÄ« Mubarak as a president of Egypt serving his promised last term for the last 15 years!

Maybe it would have been really something if we had a more than half “red” president from the native population of the American continent.

How does BHO’s election affect US and thereby the rest of the world --- as the USA-ians would have us believe --- by which we can now safely include the non-white world? There are two parts. The first conerns the color of the skin and governance. The second is a brief examination of BHO's background about which many of us in India are ignorant about.

The colour of the skin.

The colour of the skin should not matter. There is this Out-of-Africa (OoA) model for the evolution of man when an African eve 50,000 - 200,000 years ago was our common ancestor. The last ice age was 12,000 years ago! I don’t know what this meant for the survival of the first OoA humans. They seemed to have managed well since that age. Was she black? Did they have Gods?

Many early Gods in India and elsewhere were black in colour. The early Madonnas were black (see Fig 1; left Madonna of Czestochawa, center Dear Lady of Einsiedeln, Switzerland; right ma Kali dancing on Shiva, who also should have been black). There is also this notion that the word Negro is a natural name for Africans. Black people of original Egyptian community called their Pharaohs “En-ger” or “N-G-R”. This name may have been generalized by the Romans for all black people. Maybe stupid but plausible if you think of the illogical way the Roman numerical system developed. “Niger” is the Latin for black; Negro is the Italian name; Negre is the French name.

Barack Obama Sr’s family members are from the Luo ethnic group. It is a part of a larger group of East African Luo peoples which include people from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and southern Sudan including a black Jewish community perhaps if the Barack name is from Africa. Some of these people must have contributed to the early civilization of Egypt. The history of Egypt it self should be sufficient to show that from the color of Obama’s skin, USA is in as good a hand as any other. Maybe it is a little better in Obama’s hands if it is to be a new start for a new civilization. Amen.

BHO’s Egyptian father’s skin is not that of a typical stereotype of the modern Egyptian. Egypt is a good place to examine effects due to changes in the color of the skin of the rulers. The oldest Egyptians were Ethiopian or Sudanese people who were the builders of the Sphinx and the smaller pyramids (as in Djoser built of stone > 4500 years ago) in the same manner as those now (reportedly) existing in Ethiopia (built around 300 BC for burials) and as the bigger pyramids built later in Egypt. The Ethiopians/Sudanese concentrated on Ethiopia/Sudan after the Arab invasion of the delta of the Nile.

One of the more prominent features in Egyptian culture is the role of the serpent. It may be of interest to see how the serpent figures in other religions. The most potent symbol is the uraeus depicted as a Cobra. When worn on the Pharao’s crown the uraeus is depicted as a fiery cobra that could spit poison. Is this the snake that led to the Adam-and-Eve origin of aadmi (man in Urdu). I will use this to suggest that the symbol remains although the race changes.

The Uraeus seems to first appear (Fig 2; click to expand) with the change between the 11th and 12 the dynasties and the appearance of the Hyksos kings. Mentuhotep III the last-but-one king of the 11th dynasty does not have an uraeus while Amenmhet I, the first king of the twelfth dynasty ruling from 1991-1962 BC has an uraeus. However, an ivory label on the sole of King Den’s (~ 3000 BC) sandal shows clearly an ureaus on the head of a striking wrestler. There might have been a time when uraeus was not used (like now)

Senusret III was (1878-1839 BC) was the fifth monarch of the Twelfth Dynasty. He seemed to have mongoloid features which may not have been a sculptographic error.

It was during the 12th dynasty that the Hyksos (Greek origin; heqa khasewet = foreign ruler in Egyptian) people of Asian origin invaded the eastern Nile rising to power in the seventeenth century with six kings forming the fifteenth dynasty. The Hyksos people respected native religions and introduced the use of horse and chariot. Ahmose I, founder of the eighteenth dynasty, ruled after his father (or grandfather) rebelled against the Hyksos then ruling Lower Egypt. The similarity between the heads of Mentuhotep and Ahmose is remarkable including the bulge of the eyes. The Uraeus snake is clearly visible on the head of Nefertari (1291-1255 BC), the first of King Ramesses II the great and to Amenope I of around 1000 BC and on to Khleopatra around 50 AD.

So, there you have it. Egypt was ruled by people of all colours. Did they get their influences from others?

A Cobra coiling on the head of Shiva (Fig 3 left) is a very common image in India. The name for the Egyptian asp or cobra is Naja haje, naja being closely akin to the Sanskrit naga. The snake is free and not confined when associated with Shiva. I do not remember seeing any image of Shiva with an uraeus snake. Krishna (right of Fig 3, click to expand) has a head-band which could have evolved in its from from the uraeus; The male Marapachi doll (made out of wood) which is used in the Navarathri (nine nights) festival) (fig 3 centre, click to expand) and used to celebrate harvest festival in South India has an Uraeus-like head-band.

