A Totally Not Ironic “Jefferson Obama Dinner”

If you’re a fellow Democrat who cares about racism, social justice, who is sick of the DNC pandering to the Old White Pantheon of Great Men who contributed to our nation’s first sin (slavery: if you need a refresher), can you kindly email these fools in our party? 

Charlotte Mitchell sent this to me last night and we both were like “are you fucking kidding me?”

Feel free to use my note as a template. Just let them know that this is complete bullshit. Also, this is a recipe for failure…morally and politically.

info@fairfaxdemocrats.org
Good Morning
I am writing to express my utter dismay at this “Jefferson Obama Dinner.”  That this is the second “Jefferson Obama Dinner” suggests that no sensible person disabused you of this noxious concept.
Whether or not I am sensible, I defer to your judgment. But I want to register my utter contempt at this concept as well as dismay for at least four, albeit inter-related, reasons.
First, it is tone deaf. Many Americans across this country are tired of these anachronistic figures being heralded as unquestioned heroes. What part of this movement and message are you choosing not to hear?
Second, it does violence to our efforts to achieve a more just and equal America. As you surely know, Jefferson imagined an America for and by free white men. Women and people of color were chattels to be owned by white men. Yet you cannot even fathom the grotesque image that you have formed by juxtaposing –apparently without irony or even self-reflection–the image of an unrepentant slave owner and author of while male America to that of this nation’s first black president.
Third, Jefferson was a known rapist. Surely you know that Jefferson raped his slaves. (I don’t want to hear about how “complicated his affair” with Hemings really was. How can there be genuine consent between an owner and the owned?) He could not even bother freeing his own offspring upon his death.
Obama’s presidency was a triumph over the image of Jefferson. Obama moved into the white house which had been built by slaves…the very slaves that Jefferson’s government permitted.
I also wish that you had some understanding that the white voter is not going to save this country. You cannot bring those people back.  Frankly, if a white person voted for Trump, the GoP can keep them. They do not represent the values of any party to which I want to be associated. The way forward is by reaching out and appealing to and representing people of color, young persons who have not voted, independents and Republicans who can no longer vote for the current GOP. These folks–many of whom are people of color– are the political future of this party. What part of the Alabama election did you not understand? What part of the HRC voter pattern do you not understand still? And by “reaching out to” I do not mean “pandering to.” I mean fielding candidates who look like the voters you wish to reach and who are willing to forge inclusive policies that are aimed at social justice for all.
Pandering to those who want to make America white again is not going to defeat Trump.  Pandering to the pantheon of Great White Men who are at the roots of country’s first sins will not fix our current malaise. Rather bringing together all of us who want a better America based upon social justice for all (and that means reproductive justice) is the way forward.
I’m not going to bother to spell checking this missive. I’m blind as a bat, won’t catch the mistakes, and I am too angry to bother. As a reminder, here is the flyer in question: http://fairfaxdemocrats.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/JOFlyer-2018a.pdf. I have also placed the image below.
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Even Murderers’ Moms Love Them

My mom’s birthday was on February 28. For some reason, I missed her even more than usual. Maybe it’s because my uncle is out of prison. Maybe because I am “menopausing” without any biologically-related female to explain to me what the fuck is going on. Maybe, because, as I grow older I understand her better. Perhaps…as I’ve become older…that stick up my ass has disintegrated and I better appreciate her addiction to Fuckitol, which is now an over-the-counter drug.
Whatever it is: her absence becomes more apparent with each passing year.
If your mom is still with you..love the shit out of her. When she’s gone…your life changes no matter how fucked up she was or how terrible her parenting was. Whatever problems remained unresolved become ossified. Fix it now if you can…My regrets are too numerous to list.

Even Murderers’ Moms Love Them

How many times have we witnessed bereft mothers choking on their profound lamentations while being interviewed by their local news channels, explaining amidst teary gasps how their sons could not possibly be that very murderer who abducted obese teen-aged girls, starved them in his crawl space, strangled them with his high-school-football-era-jockstrap, skinned them and stitched their pelts together with fishing line to fashion himself a “girl suit”? Between wails of confused sorrow, such mothers explain how her son always, for example, rescued injured squirrels and tried (unsuccessfully) to nurse them back to health in a shoe box which he kept in his closet. Such mothers usually omit the crucial detail that their mischievous boy broke the back of said squirrel in the first instance for the purpose of confining in a box in his closet.  And, when pushed on the “nursing” issue, such mothers may even niggardly concede that perhaps—just perhaps–he may have wanted to watch the innocent squirrel suffer until it finally succumbed to its injuries. But why dilate upon such morbid particulars? These virtuous Madonnas, without a shred of doubt, loved their homicidally maniacal sons—girl skin suit—and all. That’s unconditional love. That kind of love is hard to come by unless you have a pack of dogs, as I do.

How about those teenaged or college “scholar-athlete” rapists’ mothers? We’ve all seen them too.  [Actually, we’ve seen too many of these assholes.  Apparently, rape is a sport for American males.  I’d like to send them to Afghanistan for a while with a sign that says in Dari or Pashto “Fresh, Young Virgin Ass” and see how they fare. But that’s just me and I’m a well-known, angry, femzilla.]  Let’s just say that one particular set of young men described themselves as “rape posse.” Let’s further posit that the po-lice report specifically indicates that the boys called themselves a “rape posse” and boasted that they laced the milkshake of fourteen-year-old girls who were socializing at the local Christian youth ice cream shop with roofies (chemically known as “Flunitrazepam”). They, according to their own admission to the po-lice, then raped her while recording it on their evidently-not-so-smart smartphone and then posted the ensuing video with their faces clear as day along with the drugged girls in question in succession. They even victoriously proclaimed “Yeah. We raped that under-age, milkshake slurping, Jesus-loving virgin and posted the video to this here YouTube.”

But what do their mothers do? They get themselves a lawyer and charge the virginal hussy and her parents variously with slander or perhaps accusing them of launching a sting operation upon these fine, upstanding, aspiring scholar-athletes. Of course, the rapists’ parents decry the evidence-laden video to be little more than a Feminazi ruse to ruin the college prospects of their precious, innocent sons who wanted to save fetuses from brain cancer by becoming pioneering obstetrical surgeons. They even try to sue for scholarships lost and future wages from their collectively ruined careers.  We see it all the time…usually in states like Ohio, Indiana, Flori-duh, Texas, Massachusetts and also in New Zealand. Usually, there is some emaciated woman with limp blond hair who resembles a meth-addicted zombie blabbering away on Faux News and opining in the Daily Failer in a full-throttle defense of the rapists and their supporters. As hard as it may be, these mothers too love their –evidently crucified, almost Christ-like—rapists sons. Boys, after all, will be boys.

All of this brings me back to my mom. My mom is dead and she can’t defend herself. She can’t interrupt me and say “You little bitch. That’s a pack of lies. Goddamnit, you little fucker, go cut me a switch.” I don’t even want to approach the New Jersey psychic to hold a séance on this or any other subject involving her because mom might possibly blurt out that entire expression from the grave on national television. That would only compound my decades of exponentially accumulating humiliation.  Upon witnessing such celestial outbursts from my mother, the New Jersey psychic may even refer me to Nancy Grace, which would be even more odious and humiliating. Nancy Grace would’ve had a field day with my mother. In fairness, my mother probably would have punched her. So…glass is half full? I guess it depends on what the glass is half full of? A glass half full of cow piss is still half a glass of cow piss.

The contrast between the mothers of serial murderers and rapists and my own mother has resulted in years of psychotherapy for much of my adult life.   Also, thanks Dog for serotonin uptake inhibitors that I have taken every dog-damned day since some time in late 2001 when I finally figured out that my serotonin receptors are not firing at all receptor sights. Also, I’m grateful to the producers and purveyors of bourbons, single malt, and most red wines. Mostly this shrinkage comes back to the basic thing that my mother would say—perhaps with probably less frequency than my reconstructed memories of her suggest: “Chrissy. I love you. But I sure don’t like you.” That’s a self-esteem builder if there ever was one. At school, I was mocked for being all those things that even my mother didn’t like. And my own mother didn’t have the common decency or sense to lie about it.  When I graduated from high school as the class valedictorian, she remarked of me and my associates as we all pulled into the gravel parking lot “Here comes the nerd mobile.” It should be noted that my graduation cake misspelled valedictorian. Of course. We were nerds. So her characterization, while unhelpfully descriptive, was not inappropriate and actually accurate. But it would have felt better had she at least made the slightest effort to be on our team. I’m sure she meant well.

There were some things however that mom did well. In fact, very well.  First, if you ever had a Peeping Tom, you would want my mom in your corner. She was effective in contending with such contingencies. During one summer in high school, we had a team of Peeping Toms. After a regularly scheduled peeping, one of them would even call our home to report their peeping and their satisfaction with the same enterprise. Mostly just to boast. My mother and I sounded identical on the phone. So we never knew if the PT was talking about me or her or whether he even knew to whom he was speaking. I will give it to the Toms. They knew what they were doing. Until, that is, the night when they fucked up. I heard them re-arranging the “patio furniture.” (We didn’t have a patio. But we did have a multipurpose concrete slab that variously served as a parking space, a basketball throwing area and, also it seems, a Peeping Tom staging area.) I discretely left my room and informed mom that I believed the Toms were outside my room, stacking up the furniture beneath my window to enable said peeping.

Upon asking my lazy, pusillanimous Second Step Monster (aka “Rick Seitz”) to do the needful and after he rebuffed her request, my mother got out of bed. She was in one her various ankle-length, red flannel nightgowns. Also, her gowns always had the appropriately demure amount of white lace, which always struck me as ironic.  She grabbed her favorite, rusty butcher knife from the kitchen drawer and we both quietly sneaked towards the concrete slab in the back through the garage. Whereupon she grabbed a softball bat from the floor of the garage, foisted it upon me, and said quietly but with complete seriousness “Let’s get those fuckers.” And we began, I shit you not, chasing them under the full light of an Indiana fall moon.

She led the charge. She threw open the back door to the garage, hurtled over the concrete slab, and raced into the moonlit night towards a slight crest behind our home, with her usual battle cry of “Goddamn it, you fuckers!” As we chased the three figures over the hill in the back, you could hear me imploring somewhat pathetically “But what will we do if we catch them?”

The Toms had a head start. And mom was in a long flannel nightgown and flip-flops. After all, there was no time to put on proper footwear. I wasn’t really into the chase at all. While the Toms absconded, they never returned. I later learned that the Tom Pack was led by the father of a classmate named Roy. (His name isn’t Roy. It may have been Roi but I’m not saying.) His father had been a navy seal. Although in those days he looked like a retired navy walrus. With tusks. The other two included Roy/Roi and his little brother.

