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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

the state of the nation

In Jangpura, a small neighborhood in Delhi, my friends Bela Malik and Tommy Mathew planned to welcome Laura Bush. As with all State visits, between the negotiations and the meetings, the hosts arrange for the dignitaries to tour safe "soft" sites that become front-page photo opportunities. As if to send a signal to their Evangelical base, on March 2 Laura Bush planned to visit a small NGO run by the Missionaries of Charity. Bela, Tommy and other friends stitched a couple of bed sheets together and made a banner that read: "Laura Bush, how about a photo-op with the orphaned, maimed, dead children of Iraq?" It was a loud question, written in a quiet way, and hung from a modest balcony. A few hours before Laura Bush's cavalcade was to go down the road, US secret service flooded the neighborhood. In their wake came the Area Station House officer who entered Bela and Tommy's apartment, confiscated the banner, refused to allow Tommy entry into his own flat, and posted a police officer on the balcony. A thousand of Delhi's finest overran Jangpura.

Laura Bush never got to the Missionaries of Charity. Something else came up.

In an email message, Bela wrote, "I came closest to feeling what being under an imperialist system was and feeling first-hand the might of an armed invasion. It wasn't that in a real sense, but for a few hours, it was that. 'Security' is a funny term in the way it is used."

read entire article here

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