Having a particular is not important. Having a particular symbol is important. How does Obama fit into this?

Barack’s Life --- So Far

Bill Clinton is the first white President who is known as a true black President because he looked after the black constituency to bolster his presidency. Barack Obama may be the black president who was compelled to look more after the interests of the establishment to bolster his attempts for a second term. He is already spending more than four times what other presidents spent for their inauguration.

Barack is no poor black kid from the Ghettos. His grandfather was a domestic servant to the British, which we know in India to be a fortunate situation because the Sahib has contacts. His father, herding goats as a young kid, went to the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii on a scholarship like all good third world boys in those days --- remember Ganguly in Namesake?. There Barack’s father (Fig 4) met his middle class white mother, Ann Dunham. Ann’s father fought in Patton’s army, and Ann’s mother, Madelyn Dunham assembled bombs (?) during WW II and later became one of the first female vice presidents of the Bank of Hawaii.

Barack Jr was conceived three months before their marriage. "That my father looked nothing like the people around me — that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk — barely registered in my mind." Barack Jr would say later.

Ann’s parents got themselves a house in Hawaii (when Hawaii was not part of the federation of USA?). Barack Sr left Ann for studies in Harvard which is any third world student’s ambition. Barack Sr was an atheist (usually influenced by Marx) like all third world kids who would not adopt Christianity. This should have spelt problems but Ann liked all religions. There were other problems. Barack Sr. was already married; his first wife had given him consent to marry a second time. Ann did not know this. Ann stayed behind with her parents in Hawaii. Ann and Barack Sr divorced when Jr was two years old.

Barack Jr. got his whitely acceptable charming looks (“awesome charisma”) from Ann Dunham (Fig 4) who had Irish, English, German and Cherokee blood in her. So America now has at least a partly “red” president. Ann then married a rich Indonesian oil executive. They moved to Indonesia when Barack Jr was 6, studied in Indonesian schools in the Indonesian Language, and then left at the age of ten for Hawaii to live with his grandparents. The elderly Dunhams looked after Obama (whom we will call BHO from now on) like one would a prince.

BHO went to what was once Oahu College and is now Punahou school, the “greenest”, largest independent school in America, having an asteroid named in its honour (115801 Punahou). Academic standards were not the only criterion for admission to the school which had a sports program considered to be the best in USA by Sports Illustrated. Between Punahou school and Columbia College of Columbia University, Obama was for two years at more-than-120-year-old liberal arts Occidental College with a rigorous academic program. Columbia College itself is an exclusive college which was started more than 250 years ago as King’s College before independence by the Church of England and with a Royal Charter from King George II of England, the last English Monarch to lead his troops in person in battle. It was during his reign that England expanded its colonial power clashing with France and India. It was also during this reign that the song “God Save the King” was developed --- perhaps because of the king’s direct participation? BHO majored in political Science and graduated with a B. A. (political science) in 1983 from Columbia.

This made Obama make the statement before his political career (he ended the reign of King George the second of USA) began that
For my grandparents, my admission into Punahou Academy heralded the start of something grand, an elevation in the family status that they took great pains to let everyone know."
Obama himself let everyone know more about the Dunhams.

He joined the Harvard Law School at the age of 27 and graduated magna laude at the age of 30. He “ … saw a degree in law as a vehicle to facilitate better community organization and activism”. He was the first black man to be elected president (with the help of a swing vote from conservatives) of the Harvard Law Review. This election gave him wide publicity and very important consequences for his ambitions.

Obama received a $125,000 advance from publisher Simon and Shuster in 1992 for his autobiography with which he and his wife traveled to Bali for peace and quiet, could not complete an acceptable draft, returned part of his advance payment, came back to Chicago, signed a new contract with Times Book for $ 40,000 and completed the manuscript of his autobiography, Dreams from my Father, in time (Fig 4) when he was around thirty four.

Among important world leaders who wrote their autobiography at Obama’s young age is Adolf Hitler who wrote Mein Kampf around 36-37. It has been written that the
" … autobiographical details in Mein Kampf are often inaccurate, and the main purpose … appears to be to provide a positive image of Hitler."
Obama positioned himself squarely in the center of a relationship between the heritage of his father and his mother as seen from the cover of his autobiography.

Theodore Roosevelt, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi wrote their autobiographies around 55. Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not write one. Harry Truman wrote autobiographical anecdotes between 46 and 84. Kapil Dev brought out his first (of three) autobiography. Diego Maradona at 47.

According to many stylometric analyses by several groups of Ayers’ Fugitive Days (see below) and Obama’s Dreams of My Father there is a strong likelihood that Bill Ayers ghost-wrote or was a “book doctor” for some important section of Obama’s “fulsomely praised” autobiography. This plagiaristic leaning should not surprise ordinary Indians, as their current important people do not have the time that Nehru or Gandhi spent in jail, to write their own books. After all, modern leaders have to master the way they deliver their speech-writers’ speech-scripts, which are now similar to cinema-scripts.

