Niranjan Chatterjee’s Weblog

August 1, 2014

Eija-Liisa Ahtila – Themes, techniques and execution of her short films and video-installations

Filed under: American Literature,Personal Thoughts — niranjanchatterjee @ 11:02 pm

Introduction

Eija-Liisa Ahtila stepped across the stately portals of Helsinki University in 1980 and spent five long years there before shifting base to London to spend another five years of studies in London College of Printing, Management College and Film and Video Department. After acquiring enough knowledge in the chosen medium of her future creative endeavours, she crossed the Atlantic to spend another year (1994-95) in Advanced Technology Program in American Film Institute at Los Angeles.

Eija-Liisa has right from the very beginning been deeply influenced and motivated by feminism and till date that has been her staple fare though the method of putting forth her ideas has changed quite a lot. Initially she was deeply influenced by art philosophy and took an active part in analysing and evaluating various themes and thoughts that flitted through these hallowed institutions and enlightened minds. She was always interested in the linkage and apparently indestructible bondage between narrative, language, image and space – the four pillars on which any form of pictorial story telling rested. She was always eager to try and experiment at breaking these seemingly inalienable bonds. She felt these limitations of space and image actually constricted the story to only one plane and one specific set of time coordinates while in reality, denouement of a story, any story for that matter, actually took place simultaneously in many different planes and many disparate sets time coordinates. Any form of storytelling that restricted itself to one time-space plane actually failed to perfectly portray the interplay and tensions between various forces that always keep interacting between one another in any real life situation. Being a feminist to the core, she is also a humanist who has tried and is also now trying to capture this wide canvas of emotions and actions that simultaneously get enacted at many different places and also different points in time. She had tried to break away from the conventionality of two-dimensional storytelling since mid-nineties as she delved deeper into the interrelation between an individual’s body and mind and how an individual perceived his or her identity with respect to his or her body.

But Eija-Liisa knew that primarily one needed a strong story that has to be told, and unless the story was really strong and involved multi-hued human emotions working at various levels, the human element in the entire canvas would become too insignificant to merit any sustained attention. Any story that had scant level of human element and emotional interplay was obviously not worth to be worked upon and told to others.

Hallmark of Ahtila’s creations

Her stories almost always have a strong female protagonist who happens to be the central cog around which the entire drama revolves. The role of an individual and formation of an individual identity and its reactions and tensions with external forces of social and communal identity, and, how an individual is able to strike a balance between the two and survive and how another person fails to do so and disintegrate has often become the staple storyline of her creations. Other forms of human relationships, interpersonal tensions arising out of sexuality, inability to communicate effectively and even desperate attempts at striking some semblance of balance and equilibrium amidst complete disintegration and chaos have sometimes become the mainstay of some of her creations.(Eija-Liisa Ahtila Past Exhibitions)

The other hallmark of her creations is that the stories told by Eija-Liisa are essentially based on her personal experiences or real experiences of others who are either known to her or are complete strangers. These experiences are real at some stage and as the protagonists start telling their stories, they liberally paint them with the rainbow of imagination, but the underlying reality oftentimes lend a chilling sensation to the entire episode. The beauty and innovativeness of this film director lies in simultaneously unfolding the story at different planes of reality where individual experiences merge with something larger and more sweeping than petty personal feelings. Nobody before her possibly thought of juxtaposing the micro and the macro at the same place and observing the situation through two completely different eye-pieces. This ability to break the stricture of mono-vision obviously lends a completely new dimension and paradigm to what might be an ordinary episode in the life of an ordinary individual.

Eija-Liisa has consciously attempted to break away from the accepted forms of storytelling and has also tried to shatter all illusions attached to the medium of celluloid by making the narrator and even the movie camera visible in one of her videos. This creates a stunning impact on the minds of the viewers and conveys the sense of urgency in one fell swoop. Eija-Liisa has been able to effectively combine separate mediums and created a completely different medium that she can rightly claim to be entirely her own. She uses video, still photography, film, installations, text and performance to create a unique experience that is very difficult to express in words as the related emotions work simultaneously at so many different planes that it often becomes impossible for the viewer to be able to rationally judge as to where one ends and where the next begins, or what happened to be primary emotion and what grew out of it. A rapidly changing kaleidoscope of strong emotions keep tugging at the base of the hearts of those who see her creations and one becomes wonderstruck at the enormity of the all encompassing canvas.

All this is accentuated by the delicately nuanced breaking down of the barriers of time and place that is so very typical of all creations of this amazing artist. She has also tried to breakdown the apparently unbreakable bond between language and visual fiction. She has introduced those high pitched intonations that are so very common in TV commercials in her 90 second films where the characters do not speak to each other through conventional dialogues but use the shrill monologues accompanied by equally high pitched music with heavy beats to speak out their mind. This, some critics was a very intelligent and subtle way to highlight the alienation and inherent solitude of the characters of the story, but whatever might have been the intention of the film director, the impact has been stupendous.(More on Ahtila’s Works)

An Overview of Ahtila’s Works

Eija-Liisa Ahtila has consciously tried to merge time, space and create a blur the distinctions between past, present and future and also between illusion and reality by merging documentary and narrative styles of storytelling. She has also tried to weave seamlessly acting, performance and straightforward narrations of real experiences of genuine persons and endeavoured to create a continuous flow of uninterrupted emotions that join together and form a unique experience which hovers between real and surreal and creates a profoundly disturbing experience that forces the viewers to think and most obviously re-evaluate the paradigms of existence and reality. Her creations almost always carry a subtly nuanced, almost inaudible message that somehow become excruciatingly loud and force us to reconsider so many things we thought as inviolable laws of nature. Her choice of subjects almost invariable relate to broken or strained relationships, failing families and gradual drifting away of individuals into their own private islands of almost dysfunctional existence.

In Consolation Service, for example, Ahtila has not only tried to blur the distinction between fiction and narrative by making both the narrator and the camera visible, but also creates a very eerie situation where a shiver almost imperceptibly flows down our spine as we see a young husband along with a few of his friends slip through a crack and drown in a frozen lake as they were walking across its frozen surface after finalising an acrimonious divorce settlement with his wife. The frozen expanse and the sudden disappearance through ice somehow act as a sledgehammer to convey the death of a relationship and the futility of their years of togetherness that has resulted in the birth of the child. This particular creation by Ahtila is available in two forms – a 35 mm film or a two screen DVD installation. According to Ahtila, while the right hand screen drives the narrative, the left hand screen provides the landscape and other emotional subtexts which build up to crescendo of emotions which is peaked by an imaginary visitation of the disembodied husband to bid a final farewell.(Searle)

The other equally phenomenal work of this master creator is The Wind where she displayed the troubled mental condition of the protagonist without ever degenerating into mindless and unbridled hysteria. The film spans 14 minutes and is an excerpted version of a 55 minute long single screen film called Love Is a Treasure where the wind serves as a chilling metaphor for mental illness that is not visible like say a cut or a burn or a swelling or any other physical ailment but whose impact can be felt by both the afflicted and those around that person. Indeed it is highlighted when the protagonist queries where is the coming from only to get a reply from a disembodied voice that it is coming from her imagination. It is a three screen presentation where the mental trauma and turmoil of the young protagonist is portrayed simultaneously on three screens by filming the same scene from three different angles. The viewer gets a chance to view each scene from the perspective of his or her choice and the underlying fluidity of perspectives that is so very common in all forms of art and communication is subtly communicated. Mental illness too, after all, is nothing but a situation of twisted perspectives and this message has been very effectively conveyed through this short film. The situation is further crystallised through the superbly nuanced collage of presumably true incidents and fantasy where a young and handsome man arrives to iron the newspapers of Susanna, the mentally troubled protagonist, but refuses any advances made by her. One also recalls how a dozen or so skinny girls invade her apartment to show off their bodies almost instantly after she complains about her generous proportions. The humorous side of Ahtila cannot be overlooked as repeated cuts of a photograph of puffer fish (it inflates its body to scare away predators) flash on the screens as Susanna whines about her rotund shape.

