How Will America Benefit?
|Image via CrunchBase|
A Statement For The Immigration Court
By Paramendra Bhagat
A Statement For My Next Immigration Court Date
I have been asked to answer this question. How will America benefit if I am allowed to stay in this country? And I would like to answer it to the best of my abilities.
At some level I can be called a political scientist the way an astronaut can be called an astronaut. Me noticing the contours of race relations in this country is like an astronaut seeing ice and water on Europa. It is nothing personal. It is strictly business. It is just science. Objectively speaking America is the number one country on the planet. And a country for which free speech is not religion cannot beat a country for which it is. So the fear of China today is like the fear of Japan in the 1980s. Although China is not your classic Saddam Hussein style dictatorship, or even a Russia style elected tsarism. China could teach America a thing or two about campaign finance reform. America cannot be beat by a country whose Supreme Court recently made a major homophobic move. Diversity is America’s number one strength, otherwise Shanghai also has underground trains and tall buildings and fast lanes. Someone like me who showed up in this country as an adult with 200 dollars in my pocket seeing the contours of race relations in America is not someone not liking this country, quite the opposite. I stand on the “more perfect union” arc of America. I am futuristic. I am someone trying to strengthen its number one strength.
Now that we got race out of the way, let’s talk about democracy itself. Iraq and Nepal are both similar sized countries. Both had military dictatorships. George W cost America a trillion dollars to take democracy to Iraq. I have made tall claims about my work for Nepal’s democracy movement in 2006. Democracy in Nepal did not come at a cost of a trillion dollars. And, yes, the oldest democracy does carry the burden of a total spread of democracy 0n the planet. The fastest, cheapest ways to get there are digital. And I have done it once. I can do it again. That is my definition of non-violence in the 21st century. It is about a total digital assault on all countries that are not democracies. Wireless broadband beamed in from the sky and flooding a country with cheap Android phones could do magic, and I mean everywhere. Because democracy is not about whose guns are bigger. Democracy’s strength comes from its very idea. Freedom rings inside every human heart. America’s task is easy that way. The costs need not be high. Every country, no matter how strong the grip of dictatorship upon it, not a problem if it has nuclear weapons, every country tends towards democracy. You just have to help get rid of some of the obstacles in the way. I know a thing or two about this.
And then there is the market. America’s journey from the spade to the smartphone is a remarkable victory of its basic ideals that stay simple in their purity. Abraham Lincoln himself might not have believed you if you had told him what he was fighting for – a government of the people, by the people, for the people – was, well, perhaps a smartphone. But he was.
As of this past month I am leading a team of borderline genius techies that is working to build a company whose market valuation should hit a billion dollars in less than five years. And the biggest roadblock right now for me is that you have not given me the paperwork that I need. Give me the green card that I already had. Renew it. Heck, that green card’s natural life should by now give me a citizenship, which would be even more convenient, because I am currently a man without a passport. My tech startup gives me a starting point that will allow me to gather the resources that I need to make some moves beyond one company. I can make digital moves for global democracy, for example. I know I would like to. In 2005 my green card expired because I was working days, nights, weekends for Nepal’s democracy movement and the deadline for renewal came and went and I did not even realize. Don’t penalize me for it. I stand by my butterfly effect claims. I will defend my claims if you put me before a panel of some of the topmost political scientists in this country, if I have to.
I am part of the conversation that will create the industries of tomorrow.
I am from a middle class family in Nepal. When I was at high school in Nepal people talked of me as a future Prime Minister. And so the Bahuns and the British who ran the place ganged up on me and destroyed the final three and a half years of my high school experience. People who run Sri Lanka, there is no way they will allow a Tamil Prime Minister to emerge. It is best to nip the possibility in the bud. At the top liberal arts college in the Bible Belt South I won an election before Bobby ever won an election. I broke all college records by getting myself elected student body president as a freshman. An Economics professor asked his class, when you think of Nepal, what does that remind you of? No one in his class said Buddha or Everest. Everyone said Paramendra. Another Economics professor, who did not even particularly like me, called me “the Gandhi of Berea,” which I thought was a little bit of an insult to Gandhi, because I was in a town where too many people thought Gandhi was someone who taught you to peacefully put up with racism, whereas the truth was Gandhi had said resist injustice peacefully, but resisting it violently is better than not resisting it at all. I was Barack Obama’s first full time volunteer in NYC. At an Upper East Side party in 2007 hosted by a Harvard Law classmate, later Chicago law firm colleague, and a family friend of the Obamas where most of the top volunteers in the city had gathered, the founder of Manhattan For Obama said, “We should amend the constitution so this guy can run for president.” I have seen more of America than anyone who ever ran for President of the United States. The best way to do that is in a 18 wheeler. When I look at a map of the US I see what you see when you look at a NYC subway map if you have been to all parts of this city like I have.
Your renewing the green card I already had gives me a citizenship that allows me to take my tech startup to its full potential of a billion dollar valuation in five years or less, that allow me to be part of the dynamic of creating “a more perfect union” in America and a total spread of democracy on the planet, and when I say total I mean total. I can help with that without becoming part of the US government framework, because the best ways are all digital. I am also a Netizen that is part of the ongoing conversation that is trying to reimagine the relationship between the individual and the nation state itself, America included. Because an individual with Internet access is not the same individual from decades or centuries back. The individual will and should win. That does not make the nation state go away. But it does need to be reinvented. Every generation has reinvented the government in this country. Nothing new is going on. But the prize project of all is to eliminate global poverty like polio was cured. That is as concrete as democracy, and the market and tech get for me. And that falls within the purview of how I define America. Heck, this all could even lead to a creation of a Consortium of Cities where the top 100 cities in the world by population, by then all with similar infrastructures, have managed to create something that goes past the nation state itself. That might be a post-war world. That might be a world where we have managed to establish rule of law between nations like we have rule of law within this nation. Lofty goals are good. Some of us have to show the way.
America benefits if you let me stay. Honest to God, I believe I qualify for an honorary citizenship. But my green card renewed itself gives me an immediate citizenship. And I am not really big on honors and ceremonies. So.