Barack’s Record.

Barack himself would require a lot of wisdom (and luck) to complete his first four years and launch out on the second four years. Obama had his luck when he ran against Alan Keyes for the U.S. Senate. Keyes ran late in the election season because the earlier candidate stepped down because of a sex scandal. It could also have seen some Obama manipulation, since the scandal surfaced when media forced the unsealing of Ryan's confidential divorce records.

BHO does not seem to have all the luck to start his office. To some it could seem that Bush has gone about systematically scorching the ground he has left behind. The economy is down as never before. People who made money through collapse of stock market (manipulated or not) and oil prices have all their cash stacked away so they have nothing to fear. The Israelis have got a strong commitment and an anti-people-of-Palestine pact from USA (Condolezza Rice) that would bind BHO.

Is Barack a wise man (color is not important) or simply a smart man (color could be important for playing one’s cards). He has already used up considerable amount of his share of luck. He has not come up with some dedicated work like a Martin Luther King. He does not have his own dream he could proclaim about. In his autobiography he rooted for change first with
Change will come from a mobilized grass roots. That's what I'll do, I'll organize black folks. At the grass roots. For change.”
The “change” that seems to have got him votes from the white community was the delivery from King George II of USA, not the promise to the black people of his father’s kind. Being a member of a seemingly underprivileged or exploited community always gives avenue for exploitation by members of these communities. Man always looks for the seeming uplifting of people they have downtrodden, although many times with ulterior motives on both sides.

Obama has used various contacts to leverage himself without taking that little element of risk that is beyond what is finally acceptable to the establishment. The information we get about him from the internet are the following:-
Saul David Alinsky (1909-1972). BHO began his career working with “Developing Communities Project” associated with Alinsky, who is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing for acting in common self interest. Alinsky coined the term “Think globally, act locally”. In Alinsky’s final work Rules for Radicals he wrote “The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away".
William Ayers (1944-). Obama has a close association with Billl Ayers (son of wealthy Chicago philanthropist Thomas Ayers, CEO and chairman of the largest electricity unit in Illinois), who was, in the 1960s, a leader of a terrorist Group Weatherman, whose ideology included “Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents”. When Ayers bombed Pentagon, he reminisced “The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.". Probably, it was the same thing the 9/11 terrorists were thinking.
In his book Fugitive Days Ayers has written "There's something about a good bomb … Night after night, day after day, each majestic scene I witnessed was so terrible and so unexpected that no city would ever again stand innocently fixed in my mind.” Ayers is proof that a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) terrorist has hope in USA as he is now a respected Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

BHO was hired as a summer associate in a Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin where he met Michelle his future wife. Sidley Austin is associated with Bill Ayers. His father was a good friend of its owner. Bill Ayers’ wife, a member of Weatherman, was working there when Obama joined.

Jeremiah Wright. BHO has been associated with Jeremiah Wright, a pastor of the predominantly black Trinity United Church of Christ which helped to “recontextualize” the turmoil in the black Christian community --- impossible to be both black and Christian --- that followed Martin Luther King’s death. Jeremiah Wright followed the Black Preaching tradition based on the experiences of discrimination of black slaves and traditionally includes jarring hyperbole. Wright spoke of the United States taking land from the Indian tribes by what he labeled as terror, bombing Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, using state terrorism against Palestinians and South Africa. He urged his parishioners' not to go "from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents."
In one of his sermons shortly after 9/11 he used the phrase “… and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost." BHO began distancing himself from Wright six years later only after 2007 when his candidacy was announced.
Obama balanced himself again between whites and blacks in his A More Perfect Union speech by saying that he would disown the black community if he disowned Wright, “his old uncle”, as he would disown the white community if he disowned his white grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. It seems that a large majority of Wright’s sermons is filled with such “radical” (read true?) pronouncements so that Obama’s attraction to Wright must have been because of the politics. Obama and Michelle Robinson were married by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

BHO is known to kick the ladder he used to climb up (Which Third World Leader doesn’t?). Just as he has dropped Wright he has dropped Howard Dean and Rashidi, who organized the massive internet effort (see my blog Obama! Obama! Obama Mama Mia!”) to get him elected.

So what have we left? If wishes were horses beggars would be kings. If knights became asses Kings would become beggars. Not such a bad thing on hind sight.

Obama said in his A More Perfect Union speech citing Faulkner,
"The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past."
Will he bury the past? Does he need to bury the past when color of the skin is not an issue? Will he become a god-like white or will he be black that absorbs all colours and cannot be stained? Que sera sera.