For context, it may be useful to know that Roy/Roi was himself a potential rapist or murderer. I have all confidence that with a family like this, his mom would still love her rapist, homicidal Peeping Tom spawn nonetheless.  Once during freshman gym class, he asked me “If you are so smart, why do they call it a blow job instead of a suck job?” I had to concede that I did not know. Later that day I asked my mom what a blow job was. She told me straightforwardly that the task consists of putting a penis in your mouth and sucking it until it squirted.  The next day I told Roy/Roi that his question was well-founded. It is a bad name for that activity.  Earlier, in the eighth grade, he went through a phase of dressing like a priest and hitting people on the head on the school bus with a bible while declaring, in an eerily convincing, evangelical voice “Be touched by the word of god.” Roy/Roi scared the fuck out of me and anyone with any common sense or a litter of small, innocent kittens which self-stylists Satanists in our neighborhood liked to sacrifice. Roy/Roi would’ve totally sacrificed kittens. I have no doubt.

Second, my mother was a Feminine Hygiene Product MacGyver. She usually had tampons or maxipads stashed in her car, sweatshirt pocket and purse.  She did this not for the expected purpose; rather, for getting out of speeding tickets or other socially awkward imbroglios. She usually left late for just about every engagement because she had too much to do. (It is true. Women really do become their mothers.) This meant that she always drove in excess of any posted speeding limit. And she would often get pulled over by a cop. In all the times I witnessed this drama, I never saw her get a ticket.  Before the cop made it over to the car with the usual cocky saunter, she’d have that ginormous, super absorbent, quicker-picker-up tampon or pad in hand and would waive in the air at the cop with some feigned embarrassment: “officer, I’m having a feminine emergency. I’m just trying to get to that gas station ahead before I gush all over the seat. Geez! This is so embarrassing.” And I’ll be damned if she didn’t manage a convincing blush. Sometimes the cop would escort us to the indicated gas station where she’d run in and pretend do the needful.  Sometimes he’d release us with some awkward expression “I understand mam. Just try to get there safely.” And off she’d go. She would also produce these products when men of indifferent intentions propositioned her. She would brandish a pad or a tampon and say very charmingly with her ornery and gorgeous smile despite, having false uppers and lowers, “Not this week, sweetie.”

These were inspiring lessons.

I had the chance to practice this in a south side Chicago jazz bar in 1992 where my then boyfriend was playing the piano. A geriatric African American man asked me with serious vapor breath “Would you be my little white lady for the evening?” This was a leading question. I did not want to say yes. But if I said, “No,” to which part of that question would he apply the “No”? For “the evening” part? Or the “my white lady” part?  I didn’t want him to conclude that my rejection was based on his race or age.  Nor did I want him to mock my chubby, short and very Caucasian boyfriend who was trying his best to be a competent jazz musician on the southeast side of Chicago. In short: there was no good answer. So… I pulled my Tampax Super Absorbent Period Wand and said “Not this week. But thank you for asking.” He slinked away as my mother’s extensive experiences predicted he would.

Her skills were not limited to period-related feints.

Before she unloaded semi-trailers at a large chain store on the north side of Ft. Wayne, she bartended until late at night and would walk home through a rough part out of wretched Midworst city. One evening, a gentleman approached her in a car and not so politely suggested that she get in. She always had various objects in the pockets of her zip-up sweatshirts, as previously detailed. On this particular evening, she had a hairbrush. She positioned the handle of the hairbrush through her pocket in such a way to make the perp think she had a gun. She said in her “I’m a really mean cunt, you stupid fuck” voice: “I don’t think you want to fuck with me.” He considered the possibility that she may, in fact, be armed and drove away to find another victim without mom’s predator-intimidating McGyver resourcefulness.

This too was a skill that came in handy while a student on the south side of Chicago and while doing fieldwork in places like Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and India. I came up with my own tools. After years of improvising with a variety of items, I finally settled upon two indispensable dual-use products: alligator-jaw letter opener (or, if you prefer, shiv) and a very pointy pen. The jaw bone shiv is ideal because it passes through metal detectors AND it’s pretty unsettling to a would-be haranguer to see a woman-cum-potential victim cleaning her nails with such a thing while glowering at said aspiring assailant with an expression that said “I am really am that cunt who would stab you if you try anything. Also, that’s Dr. Cunt to you.” I also am fond of the Uni-ball ONYX Rollerball Pen, Micro Point (0.5mm) which can do serious harm when shoved through the upper thigh of an asshole who abducts you in a Middle Eastern country with no diplomatic ties to the United States. Both get the job done when you have an adequate determination to weaponize ordinary stationery.

My mother had a third skill: she was an entrepreneur. Perhaps an unconventional one. But an entrepreneur nonetheless. For example, she could move a mess of Girl Scout cookies. At a profit.  My mother was fond of telling me that she should have given me up for adoption. (More about that in the essay titled “I should have given you up for adoption.”)

This proclamation of ambivalence towards being my mother (she never said this shit to my brothers who were younger and who could do no wrong. Even when they actually did do wrong) was inevitably followed by “I never wanted a daughter. I wanted five sons. Each would have names beginning with a J. Such as, Joey, Jarred, Johnny….” I forget the other two names. In any event, she got three out of five but Johnny died as an infant because he was, in the parlance of that period, a “mongoloid.” She would continue “But if I had to have a daughter (no we were not Chinese or Indian) I wanted her to be pretty, skinny, popular, blond, a cheerleader.”

If you haven’t guessed it, I was none of those things. If on the odd chance, I would begin to cry after being told I was the obverse of my mother’s dream child, she would continue with some strange exculpatory tale about how I am a “rose” instead of a “butterfly.” I’m not sure how that was supposed to do anything except confuse me and turn me off to horticulture and entomology simultaneously. That was likely the point. It was a ruse intended precisely to distract me. It worked. Many decades later I would observe a similar behavior in Donald Trump.  I was prepared for his fuckery because I had seen it before. Long before.

My mother made me join the Brownies and then the Girl Scouts. She probably thought that it was a “high status” thing to do. Since we were, for all intents and purposes, “white trash,” “rednecks” and the like, being in the Brownies and Scouts may have signaled some kind of social mobility to her.

It was torture for me.  It turns out that if you are pudgy, bespectacled from the time of gestation, forced to wear boys’ shoes and pants because they are cheaper, you are not likely to thrive in the Brownies or Girl Scouts at the Huntertown Elementary. Everything in the Huntertown Elementary Brownies and Girl Scouts required money in one way or the other, which mom misjudged. For example, there is the uniform. We purloined my various uniforms from the downtown Fort Wayne Salvation Army, which meant that my uniforms were also more than ten years old and just made me seem like a poor, pathetic, rural urchin stuck in a 1960’s time warp. This point was never lost on me at Brownie and Girl Scout gatherings when the other girls asked why my uniforms were so distinctly different.

Despite our relative poverty, my mother was very competitive: she wanted me to “earn” every possible badge.  There were about four problems with here agenda. First, it required her time. After all, someone had to supervise each badge-earning project in question—if not provide guidance or instruction—in the first place about how one should go about making, for example, a macramé chandelier scented with cinnamon and nutmeg or the perfectly-mounded muffin. In fact, there was no star council whose members would scrutinize the fruits of these labors. Just one supervising adult had to confirm that the task was done. And I had no other possible “supervising adult” other than her.  Second, every dog-damned task required money to buy the things from which one would make the macramé chandelier or muffin in the first place. Third, there were the fees associated with the badges themselves and the sash on which the varied badges were to be festooned. (My sash was also purchased used from the afore-noted Salvation Army with about the same vintage if possible as my uniform.) Finally, someone had to sew the badges onto the sash. Mom worked full time all the time and never had time for any of this Jane Foolery and money wasn’t exactly growing on sconces in our home. Yet badges had to be earned, bought, and sewed onto that god-damned sash. We were, it seemed, at an impasse.

Mom came up with the best possible solution: she’d sign for the badges anyway and make me sew on the badges which she managed to afford. I am sure sewing on Girl Scout badges should have been easy for anyone who obtained the “I can embroider a three-dimensional Bengal tiger on a cooking apron that I made from fabric I wove on the loom I built” badge. But then, I didn’t really earn that badge either. The crazed, zig-zag stitching of my badges to that sash should have been a clue that something was amiss at least in the earning of the “sewing badge.”  But, it turns out, the American Girls Scouts were never going to send someone to our house to inspect the macramé chandelier or the embroidered apron, neither of which did I make. But I did have the badge.

As was the case with mom, she was not patient. Soon signing for tasks associated with badge acquisition at appropriate (read believable) intervals came yet another badge-earning accomplishment signed on a nearly daily basis. Sometimes she could not be bothered with signing for the badges herself and she taught me to forge her signature. I am pretty sure I can still forge her signature although she’s been dead since 1993. And I hadn’t forged it since I had to defend myself against the anti-geek aggression of that bitchy twat Angie Smethers (not her real name, right?)  in the eighth grade at Miami Middle School.

I should make it clear that forging her signature for badges I did not even want was the most humiliating set of experiences in my life until the “Girl Scout Cookie” episode. There is perhaps no more ignominious thing for a nerd with integrity than to be basically forced to forge signatures on absurd tasks for the sole purpose of obtaining a pointless badge conferred by an organization which I loathed to place on a sash I hated more which bedecked a uniform that didn’t fit and underscored our relative poverty.

But the “cookie episode” made those quotidian and frequent humiliations of pimping out of my dignity and integrity for a useless badge seem almost bearable.

Every Girl Scout has to, at one point or another, show her entrepreneurial skills by selling those fat and carbohydrate bombs called Girl Scout Cookies.  I was (and still am) shy around strangers because I am fat, bespectacled, permanently uncool with hair that looks like a feral cat cut my hair…with his teeth. (Recently, on one obnoxious site called Political Science Rumors, a purported graduate student described me as being “ready for the spit.”)  The idea of going to door to door in my 1960’s era-Goodwill-acquired Girl Scout uniform and sash bedizened with ill-gotten badges, sewn on with fishing wire, to sell cookies was, in a word, mortifying. (I had no problem selling other things…but that is another entry titled “I Sold Porn in My Club House.”)

My mother, always ready with a solution, had an idea. She took the cookie order form and began filling it out with random orders, in different pen colors with different styles of writing which were in fact variations of her own writing. She wanted to win. She wanted to sell the most cookies of the pack or whatever we called ourselves.

There was one problem with her strategy, I pointed out meekly and fearing her wrath: To actually win, we had to sell all of those cookies. Ordering was a necessary but insufficient condition to win. She was not deterred. Mother was never deterred. Even cancer didn’t deter her.

When the freight of cookies arrived, I was horrified and frightened. There was—I thought—no way in hell we’d offload these cookies. But mom was a woman with a plan.

