Sunday, December 30, 2007

America: Intolerant? Uncaring? Reality Check in Chicago

"Everyone knows" how intolerant and uncaring America is: at least in the more progressive campus cliques I lived near for much of my life. The proofs generally involved Martin Luther King and a comparison between American and British health care.

On the other hand, there's what happened this week in Chicago.

Anu Solanki disappeared Monday, Christmas Eve. Her husband was concerned, because she'd been on her way to dip a statue in the Chicago river. That's not a river you want to fall into: especially not in late December.

(About that statue: Anu and Dignesh Solanki were married in 2006, and had a second ceremony in May. A statue of Ganesh, Hindu god of good fortune and wisdom, was involved in the May ceremony. Later, the statue broke and Anu was advised to dip it in water to avoid ill fortune.)

The car Anu was driving was found with the doors open, and the keys in the ignition. One of the reasonable assumptions was that Anu had slipped, and dipped herself in the Chicago river, along with the statue.

Four days and upwards of a quarter-million dollars later, Anu showed up. In California.

She'd decided that getting married was a mistake. So, she bummed a ride from a guy she knew, and went to the west coast. She left the car, because it belonged to Dignesh, and she wanted to make a clean break.

Now, she's embarrassed at all the fuss that her disappearance caused. Police and prosecutors will talk over whether she has to be charged for something. If she is, it won't be for running away. As Cook County Sheriff's spokesman Bill Cunningham said: "It's not a crime to deceive your husband and family."

I don't see this incident as the act of people in an intolerant and indifferent society.
  • A Hindu woman, who came to America from India very recently, disappears.
  • Officials of a major city have at least 40 people working round-the-clock to find her, spending over a quarter-million dollars in the process.
  • She shows up, alive and well, explaining that she didn't like being married.
  • And she may not be in legal trouble.
If this is intolerance and indifference, I don't understand the terms. (People practicing Hinduism make up about 0.4% of the American population, and about 0.6% of Americans are "Asian Indians," as the Census Bureau puts it. Anu and Dignesh are members of a really small minority.)

Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.