The other creation that must be mentioned while having an overview of Ahtila’s creations is If 6 was 9. The title incidentally is taken from a Jimmy Hendrix song and the creation happens to be collated from real life interviews of five teenage girls of Helsinki. They have precious little to do at home and generally while away their time by discovering their sexuality and exchanging personal experiences (mostly sexual where some are real and rest imaginary) and generally creating a personal fantasy world sheltered from harsh reality. The desire to be sheltered from reality is highlighted by one of the characters claiming that she is 38 years old while looking not even a day older than her friends.(Featurette: EIJA-LIISA AHTILA)

Projected simultaneously on three screens, it catches multiple perspectives of a single scene and by occasionally blacking out of one or two screens to increase focus or projecting a panoramic scene spanning three screens Ahtila could create an environment where the multidimensional aspect of reality is well and truly conveyed to the audience. This has been brought into even sharper perspective in Today where three screens are positioned in an open ended enclosure and activated one after the other showing three different truths spaced by intervals of time. The discontinuity of sequence by bringing past present and future in one extended collage Ahtila weaves a web of illusion that is totally surreal but fully entrenched in reality since narratives purely depend on the perspective of the narrator.

But Ahtila is not only a videographer; she has creations of still photos too that have created similar waves in the world of both connoisseurs and lay viewers. The first series to create waves was Dog Bites that spanned over a five year period (1992-97) and consisted of a suit of eight colour photographs of a nude female in canine postures. The stylish copper coloured hair and the canine pose somehow brought to sharp focus how helpless an individual is when faced with a continuous barrage of advertisement and publicity about what we should wear eat and even what we should think and how we should think. In spite of all tall claims of individuality and individual freedom to make choices, a modern day citizen is in effect nothing but a chained dog in the hands of state and multinational corporate houses.

She also tried her hand at advertisements and cartoons in print media that ran for a week. The advertisements dealt with pressing environmental issues and attempted to make the readers more aware of the impending environmental catastrophe that simply cannot be avoided by ignoring the reality or sweeping away the stark facts from eyesight. The cartoons were aimed at children and dealt with skin care items for them. Her seemingly limitless ability to convey a serious and contemporary message in the garb of light hearted and almost inconsequential banter spilled over into three ultra short (90 seconds each) black and white vignettes – Me/We, Okay and Gray where the artist, it seemed, has finally been able to master the art of juxtaposing the micro and the macro in the same canvas. In Gray, she showed how three women kept discussing the personal trivial woes even while discussing a mammoth nuclear accident that has occurred just across the border.(Vetrocq)

Technique of Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Early video artists as Nam June Paik and Dan Graham preferred video for its immediacy and their work was more renowned for their news value rather than artistic elegance which, nonetheless, was present in ample doses but the finished product surely lacked the plush feeling of a film. During 90s of the last century, artists as Matthew Barney and Shirin Neshat tried to work in a medium that is a hybrid of both and started calling it video installation. Eija-Liisa Ahtila is the best known proponent of this medium and she actually shoots on film and then converts the footage to video for DVD projection and the final product is neither film nor video, it could at best be called filmic digital art.

In Consolation Service, Ahtila projects two images one beside the other on a white wall and what in cinematic language is termed as reaction shots is projected on a separate screen while action continues in the other. So, while main action continues in ne screen, another perspective of the reality is provided in another screen in the form of close ups of faces, furniture or anything that the directors finds suitable or interesting.

However, one must also mention other artists that have used multi-screen projection as a distinct form of art and a separate genre of expression. Notable among these artists are Frank Gillette and Ira Schneider who presented way back in 1969 their nine-screen video projection Wipe Cycle. More recently, Mike Figgis has made a full-fledged film Time Code that requires a four screen projection system. Ahtila has moved closer to the basic intent of video art in Me/We, Okay and Gray where black and white presentations more in line with television commercials tend to give an urgency and immediacy to the tales of three disparate groups separated by a few decades. (Rush)

Ahtila (as well as another Finnish artist Salla Tykka) has used multiple screens to usher in a multiplicity of dimensions as action takes place all around the viewer and sometimes a viewer has to move around a bit to catch a glimpse of the latest bit on a monitor placed a little on the other side. Sometimes the viewer is provided a sofa to lounge on and catch all the action just by glancing from one direction to the other with a slight shift of the head.

Ahtila takes full advantage of multi screen projection by involving the viewers physically in viewing the film and almost always the viewers get caught somewhere in the middle while traversing from one screen to the other and always suffer from the anxiety of lagging behind. The viewers always remain confused about what, where and when and in a way experience the alienation and confusion faced by most of Ahtila’s protagonists.

The other specialty of Ahtila’s creations are that with the exception of Consolation Service, admission in any other screening is not timed meaning anybody can enter anytime and the experience can never be compared to watching TV or going to a cinema. One enters the gallery not knowing at what point in the narrative one is and is also not aware whether what is unfolding right now is a part of a solution or a part of a problem. The experience is very much akin to real life where we are almost perpetually caught in the eddy of time that swirls viciously to make our life take on multiple hues. (Archer)

Conclusion

But it must be said that very few artists have been able to exploit this aspect video installations and among those that have, the very best is undoubtedly Eija-Liisa Ahtila.


 

References

Archer, Michael. “ArtForum.” 2002. Eija-Liisa Ahtila – Reviews. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_3_41/ai_94122705&gt;.

“Eija-Liisa Ahtila Past Exhibitions.” 2001. Arte Contemporanea. <http://www.paolocurti.com/ahtila/ahtila.htm&gt;.

“Featurette: EIJA-LIISA AHTILA.” 2008. SiouxWIRE. <http://www.siouxwire.com/2008/04/featurette-eija-liisa-ahtila.html&gt;.

“More on Ahtila’s Works.” 2001. Arte Contemporanea. <http://www.paolocurti.com/ahtila/ahtila2.htm&gt;.

Rush, Michael. “Art in America.” 2000. findarticles.com. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_9_88/ai_65069543?tag=rbxcra.2.a.44&gt;.

Searle, Adrian. “The never-ending story.” 2002. guardian.co.uk. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2002/apr/30/artsfeatures1&gt;.

Vetrocq, Marcia E. “Art in America.” 2002. http://www.findarticles.com. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_10_90/ai_92352649?tag=rbxcra.2.a.22&gt;.

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Biblical Films

Filed under: Personal Thoughts,Political Musings,social awareness — niranjanchatterjee @ 10:56 pm

Biblical films are more related to pomp rather than any serious spirituality

The decade of fifties saw a flurry of Biblical films that captivated audience imagination in a vice like grip while running to packed houses for months together and filling in the coffers of the producers like never before. Right from 1949 that saw the release of ‘Samson and Delilah’, the spectacle continued in ‘Quo Vadis’ and ‘David and Bathsheba’ each following the other in quick succession in the year 1951 which witnessed the release of both these films. ‘The Robe’ came two years later in 1953 and all time favorite ‘The Ten Commandments’ set the auditoriums in ruptures in 1956 with another film of epical proportions, ‘Ben-Hur’ almost repeating the feat of its immediate predecessor in 1959. This decade saw some of the most breathtaking spectacles enacted on silver screen and have left an indelible impression on our collective imagination and psyche. Easter weekends almost seemed incomplete without a mandatory viewing of at least one of these Biblical spectaculars. But a nagging doubt still remains: do these films really give a fillip to our latent spirituality or do they simply remain at the levels of audiovisual extravaganza that they were possibly meant to be. 

There is no doubt that Hollywood surely had business in mind when these films were made (though there could be other reasons too, but they were way secondary to the profit motive of producers) and producers might have thought that a mix of ancient fables of pomp and glory of Rome and Egypt might be made all the more attractive if wrapped up in a superficial package of Biblical tales. The promise of extravaganza would certainly attract average cine goers who throng the theaters in search of entertainment and the hint of Bible would also ensnare the religious and spiritual minded who would have otherwise given the film a go by. Such a unique opportunity of captivating almost entire population was perhaps too lucrative a proposition for the Hollywood mandarins to ignore.