Mom, who was still attractive in her 30s if a bit plump, poured herself into her “Daisy Dukes” and cork mules. I may add that this was roughly contemporaneous with the actual emergence of Daisy Duke.  Mom sometimes resembled a beach ball with legs, but she had pretty awesome fucking legs and there was no denying that. I attributed this to all of the boxes she unloaded at the dock and riding a bike all of her life.  Mom then put me in a pair of shorts and a tube top. I must have been no older than 11. And I had no business in a tube top. With mom and me both suitably attired, we piled those cookies into her red Pinto. We made the drive from our Huntertown cul de sac and arrived at a bikers’ bar somewhere between Laotto and Avilla, Indiana.

My mother sauntered in, literally dragging me behind. My mother made nice-nice to the various alcoholics already assembled at the bar at this early morning hour and we stayed until the very last box of cookies was offloaded to the various drunken, rural lotharios that made their way through the establishment that morning and late afternoon.

I was chagrined by this entire spectacle.  In the end, we did not win. One of the popular girls made a killing—I suspect at her Mega-church. That’s always a more winning strategy than peddling cookies to lecherous drunks in obscure small town bars. While mom was disappointed that we did not win, she pointed out that in fact, we had.

She proudly pronounced that she sold those cookies at a profit.

Mom died in September 1993. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less of a tight-ass. I’d like to think that my adult self and my mom would have terrorized any bar that we sauntered into together. It’s also possible that we would’ve been arrested. You can’t do the shit today that she did then. Unfortunately, I’ll never know.   All I know is that I miss her terribly despite the passage of twenty-five years since her death.

The University Chicago is Okay with Dipesh Chakrabarty Propositioning One of Graduate Students?

#TimesUp for Sexual Predators in Many Places: But Not at the University of Chicago

March 9, 2018

In October 2017, I wrote a piece titled “#HimToo: A Reckoning,” in which I described the life-changing sexual harassment that I endured at the University of Chicago as well as the financial and other burdens that I shouldered as a consequence. One of the individuals that I name is a famous scholar, Dipesh Chakrabarty, who is ironically associated with the subaltern school of history in which historians endeavor to reclaim the history of oppressed groups. Later several Indian feminists crowd-source a list of male scholars in Indian institutions who allegedly harassed women. In the intervening months, some of these Indian institutions have held their male abusers to account. For example, recently, the Ambedkar University Delhi established a committee and found that Professor Lawrence Liang, the dean of its School of Law, Governance and Citizenship, sexually harassed a doctoral student at another university. He was asked to step down from his administrative post.  Even Harvard University recently found that a prominent scholar of Latin America, Jorge Domínguez, was guilty of “serious misconduct.” However, the University of Chicago, a world-renowned scholarly institution, has remained steadfast in defending the predators in its ranks.

This has not been a surprise for many of the students who have come and gone. The U.S. Department of Education opened cases against the University of Chicago for mishandling sexual violence under Title IX in 2016 and 2013. In May of 2017,  Sarah ZimmermanJamie Ehrlich, and Emily Feigenbaum wrote an extensive account of the university’s record on sexual harassment and sexual assault and demonstrated a remarkably crass continuity in the hostile environment endured by women since 1952. Whereas powerful men across the country are being toppled for their past and current abuse of power as the #TimesUp and #MeToo waves continue to crest, the University of Chicago continues to protect its predators unapologetically.

In 2004, I finally graduated with my Ph.D. from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. I was an unusual student because I completed my Ph.D. remotely after being sexually harassed by a revered scholar, Dipesh Chakrabarty.  During the winter quarter of the 1993-94 school year, Chakrabarty asked me “are you looking for sexual pleasure” while handing in my final paper.  I followed the appropriate procedures to complain to no avail even though Chakrabarty did not deny asking me this absurd question. Instead, I learned that the university did not proscribe such propositions. In fact, I was told by a dean in the social sciences that the onus was upon me to explain to Chakrabarty that his advances were unwanted. How else could he possibly know that such a solicitation was undesired?  It took considerable gumption and effort to track him down and explain that his behavior was repugnant. I then spent the rest of my time in the Ph.D. program fending off his efforts at retaliation.

I could not have attained this degree without the unstinting support of my ally in the department, Professor Steve Collins. Collins protected me from Chakrabarty while enabling me to finish my doctorate from Santa Monica, California where I began working full-time at RAND. I flew into Chicago to take my orals, to defend my thesis proposal and ultimately my thesis and quickly returned to Los Angeles as quickly as I came in. I received a half-rate PhD in comparison to my classmates who could avail of the mentoring of the superb faculty and incomparable language training there. Instead, I completed remaining coursework, including my study of Persian, at the University of California Los Angeles.

I was devastated to learn that this month Collins died while lecturing in New Zealand. I lost a mentor, a guardian and a witness to what I endured.

Ultimately, I sought professional refuge in a discipline far removed from that of my dissertation and related doctoral training. It would have been impossible to obtain a comparable job in South Asian Languages and Civilizations with Chakrabarty as a nemesis. And for this very reason, many of his victims choose to remain silent because they fear retribution from him or his wife, Rochona Majumdar, who has been a beneficiary of his behavior and an enabler.

In 2013, Chakrabarty again came to my notice after a student at the University of Chicago wrote a pseudonymous account of the sexual harassment and assault she endured doing student-related work in India for CNN and the lack of support on campus for her ensuing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Unsurprisingly Chakrabarty minimized her experiences and cast aspersions upon her account. It is difficult to articulate my rage at seeing a known predator comment upon the experiences of an assault survivor. The University of Chicago could demonstrate no less indifference if it actually tried to do so.

After BuzzFeed published my experiences at the University of Chicago in October 2016, many of his current and past victims wrote to me both to thank me but also to share their experiences. I wrote to the office of the president at the University of Chicago in which I explained that I wanted an apology for what I experienced, a modest donation to RAINN, which runs the largest crisis network in the United States, and an investigation into his ongoing abuse of power. Ms. Briget Collier from the Title IX office responded and assured me that she would re-examine my experience with Chakrabarty as well as those of previous and current students who had courageously reached out to me and, in turn, agreed to speak with her. We all trusted her with our stories with the strained hope that this time, things would be different.

On December 22, 2017, I received a formal response in which she wrote: “In evaluating your allegation that Professor Chakrabarty made a comment to you sometime during the winter quarter of 1994, I have concluded that the comment would not have constituted sexual harassment under the University policy in effect at that time.” On January 2, 2018, I drafted a follow-up email requesting clarification about whether or not the University of Chicago still considers it acceptable in “the 2017-18 academic school year for a professor to ask his student in his class ‘Are you looking for sexual pleasure?’? That email went unanswered. In fact, I emailed her twice before giving up. What could possibly be the reason for her silence other than the most obvious?

As a tenured faculty member at a prestigious university in the Washington DC area, I am flummoxed at the insouciance about these matters at the University of Chicago. Chakrabarty has, by my account and the accounts I have received from others, has enjoyed a 25-year spree of sexual harassment without censure or abatement. Whereas the rest of this nation is concluding that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, the University of Chicago continues to protect the predators on its payroll.

The University of Chicago and similar recalcitrant bastions of misogyny will not change until public outrage forces it to do. We need to raise our voices and make a clarion statement that tenure was meant to protect intellectual freedom, not to provide a socio-political sinecure from which vulturine faculty can safely harm students with impunity and immunity.

Christine Fair

Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor, Security Studies Program Georgetown University

 

Communication from the University of Chicago’s Title IX Office


BC

 

2017-12.22- C. Fair (2)-page-0012017-12.22- C. Fair (2)-page-002

My Follow-Up Email Asking for Clarification, which went unanswered.

NoteToBC

The Continuing Saga of the Dirty Cop Ostrav, the Perjurer named S. Kapoor and the Complicit Polizeipräsidium Frankfurt am Main

To: Polizeipräsidium Frankfurt am Main

Polizeidirektion Flughafen

Südpassage, Gebäude 194

60549 Frankfurt am Main

Phone: +49-69-755 42008

Fax: +49-69-755 42009

Email: PD-Flughafen.PPFFM@polizei.hessen.de

Re case file number: ST/0042100/2018.

Dear Sir or Madam;

I am writing with respect a case that was filed against me on false charges on 11 January 2018. My case number is ST/0042100/2018.

Summary of Key Points

  • Police Lieutenant Ostrav threatened to arrest me because I wanted to file a customer service complaint against him in response to his unprofessional and needlessly rude behavior.
  • I was falsely accused and arrested on the charge of calling officer Ostrav a Nazi (among other epithets) despite the copious amounts of exculpatory footage that all police officials refused to review.
  • I was denied the right of filing a counter-charge of defamation against my accusers.
  • I was falsely relieved of my assets.
  • After the arrest the police published an account of the event (in response to my own in the Huffington Post) that was explicitly misogynist and intended to depict me as an ill-behaved, out of control, entitled American female who was outraged over her “seized cosmetics.” In fact, I was pleasant and professional throughout the encounter despite being called a hippie, treated to excessive rudeness and threatened with arrest over seeking to file a customer service complaint.
  • The police appear to have violated Germany’s own privacy laws: I observed that several German newspapers published the police’s account with my name and photo. This constitutes a further defamation campaign waged by your own police forces.

I am requesting that these fraudulent charges be dropped, that my seized assets be returned, that lieutenant Ostrav is investigated, and that defamation charges are filed against Mr. S. Kapoor, who perjured himself in testimony against me.

This missive describes the events leading to the unjust arrest and defamation and their sequelae.

The Event in Question

On 11 January 2018, my carry-on baggage was screened for explosives and came up positive. I became concerned about this when I asked the baggage screener about the process for resolution. She answered only “the police will come.” In the United States and other places I visit frequently, baggage screeners are generally willing to explain the process for resolution of baggage-related issues. I found this person’s refusal to answer my question to be puzzling and disconcerting. Worse yet, it took some time for the police to arrive.  I asked her to call the police again because I had already missed one flight thanks to United Airlines and was likely to miss the flight on which I had been rescheduled. She explained that this was “not my problem.” I asked another inspector to call the police, after which the police finally came.

As a somewhat frequent visitor to Afghanistan, which I explained to lieutenant Ostrav, I was worried that perhaps my bag had come into contact with ambient amount explosives in the air. My colleagues in the armed forces report that this does happen on occasion owing to the pervasive amount of explosives in the ground-level atmosphere. I wanted to know what I should do about this: should I throw the bag away? Can I clean it? I tend to trust Germany technology and operated under the assumption that this was not a false positive.

Without explanation, officer Ostrav began removing my belongings from the bag. In the United States, this typically would happen in a private place rather than the public. When no explosives were found, he made a considerable scene over two tubes of antibiotics that he found in various pockets of my bag. As someone who flies about three to four times a month, I have not actually emptied the contents of my bag between trips in a very long time.

