Kids Corner


Bellwether Billboards,
Part I -
Janam Da Firangee,
Sikhi Mai Mangee






This particular column was inspired by my annual journey from my home in south Florida to our summer home in Michigan. 

For many years now, I have concluded that billboards reveal much about American culture, morality and politics. I think we are a land and people of contradictions.

For example, the most frequently seen billboards along interstate highways are advertisements as follows: restaurants, guns and ammo stores, sex shops, massage parlors, Bible quotations, and anti-abortion messages. I have often pondered the Republican Party’s contraction between being both “pro-gun” and “pro-life.” In other words, protect the unborn, but oppose commonsense gun laws that might protect those already here.

One can see an enormous billboard advertising the largest sex shop in the south, quickly followed by a billboard with a quotation from Jesus! I am reminded of the Oscar Wilde quote, “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”

Along one interstate highway is a huge sex shop the size of a food supermarket and very close to it is an enormous cross. I get the impression that concerned Christians put up the cross to perhaps discourage patrons of the sex shop – or at least make them feel guilty.

I think these American contractions shed light on the political polarization in the country at this time. Moreover, they reveal the two majority realities that exist in terms of assessing the Trump presidency. If one watches cable new programs, such as CNN and MSNBC one gets a very critical perspective on the White House, whereas watching Fox News gives one the impression that this current administration under Trump is one of the most successful in all of American history.

Despite all of Trump’s sexual indiscretions through the years, there is a pro-Trump radio host, Jesse Lee Peterson, who recently described Democrats as “children of Satan.”

“Why would you want to pray with the children of Satan?” Peterson rhetorically asked Republicans. “They serve a different God than you. That’s reality.”

I have been rereading William Dalrymple’s book, The Last Mughal, in which he describes the two vastly different realities that existed side by side in Delhi just prior to the Sepoy Mutiny. The British, functioning under the facade of the East India Company, had become more and more zealous in promoting Christianity and condescending toward both Hinduism and Islam. In response, many of the so-called “native” peoples were becoming more defensive and orthodox in their indigenous faiths. 

The two most prominent newspapers in Delhi at the time, one in English for the British, and the other in Urdu, described the city so differently - as though they were on different planets!

Is this not what prevails in America at this time between the pro and anti-Trump factions?

Whilst the Brits were having lavish and decadent balls, dining on both ham and beef entrees, and going to choir practices at church, a few streets away, Hindus were doing their puja, resentful of Christian evangelists, and Muslims were becoming more receptive to the jihadis in their midst.

One of my major concerns is that the Delhi of the early 1850s set the stage for the most serious and violent challenge to the British Empire in the 19th century. 

What will happen in the America of today?

June 26, 2017


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Part I -
Janam Da Firangee,
Sikhi Mai Mangee "

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