This thesis will most certainly be debated by those that feel that these films indeed resurrected our interest in the Biblical period and rekindled the dying embers of spirituality that were threatened first by the economic hardships of Great Depression and then by the orgy of destruction of World War II. But an analysis of the most representative film of this period – ‘The Ten Commandments’ –  encourages one take a contrarian view.

Cecil B. DeMille, the soul behind this epic film, was no doubt a religious person as he felt that every individual was “entrusted at birth with a precious fragment of the Divine Mind to develop for good or evil” (Hollywood Citizen News 1958) . But he felt that in order to assist a person in choosing the good over evil, the evil should be painted in its most tempting colors as was evident in the scene of almost a group orgy at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses is alone at the top of the mount collecting the Ten Commandments. We see voluptuous semi-clad women sensuously cavorting while their lustrous manes swayed from side to side and fountains of wine being sprinkled from overflowing carafes, all set in a riotous flood of bright colors made all the more enticing by the beats of thumping pulsating music. Evil never appeared so tempting, did it? With the audience leering at semi-exposed female forms and cheering lustily at each audacious and raunchy dance moves, the producers sure laughed all the way to their banks and in the midst of this din and bustle one completely forgot the Biblical dictum ‘Meek shall inherit the earth’! (Harvey 1966)

When Moses descends from the mount and castigates the frolicking masses in a stentorian tone he sounds almost as hollow as a modern day evangelists who come on television suggesting us to leave our sinful materialistic ways and return to the inviting arms of Christ. Indeed, Charlton Heston sounded almost comical, especially in the midst of so much gaiety, and was almost an unavoidable impediment as audiences would surely not have complained had the dancing and drinking continued for another hour.

We might look at another example of how tempting evil could be if we focus on the lascivious mannerisms of Nefertiti. She is the temptress who tries to weave her magic of lust and physical pleasures around Moses in a bid to hold him back. She cannot think of anything beyond lust and carnal pleasures and as Moses spurns her, the only explanation for Moses’ behavior that comes to her mind is the presence of another woman in his life. However much does DeMille try to paint her in shades of grey, her physical charm and raw innuendoes of carnal invitations always engross the audience feel really letdown as she gradually disappears from the centre stage of action. A question that almost inevitably crops up in the mind of every rational viewer is the necessity of introducing a vamp in the screenplay in the guise of Nefertiti. Following the age old time proven grammar of commercial cinema where the hero remains impervious and unaffected by the guiles and seductions of the eternally devilish vamp, Moses also renders the popular dialogue “there is a beauty beyond the senses,” almost in cue with what another hero in another romantic film would have done. The spirituality of Bible remains an orphan lost in this unabashed display of pleasure and pomp!

Any film requires a villain too; a person who would be almost an equal to the hero with the only difference being in the latter’s obeisance to evil while the hero remains steadfast in his pursuit of the good. The film enlivens up at the continuing duel between the hero and the villain. ‘The Ten Commandments’ too has a fabulous villain in the form of Ramses who is equal in every respect to Moses except his lack of belief in the ‘real’ God.  The pomp and splendor of Pharaoh’s palaces and swagger and flourish of Ramses surely makes an engaging spectacle and when Moses wins his battle over the latter purely on the strength of his virtue and nothing else, it becomes another example of wish fulfillment of ordinary people that throng the theaters to see on silver screen what they always dream about but are never ever able to taste in real life. Such tales of wish fulfillment have been a staple diet of commercial cinema since its very inception. ‘The Ten Commandments’ was no exception to this category and had its fair share of various ingredients to lure audiences to the cavernous darkness of cinema halls. Religion was simply a convenient label that DeMille wrapped on his product to make it look even glossier and force some members of the audience to become misty eyed.

Any discussion of ‘The Ten Commandments’ will remain incomplete if a reference to the famous scene of crossing the Red Sea is not made. Parting of the Red Sea was made out to be the focal point of the entire film; a final proof that the will and power of God is beyond the comprehension of ordinary mortals. But the scene gets reduced to some not at all convincing special effects and almost childish attempts to raise the tension through overwhelming and exceedingly loud music. God surely is nowhere to be found in the entire sequence and while some part of the audience sits wide eyed in wonder, the other more discerning part guffaws silently at the commercial clumsiness of the whole scene. (Bergman 1971)

Thus, it can be conclusively stated that Biblical films and especially ‘The Ten Commandments’ has very little spirituality in it and is nothing better than a visual and musical feast with religion used only as a convenient prop.

References

Bergman, Andrew. We’re in the Money. New York: Harper and Row, 1971.

Harvey, Cox. “How to Kill God.” Look 30, October 18, 1966: 104.

Hollywood Citizen News.March 24, 1958: 14.

Bauman, modernity and holocaust

Filed under: Personal Thoughts,Political Musings,social awareness — niranjanchatterjee @ 10:54 pm

Bauman – his life and times

Bauman, a Polish Jew has had a very colourful life that covered a wide assortment of jobs that included active military service in Soviet Army. He was a communist right through his youth and rose steadily through the ranks in military intelligence service till his father (he was also a non-practising Jew) approached Israeli embassy for emigration to Israel. Though Bauman never shared his father’s Zionist ideology he had to face the brunt of official apathy towards Jews and was all of a sudden dishonourably discharged from service. This quite obviously caused a severe strain in the relationship father and son.

Out of job, Bauman had enough spare time in his hands and completed his masters in philosophy from Warsaw University where he remained as a lecturer till 1968. With the outbreak of public protests in Poland against the ruling communist government and subsequent fanning of anti-Semitic sentiments by the government to deflect public criticism, Bauman shifted to Leeds University after briefly teaching in Tel Aviv University.

Bauman faced anti-Semitic sentiments twice in his life and both were from non-Nazi state machinery. This experience led him to form an opinion that modernity, bureaucracy and social exclusion creates a situation where an extreme phobia against those social groups that cannot be neatly categorised and slotted into predetermined and well established hierarchical superstructure prevalent in the society. This in essence is the beginning of a potential holocaust that will inevitably result if this xenophobic attitude towards those social sub-groups that cannot be effectively analysed according to existing social norms is not brought under control. Such social mores can be brought under control only if the authority is aware of the potential dangers and initiates strong measures to counter such a mass phobia against so-called outsiders. History, however, has witnessed several instances of cynical exploitation of the deep seated distrust among Europeans against so-called killers of Christ by governments of several European nations, Poland and Soviet Russia being the main culprits, to further their narrow and selfish class interests. Bauman has worked extensively on these issues where he has clearly laid bare the intrinsic interconnection between modern society where people wilfully forego several facets of personal freedom (both in the realm of actions and in thoughts) and the inherent distrust of the ‘outsider’ who does not conform to the established mores of the society. His contention is that mass extermination of ‘outsiders’ is an inbuilt mental precondition of modern man. Jews have always been the classic example of ‘outsiders’ in Europe and have been subjected to government sponsored persecution through ages with such mindless cruelty reaching a nadir with holocaust during Second World War.

The connotations of the term Holocaust

At this stage perhaps one needs to get a clear notion of what exactly a holocaust is. When in the later stage of Second World War it came to light that Nazi Germany has embarked on a systematic annihilation of Jews with a view to ethnically cleanse the society of Semitic population, the use of this biblical term was thought to be appropriate as there did not exist any term that would succinctly describe this mass murder of an entire tribe. It was no wonder that there did not exist any term as never before in the history of mankind was such a well planned genocide ever executed by any authority in any corner of the world.

Nazi rulers contended that the lives of the Jews, much like lives of Gypsies, homosexuals and those who were mentally ill or retarded, were devoid of any positive value and were leading a life that was unwertes Leben (a life unworthy of living). All these categories did not qualify to be members of the Neue Ordnung and thus did not deserve to live.

Bauman contends that holocaust and anti-Semitism has not died down with the fall of Nazi Germany. The phobia of interacting with anyone who cannot be categorised with consummate ease and the all consuming desire to instil an absolute and preordained sense of order and harmony in social structure is so overwhelming in modern societies that another holocaust can happen anytime in any part of the modern world.