However, he continued belaboring these excess liquids. (I did not feel the need to engage on the facts that those tubes he threw away were, in fact, medicinal and are allowed even if they exceed the “one baggie” rule.)  Next, Ostrav seized upon my solid deodorant. (See Pic 1.) Ostrav’s deputy, apparently of junior rank because Ostrav chastised him for weighing in on the issue despite his junior rank, also understood it was a solid but was told that his opinion did not matter because Ostrav “outranked” him.

I pointed out that this was, in fact, a solid. It was evident from visual inspection it was a solid and the description on the container made it clear it was a solid. Ostrav was simply being noxious because his authority permits him to be obnoxious. Ostrav offered various preposterous explanations for why it was a liquid. For example, he claimed that the “solid mixes with the body and becomes a liquid” and thus it is a liquid after he first argued incorrectly that the container had fluid in it.

At this point, I asked to speak with a manager. Ostrav said “I am the manager and I say it is a liquid.” I countered politely that he is not a manager, he is a police officer. At this point, I asked for his name because I wanted to file a customer service complaint about the basic rudeness of the entire process inclusive of the scene he made about the ostensibly excess liquid and ultimately the seizure of a solid for no apparent reason other than he could.

He told me pointedly that if I filed a complaint about him, I would have a police record. Precisely, he said “If you file a complaint, I will arrest you for being an unruly passenger. Do you want a German police record?”

I thought he was bluffing. I could not possibly imagine a German police officer being so crudely abusive of power. But he was not bluffing. I repeated my polite request for his name. He then asked me for my passport and boarding passes and withdrew a notebook from his pocket, in which he wrote my information and repeated that I would have a police record if I wanted to complain about is behavior. I repeated my request for his name and told him that I would specifically mention this threat in my complaint. Finally, after requesting his name several times, he wrote his name and rank on a piece of paper and tore it from the notebook described above. See Pic 2. At no point did he actually show me his police credentials to verify that this is in fact his name. (This is, of course, customary in most of the democracies in which I have lived or traveled.)

At one point in these various exchanges, I was called a “hippie.” This was obnoxious. I presume I was dismissed as a hippie because I am a female with long hair and was wearing an Indian shirt and jacket? For the record, I am a tenured professor at a major research university in the Washington, DC area, whose specialization is international terrorism and other national security affairs. Not only do I have a clean criminal and driving record, I also hold a security clearance, and have advised German officials on Afghanistan! I am a fastidious upholder of the law wherever I have traveled. I am the obverse of a “hippie.”

During the entire process, I was polite although I was very worried about my bag and what I should do with it; not to mention worrying whether or not I should call the conference organizers in New Delhi about yet another missed flight. Ultimately, no one answered my question about whether I should discard the bag or clean it. I presume it was a false positive. But no one could be bothered to even answer that basic question, which I posed not to be obnoxious but because I am in fact a national security professional who takes these matters seriously. Nonetheless, Ostrav barked at me to “shut up” when I tried to understand whether the positive test was a false positive.

During this process, three American men came through the same line. One of whom had a distinctive haircut of the Hitler Youth. Had anyone bothered looking at the footage, they would have seen that I frequently looked back at these gentlemen in disbelief.

After Ostrav left and as I packed my bag, I muttered to myself “The crack German police have seized my deodorant…but they don’t seem to care about that Nazi-looking dude over there!” A baggage screener, whom I learned later was named Kapoor accused me of calling Ostrav a Nazi. He then called officer Ostrav back to the screening area whereupon I was arrested and falsely charged with defaming Ostrav. (By the way: I know it is illegal to call someone a Nazi in Germany, which is why I would never do so. I also personally oppose the gratuitous use of the word “Nazi” and only use it when the evidence merits its use as is the case in contemporary American politics under the Trump regime, which has empowered and normalized these elements..)

At first, I assumed that this was a linguistic misunderstanding on the part of Kapoor and explained “I think you misunderstood me. I referred to the gentlemen behind me, who is an AMERICAN, not your police officer.” I asked Ostrav and Kapoor to replay the security footage to confirm my account. He and officer Ostrav refused to refer to the footage noting that their surveillance tools do not record sound. I countered that the footage would show the three men behind me, my repeated astonished glances at the fellow, and the hairdo which was strikingly redolent of the Hitler’s Youth well-groomed pompadour. Not to mention, the video would confirm my lip movements to be consistent with my account rather than their account. No one was interested in reviewing that footage. (I hope that the prosecution will at least bother to do so, although I fear it is long gone.)

I am aware that this “haircut” may not mean anything to you or many others who are unacquainted with the state of affairs in my country generally of my state, Virginia, specifically. However, the coiffure did and does mean something specific and worrisome to me for several reasons, which are germane to this case and why I was concerned about the gentleman in question.

First, I live in Alexandria, Virginia.  Very near my home in Alexandria is the residence and national office of the most prominent leader of the American Nazi movement: Richard Spencer. Richard Spencer first came to national notoriety in November 2016 when his leaders gave the Sieg Heil salute to President Trump in the Ronald Reagan Building in nearby Washington DC after his election in November 2016.[1] Mr. Spencer specifically adopts the hair-style of Hitler’s Youth and he encourages his followers to do the same.[2]

Second, Mr. Spencer has caused havoc in my community with his night-time torch-lit rallies deliberately intended to conger images of similar rallies convened by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)[3]; his calls for “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” which he readily admits it will not likely be peaceful; as well as his demeaning insults of racial and religious minorities and women.[4] In August 2017 he convened a so-called “unite the right” rally to protest the removal of Jim Crow-era statuary commemorating slavery and the treasonous soldiers who fought to maintain it under the banner of the Confederacy. At that rally, one of his supporters deliberately rammed his vehicle into a counter-protester and killed her.[5] Spencer had a previous rally on May 14, 2017.[6] Within a week of that racist rally, one of Mr. Spencer’s fellow white supremacist murdered Lt. Collins III, an African American young man in our community who had distinguished himself as a scholar and as an air-borne qualified soldier.[7]

Third, after that rally in May, I worked to oust Mr. Spencer from my private health club because several of the gym employees asked me to do so.[8] The gym had been indifferent to their pleas even though most are members of minority communities specifically impugned by Spencer’s hate speech. The ouster of Spencer and my centrality to it became national and even international news.[9] His followers obtained and published my home address and phone number. For nearly one month, I was subjected to death threats, threats of sexual violence, and harassed by his followers who used crude anti-Semitic abuses through all means possible. They harassed me at home and they harassed my colleagues at their place of employment. I received voice mail at my home in which the caller said, “Fat, kikess, get into the oven” among other similar examples of anti-Semitic hate-speech. His followers made and distributed hateful fliers in my neighborhood calling me among other things a “Zionist terrorist” along with numerous other flyers that articulated anti-Muslim and racist messages.[10] (See pic 3.)  Because of my long-ago process of converting to Judaism, my local police treated this matter and subsequent harassment and threats as a hate crime.[11] While the Hitler Youth haircut and the likes of Mr. Spencer may mean nothing to you, it means and meant a lot to me. I still receive occasional abuses from his acolytes.

Once in the small police station, an officer whose name-tag read “Mehrinj,” arrived from the state police. I had expected this ostensible professional to resolve the matter in the most obvious way, allowing me to rebook yet another flight. It was not to be.  The man who accused me of calling Ostrav a Nazi  (Kapoor) was now repeating his account to Mehrinj. As Mehrinj took his credentials, I saw his name: S. Kapoor. Kapoor was furious that I learned his name. (See Pic 4). After much polite insistence, Mehrinj finally wrote his first initial and family name on a piece of paper along with his organizational affiliation.

As I stood there, Mr. Kapoor augmented his initial accusation with additional fabricated details. I don’t know German but I did hear Kapoor say this: “Fucking Nazi German police.” Mehrinj confirmed that, according to Mr. Kapoor, I had called Mr. Ostrv a “Fucking Nazi German police.” I may note that this is not standard American vernacular English, which is an important point since Kapoor was adamant that this was a direct quote. In the mendacious and deliberately misleading press release issued by the state police, it appears as if Mr. Kapoor further added yet more lies to his perjurous account by accusing me of calling Ostrav (or it seems German police in general) “fucking bastards.”[12] Instead of reviewing the footage, Mehrinj simply believed what he heard and wrote that I was “strongly suspected of having committed” the offense of defamation.

  • I want to draw your attention to several irregularities I experienced at the airport police station:
  • I was never given a copy of the police report or even of my own statement. This is important because it serves as a record of what happened while I was there. It appears as if Mr. Kapoor continued to add further fictions to his fraudulent testimony, as noted above.
  • I specifically requested to file charges of defamation against Mr. Kapoor, but I was denied this. (The refusal to take my complaint against Mr. Kapoor happens in countries like India and Pakistan where ironically I study police reform. I did not expect this to happen in Germany.)
  • I had to demand Mr. Kapoor’s name. I was not given it freely. In what democracy is a person denied the very name of her accuser, much less the name of a person who has made false accusations?
  • I was told that the prosecutor requested 300 Euros after the paperwork was complete. (Note that I was not given the complete paperwork with the exception of the forms provided below (Pics 5 and 6).) I asked about the purpose of this payment and was told that this was to avoid going to jail. However, I told them explicitly that I wanted to go to jail, that I wanted to meet a German judge and explain how this fiasco started with me wanting to file a customer service complaint and being threatened with arrest by lieutenant Ostrav and then, finally, I was charged with an outrageously false charge.

At this point, Mehrinj told me that he was empowered to “confiscate my assets.” I again requested to know the grounds for this only to be told that it was because I was “avoiding going to jail.” However, I was not avoiding going to jail. They were avoiding taking me to jail. Ultimately, Mehrinj forced me to remove my wallet and the cash therein. (I asked him if he wanted my Indian Rupees, which he derided.) He organized the bills by denomination and arbitrarily removed $260. In my experience as a well-traveled person and as a scholar of police corruption in South Asia, this is what we call a “shakedown.”

At no point did anyone review the exculpatory footage, despite my repeated requests. In fact, I suspect that the exculpatory footage is long gone.

Kapoor and Ostrav described me as a “hippie.” This is a peculiar appellation for me and I can only attribute their deployment of it to the fact that I was wearing an Indian shirt. I explained that in fact I am a professor who specializes in national security affairs and I am not a hippie, whatever they meant by that.

To add to the general lack of professionalism in the police at Frankfurt, I had to reach out to the German Embassy to identify the appropriate contact information. I obtained the information for this correspondence from Mr. Holger Scherf, the Consul General and Legal Adviser at the German Embassy in Washington D.C.

The Police’s Behavior After the Event

After I left Frankfurt for New Delhi India, I wrote a detailed account of what transpired in The Huffington Post and shared it on my social media.[13] I also emailed an official complaint to the police department. The police refused to entertain my complaint against Ostrav until after the prosecution. This was preposterous because I am being prosecuted on the false testimony of Ostrav and Kapoor, the objects of my complaint. (See Pic 7).

