FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Seduction

by MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

The stage was almost dark, quiet, but we could see 36 (Erma counted) tiered boxes with red curtains. Each was bordered with globes that were illuminated softly. Suddenly, a stringed instrument broke the silence as the lights brightened and the curtains of one of the boxes opened to reveal a cross-legged, turban-wearing musician playing the kamancheh. Then another curtain opened. Another musician behind that curtain. And another. And another.

The Sisterhood sat in a North Carolina concert hall Monday night, transported to an exotic world. Our jaws dropped. The Manganiyars, a 43-member troupe spanning three generations, are from Rajasthan, a desert region in India. Their performance suitably is called The Manganiyar Seduction. Seduction, yes—the visuals and music are alluring. During the extravaganza, a dancing conductor lead the musicians. He’d face the performers, then turn to the audience, back to the musicians, to the audience, clicking castanets and encouraging the audience to clap hands, mimicking the castanet-ing. Gracefully twirling, leaping, landing, this artist was an 80-minute, cardio-vascular demonstration interrupted only once when director Roysten Abel took the stage near the show’s end.

Abel told a story. Explained that most of the musicians are Muslim but also worship Hindu deities. With equal devotion, they sing to both religions, emphasizing the troupe’s pluralism.

This is the group’s fourth visit to America, a destination they love. First trip, a few members were detained by Homeland Security, questioned a couple of hours, and then released. Each subsequent entry to the United States has become more difficult. When they arrived for this recent tour, many more musicians were held by security and detained seven hours. After relating this, Abel gestured towards the red curtains, lifted an arm to his fellow travelers, looked out at us, and asked, “Who would think these men are a threat?”

“Who would think these men are a threat?” I said this over and over to myself. And I sat there, thinking of the roundup of Muslims after 9/11, the suspicion directed at anyone wearing a turban, the prejudice, the Patriot Act, the burning of mosques, the increase in hate crimes that underscored/underscores our fragile social fabric and the swiftness with which this fabric has eroded.

Twelve years after September 11, 2001, the war on terror has metastasized, devastating cultures, creating wastelands, and inspiring hatred and condemnation of the US.

Drone attacks are immoral yet commonplace, regularly incinerating the innocent.

President Obama has a kill list and meets on Tuesdays to decide who dies.

An organization called the Joint Special Operations Command reports directly to the White House and is empowered to execute operations worldwide.

At Guantanamo, more than 160 prisoners, many of whom have been cleared for release, are being held and tortured.

Later, at home, I considered the question, “Who would think these men are a threat?” The answer is clear: a government requiring demonization of a population, lawmakers controlled by multinational corporate greed, and the ignorant.

The recipe for totalitarianism stipulates fear, obedience, and nationalism. The people MUST be afraid, so cowed that when a whistleblower courageously exposes an invasive surveillance network or war crimes, some defend, plenty have no comment, and others sigh hopelessly. Peace and justice activists call for petition signing and rallies, anything to end the abuses.

Yes, The Manganiyar Seduction musicians love to come to America. I stare at that word Seduction and gasp at its meaning—the lush and poetically gorgeous. It’s likely that Homeland Security will detain a greater number of the Manganiyars their fifth trip here. I look again at Seduction, this time seeing a different connotation, the sinister, a treachery—the government’s manipulation of terms, like “thwart” and “terrorist attack”, to seduce and frighten us into submission.

Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Rob Urie
Liberal Pragmatism and the End of Political Possibility
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Michael Hudson
The Silence of the Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity and the T-TIP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Mike Whitney
Another Fed Fiasco: U.S. Bond Yields Fall to Record Lows
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Dan Bacher
Ventura Oil Spill Highlights Big Oil Regulatory Capture
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count If Everybody Leaves the EU
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
Julian Vigo
Xenophobia in the UK
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Eoin Higgins
Running on Empty: Sanders’s Influence on the Democratic Party Platform
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Matthew Stevenson
Larry Cameron Explains Brexit
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Missy Comley Beattie
A Big F#*K You to Voters
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
David Yearsley
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Walking the Bad Streets of Houston’s Super-Elites
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail