History indeed repeats itself



I write in protest against the letter from Jerome Diengdoh, “History indeed repeats itself” published in your esteemed newspaper. There is no comparison between the Turks that Diengdoh cites and present day REFUGEES (not armed soldiers) from war-torn Syria, caught between ISIS and Assad’s thugs. Citing history is inappropriate, because modern warfare and modern refugee situations are historically unprecedented. Yes Europe has been kind, but Europe also has rational self-interest in mind. The Syrian refugees are already educated and skilled. The Germans have an aging population. They need skilled workers.

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The demise of European Christianity has solid historical roots in the Church’s cruel persecutions of perceived enemies and in its religious intolerance (crusades, the burning of witches, etc.). In some ways European secularism is kinder towards the outsider. It does not behoove us to adopt the postcolonial racist mantle to protect Europe from the dark outsider it has always rejected. Nor does it behoove us to ignore the history of colonialism and post-colonialism in trying to understand present day Europe vis-a-vis the Muslim refugee.

Having said this, it is frustrating to non-Muslims to witness the blindness that many practicing Muslims have towards the history of their faith. The history of colonialism has made the accusation “racism” very potent. For fear of being accused of racism, many Europeans are leery of expressing this obvious truth — that just because Europe did awful things to the former colonies, does not mean that people from those colonies are necessarily virtuous. To worry in case ISIS slips in its foot soldiers among these Muslim refugees into Europe, is indeed a very reasonable fear and one that should be dealt with.

The challenge before Europe today is formidable. This challenge lies not in accommodating the Syrian refugee, but rather, in distinguishing between the Muslim jihadist and the Muslim refugee.

Some Europeans (the British included) are to be commended for their hospitality towards the refugees — especially those who have taken them into their own homes. I cannot imagine the people of the Northeast showing this kind of personalized kindness and compassion to the dispossessed ethnic minority refugees who slip through the borders from Bangladesh. To be illegal is not the same as being immoral.

Nations which show kindness to the poor and the dispossessed — especially to the outsider (within bounds of reason of course) — end up enriching themselves spiritually. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “It is in giving that we receive.”

Yours etc.,

Deepa Majumdar,

Via email


Shillong’s speed breakers



Why do speed breakers in Shillong not have white coloured markings? Perhaps the authorities are taking for  granted that all the people who drive their vehicles have memorized all the speed-breakers, which is not tenable. It is customary as per traffic regulations to mark the speed-breakers with white colour. One should never think that a driver can always control the speed of the car on the NON-MARKED  speed-breakers . Several  factors  like poor eyesight , preoccupation, non-stop traffic  etc might cause a driver to bump into a NON-MARKED  speed-breaker and  which may result to fatal accidents and hazards.  I had once personally witnessed a fatal accident by a Sumo car on Delhi-Agra Highway where   there was no marking on a speed-breaker. I urge upon to the concerned Department to look into the matter.

Yours etc.,

Anjan  Kr  Das,

 Shillong -6

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