The world has indeed witnessed many well planned genocides after the one perpetrated by Nazi Germany. The Kurds in Iraq, southerners in the Sudan, Tutsi in Rwanda, Hutus in Burundi, Hindus and other Bengalis in East Pakistan, the Ache in Paraguay were victims of genocide during the second half of twentieth century. The overwhelming cruelty in genocide is reflected in classifying a group as evil and mere membership of that group becomes a sufficient cause for getting earmarked for capital punishment with neither any scope of putting forward arguments in self defence nor any chance of judging the merits and demerits of each case individually. The denial of the victim a right to respond or appeal against the punishment being meted out makes a genocide or holocaust so odious, reprehensible and utterly abominable.

Modernity and Holocaust

The difference between mass murders and holocaust is apparent to any student of holocaust.

The sheer number of people that were exterminated by the Nazis implied a well planned state involvement. Nearly six million Jews were annihilated by the Nazis. If a hundred Jews were killed per day it would have taken at least 200 years to kill such a large number of people. But it took less than two years to conduct this pogrom of unimaginable proportions. This simply was not the result of mob fury or massive backlash but was the handiwork of modern technological inventions, meticulous division of work, subordination of individual ethics and morality to societal definition of moral and immoral (much akin to subordination of individual goals in favour of group goals that always happens in a corporate setting), strictly overlooked and managed by an efficient and goal driven ambitious bureaucracy. The holocaust was thus made possible by the efficiency of a modern state that had all the trappings of enormous regimented power and the focus to achieve a well defined target. (Goldhagen, 1996)

There is popular notion among many historians that there was a complete breakdown of all norms of civilisation in Nazi Germany that allowed such a monstrosity as holocaust to happen. But Bauman analysed the whole scenario and concluded civilisation was never temporarily suspended in Germany through sustained anti-Semitic propaganda.

Civilisation, according to Bauman does not necessarily impose the pacifying shackles of morality on us without which, many would love to believe, all humans would be raving ranting beasts ready to pounce one another and tear each other into shreds. Morality, according to Bauman, has a biological origin whereby we feel “animal pity” towards a fellow sufferer; civilisation actually tries to overcome this sense of morality instead of instilling it and lays down its own set of rules that suit the convenience of those in power and authority. These rules might be extensions of existing norms of “animal pity” but, more often than not, rules formulated by civilisation run at right angles to the biological manifestations of morality. If this was not the case, so many organised mass slaughters of human beings could never have taken place in an otherwise civilised world many years after the embers of Second World War had died down and remnants of Nazism buried deep down under a resurgent and unified modern Germany. (Bauman Z. , Modernity and the Holocaust, 1989)

Actually ordinary Germans were kept in dark about both Kristallnacht and the infamous Final Solution. Himmler had reportedly complained that though more than eighty million Germans agreed on the basic premise of exterminating Jews for the overall benefit of German race, each one of them thought that the better elements among the otherwise damned clan of Jews should be saved and every German had a personal plan of saving those Jews that were supposedly better than the average Jews. (Bauman Z. , 2000)

Civilisation attempts to do things on a grand scale and the bureaucracy involved in Final Solution successfully managed to distance the actual act of mass murder from those that perpetrated it by distributing the blame across so many persons that each one of them never felt the “animal pity” they should have felt had they personally slaughtered even a single Jew. The moral vacuum created beneath a verbose technical and bureaucratic vocabulary to enable normal human beings to murder fellow human beings was possible because of a civilisation that ensured each member did what the authority thought proper. (Bauman Z. , Modernity and Ambivalence, 1991)

Bauman thus contends that holocaust can take place anywhere anytime as long as civilisation exists. Indeed Bauman and his fellow travellers believe that morality precedes civilisation and has an existence independent of all forms of civilisation and continues to survive in spite of best efforts of all forms of civilisation to completely crush it. (Bauman Z. , The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later, 1993)

 

Reference

Bauman, Z. (2000). Ethics of Individuals. Canadian Journal of Sociology, 25(1) , pp. 83-96.

Bauman, Z. (1991). Modernity and Ambivalence. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bauman, Z. (1989). Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bauman, Z. (1993). The Holocaust: Fifty Years Later. In D. Grinberg (ed.), The Holocaust Fifty Years After. Warsaw: Jewish Historical Institute of Warsaw.

Goldhagen, D. (1996). Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Boston: Little Brown.

American Fifth Column – A Study of Fifth Columnists in America

Filed under: Personal Thoughts,Political Musings,social awareness — niranjanchatterjee @ 10:50 pm

American Fifth Column

Fifth Column – A Definition

This word had its origin in Spanish Civil War when an army general said that he had a fifth column working inside Madrid as he led four columns of troops towards that city. This expression is generally ascribed to those groups of people who collude with external enemies to bring about a downfall of their country of residence. When we talk of American fifth column we generally refer to those groups or people who work towards undermining the very basic foundations on which the entire American society is based. Thus, any person or group of persons residing in America and wanting to harm the tenets of personal liberty, democracy, free market and entrepreneurship – the vital pillars of American society, can be termed as fifth column.

Setting out the perimeter of discussion

United States has been involved in a global war on terror since the demolition of twin towers of WTC and the term fifth column has of late acquired a more pointed and specific accent to refer to all those that have sympathies for or support by providing propagandist assistance, logistics or financial help to the jihadists and all other so-called liberals and ultra leftists that have a common professed aim of destroying United States of America.

Though the jihadists and the ultra leftists have practically nothing in common, they are united in their shared hatred towards America whom they view as a greedy superpower that is determined to establish its hegemony across the globe and lay sole claim to the world’s stock of petroleum – the crucial source of energy in modern day world.

A point that needs to be highlighted and emphasized at this juncture is that a fifth columnist must essentially reside in America and be a US citizen. So, in our subsequent discussion we will restrict ourselves to only those persons that satisfy this basic criterion.

But before we focus on specific individuals and groups, we should get a clear idea about the activities that these fifth columnists resort to on furthering their agenda and the platforms they use for this nefarious objective.

Iraq War – A convenient platform used by American fifth columnists

A distinction must be made right in the beginning between an individual’s right to freedom of speech and the freedom to air one’s opinion about the Iraq war and the diatribe and innuendos that are being systematically and viciously aired by these despicable fifth columnists.

As an independent American, a person has every right to feel that the country simply waded into the Iraq conflict without showing enough patience or without properly exploring other peaceful alternatives. Or, a person has every right to subscribe to the opinion that the entire military adventure was a very big mistake that distracted both, focus and resources from the more important and urgent task of hunting out bin Laden and destroying the international terror network of Al Qaida.

As a result of this undue haste and gross mistake in taking foreign policy decisions, America is now precariously poised with twin wars one of which it could have very well avoided.

If an American holds this view, it can never be construed that this person is anti-American or does not have the best interests of the country in mind. On the contrary, this person might be a true patriot who never thinks of even the slightest harm of homeland and genuinely feels that the Iraq imbroglio has been an unwelcome strain on America. Such a person can never be labeled a fifth columnist. (Perazzo, Platforms of the Enemy, 2007)

How can we identify a fifth columnist?

Those that detest Iraq war have full freedom to publicly air their opposition but if they liken United States with Nazi Germany and try to paint both countries with the same brush, then surely there is a genuine problem with such persons as they are attempting to denigrate the very country that has provided all the facilities and infrastructure for their progress and development. Some of these people even go to the extent of sympathizing with the opponents of United States and try to describe them as oppressed and wronged against rather than evil people that are actively planning for the downfall of the homeland.

By cunningly trying to garner sympathy for those being punished by America for their wayward and potentially harmful activities, these Americans actually try to create an impression in the minds of the general public that as America is the illegitimate aggressor, it deserves to be defeated and truth and rectitude will prevail if indeed it happens. Sustained anti-American publicity of this nature is bound to have some effect on the public psyche and sooner rather than later some people will actually start believing in such type of insidious propaganda.