The police department even attempted to bully me for my account. (See Pic. 8.) I found their post to be outrageous given what had just happened to me. I was not given due process. I was falsely charged with a crime I did not commit, I was denied the right to press counter-charges of defamation, I was never given a police report, and I was “relieved of my assets” for reasons that were not as stated.

After my piece in the Huffington Post ran, The Bundespolizeidirektion Flughafen Frankfurt Am Main ran a press release that published several lies and helped to create a gendered narrative that I was the “ugly American” who made a scene over my “cosmetics.” Consistent with their desire to depict me as an unreasonable American woman, they claimed that I was irate over my “cosmetics.” The use of this gendered word is absurd: I do not wear cosmetics because I am allergic to the vast majority of cosmetics. (The only time you will see makeup on me is when I have been forced to do so while doing television interviews.)

The only person who made a nuisance of himself over liquids was Ostrav, who was obnoxious, impolite, capricious and abusive. The report blatantly lied about the substance of the deodorant by calling it a “roll-on,” which is a specific product that is liquid deodorant distributed on the skin through the use of a rolling ball. My product, which Ostrave decided to create a scene over, was not a roll-on; rather a solid. The press release also reported erroneously that I was traveling to Istanbul. I strongly suspect this inaccuracy was a deliberate effort to mobilize the less-than-salubrious sentiments in Germany about Turks and Turkey. (After all, I was going to Delhi not Istanbul which Ostrav knew since he took my boarding passes.)

Moreover, it appears as if the police violated Germany’s own privacy laws. When I reached home I found that several German newspapers published their “press release,” with my name and photo. At no point did anyone ask me if the Huffington Post account referred to the same person as their press release. Here are some of the links that friends and colleagues in Germany sent me:

Germany’s police demure from releasing the full names of terrorists; however, they seemed to have released my name in an effort to besmirch my name and reputation. A more litigious person than myself would also seek reparations for this outrage. Notably, in each of the above accounts, the papers rely upon the account of the police, not mine.

My Requests

  •  In short, I am requesting the following:
  • To be cleared of this outrageous charge and to be issued an apology for the police’s outrageous behavior at the airport and for the smear campaign they launched against me afterwards.
  • My money to be returned to me.
  • That officer Ostrav to be investigated for threatening to arrest me because I sought to file a customer service report about his behavior and my experience with baggage screeners.
  • For a case of defamation to be opened against Mr. S. Kapoor. Whether he initially misheard me I do not know or care because. in the end. he continued to add fabricated details which could only have been a deliberate attempt to further defame me because they in no way resembled anything that I said. For example, at no point did I use profanity as Kapoor’s perjured testimony suggests.

In closing, I have no actual expectation that you will even receive this missive as I was informed by Mr. Scherf that I must send this to the very organization which refused to take my complaints seriously in the first instance, charged me with a crime which I did not commit, and refused to file a counter-charge against Mr. Kapoor for perjuring himself with his false, defamatory testimony.

In the odd event that this missive does reach the desk of the prosecution, I hope she or he will treat me with more fairness and judicious consideration than I have received thus far.

Warmest Regards,

Christine Fair, PhD
Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor
Georgetown University
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

Figures

Pic. 1: The Actual Deodorant, Which is Clearly a Solid (not a roll-on)

Deoderant.png

 

Pic. 2: Ostrav’s Name and Rank (in his writing)

Ostrav.jpg

Pic. 3. Photographs of Flyers Posted in My Neighborhood by American Nazis, featuring those that targeted me.

FlyerCollage

Source: Various photographs from the event.

Pic. 4 Name and Title of S. Kapoor as Given to Me by “State Police.”

Kapoor

Pic. 5. Statement which Falsely States the Reason for My Asset Seizure

stronglyaccused

Pic. 6. One of Only Two Documents I received.  The other is shown in Pic. 5.

 Pic6.jpg

Pic. 7. Email Exchange with the Police

Pic7.png

Pic. 8. Tweet from the Police

Pic8.png

References:

[1] Mr. Spencer is also wont to use the vernacular of the Third Reich such as “Lügenpresse” among other expressions. See Daniel Lombroso, “’Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President-Elect,” The Atlantic, November 21, 2016. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/richard-spencer-speech-npi/508379/; Joseph Goldstein, “Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute,” The New York Times, November 20, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/us/alt-right-salutes-donald-trump.html.

[2] Ruth Perl Baharir, “From hipster fad to neo-Nazi tag: How America’s Alt-right Got Its Signature Hairstyle,” Haaretz, Feb 08, 2017. https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-how-america-s-alt-right-got-its-signature-hairstyle-1.5495494; Monica Hesse and Dan Zak November, “Does this haircut make me look like a Nazi?,” The Washington Post, November 30, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2016/11/30/does-this-haircut-make-me-look-like-a-nazi/?utm_term=.0ad048e484c9.

[3] If you are unfamiliar with this hateful organization, see Southern Poverty Law Center, “Ku Klux Klan,” n.d. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/ku-klux-klan.

[4] Ben Schreckinger, “The Alt-Right Comes to Washington,” January/February 2017, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/alt-right-trump-washington-dc-power-milo-214629.

[5] Phil Mccausland, Emmanuelle Saliba And Moira Donohue, “Charlottesville Rally Turns Deadly: One Killed After Car Strikes Crowd, NBC News, August 13, 2017. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/charlottesville-rally-turns-deadly-one-killed-after-car-strikes-crowd-n792116.

[6] “White nationalist Richard Spencer at rally over Confederate statue’s removal

Spencer says torch-wielding protest in Charlottesville, Virginia – which evokes memories of the KKK – was ‘a way to communicate with the dead’ The Guardian, May 14, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/14/richard-spencer-white-nationalist-virginia-confederate-statue.

[7] Dave Zirin, “A Lynching on the University of Maryland Campus,” The Nation, May 22, 2017. https://www.thenation.com/article/lynching-university-maryland-campus/.

[8] C. Christine Fair, “I confronted Richard Spencer at my gym,” The Washington Post, May 25, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/05/25/i-confronted-richard-spencer-at-my-gym-racists-dont-get-to-lift-in-peace/?utm_term=.0b256008b4d6.

[9] See inter alia, Faiz Siddiqui, “Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym — which terminates his membership.” The Washington Post, May 21, 2017.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/georgetown-professor-confronts-white-nationalist-richard-spencer-at-the-gym–which-terminates-his-membership/2017/05/21/d3ff6512-3e51-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?utm_term=.dcfe032872e7; “White Nationalist Richard Spencer Loses Gym Membership After Brush With Professor,” Haaretz, May 21, 2017. https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/richard-spencer-loses-gym-membership-after-confrontation-1.5474726; Andrew Buncombe, “Richard Spencer has gym membership revoked after woman confronts him for being ‘neo-Nazi’,” The Independent, May 22, 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/richard-spencer-neo-nazi-alt-right-christine-fair-a7750186.html.

[10] Remy Smidt and David Mack, “A Bunch of Racist Posters Were Plastered Around This Neighborhood And Now Police Are Investigating,” Buzzfeed, May 27, 2017. https://www.buzzfeed.com/remysmidt/police-investigate-racist-posters?utm_term=.wjJxaM8kp#.daxxwvkEY.

[11] Sam Kestenbaum, “Professor Branded ‘Dirty Jew’ After Confronting ‘Nazi’ Richard Spencer,” The Forward, May 23, 2017. https://forward.com/news/372708/professor-branded-dirty-jew-after-confronting-richard-spencer-but-she-isnt/.

[12] “BPOLD FRA: U.S. Passenger insults Federal Police Officers at Frankfurt Airport,” January 19, 2018. https://www.presseportal.de/blaulicht/pm/74262/3844730.

[13] C. Christine Fair, “Framed, Arrested and Robbed by the Police in Frankfurt: A Not-So Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Forum in Delhi,” January 12, 2018.  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/framed-arrested-and-robbed-by-the-police-in-frankfurt_us_5a58f270e4b01ccdd48b5bbf?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004.

Afghanistan’s Future Nationhood

Sarah B. Grace

by Sarah Grace

While there are many similarities between the United States’ wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam, the inherent differences between these countries mean that their trajectories after a US departure could not be more different. Many factors inhibit the building of an effectively governed, peaceful and secure Afghanistan, but for the United States to remove itself from the conflict would be devastating for this country and its people, the surrounding region, and likely the world at large. Instead of abandonment by the United States, the path to success for Afghanistan requires a concerted and thoughtful military resurgence to motivate a peaceful settlement; this can then be solidified with culturally-competent restructuring and partial decentralization of the Afghan government so that it has the legitimacy it needs to operate unchallenged by further insurgencies.

During his presidency, Barack Obama rejected the comparison between the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are…

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Framed, Arrested and Robbed by the Police in Frankfurt: A Not-So Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Forum in Delhi

01/12/2018 12:49 pm ET Updated 0 minutes ago

I’m a very frequent flier. In the course of suffering some 1.7 million miles with just one airline, I thought I had endured some fairly outrageous travel-related fiascos. But then this happened: At terminal B at Frankfurt airport on 11 January 2018, I was literally framed, arrested and, for all intents and purposes, robbed by the Frankfurt airport and German state police.

 

Long before this happened, Frankfurt Airport had become one of the most harrowing airports through which I regularly transited. I had already removed it from my list of viable routes to fly anywhere…even if my destination is Frankfurt. Frankfurt Airport is routinely decried as one of Europe’s worst airports. This dubious distinction is well-earned.

 

Yet, for a variety of reasons, here I was transiting through one of the most incommodious airports in Europe. To make matters worse, my United flight had been delayed due to one of United’s quotidian maintenance problems and I had missed my connection to New Delhi, India. I had been re-booked but needed to quickly traverse the long distances of this execrable airport. I rushed to reach the security line and found that it was oddly empty. For a moment, I felt relieved that I may get to my re-booked flight on time.

My carry-on suitcase had already made its way onto the conveyor belt and into the x-ray machine as I was still disrobing and taking out my electronics. I proceeded through the millimeter wave scanner machine and then, for apparently good measure, had my breasts patted down officially but a security agent. I saw that my carry-on had been pulled aside.

 

An officious woman with the professional pleasantries of a gravedigger said in a threatening tone and wavering English “I must check your bag for explosives.” (Her English, of course, is much better than my non-existent German!) Given the quantity of flying I do, I have had those random checks in the past. They are no big deal and they rarely take more than a minute or two: after all I have no explosives and have not been anywhere near explosives.

