I hope you have a bang up July Fourth.
Our country and the world could use a good explosive, safe, and sane display of
freedom and liberty.
We’ve had too much of the opposite, the stifling, intimidating, freedom-robbing
violence that puts all of us, and the world, on edge.
From Orlando, Florida, to Istanbul, Turkey, to Dhaka, Bangladesh, the news of
another deadly attack has marred what should otherwise be a period of sunny
And suddenly, it’s the summer of terror.
I had taken a slight respite from the news when the headlines struck. An upscale
cafe in Dhaka during Ramadan is stormed by gunmen, reportedly to be from the
Islamic State. Thirty-five hostages were taken, but after an overnight standoff,
20 are found dead.
It was Saturday when the tragedy really sunk in.
Three of the dead were young students studying in America.
From L to R: Tarishi Jain, Abinta Kabir, Faraaz Hossain (photos via UC-Berkeley
Tarushi Jain, 19, was a student at the University of California, Berkeley. That
hit close to home. My son is a student there and would love to go abroad. But
he’s working at a museum this summer protecting art. Jain’s trip wasn’t supposed
to be any more dangerous than that, and a lot more fun. She was visiting her
father, a businessman in the garment trade.
Now world events have claimed her life.
Abinta Kabir, a sophomore at Emory University in Oxford, Georgia, was also
killed, according to a report by NBC News.
Kabir lived in Miami and was visiting family in Dhaka.Emory University
identified a second student: Faraaz Hossain, from Dhaka. He graduated from
Emory’s campus in Oxford and was enrolled in Emory’s business school.
Three students who lived in America.
And yet I haven’t seen the outpouring of love and solidarity on Facebook or
social media for those in Bangladesh, or in Turkey, for that matter.
Not like what we saw after Paris or Orlando.
Is it because people just assume violence is supposed to happen in places like
Turkey and Bangladesh?
Maybe it’s time you wear your H&M shirt inside out and show off its tag: “Made
The fact is Bangladeshis like Jain, Kabir, and Hossain, were all on a familiar
immigrant path seeking opportunity through education and business–in America.
It’s a story echoed in the pan-Asian community of the U.S. that includes 500,000
Bangladeshis, who have steadily come to our country since 1974.
Many of them live around the New York/New Jersey area. Many of the first wave
have made it to the professional ranks and are doctors and lawyers. On my recent
trip to New York City, I talked to some more recent Bangladeshi immigrants who
had been in America less than ten years.
One was driving a cab, but he had ambitions. We talked about the politics of his
country, and he said he would someday like to go back.
“To be president?” I asked.
He smiled and said, “Why not?”
He said he was planning to work more here, maybe go to school. And perhaps go
But he felt what he was doing in New York was still better than life in
That is probably the reason why some who remain in that country may be subject
to the kind of violence we’ve seen.
Religion is always a readily available explanation for the actions of
malcontents driven to wage jihad. But religion can sometimes mask the real
explanation for violence that is less spiritual and more material: a general
lack of economic opportunity and hope.
The three South Asian students studying in America had all that in abundance,
before it was violently taken away.
We should pause to remember their shortened dreams, as we celebrate our freedoms
on the Fourth of July.