People that are involved in such type of anti-American activities are members of the fifth column and keep on acting surreptitiously but continuously towards defeating the very country where they live.

These people usually try to paint themselves in pristine white color and attempt to position themselves as champions of human rights. You will always find them championing the cause of the so-called downtrodden irrespective of whether the downtrodden have broken the law of the land or not. And , there is one other trait that is common to all these fifth columnists, that is, all of them have hugely “loud” voices and have enough contacts in the media to make themselves heard all over the place. These people assiduously cultivate these contacts and make full use of them to mislead and confuse the general public.

You will always find these fifth columnists right in the first row of any meeting in support of illegal immigrants waxing eloquent on their plight and urging the government to step forward and save them from imminent extinction. You may even find these chatterboxes breathing fire and brimstone in an anti-gun rally and you would most surely find them in all rallies convened to protest against the Iraq war.

Psychology of Fifth Columnists

But you may wonder why these people, otherwise perfectly normal, should engage in such illogical and patently dangerous activities. The answer to that pertinent question of yours is these people have been indoctrinated in the principles of socialism and communism and they feel that the entire capitalist structure of the United States is an evil system that is based in oppression and denial of rightful dues of the toiling masses by those handful that own the means of production.

Jaundiced as these people are owing to their indoctrination in the perverted philosophy of socialists and communists, they simply do not acknowledge the simple and well established fact that the prosperity and abundance in the United States have come from the honest labor and unwavering entrepreneurial spirit of its founding fathers. The sincere toil and perspiration of the earliest settlers was carried on through generations of honest Americans and that has resulted in this country becoming the strongest and most prosperous in the whole world. Its foundations were built on enterprise and not on deceit and theft as these leftists would want us to believe.

The most disconcerting fact is that these fifth columnists have spread their evil network far and deep and happen to dominate the education system of the entire country and are busy indoctrinating impressionable minds in the senseless logic of socialism and communism. They are very stealthily and on the sly systematically altering the history of our nation to deliberately stymie the genuine story of how free spirit and enterprise built the America as it is today and are peddling their pet and highly convoluted theories of “cultural diversity” and “social awareness”. These fifth columnists are very difficult and hence are the most dangerous of the lot. It becomes almost impossible to identify a Ward Churchill or a Jay Bennish and even if identified it becomes extremely difficult to take punitive steps as they are almost immediately enveloped by their fellow fifth columnists in an artificial halo of a martyr being persecuted by an all powerful, insensitive and remorseless system. So, the basic issue that these fifth columnists are working against the country and should be severely punished gets buried under the rubbles of propaganda hyperbole.

Things have become even more dangerous as these days these leftists have found an unlikely ally in rabidly fundamental Islamic jihadists that consider America as the epitome of evil and blame it for all the problems that plague the world. These jihadists hiding in their caves in remote areas in Afghanistan-Pakistan border are continually plotting the downfall of this great nation in cohort with the fifth columnists that are safely cocooned within the free democratic environment of American society all the while pretending to be champions of human rights and flag bearers of cutting edge progressive philosophy.

The reality on the ground and immediate Steps that need to be taken

So, with external enemies going from strength to strength (some say that these jihadists have already acquired the “dirty bomb” and are simply waiting for an opportune moment to set it off to create a holocaust that would mightily dwarf the death toll during demolition of twin towers in 2001) and fifth columnists sitting pretty, America indeed has very little time to wake up to this imminent danger and act proactively and decisively.

In a newspaper report a few days ago one came to know that CIA has warned President Obama about the danger that can emanate from British born Muslims that enjoy a visa less entry in United States. Though one has got nothing against this system of visa less entry in United States which is also mutually provided by Britain and, more importantly, Muslims per se are in no way disruptive and have criminal intentions (in fact, a huge majority among them are highly contributive citizens to all communities they reside in) still some of the fringe elements have very deep ties with jihadists and they may freely enter United States to let loose the fury of hell as they had done about a decade ago. What exactly should be done to avert this tinder box situation is surely the job of state leaders and central administration but one thing is absolutely sure – America is no longer safe and all efforts must be done to save the homeland. The danger is no longer the hallucinations of a few xenophobic minds; it is very real and imminent if a lid is not put on it right away.

It is a well documented fact that Imam Umar Abdul Jalil, a chaplain in Gotham jail tried to incite and mislead a meeting of Muslim students in Tucson by wrongly informing them that Muslims were being subjected to physical torture in New York City prisons. In his speech he also tried to equate White House with Nazi Germany’s headquarters and spewed venom against the state of America.

Even if the diatribe against White House is allowed and tolerated under the pretext of freedom of speech, can the willful incitement of young American Muslims against the state be excused? Surely not, most right thinking and patriotic Americans would say, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg after suspending (with pay, could you believe it!) Jalil briefly for a fortnight reinstated the rogue chaplain saying that we should not become xenophobic in our war on terror and must never trample upon multiculturalism which happens to be one of the foundation stones of the throbbing and vibrant American society.

While nobody has anything against multiculturalism, one must draw a line if someone tries to take undue advantage of the inherent openness of American society and tolerant American attitude and tries to drive in wedges and create fissures in this multihued kaleidoscope that is famously described as the ‘melting pot’. The likes of Imam Umar Abdul Jalil must be stiffly penalized to prevent this type of subversive activities else America will have to deal with repetitions of catastrophes as the destruction of WTC.

Al Qaida has long considered American prisons as fertile grounds for fresh recruitment and a recent discovery of a prison-based terrorist cell in Torrance, California proved to be true what many people had feared so long. A homegrown jihadist would be able to slip through dragnets meant to spot and isolate foreign jihadists and it would be that much easier for Al Qaida or Lashkar e Taiba to materialize their heinous plans on American soil.

These American jihadists have formed an organization called Jamiyyat Ul Islam is Saheeh that has the professed objective of destroying military bases, churches and government offices in and around Los Angeles. The leader of this organization is Kevin James who had converted to Islam in 2004 while in jail. His close associate Haney Washington got freed in parole in later part of 2004 and committed no less than eleven robberies in southern part of California to raise the funds necessary to carry on their nefarious activities.

While doing a thorough investigation about the roots of this jihadist cell, federal agents found that Kevin James and his associates were influenced in jail by government employed Muslim chaplains professing allegiance to the radical strain of Islam patronized by Saudi Arabia. Without going into any sort of discussion about the merits and demerits of this particular school of Islam, one can come to at least one conclusion and that is, prison inmates should be shielded from the influence of Muslim chaplains to prevent growth of any more homegrown jihadists and government should do a really thorough background check of these chaplains before employing them. These people are a danger to the American society and should be dealt with accordingly.

Instead of trying to adopt a holier than thou approach and waving the flag of First Amendment in an attempt to don the cloak of the greatest liberal of them all, administrators and lawmakers should burn midnight oil to chalk out the exact details of how to tackle the external enemy, ordinary citizens should from now on be extra vigilant about the nefarious designs of the pernicious fifth columnists, resisting them and exposing them whenever possible. It might lead to a lot of hue and cry, especially given the enormous clout these traitors have in the media, but honest and sincere American citizens should not be deterred by it and carry on their rightful fight to save the homeland.

This is no way is an incitement to unlawful violence or an attempt to forcibly silence these traitors as that would go against the tenets of a free society that we are so proud of. This wakeup call is actually for all of us so that we can face the divisive propaganda of these groups and not only be not swayed by it but also frame suitable responses wherever possible.

The Muslim chaplains and the newly converted Muslims can be identified and suitable steps might be taken to tackle them but the fifth columnists that remain firmly ensconced in American society enjoying all the benefits this great country has to offer while working assiduously against it need further alacrity to be unmasked. These are the people that are at the forefront of all so-called liberal forums and always the first to uphold the rights of the downtrodden. These people are held in high regard by the society, or should I say, media and any word spoken against them is treated with a chorus of disdain by fellow travelers of these peddlers of hatred. So, it is necessary for all right thinking Americans to have a clear idea about who these fifth columnists are. There are of course scores of others that are equally pernicious, but an effort has been made to highlight those that stand out by their acts of anti-Americanism. (Howard, 2005)

Profiles of American Fifth Columnists

There are quite a few high profile fifth columnists holding forth in American society and it would do no harm if the general public also gets to know the real face behind the façade that they so carefully put on during interface with public.