 

But, with a furrowed brow, the Frau began conversing in German with her colleagues. They squinted at the Magic Screen and conferred. She came over and announced with a scowl that the “police will be called as my bag tested positive.” Several minutes passed and still no police. The Frankfurt Airport is festooned with police. Where were they when they were actually needed? You would think if this was in a fact a significant crisis with a potential terrorist with explosives in her bag in terror-stricken Germany, the police may have come a bit more alacrity. As time ticked by, I became worried that I would miss yet another flight. I expressed my concern about missing my flight and she growled: “This is not my problem.” So, I asked another security agent to call the police again. I also politely inquired about the process for resolving such matters. She simply repeated the phrase: “police will come.”

 

As an observation about Frankfurt Airport’s resoundingly loathed “customer service” process, it would not have truly pained this uniformed harridan to explain what happens in these circumstances. The vast majority of customers torturing themselves by flying through this wretched airport whose bag tested positive likely felt the same anxiety and concern as I did and likely had no actual explosives either. (Frankfurt Airport routinely is ranked among Europe’s worst airport in part due to curmudgeonly employees like this woman and her associates in other billets at the FrankFart Hellport.)

When the police officers finally arrived with a leisurely saunter, they could not find the problem customer. So, I enthusiastically waved them over hoping that they will resolve this obvious case of a “false positive.” I asked the officer what the process is for resolving this, but he ignored me gruffly and contemptuously.

 

In fact, the nameless officer told me to shut up and stop being uncooperative. This was, of course, uncalled for. Neither the officer nor the woman who tested my bag was pleasant or even helpful. I asked basic questions about the process and was treated as if I were being uncooperative. In fact, I was quite worried that maybe my bag had come into contact with ambient explosives from a somewhat recent trip to Afghanistan back in October and I asked if this were possible and, if so, what I should do if this is the case. (This does happen, by the way. Many of my friends in the military have told me this once I posted this harrowing episode on Facebook and Twitter.) I apologized again for not speaking German and tried again to restate my question about the process: what was going to happen, and over what time frame? Would I be allowed to fly? Should I contact the conference organizers in Delhi about a delay? Alas, they treated my pleasant and concerned queries as if I were questioning their very authority.

 

Without explaining a thing, they began taking all items out of my suitcase in front of all customers. Again, had they any actual fear about explosives, would they wish to do this in the full visibility of a public which may be panicked or even injured by an exploding carry-on? For a variety of reasons, I would have preferred that this happen in private. (I was thinking to myself: thanks Dog I left my humongous vibrator at home.) I packed the rattiest undergarments as this was to be their final voyage. Then came the tampons and maxi pads. (I’m going through menopause and my periods are irregular and, when they come at arbitrary times, they are crazy deluges. So I always come prepared for one of those unpredictable Biblical floods that remind me of my diminished fertility.)

 

Then came the drama over “liquids.” The woman explained that I was in this situation because I committed the crime of not removing my liquids. I politely explained to her that this was not intentional that my bag was already on the conveyor belt while I was removing my jacket and my electronics. Also, I am not sure how my liquids in any way pertain to a positive explosive test and the general unpleasant demeanor of all persons involved.

 

They had nothing on me. There were no explosives. Failing to remove liquids from your bag is not a crime…only an inconvenience for everyone involved. Then they seized upon my deodorant. They told me that I had “too many liquids.” This was untrue. I had the lawful amount in a plastic bag and each item was the lawful size. (I should note that I observed an incredibly inconsistent policing of the Liquid Regime at that airport. Some people had over-sized liquids in regular grocery-store plastic bags, which were visible to all as they removed them from their bags.)

 

The police officers and baggage security personnel were going to make that deodorant their stand. They said I could not take my deodorant because, they repeated insolently, it was a liquid and I had too many liquids. I explained it is most certainly not a liquid. It is a solid. In fact, the deodorant said very clearly on the container “dry,” which is typically an antonym of wet, which is a characteristic of most liquids. (The product description also describes it as a solid. The below photo depicts my deodorant.)

 

Now, this just seemed petty and trifling. And for the first time, I went from being worried and concerned to being really irked at just how terribly ill-behaved these people were.

As some point, the woman left and a slight fellow with a tightly groomed beard arrived on the scene. I explained to the newcomer that the item in question is my deodorant: that it is a solid not a liquid. I also explained that this has not been a very professional experience and asked to see a manager and I wanted to know how I can file a customer service complaint about this un-necessarily unpleasant experience and, of course, the preposterous declaration that an obvious solid was a liquid. I also asked for the names of the individuals involved because none of the persons had name tags, as is customary in many democratic countries.

 

The police officer explained, with all of the bluster with which Donald Trump declared himself to be a “stable genius,” that the solid mixes with the body and becomes a liquid and thus it is a liquid after arguing that the container has fluid in it. (I resolved that canard by opening the deodorant.) His English is obviously better than my German: but my chemistry is much better than his. This was just preposterous. His language, his body posture, his demeanor was thuggish, discourteous, demeaning and noxious. He was going to seize my deodorant come hell or high water. I asked the gentleman who had replaced the older woman if I could speak to a manager about the deodorant and the entire encounter more generally. Was this petty? Sure. Would I have been better to let the thugs have their way? No doubt about it. But the capricious and arbitrariness of the entire proceeding really pissed me off. Making my flight had become tenuous and I no longer cared. I asked once again to speak with a manager. I also kept thinking, if these rubes behave this way with me how would they behave with a more vulnerable passenger?

 

The police officer bellowed “I am the manager and that is a liquid.” I said politely. No. It is clearly not a liquid and you are not the manager. You are a police officer. And you are a rude police officer.

 

In the meantime, three American men were behind me. I had watched them come through the same security checkpoint as I did. One of the three seemed younger than the other two. He was wearing a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal his tattoos. He was actually sporting a Hitler’s youth haircut. He had no hair on either side of his head and he had a very exuberantly characteristic flop that combed over towards the left. It was surprisingly glistening with hair product and showed no sign of dishevelment despite his journey. I looked like a banshee in contrast. If this guy had asked for that haircut unknowingly, my heart goes out to him. However, that do, in my view, was deliberately distinct from the hideous Hipster hairdo that Millennial metro-sexual males have regrettably popularized or the military’s high and tight cut, both of which are sometimes mistaken for the coiffure of American white supremacists. It is illegal in Germany to be a Nazi or act like a Nazi. But Inspector Clouseau and his daft sidekick were too busy impounding my solid deodorant and offering various preposterous explanations for why it was a liquid when it was clearly a god-damned solid to notice the fellow conspicuously sporting the preferred coiffure of the Hitler’s Youth.

Annoyed with this set of procedures and general surliness of all persons involved, I again courteously explained to the officer that I would like to know his name and I want to register my displeasure with this set of interactions. At this point, the officer threatened me with arrest!

 

I wish were exaggerating. I wish I was engaging in hyperbole for humorous effect. Alas, this ill-tempered boor was furious that I was insisting upon complaining about his uncivil behavior and had become even more intemperate. I explained that, in my country, our law enforcement personnel wear name tags and that citizens have a right to register complaints when they believe they have been maltreated. (PS: I am totally aware that this is a privilege generally reserved for white people. This is truly a white privilege.) But, I continued politely but firmly, he had no name tag. He bellowed that he would arrest me if I insisted upon filing a complaint.

 

Let that marinate. This cop actually threatened me with arrest if I wanted to complain about his indecorous behavior. At this point I was pretty clear that I was going to complain about him, drawing particular attention to his threat of arrest if I complained about him. He actually said, “If you complain, you will have a German criminal record.” This was becoming a farce. It occurred to me that if he does this to an American white woman who teaches at a prestigious American university and who is a national security professional, how would he treat a Muslim woman in a hijab or a Muslim man with a beard. I concluded that I am going to file a complaint against this man for his crude abuse of power. He knew he was wrong and was willing to do anything to avoid a customer service complaint: including arresting the complainant.

 

He was as adamant as was I: He explained that if I am going to complain about him, he was going to arrest me. He asserted that I was being a belligerent and rude passenger. Now anyone who knows me knows that I can indeed by very “rude,” which is the adjective that men use for women who are assertive. I countered that the cameras will not align with their story. They dismissed the cameras as evidence of my decorous behavior noting that they do not record sounds. However the camera would record my mouth moving and the mouth movements would confirm my version, not their defamatory version.

 

And as these ruffians became more thuggish, I became more resolved. I wanted their names. I was filing a complaint and I don’t care if I miss my damned flight as it was increasingly unlikely I would catch that flight anyway.

 

As I insisted that I would complain, so did he that he would file a criminal charge. He said, “Now you will have a German police report.” Clearly, this was intended to intimidate me. Since I lack any flight instinct, I said do it. I am complaining about your abuse of power and I am specifically dilating upon your threat to arrest me should I persist in complaining about you.

 

He removed from his pocket a small notebook. He took my passport and boarding pass and wrote down my details. He then illegibly scribbled his name on a piece of paper. He only wrote what appeared to be “Austav.” (His actual name is OSTRAV I later figured out)

 

After they had satisfied themselves that I had no explosives, the abrasive, contempt-dripping OSTRAV left having pronounced “I am the manager” in response to my queries to speak to a manager. He also felt the need to belittle his uniformed colleague (who was apparently confused about the deodorant nonsense) by citing his lower rank. (N.B.: Anyone who needs to literally pull rank when a subordinate knows how a solid differs from a liquid Is clearly a rank rube.)

 

As I put my tampons, cruddy travel panties, and long-worn travel bras back into my suitcase, without the deodorant, I muttered to myself while shaking my head “The crack German police have seized my deodorant…but they don’t seem to care about that Nazi-looking dude over there!” And, as I was still shaking my head in disbelief, I was actually arrested.

 

The chap with the closely hewn beard whose job it was to watch x-ray images of baggage called the police back and told them that I had called the officer a “Nazi.” At first, I assumed that the this was a linguistic misunderstanding. At this point, the three fellows including the Hitler Youth haircut enthusiast had left. I gave the baggage screener the benefit of the doubt and explained “I think you misunderstood me. I referred to the gentlemen behind me, who is an AMERICAN, not your police officer.” I told him to replay any of the security footage. He and officer OSTRAV refused again noting that their surveillance tools do not record sound. I countered that the footage would show the three men behind me, my repeated astonished glances at the fellow, and the chap with the hairdo that was strikingly redolent of the Hitler’s Youth well-groomed pompadour.

This actually happened—not in Kabul, Lahore or Chicago—but at the airport in Frankfurt, a major city in one of Europe’s most important democracies known for its fastidious adherence to the rule of law.

 

Once in the small police station, the state police arrived. This fellow had a name tag: Mehrinj. I was relieved. He seemed polite and more professional than that swaggering goon who could not distinguish a solid from a liquid. I had expected this ostensible professional to resolve the matter allowing me to rebook yet another flight. It was not to be.

