Chauvinism Worldwide

If the American manufacturing sector revives, well, then probably many new jobs will be created in it and many more goods would be supplied to the American economy by America-based companies and less goods of similar kinds would be imported, say, from China, India or Bangladesh. But American workers would not work for Bangladeshi wages.

Trump blames jobs shipped to factories in China and Mexico for the loss of jobs in Ohio and the rest of the Rust Belt. The biggest cause of plant closures and disappearing factory jobs is new technology and automation forced by multinationals. Trump wants to evict non-Americans not over jobs but mainly for ‘‘cultural purity’’. In truth there is very little new in Trumpsim—it is the same old malady on condition—the condition for ethnic chauvinism.

This ethnic dhanivism is now targeting Rohingya muslims in Burma or what is called Myanmar. Buddhist cleric Wairathu has incited mob violence against the Rohingya Muslims with demands for their expulsion to ‘‘preserve Burmese Culture’’. Army atrocities against the Rohingyas defy description. The Mayanmarese government considers them all Bengali refugees from the period of 1947 partition of India.

Faced with the immediate prospects of genocide by the Burmese army and the international community refusing to recognise it as a war crime as it happened in case of Srilankan Tamils the Rohingyas are now taking up arms.

The Rohingya insurgent group in October 2016, conducted a pre-dawn attack on three Myanmar border guard-posts, in northern Rakhine state, in Myanmar, just over the Naf river in Bangladesh. Armed mainly with knives and sling shots, hundreds of Rohingya militants killed nine Myanmar police officers, and seized weapons and ammunition. As the government in Myanmar, tortures the Rohingyas, the aim of the insurgent group is to protect the Rohingya rights. The beginning of an armed revolution is shifting the landscape for the Rohingya—Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority. The group that attacked the border posts, Harakash al-Yaquin, has several hundred recruits, substantial popular support, and alleged ties to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Muslim countries consider the Rohingyas as the Palestinians of Southeast Asia. Recently there has been a surge of international humanitarian and political support for the Rohingya cause. The Myanmar government has responded to the attacks with sweeping counter-insurgency campaign, that has included the killing of hundreds of civilians, the burning of villages, and the systematic rape of women and girls. About 65,000 Rohingyas are believed to have arrived in Bangladesh since October 2016, joining about a half-million, already living in the refugee camps near Cox Bazar. Rohingya militants continue to attack Myanmar border posts. No doubt countries in the region, India included are wary of escalating violence in their backyards.

The ethnic minority—refugees often fleeing crisis conditions created by the same forces of market also suffered by the ethnic majority—is made a scapegoat.

A person cannot have the luxury of waiting for proper vetting and proper documents if he is like the millions of Syrian war refugees running for lives with only the shirts on their backs, fleeing death and destruction from bombs and methodical ethnic cleansing rampages like the kind the world has been witnessing in East Aleppo and in the state of Rakhine in Burma. Millions of immigrants are being relegated to the status of stateless refugees.

This condition of being stateless as determined by man-made boundaries of statehood, not unfamiliar to Palestinians, is the inhumanity imposed on the Rohingya for generations.

Trump is merely exploiting existing racism and supremacist ideology, the ideology of "America First". It is familiar to African-American Representative John Lewis and anyone who survived the Jim Crow era, the lynchings and ethnic cleansing of a time characterised by the 1921 race riots in Tulsa, Okla., which caused mass migration of African-Americans—plights Rohingya and Syrian refugees are reliving today.

Racism and supremacist ideology were central to Reaganism when Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 Presidential campaign with a rally in Philadelphia, Miss., in Neshoba County—well known for the lynching of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964.

The world is currently undergoing a resurgence in retrogression—an exacerbation of a chronic pre-existing condition of cultural isolationism, and state-sponsored chauvinism.

The power of the idea of statehood created these conditions. The power of the idea of human freedom can transcend it. ooo


Vol. 49, No.35, Mar 5 - 11, 2017