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky, an elite professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, is possibly the most cited academic on this planet and is one of the leading lights of American intelligentsia. While no one can cast the slightest aspersion on his erudition, the fact remains that by his words and pen he happens to steadfastly denigrate the open and capitalist nature of American society.

He is treated as a demigod by his followers and rock bands as “Rage Against Machine” and “Pearl Jam” venerate him in the same way as Beatles used to revere Maharshi Mahesh Yogi during their interaction with this god man. Radio producer David Barsamian leads the group of blind followers in elevating the professor to the level of supreme preacher, ultimate philosopher and the final arbiter and fountainhead of all knowledge available under the sun.

Many people are at a loss to bridge the almost unfathomable gap between Chomsky’s academic excellence in charting new territories in his chosen field of linguistics and the equally pathological hatred embedded in his anti-American socio-political ideas. Chomsky very cleverly made use of his legendary academic status to cross over from hallowed portals of academia to cast his spell over the unsuspecting public.

He first bared his fangs of anti-Americanism with his near pathological aversion of American policies and created a niche for himself with ferocity he showed against the Vietnam War. Gifted as he is with sharp intellect and loaded with unquestionable erudition, his sharp pseudo logic held the public in thrall as his pen proceeded with spewing anti-American venom behind the façade of a lover of peace and a confirmed anti-war (wherever it may be, not Vietnam War in particular) personality.

A series of articles in some of the most revered and influential dailies and periodicals during this period cemented his place as the foremost fifth columnist that had perfected the art of putting an intellectual veneer on his ulterior motives.

His true colors came to the fore when he unabashedly supported the perverted and oppressive regime of Pol Pot that perpetrated genocide in Cambodia in the seventies as United States withdrew its forces from Indochina. Though ground realities and other details indisputably point to the fact that almost 25% of the population of Cambodia had perished in hands of the communists, Chomsky steadfastly denied that a holocaust had taken place and had the temerity to trivialize the entire catastrophe by claiming that only “a few thousand” had been killed. Using his phenomenal intellectual acumen, he even tried to provide respectability to Pol Pot regime by equating this genocide with the executions that were done by resistance movements in Europe during Nazi domination.

One feels appalled by the level a demented intellect, hell-bent on furthering his pet agenda – however farfetched and divorced from reality it may be, can stoop to when one witnesses Chomsky’s futile and shameless attempts at exonerating one of the most hated criminals of this century. In fact Chomsky did what none else would have dared to even think of doing. Revisiting the issue in 1988 he claimed that whatever happened in Cambodia was the handiwork of United States and gave Pol Pot and his regime a clean chit. His formidable intellect was again on show as he misused it to string up one skewed piece of logic after another to present an apparent water tight case in his support. This apparent show of intellectual honesty and impersonal detachment makes him the most formidable fifth columnist ever to have walked the domain of United States.

The duplicity prevalent in Chomsky’s character came out in the open in 1980 when he openly supported Robert Faurisson who was terminated from his service at University of Lyon because of open anti-Semitic views and denial of the existence of holocaust during Nazi domination of Europe. He went to the extent of labeling Faurisson as an apolitical liberal who based his work on solid facts and impersonal analysis and cannot be termed anti-Semitic by any stretch of imagination.

Such blatant violations of the very basics of truth had lowered Chomsky’s position to a great extent but after the horrific incidents of 9/11, leftists took the opportunity of putting Chomsky back on the evil pedestal that he once occupied and his recent work “Hegemony or Survival” that saw the light of day in 2003 trumpets his favorite theme that America in its blind desire of dominating the world is causing the oppressed of the world to rise in protest and acts like 9/11 are manifestation of the frustration and pent up anger against America.

Any person has a right to his opinion, but what one wonders at is the chorus of support such demeaning ideas get from so-called educated American intellectuals. Pulitzer prize winning author Samantha Power while writing in The New York Times praised Chomsky’s work as thoroughly instructive and eminently sobering as if Chomsky happens to be the ultimate oracle of truth.

Chomsky had once earlier misused his intellect to support Pol Pot, he did it again while supporting the perpetrators of 9/11 when he said that the devastation they brought on was nothing compared to what Bill Clinton did when he bombed a factory in Sudan in 1998 as a response to Al Qaida bombings of US embassies in that region. One marveled at the ingenuity of an intellect hell-bent on misrepresenting facts and giving them a spin when one realized how two completely disparate incidents were compared and one of the most heinous crimes ever to be perpetrated against US was given an aura of legitimacy.

Carrying on his crusade against America (while ironically enjoying all the benefits and freedom of a democratic society) Chomsky went on to describe American response in Afghanistan as a well calculated step to cause genocide of more than 4 million Afghans and also predicted that there would be widespread famine in that region on account of faulty US policies. Now that all his forecasts were proved wrong he did not even have the basic honesty to come forward and accept that his prognosis was wrong.

Chomsky has traveled widely in Muslim world and has even been to the capitals of Pakistan and India and wherever he went he never stopped his anti-American diatribe. According to him the events of 9/11 are not the handiwork of fundamentalist jihadists committed to the destruction of America and its tenets of freedom but the first step taken by the Third World in its protest against imperialist tendencies of United States. Chomsky actually considers it as the first ray of light and views it positively as the beginning of the end of the so called American hegemony over all other powers of the world.

Chomsky has quite obviously endeared himself to the arch enemy of United States – bin Laden who had gone on record praising the professor as “one of the most capable citizens” of United States.

Chomsky must have gone over the moon after receiving this accolade. At least now he can be sure that his role as a fifth columnist has indeed touched a peak that none else before him could have dared to touch. (Salvato, 2007)

Michael Moore

The other most high profile fifth columnist is film maker and author Michael Moore. He is a pathological American hater who never lets go an opportunity to bash America and its principles. While on a tour in Cambridge to promote his book he openly told the august audience that he feels ashamed to have come from a country that has brought untold misery and suffering to rest of the world. While in Germany he penned an article in renowned periodical Die Zeit where he openly exhorted the Germans to rebel against American hegemony and said it would be a shame to the entire German race if they allow themselves to be led by such an ignorant bunch of people as the Americans are. (Perazzo, 2005)

As the brave American forces were fighting insurgents in Iraq, Moore refused to label them as insurgents; instead he described them as truly patriotic Iraqis that have risen in revolt against the occupation army led by the United States. Moore in his feverish fervor of anti-Americanism sees in these rabid insurgents, the foot soldiers of an impending revolution against the tyrannical hegemony of United States and is confident that their numbers will steadily increase till United States is forced to beat a hasty retreat. At times it becomes really difficult to fathom the hatred this person has against his homeland.

Moore tries to ignore a very harsh reality that stares in the eyes of every American day in and day out since the pogrom of 9/11 and that is we are living out our life while being in the crosshairs of Islamic jihadists’ guns trained against this country. He denies the existence of terrorists and in an interview given to Michigan Daily in October 2003 very bluntly said, there simply is no terrorist threat against the country and this bogey of jihadist threat happened to be the biggest lie invented by the administration.

Moore should consider himself to be infinitely lucky that he is a citizen of United States. Had he been a citizen of any totalitarian country like China or a fundamentalist regime like Saudi Arabia, he would have been in his grave long time ago, either hanged or shot dead by a firing squad on charges of high treason.

Moore has benefitted immensely from the fruits of capitalism – his net worth according to most conservative estimates exceeds $50 million, yet he never balks at denouncing capitalism as a sin and never ever shudders at the enormity of the hypocrisy that is highlighted in the contradiction of his words and his extravagant lifestyle. Shame is possibly a word which does not exist in his dictionary.