 

The short fellow who accused me of calling OSTRAV a Nazi was now repeating his account to Mehrinj. As Mehrinj took his credential, I saw his name: S. Kapoor. Kapoor went ballistic that I knew his name. What kind of democracy is Germany where an individual has a right to perjure himself about a person but the victim of this perjury doesn’t have a right to know the name of her slanderer?

As I stood there, Mr. Kapoor adumbrated his accusation. I don’t know German but I did hear this: “Fucking Nazi German police.” It was pretty clear where this was going. Mehrinj explained that, according to Mr. Kapoor, I had called Mr. Austav a “Fucking Nazi German police,” which is a crime in Germany. I may note that this is not even standard American vernacular English, which is a fairly important point since Kapoor was adamant that this was a direct quote.

 

Amongst themselves, Kapoor and OSTRAV described me as a “hippy.” This is a peculiar appellation for me and I can only attribute their deployment of it to the fact that I was wearing an Indian kurta and coat and sandals because, after all, I was going to India. I explained that in fact I am a professor and I am not a hippy, whatever they meant by that.

 

I don’t know if Mr. Kapoor actually thought he heard this or whether he was a calumnious schlemiel who, upon making a false accusation, was not only not going to back down but would, in fact, double down.

 

At this point, it became very clear that Mr. Kapoor and Officer OSTRAV were engaging in a breathtaking abuse of power. I had asked for their names and information where I could report my dissatisfaction with how I was being treated and this was their retaliation.

 

I was literally charged with the criminal offense of defamation because I had the audacity to request politely for the names of the noxious and impolite officials as well as information about where I can file a report or find a manager. The photo of the charge is below. You can see that I am “strongly suspected of having committed” the offense of defamation.

 

Mehrinj took my written statement. I was told I was to be given a copy. (I was not given a copy.) I also was adamant that I wanted to file a police report for defamation against Mr. Kapoor who mendaciously asserted that I had called OSTRAV a Nazi but who also perjured himself in doing so. I was told that if the prosecutor wanted to charge him, s/he could. I repeated my desire to file a police report against Mr. Kapoor. These efforts were denied repeatedly.

 

Before being allowed to leave they requested 300 Euros. This was the final straw. I told them to throw me in jail and that I would happily go before a judge and explain the slander and the abuse of power to which I was subjected because I wanted to file a customer service complaint, which is a basic consumer right in most democracies. In the end, they demanded to see the cash in my wallet. I was told to remove my cash. I had about $300 dollars. They arranged the bills by denomination and took what they wanted. They took $260 dollars and told me that they were kindly leaving me with $40. I was given a piece of paper, shown above, in which they indicated that they took this arbitrary amount of money from my wallet for “avoiding provisional arrest” and “securing the implementation of the process.” Make no mistake: this was a considerate robbery in which the perpetrators left me with a receipt.

 

In retrospect, what I experienced was little more than jackbooted thuggery. I also suspect that this was deeply gendered. These two men were annoyed that a woman (whom they repeatedly called “Miss” despite the fact that I am a 49-year old woman) dared to seek accountability for their unprofessional behavior. I continue to wonder who else OSTRAV has abused but whom he intimidated into silence? I fear for a racial or religious minority that would encounter him. What contempt would he show them? This man does not belong in any uniform, except perhaps the one which corrupt police officers wear in jail….were they ever to be jailed for their abuses of power.

 

In closing, I say this to Mr. Austav: I did not call you a Nazi. But you are an insolent bully. The only thing that differentiates you from the criminals one may encounter in the street is the weapon and badge the state has given you along with the authorization to use force in the service of the state. Make no mistake: you abused this privilege and expected to do so without accountability. To Mr. Kapoor, whether your English is not as good as you insist or whether you are guileful and unctuous toadie, I have this to say: ਉਮੀਦ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਕੋਈ ਜਾਂ ਕੋਈ, ਤੇਰੀ ਗੰਦ ਵਿਚ ਝਾੜੂ ਡਾਲਕਰ, ਮੋਰ ਬਣਾ ਦੇਵੇਗਾ. (If you can’t read Gurmukhi: umid hai kh koi ja koi tere gand vich jaru dalke mor bana denge.) And finally to Frankfurt airport, Gute Riddance.

 

 

Post Post Script: On January 17, 2017, I received this email frombpold.frankfurt.sb14.beschwerdestelle@polizei.bund.dePerhaps coincidentally someone in Germany complained about my post to German Twitter, which of course found nothing wrong with my post.

 

Bundespolizeidirektion Flughafen Frankfurt AM Main Sachbereich 14 – Beschwerdestelle Dear Mrs. Fair, thank you for your complaint. Please note that your complaint procedure will be suspended until a decision concerning the criminal proceedings has been reached by the public prosecutor. Therefore, I would like to ask you to direct all requests concerning the criminal proceedings to the responsible public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt am Main, quoting the reference. Once the decision by the public prosecutor has been made, I will reply to your complaint regarding the procedure at the security screening checkpoint.

Best regards In order Armin Thiel Sachbearbeiter Beschwerdemanagement _______________________________________ Sachbereich 14 – Beschwerdestelle Bundespolizeidirektion Flughafen Frankfurt am Main

Postfach 75 02 64 | 60532 Frankfurt am Main Telefon: 069 3400-4194 | Fax: 069 3400-4109 E-Mail: bpold.frankfurt.sb14.beschwerdestelle@polizei.bund.de Internet: http://www.bundespolizei.de

——-Ursprüngliche Nachricht——- Von: Christine Fair [mailto: Gesendet: Freitag, 12. Januar 2018 19:54 An: D FRA Post (Eingang); Christine Fair Betreff: I was abused by your police in Frankfurt, framed and basically robbed

Good Afternoon:

I have written this account of what happened to me at Frankfurt Airport yesterday on January 11, 2018. When I return to DC from Delhi, I will be making an appointment with the ambassador. To be subjected to this thuggery by a police service in Europe’s vanguard of democracy is beyond belief. This is what I expect in my own country: not in Germany. I would like the money that was taken from to be returned and I want an apology. I have also reached out to German and American media about this event through my social media following. Framed, Arrested and Robbed by the Police in Frankfurt: A Not-So Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Forum in Delhihttps://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/framed-arrested-and-robbed-by-the-police-in-frankfurt_us_5a58f270e4b01ccdd48b5bbf?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004

Warmest Regards,

C. Christine Fair,

 

Post Script: On January 13 2018, the Frankfurt Airport Police, via a tweet, attempted to silence me asking that I observe their version of “netiquette” and “avoid using this channel to make public allegations.” To them I say, I will not shut up until my money is returned and justice is served. While you want me to observe “netiquette,” your thugs in uniform were not advised to respect my civil liberties.

Old Whines in a New Bottle: US Policy Towards Pakistan under Trump

President Donald J. Trump,  who is widely viewed by mental health professionals to be mentally unstable and exhibiting “marked signs of volatility and unpredictable behavior, and an attraction to violence as a means of coping,” offered his maiden tweet of 2018:

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The tweet encouraged the Indian commentariat who have long been hopeful that Trump would act decisively against Pakistan, given his presumed antipathy for Muslims specifically and his propensity for bluster more generally. Meanwhile Pakistan responded as it has in the past for being called out for its mendacity and perfidy: it rallied its trolls; it summoned and demarched the US Ambassador in Islamabad; and, in all fora possible, it denied the allegations of nefarious deeds with all of the sincerity and credibility of the wholesome human resource manager of the Chicken Ranch.

NoHookers.png.jpg

However, even as the tweet continued to titillate Trump enthusiasts in India and at home, the responsible members of Trump’s government were strategizing how to roll this all back. Later that day, a National Security spokesperson reiterated what the New York Times had already reported on December 29, 2017: namely that “The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 foreign military financing for Pakistan at this time.” This is not the sweeping cutoff that Trump implied in his braggadocios tweet.

Trump’s staff has offered various justifications for the tweet, even though it may be the most accurate thing the president has said in the last month.  For example, McMaster told VOA that Pakistan “goes after terrorist and insurgent groups very selectively and uses others as an arm of their foreign policy.” We South Asianists have been calling this “Pakistan’s Selective War on Terrorism” and we have been using this term for about as long as the Americans have been fighting terrorism in South Asia, ostensibly with Pakistan as a partner.

Let’s just get this out of the way: there is little that is or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy.  We are not going to see sweeping sanctions or aid cutoffs. We are not going to see the joint declared a state sponsor of terror, although it surely is. We’d be lucky if his administration targeted specific people, but I doubt that would be an adequate punishment to get Pakistan to behave any less opprobriously. His policies will not diverge significantly from that of George W. Bush or Barrack Hussein Obama. Why do I say this? Is it because I think everything he touches turns to horse excrement? No. There are two simple reasons for my dour assessment. First, there are the night terrors triggered by imagining how terrifying Pakistan could be without American money. Americans just cannot manage to understand that Pakistan is the most stable instability. It can survive without our money and it would probably be better off in the long-run if it weaned itself off of Chaccha Sam’s teet. Second and more important than the first is the logistical requirements of staying the course in Afghanistan.

 

Image result for Pakistan terrorism cartoon

Stop Hyperventilating: Obama Did the Same Thing Too…And Pakistan Still Screws Us

Trump is fond of making outrageous claims that are not even modestly true. Despite his preposterous rhodomontades to the contrary, Trump is not the first president to express distaste for Pakistan’s actions. In August 2007, presidential candidate Barrack Hussein Obama threatened to undertake unilateral military strikes against the terrorists harbored by Pakistan. Obama, upon being president, took the fight to Pakistan with his zealous use of airstrikes by remotely piloted aerial vehicles. Obama did more in the early years of his presidency to wipe out al Qaeda in South Asia than George Bush did during his entire eight years in office. Moreover, in March 2009, when Obama announced his so-called “Af-Pak Strategy,” he specifically identified Pakistan as a terrorist safe-haven. His Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Pakistan and said more clearly than any of her predecessors that Pakistan’s past policies of supporting terrorism account for its own domestic terrorism. Specifically, she impugned Pakistan by explaining that “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors. You know, eventually, those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.

Let us not forget that it was Obama who ordered the US Navy Seals to unilaterally attack a compound near Pakistan’s famed military academy in which Osama Bin Laden had been residing in plain sight for numerous years.

ThanksObama

And, during the Obama administration, the United States also withheld funds from Pakistan: $300 million to be precise for several years. Arguably those funds were more important than the FMF presumably off the table at present. It did so because the US Congress passed legislation that authorized $1 billion dollars in coalition support funds (CSF), but rendered $300 million hostage to Pakistan taking decisive action against the Haqqani Network and in later years, against the Lashkar-e-Taiba. These sums of money could only be paid if the administration certified that Pakistan had complied with the requirements. On several occasions, it demurred to do so largely because no one really wanted to perjure themselves that bad to allow those funds to go forward.

