As my anti-Modi stand hardened, a high school friend who lives in India wrote to me that it might be ok to be critical of Modi when I am in the US, but that I maybe should not say or write anything negative when I am in India. She worried that Modi's toadies would find their way to my door and even literally beat the crap out of me.
Of course, no toady can stop me and I continued to do whatever I do. I believe in those wonderful words that Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote decades ago: "Speak, this brief hour is long enough, Before the death of body and tongue."
I grew up in a country, in a context, that taught me the importance of free speech. A quiet person that I was, I drank that tasty drink of freedom and got addicted to that taste. You see, free speech does not have to be loud speech. Nor is loud speech necessarily free speech--Chitler's speech is a classic example of that.
Yes, Chitler. You know him as Trump. But, Chitler is one of the many other words that I use when referring to this President. Why Chitler? Cheeto + Hitler = Chitler. Why Cheeto? Ahem, have you seen his face and hair? ;)
I can call this current US President Chitler. The Orange Monster. Pussygrabber. Fascist. Asshole. I mean, it is an unending list of such very endearing terms ;)
I do that because I can. I live in the good ol' US of A. Though, if Chitler and his minions have their way, I won't have a long time for expressing my fondness for Dear Leader!
If I were in China, then as tempting as it would be to refer to the Chinese President as Xitler, well, I might at least think twice before I did that. Because, well, that is China. I suspect that I would still do that, and then you will never hear from me again, which might not be a bad thing, eh!
Kwon, an ethnic Korean who studied in America, disappeared into police custody last September, soon after he shared on Twitter a picture of the T-shirt featuring scabrous names for Mr. Xi, including “Xitler.” And on Wednesday Mr. Kwon faced trial on a charge of “inciting subversion”.The young man faces months in prison for this:
Kwon embodies a phenomenon that worries the Chinese government: young people, exposed to foreign ideas, sometimes through study abroad, who feel free to criticize the government, perhaps naïvely believing that they won’t get into serious troubleAnd where did Kwon pick up those ideas? "Kwon studied aerospace engineering at Iowa State University." Iowa. Yes, the same Iowa where Xitler spent some time as a young man.
Kwon, unlike Xitler, does not care for censorship and control.
Kwon’s thoughts turned to the wider world. He often sent messages criticizing the Chinese government’s censorship and political controls and voicing support for dissidents and other banned causes. In one of his Twitter posts, he discussed being told to “drink tea,” a popular Chinese euphemism for being questioned by security officials.Those fighting the Xitlers of the world are the brave ones. We are all better off thanks to those who are willing to give it all up in order to challenge the oppressors.
“If I have to drink tea again, I won’t be shy and nervous,” he wrote on Twitter in September. “I’ll very clearly declare my views, as bright as a banner opposing the Communist Party. That’s my attitude. I won’t seek out trouble, but if it comes to me, I’ll live with it.”
Life is short.
Speak, by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.
See how in the blacksmith's shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.
Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, 'cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.