We have so long heard Moore and more often than not preferred to ignore his raves and rants as that of a deranged personality but when the defense attorney of the Bali bomber who had killed more than 200 people read out from Moore’s book “Stupid White Men” in order to justify the hatred that criminal had against all things American, we are forced to sit up and take notice of the harm this person is doing to America and its citizens.

It is no big wonder that Moore and his likes will strongly oppose the Patriot Act which every right thinking American thought to be the only proper response to the situation prevailing immediately after the 9/11 incidents. In his book “Dude, Where’s My Country”, Moore gives full vent to his anger against Patriot Act and goes to the extent of denigrating it as a completely unwarranted attack on civil liberties of American citizens. He reiterated his claim that there is no terrorist threat to America and Patriot Act is just a neo Nazi ploy to subjugate the ordinary American citizen.

Other Miscellaneous Fifth Columnists in United States

But Moore is not alone in his diatribe against the United States of America. There are quite a few similar voices that seem to echo his sentiments.

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the founder of International Action Center which acts as an umbrella organization for a host of sundry anti-war groups. Clark has constantly condemned all wars that America has fought right from Vietnam War to the Iraq War and his organization has consistently backed anti-American organizations and individuals the most prominent among them being Libya’s Moammar Qadaffi, Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, one of the prime conspirators in WTC bombing of 1993. Clark also offered voluntary legal counsel to Saddam Hussein after his capture in the hands of American led forces.

Another American fifth columnist is Alexander Cockburn, a regular contributor in the leftist mouthpiece Counter Punch. He has stooped to the level of terming American operations in Afghanistan as the “Tenth Crusade” slyly implying that the entire operation is in fact an act of aggression rather than in self defense.

Our list will remain incomplete if mention is not made of the radical attorney of the National Lawyers Guild, Lynne Stewart who thinks that the incident on 9/11 was a case of directed violence (as opposed to anarchist violence) against World Trade Centre, the most visual symbol of capitalism by those that have been oppressed and exploited by the capitalist and imperialist aspirations of United States. She exonerates the jihadists that have declared war against United States as not terrorists but forces of national liberation. She was arrested in 2002 on charges of providing material support to an Egyptian terrorist group having close links with Al Qaida. After long legal wrangling she was finally convicted in 2005 and as expected she has no remorse for what she had done.

References

Howard, P. (2005). A Fifth Column in the Prisons? Retrieved 2009, from City Journal: http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_2_sndgs04.html

Perazzo, J. (2007, May 21). Platforms of the Enemy. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from FrontPageMagazine.com: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=7C4AE1E5-8E6C-4D0B-9413-E4E40F65DC27

Perazzo, J. (2005, March). Who is the Fifth Column? Retrieved February 11, 2009, from Discover the Network: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=146

Salvato, F. (2007, May 4). The “Fifth Columnization” of America. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from The Fifth Column: http://bsimmons.wordpress.com/2007/05/22/the-fifth-columnization-of-america-2/

August 9, 2012

Best colors for summer

Filed under: Personal Thoughts,social awareness — niranjanchatterjee @ 10:43 am
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Summer has arrived in its full glory and you should be fully ready to welcome it. This is the season for fun, frolic and glorious sun soaked outdoors, golden beaches and bright walks through long winded mountain roads. But not all of us prefer to be with nature; we would rather enjoy the bounty of nature with our friends. Well, that depends on individual choice, but all of us feel the spring in our steps and that extra beat in our heart that eggs us on to dump our anxieties, stresses of daily life and let our hair down in gay abandon.

With damp dank days and smoggy depressing evenings of winter firmly behind us, we have to give in to the season’s glory and that must be reflected in our clothes too. Now is the time to discard those heavy woolen baggies and get attired in swanky stylish clothes that caress our bodies and allow us to show off with reasonable pride our well toned bodies.

The color of summer clothes should also match the overall mood and be in tandem with what nature beacons us to do. So, all those dark and somber shades are to be put back in wardrobes and bright sporty colors should be allowed to have a field day. Bring out those bright pinks and yellows that reflect the sunny and warm side of you and throw a sporty vibe to all around you. Actually, if you were bright clothes it also spreads a warm and inviting ambience wherever you go. And, with summer here, you would not find a better opportunity to let others know of this brighter and sportier avatar that you always had but which did not get the right opportunity to blossom under the heavy burden of winter garb.

While some sure prefer bright pinks and yellows and other solid vibrant shades there others who prefer to don a softer more soothing scheme of colors. They say that with such a bright sun around where is the need for adding more brightness around? Well, they certainly have merit in their contention and we should let them have their say. Colors are, all said and done, matters of personal preferences and tastes and one should definitely follow one’s heart in such matters without getting too much influenced by what others or so called fashion gurus dictate.

For those who prefer softer shades pastels and whites are the best options. Just as a bright yellow throws warm vibes, a yellow pastel also is warm in its own, very special and very intimate way. A pastel pink top with a white short lend that unique unparalleled charm to people of all ages. Even a sparkling all white summer skirt imparts that bubbly feeling one so very much wishes to adorn in glorious summer days. Imagine yourself in muted pastel yellow beachwear on a golden beach and you would immediately feel the water and salty air almost caressing you even when you might be standing right in the middle of a swanky shopping mall. Such is the power of colors!

With summer also comes the chance of donning bright natural shades like green and brown especially on clothes having a slight rougher texture.  Nature rarely has smooth texture and these natural colors look best when put on slightly rougher surfaces as cotton and jute rather than silk and rayon.

Pastel shades of natural colors are also a big draw in summer but summer colors should always be in perfect harmony with natural ambience of this season. That is why we should always go for bright hues and drown ourselves in the joy that permeates this season.

The Dairy Family

Filed under: Personal Thoughts,social awareness — niranjanchatterjee @ 10:32 am
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Vegetarianism, once looked down upon by the western world that is used to and fed on a high protein diet of meat, fish and poultry products, has always been looked up to as an alternative and healthy diet for leading a balanced and disease free life by a minority of health conscious citizens of the western world. Without digressing into the harmful effects of consuming copious animal protein and the ethical issue of killing animals to fill one’s stomach, one can safely say with reasonable authority that milk can provide a very competent alternative to meat. It is basically a matter of long held opinions and belief, rather, convictions, that prevent a lot many among us to give vegetarianism a serious thought. It would not be a paradigm shift as it were if a conscious attempt is made to get converted into a dairy family.

In this context one should be crystal clear about what exactly is meant by the word dairy. Dairy has many connotations including a business that deals in milk and milk products but for our purposes we would assume dairy to represent a wide variety of milk and milk products that are provided by those who are involved in dairy business. The dairy products that are ubiquitous and can compete with animal protein in every respect are described one after the other for the reader to take their pick and take the first step towards vegetarianism and become a genuine dairy family.

Milk – It is considered as mother’s nectar for all mammals including human beings. The health bolstering properties of milk hardly need further elaboration as Mother Nature herself has decided that it is best for newborns. A vegetarian family cannot dream of surviving without milk.

Cow’s milk – It is considered to be the nearest substitute to human milk and is consumed in voluminous amounts by all those who belong to a genuine dairy family.

Goat’s milk – It is easier to digest than cow’s milk and often fed to babies when they go through a bout of digestive disorder. Many adults also prefer goat’s milk if they have digestive problems. Two towering historical figures, Mahatma Gandhi and George Bernard Shaw were great and avowed fans of goat’s milk.

Cream – This is the fat that is skimmed from the surface of milk and is used in a variety of mouth watering recipes and is equally loved by non-vegetarians and dairy families. If cream is fermented through certain bacteria, which might develop naturally or are introduced artificially, it becomes sour cream and, as its name suggests, it is slightly sour in taste. A very specific type of cream that contains approximately 28% butterfat and is less sour than sour cream is known as Creme Fraiche. As this cream does not curdle as ordinary does it is used in a variety of French recipes. In warmer countries where milk often gets spoilt due to lack of proper refrigeration, buttermilk is very popular among families that prefer dairy products. It is thicker than milk and is obtained through fermentation of cow’s or buffalo’s milk and is mostly drunk straight though some dairy families also use it in cooking. Another fermented milk product is yogurt which is unique in its solid but pliable texture and a unique sharpness in taste.