CSF has been a hugely lucrative source of funding for the Land of the Pure (Duplicity). Of the nearly $34billion that the U.S. taxpayer has handed over to Pakistan since 2002, CSF has comprised the bulk of it: nearly $15 billion.  In 2008, the U.S. Government Accounting Office was so pissed off about the corruption in this program that it conducted a thorough investigation and wrote a scathing report about the malfeasance in the program. While the program was intended to reimburse Pakistan for the marginal cost of killing its own terrorist, the Pakistanis have had a field day billing all sorts of major expenditures to the U.S. taxpayer. While the program has become less absurdly lucrative for the Pakistanis, it is still an important source of defense subsidy for Pakistan’s army which has never won a war—except against its own democracy.

CSF is essentially a bribe to get the Pakistani military to do what any self-respecting military of a sovereign state should do: keep its territory free of terrorists. In fact, Pakistan is required by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1373 (adopted in 2001), which obliges all states to “refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including by suppressing recruitment of members of terrorist groups and eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists.” This resolution is a Chapter VII resolution, which also authorizes force should a country fail to abide by its provision. This is exactly what Pakistan did in November 2008 when its favored proxy—the Lashkar-e-Taiba—savaged Mumbai, yet the United States and China colluded to ensure that no discussion of penalties ever arose at the Security Council. Arguably, by compensating Pakistan to do what it should be doing vitiates the importance of this resolution and established the perverse incentive of rewarding Pakistan for eliminating the very terrorists that it continues to breed. To be blunter: we are paying Pakistan to hunt rats even while Pakistan is farming those very rats. We should put into a place a program that incentivizes Pakistan to stop having rats (or terrorists for that matter) in the first instance.

Despite the Satsuma-hued Satan says about his administration getting tougher on Pakistan than any other administration in the natural history of the earth (which is only about 3,500 years according to most of his base and about 4.54 plus or minus 0.05 billion years for us sentient folks), under pressure from Trump’s Secretary of Defense, The GoP-led Congress actually weakened one provision according to which the United States will withhold coalition support payments to Pakistan when it removed a provision that linked assistance to Pakistan to taking demonstrable action against terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The current National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2018 only requires Pakistan to act against the Haqqani Network, which it surely will not do either. It did so after Pakistan released the organization’s leader, Hafez Saeed, who is a declared terrorist by the United States and the United Nations among others, from house arrest/protective custody and after Saeed announced that his organization is fielding a political party, the Milli Muslim League, to contest the general elections of 2018.

This is hardly a sweeping punishment that will knock Pakistan on a course of acting against terrorism. Historically, FMF funds have not been the mainstay of the American dole to Pakistan. Out of the more than $33 billion given to Pakistan since FY 2002, FMF has accounted for less than $4. The most lucrative payouts have been through the CSF program which totals more than $14.5 billion.

More humorously, if one can find humor in this situation at all, is that FMS probably aids the U.S. military-industrial complex more than it aids Pakistan.  Why? Well for one thing, FMF funds enable partner countries to buy American “defense articles, services, and training,” and is provided either as a non-repayable grant or loan basis. In other words, the FMF program is a clever way by which the U.S. government can’t our tax dollars, hand them over to the Pakistanis who in turn use it to buy expensive stuff from U.S. military contractors. FMF is actually a fairly clever way of taking money from the American taxpayers and putting into the pockets of American defense firms. This is one reason why the part of the Pentagon that sells stuff to our allies—perfidious and otherwise—tend to holler when these funds get pinched. (But remember, Trump says he knows how to make a deal. Someone needs to tell him that this irradiated sasquatch dung because, in fact, he has run most businesses he has touched right into the ground. In fact, Trump would be more wealthy if he took his daddy’s inheritance and did nothing with it all or invested it in index funds. He’s just that shitty of a businessman.)

The Preferred Roads to Afghanistan (Preferred by the adults on his staff, that is because he doesn’t have a dog-damned clue), Go Through Pakistan

(PS: I am pretty sure that Trump doesn’t look at maps ever. Reportedly, while being briefed by a staffer on South Asia he asked about “two blobs” on a map. The briefer explained that they were Nepal and Bhutan. Trump then asked? Are those countries? He then proceeded to pronounce them as “nipple” and “button.” Yep. That’s our fucking president people.)

So you may be asking yourself: “Self? Why is it that the United States continues to make huge payouts to Pakistan while highly publicizing the limited efforts to restrict relatively small amounts of aid to the country even though it is widely recognized that Pakistan continues to fund the very organizations—such as the Haqqani Network, the Taliban, and groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba among others—that are killing our soldiers and allies in Afghanistan?” You may also ask yourself: “Self, why can’t any president muster the vaginal fortitude and declare Pakistan to be a state sponsor of terror, for which there is ample evidence?” (Hint: We have a very racist country but we are more sexist and we didn’t want to elect the most qualified candidate since George Herbert Walker Bush because of structural misogyny, Putin and Wikileaks and an inept FBI.)  Alternatively, you may ask yourself: “Self! Why can’t the United States simply take its checkbook and let China take over paying Pakistan’s bills as Pakistan continually threatens will happen should the United States walk away from this abusive relationship for good?” You have asked some mighty important questions. It turns out, that that there are several important reasons, none of which are easily ignored…not even the Putin pawn currently defiling the White House.

First is the way in which Pakistan has literally monetized the insecurity that its policies have explicitly fostered, by design. Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear program in the world, inclusive of efforts to develop so-called “tactical nuclear weapons.” (I prefer to call them “battlefield nuclear weapons” as even the smallest nuclear bomb will have strategic effects if used.) Given Pakistan’s well-known reputation for black market nuclear trafficking, well-publicized reports of moving its warheads around in un-escorted, soft-skin vehicles (such as –wait for it—fucking vans) and an actual petting zoo of every kind of domestic, regional and trans-national Islamist terrorist organization thriving under its protection, Americans and its allies are rightly concerned that any mis-step may result in a terrorist getting his (Pakistan’s terrorists don’t value women’s skills any more than the average Trump voter) hands on Pakistan’s nuclear technology, fissile material, or device.  This is Washington’s second worst nightmare. (The first is having a progressive, feminist, pro-choice woman in the White House.)  Ironically, Pakistan has invested in both its nuclear and terrorist arsenals on Washington’s time and dime. You can build a lot of nukes and terrorists with $34 billion folks! Yet American officials in virtually all branches of government fear that a complete breakoff in aid will hasten this outcome even while continued payments to Pakistan permit this ever-more effective nuclear coercion. They will tell you that we have to keep bending over and grabbing our ankles otherwise we’ll lose access and influence. With all the good that access and influence have brought, I see end them both!

Second and related to the first, the United States worries about Pakistan’s solvency. If it really wanted to bring Pakistan’s to its terror-loving knees, it would let the International Monetary Fund cut it off when it reneges on its own commitment to financial reform. (In the future, international contributors to the IMF will essentially be subsidizing Pakistan’s exorbitant loan repayments to the Chinese. This alone should be adequate reasoning to let the IMF cut Pakistan off. However, this is unlikely to happen. Pakistan has essentially developed its bargaining power by threatening its own demise. With any economic collapse of Pakistan, Washington again fears that the specter of a nuclear-armed terrorist rising up from Pakistan will materialize.

Finally, and pertaining to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Washington has placed itself in a losing position. I have argued for years that the United States lost the war in Afghanistan when it went to war with Pakistan, one of the states most committed to undermining the US efforts there. I have compared this decision to putting a pederast in charge of playground safety and then wondering what went wrong?

Whereas the United States wants a stable Afghan government which can resist its predatory neighbors and keep Islamist militants out of the government and prevent Islamist militants from using Afghanistan as a sanctuary to train, recruit and plan terrorist attacks in the region and beyond, this is precisely the Afghanistan that Pakistan wants.  The only way Washington could have had a hope of avoiding the situation in which it finds itself is if then President Bush had capitalized upon the opening with Iran that then-President Khatami offered.

In 2001, Iran was incredibly supportive of the American effort.  Ambassador James Dobbins, who was present at Bonn, attests to Iran’s productive role in trying to secure a democratic future for Afghanistan.   The United States instead spurned Iran and even labeled it a founding member of the Axis of Evil. The Bush administration was profoundly clueless about Pakistan’s interests and had foolishly believed that Pakistan’s President and Army Chief Pervez Musharraf was sincere in offering his country’s help in defeating their own proxies in Afghanistan.  We know now that this was a preposterous assumption. Yet the die had been cast. The United States became singularly reliant upon using Pakistan’s air and land corridors to move supplies for the war effort. It’s efforts to cultivate a so-called “northern distribution route” failed to fructify.

Throughout the years, I reminded Americans that Iran has a port in Chabahar, which the Indians have helped to develop along with the necessary road and rail lines connecting it to Afghanistan.  I noted that Americans could work with Indian contractors to move goods from Chabahar to Afghanistan, thus providing an opportunity to further consolidate our fast-growing ties with India. Moreover, now that the American military presence is sustainable through airlift, the United States only needs ground access to resupply the Afghan National Security Forces. Most Americans recoil at the suggestion arguing that Iran is a nuclear-proliferating, state sponsor of terror. Needless to say, Pakistan is an actual nuclear-proliferating, state sponsor of terror. Moreover, while Iran may be a regional headache, Pakistan is an international crisis generator. Yet the United States has had no problem shoveling $33 billion into that country, even though it uses those funds to kill our troops and allies in Afghanistan and subsidize the very nuclear coercion that keeps checks from the American taxpayer flowing to Pakistan.

Under the Obama administration, the United States made unprecedented progress in thawing relations with Iran with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or the so-called nuclear agreement with Iran), which opened up the serious possibility of moving supplies from the port in Chabahar. In fact, the Indians just completed its first shipment of 1.1 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan that traveled through Chabahar.  However, Trump made it clear that he would vitiate the JCPOA as a part of his larger package of programs intended to appease Israel.

 

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Without an alternative port, the United States will have no choice but to continue working with Pakistan if it wants to remain engaged in Afghanistan, as Trump intends to do.  (The proposed troop surge is now complete with about 14,000 US troops in the country.) While Trump can tweet whatever he wants about Pakistan or Iran, the professionals on his staff know the truth: the US policy in Afghanistan requires a port with road and/or rail access to Afghanistan. And it seems that even though Pakistan is far more dangerous than is Iran, this administration—like each one before—has cast its lot with Pakistan. And this administration will confront the same failures as those before. Simply put, logistics is a bitch. You can try some clever ruses to keep her down. You can even try to slap her. But she will rise up and kick your ass to the curb every damned time.

 

 

Christine Fair is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program within the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is the author of the book Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (OUP, 2014) and the forthcoming In their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Hurst/OUP, 2018).

A version of this was published at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/old-whines-in-a-new-bottle-us-policy-towards-pakistan_us_5a4d560be4b0df0de8b06f32.