Cheese – It is the most popular dairy product after butter and is available in literally innumerable forms and textures. Each variety has a dedicated band of aficionados who would go out of their ways to praise the specific variety they consume. The most consumed varieties include Feta, Cheddar, Parmesan, Goat’s Cheese, Halloumi, Quark, Ricotta, Fromage Frais and Cottage Cheese.

How to select the best yoga mat for beginners

Filed under: Personal Thoughts — niranjanchatterjee @ 10:28 am
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Yoga has been a revelation to the west and has found instant acceptance among people of all age group because of not only its therapeutic properties that cleanse the body and frees it from toxins but also due to its immense power in healing the mind and restoring the tranquility that is so much required for leading a balanced and healthy life.

Though Yogis of ancient times did not need any accessories for performing yoga, people of twentieth century indeed need some props to bolster them as they go through the intricate postures and try to master associated breathing techniques. Yoga mat is an essential accessory; indeed one performs yoga on these mats and hence choosing the best yoga mat for beginners is possibly the most crucial link in the entire process. A beginner is already awestruck at the prospect of enjoying an experience they have possibly never before had the opportunity to take part in and thus it might be too much of a burden on the newcomer to be able to properly choose the best yoga mat for beginners.

The most obvious quality that a yoga mat must have is eco-friendliness, that is, it should not be made of any form of non-biodegradable items, especially PVC which has certain well proven harmful effects on human body. So, the best yoga mat for beginners must surely be made of either naturally available fibers or naturally harvested rubber. Such mats would ensure that beginners are not exposed to risks of skin allergy or irritation while practicing yoga. One must not overlook the fact that substantial portions of body surface remain in close contact with the yoga mat during yoga postures.

Moreover, you need to also consider your daily routine and how you are going to fit in your yoga sessions in your normal schedule before choosing a yoga mat. If you live near a yoga center and drive down to it every day you might opt for a thicker yoga mat. But, if you have to travel regularly as your job requires you to do so, you must opt for those slimmer, lighter and foldable yoga mats that you can take along with you wherever you go without much of a hassle. But there can be no denying that thicker yoga mats give you better support and feel more snug and comfortable but you need to do a trade-off to choose a mat that is, if not ideal, is surely the most optimum one given the various conflicting needs.

If you feel choice of proper material is the only issue that needs to be resolved while choosing the best yoga mat for beginners then you are, I am afraid, not quite alive to the entire issue. Yoga can be of various types and the most popular varieties are either that requires vigorous body movement generally in a warm environment or the gentler soothing type that focuses more on restoration rather than developing body mass or shape. It is quite obvious that texture of the yoga mat will be different for different types of yoga. So, before buying a yoga mat from the convenience store at the corner it would be better if you consult your trainer as to what would the best yoga mat for beginners.

June 11, 2010

Transform Seoul as the center for world peace

Filed under: Personal Thoughts,Political Musings,social awareness,Uncategorized — niranjanchatterjee @ 11:57 am
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It might sound rather utopian, but if Seoul can indeed be converted into the center for world peace it would have numerous trickledown social and economic benefits that might not be so obvious to a casual eye. As the world revolves around commerce and profit, it would surely be more prudent to discuss the economic benefits first as that would ensure an eager audience right at the outset.

If Seoul becomes the center of world peace, it would almost automatically be the place where good human beings from all over the world will congregate, for the simple reason that all those who are good essentially love one another and believe in harmony, peace and prosperity, not only for their kith and kin but also for all humans living in each and every corner of mother earth. This would give Seoul a unique distinction of being the repository of good human beings and would cast an irresistible spell to people living elsewhere to make a trip to Seoul and experience this new phenomenon first hand. As a side thought it must also be mentioned that since South Korea is still technically at war with North, the concept of international peace would immediately ring a bell not only in every Korean citizen but also all peace loving people across the globe. That would most certainly result in a constant flood of tourists which would allow the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) to reach its ambitious target of attracting ten million foreign tourists without breaking a sweat.

As anyone having the slightest idea about the economic impact a booming tourism sector can have on the overall economy of a country would admit, if Seoul can indeed project itself as the center for world peace, South Korean economy would receive a boost that no amount economic planning or foreign assistance has ever been able to generate in its entire checkered history.

If these economic benefits do not seem enough of a reason for declaring Seoul as the center for world peace, just pause awhile and ponder on the social benefits that can be derived from such a declaration.

Parts of Seoul, especially those parts that house ancient palaces and museums, can be closed off to the daily hustle and bustle of urban life and a Peace Plaza  be constructed. Tourists from all over the world can come to Seoul and stay in a luxury hotel at the Seoul World Peace Plaza, visit the Gwanghwamun World Peace Square, walk through the Namdaemun World Peace Gate, and then stroll along the Cheonggye World Peace Stream.

If sections of this world peace complex are auctioned to individuals and groups who would be responsible for maintenance and upkeep of their sections, Seoul would undoubtedly become the cleanest place on earth. But what would be the motivation of these volunteers, you might argue. Well, the only and perhaps the strongest motivation would be a realization that they, along with numerous other global citizens, have become an inseparable part of a global movement for universal peace. As they would saunter along the banks of the sparkling Cheonggye World Peace Stream, they would surely feel a sense of elation and an oneness with the rest of humankind while browsing through the names of all those that have joined them in maintaining that part of the stream in the name of world peace.

May 4, 2008

After a long long time

Filed under: Personal Thoughts — niranjanchatterjee @ 4:53 pm

It has been a pretty long time since I wrote the last blog. In the meantime a lot of things had happened. The US of A is witnessing a progressively fratricidal battle for Presidential nomination within the Democratic Party while McCain laughs away silently. The way the divide is widening within the party it seems an unlikely situation where the entire rank and file would close around who ever gets the final nod to run as the Presidential nominee.

In India, the latest version of cricket circus called IPL is thundering along in its second week and its chairman or CEO or whatever – how does it matter anyway, is trying to look very busy and strutting about with a self important swagger trying to make us all believe that he is doing a great service to Indian cricket. Some of their promos are really childish, to say the least. Like last night, or the night before, I am slightly confused, each evening looks so similar, they had an ad on air where a Sikh staying in Calcutta proudly proclaimed his support for Kolkata Knight Riders while a Bengali staying somewhere in Punjab beamed while he declared he would love to see King’s Eleven (the team from Punjab) crush the team from Calcutta.

What do they take us for, these IPL blokes? Specially this Lalit Modi fellow. He moves around as if he is more important than perhaps Mukesh or Anil Ambani and tries to look very smart. But what he does not understand (and I feel very sorry that Indian cricket is in the hands of people who know practically nothing of India) that ours is a country where traditions run very very deep. A TV promo here or jingle there will not alter the scenario overnight.

In the midst of all this George Bush again managed to put his foot in his mouth. Incensed perhaps because India and China have stopped exporting foodgrain and facing the prospect of rising food prices in his own country, Bush imperiously declared Indians and Chinese have started eating too much and it is because of these greedy subhumans, the lord of the world Americans are forced to buy foodgrains at higher prices.

Really, these Indians and Chinese don’t have any sense – they just aren’t going to be civilised. Instead of quenching their hunger they should have first seen to it that the Americans are taken care of. After all who doesn’t know that the sun rises from the posterior of George Bush.

So much for now. I will keep coming back with a ferocious regualrity.

Bye!!

October 4, 2007

My first Blog

Filed under: Personal Thoughts — niranjanchatterjee @ 3:56 pm

This is my first blog post. Frankly speaking, I don’t know what to write. It seems indeed very funny, since I earn a major part of my livelihood by providing web content to service buyers.

The whole day I keep tapping on my keyboard writing  on almost every topic under the sun, yet when the time comes to write a few words which are genuinely mine, I am at a total loss.

Anyway, I’ll try to type a few more words tomorrow. Let’s see how they come out – in a trickle or like a waterfall.

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