How about those of us who aren’t famous

Fame just isn’t what it used to be. On Friday, New Jersey Police stopped Bob Dhillon Dylan for suspicious activities, i.e. walking around in a minority neighborhood in the rain and looking at a house for sale, and refused to let him go until he produced identification.

Then today, as Phillygrrl reported, SRK was detained at Newark. But at least he got privileged treatment, they let him make a phone call after an hour, and the Indian government was able to step in. (This isn’t going to help suppress rumors that it was all a publicity stunt for his film)

But what happens to people who aren’t famous? Let’s say they’re Muslim, Brown, Pakistani and working for the US government? Then it seems you can be detained and not even the government agency you’re working for can get you out:

Rahman Bunairee is a Pakistani journalist who works as a contract reporter for VOA’s Deewa Radio and for a privately-owned Pakistani television station. The 33-year-old planned to join VOA [Voice of America] in Washington for one year, and arrived at Dulles Airport on Sunday with a visa issued by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. It is not clear why he was detained and why he is still being held in U.S. custody… The journalist, whose home was destroyed by the Taliban last month, was taken into custody on Sunday. [link]

This is a guy who the US government wants to come and live in DC for a year and be part of the public face of America to the outside world. He has no love for the Taliban and the feeling is mutual. And what happens? He tries to enter the country, he’s detained for a week and counting, and nobody will even tell the “Voice of America” why.

The moral of the story? If you’re detained by immigration, you better hope you have friends at the Indian Government and Fox rather than the US government, because the latter can’t do what the former can.

43 thoughts on “How about those of us who aren’t famous

  1. This is pure tactical gaming from the TSA and Customs. This way, by carefully choosing and deliberately harassing an actor named Khan, they can rely on all the expected protests to be labeled a publicity stunt, and they can go on harassing browns as usual. As a tactic to distract attention from their usual confusion of security with security theater, it has worked exceedingly well, and serves as a warning to those civil libertarians who might underestimate them.

  2. America has a long way to go in terms of equal rights to all people irregardless of gender, religion, race, etc. It is to bad that so many have suffered ill treatment at the airports not to mention in prisons or shipped off to another country that enforces torture. Hopefully enough of us will keep our voices raised and things will get better.

  3. It took this long just to get a black president…asians..particularily muslims are the new enemy..expect equality in 2 centuries time unless Islam and Arab Wahabbism separates before that…

  4. asians..particularily muslims are the new enemy

    in the US “asians” means east asians more than south asians. so no, not really. additionally everyone from iran to morocco is classified as “white.”

  5. But really, what WAS Bob Dylan doing in an unfamiliar residential neighborhood? Couldn’t he have found something better to do like strum his guitar or something? Strange guy.

    (Sorry for the tangent.)

  6. America has a long way to go in terms of equal rights to all people irregardless of gender, religion, race, etc. It is to bad that so many have suffered ill treatment at the airports not to mention in prisons or shipped off to another country that enforces torture. Hopefully enough of us will keep our voices raised and things will get better.

    Which country can America learn from, I would really like for you tell us.

  7. 7 · Suki Dillon on August 15, 2009 10:20 PM · Direct link Which country can America learn from, I would really like for you tell us.

    Great point. USA is far better than all countries in the world as far as race relations go.

  8. SRK was detained for 66 minutes and asked questions….oooohhhhhh how scary!!! This is ridiculous and most likely a publicity stunt. And Priyanka Chopra’s twitter message “Shocking,disturbing n downright disgraceful.Its such behavior that fuels hatred n racism.SRK’s a world figure for Gods sake.GET REAL!!” Um okay….His name matches a wanted persons name, he’s asked questions for an hour and let go. How does the fuel hatred? The airport ppl are just doing their job. You can expect all of them to watch Hindi movies even if Ms. Chopra declares him to be a “world figure.”

  9. I am writing to take back the allegation that SRK might have exaggerated the questioning thing for publicity.

  10. to New Yorker

    At Sp, one often encounters those who endorse any action ag browns. Possibly so much hatred is really directed against yr parents who arrived, on shaky visas, with unrecognized degrees, often not speaking English too well, faced racism, and made successes of themselves. Sorry to see the children are simply suburban whiners, not good at too much, whose main grouse is they are brown. Few Ind origin desis seem intelligent enough to understand that with every endorsement of anti brown actions, you are really working ag yrselves. So unlike the smart jewish and Chinese offspring who support their own.

  11. Which country can America learn from, I would really like for you tell us.

    America can learn from its own history. It has come a long way from the days of slavery and segregation. It has come a long way from the days of internment of japanese americans. It will also get beyond the days of racial profiling, only if rationality persists and when enough voices are heard. The debate on this issue is simple in my view – do you think there was racial profiling here? if there was, do you think whether it is a legitimate strategy? On the first count, i don’t know the details. on the second one, racial profiling as a strategy will never work and it is humiliating to the people who go through it. how hard is it for al-qaeda to get mainstream looking Americans to do the dirty work for them? It is not the skin color, but the real patterns of suspicious activity that the authorities have to look for. that is the true fight against terrorism.

  12. The debate on this issue is simple in my view – do you think there was racial profiling here?

    If his name came up to match a name on the system, as he claims, then no, its not racial profiling.

  13. Which country can America learn from, I would really like for you tell us.

    What, you are letting down (white) Canadians? How about not forgetting their greatness in your haste to stick up for (white) Americans?

    Read your country’s history during the time you spend putting down your parents’ country.

    USA is far better than all countries in the world as far as race relations go.

    Highly debatable. Especially the ‘far better’ part. Although not perfect, your neighbor to the north is one of the countries that can easily make a case for recognition in the same area.

  14. “USA is far better than all countries in the world as far as race relations go.”

    Not really, you should take a look at Denmark. Their race relationships is incredible. The general consensus is that as long as you adapt to the Danish way (meaning you don’t disrepect Danish culture), you are considered a Dane; no matter what your religion, age, sex or ethnicity is. And unlike America, they genuinely do live by that rule.

  15. Sorry, but Priyanka Chopra talking about what fuels hatred. Her and SRK’s (and oh I’d think he’s awesome on the screen and would love him if he didn’t do those nasty fair and lovely commercials) peddling fairness creams fuels a lot of hatred and self-hatred. What an airhead!

  16. “Sorry, but Priyanka Chopra talking about what fuels hatred. Her and SRK’s (and oh I’d think he’s awesome on the screen and would love him if he didn’t do those nasty fair and lovely commercials) peddling fairness creams fuels a lot of hatred and self-hatred. What an airhead!”

    THIS.

    Priyanka Chopra and SRK, as well as everyone else in Bollywood who promotes fairness creams and racism, are the last people in the world who have the right to whine about racial prejudice.

  17. Ok, the reaction of the Indian Government is over the top. Maybe August 15th will now also be marked as a day of mourning.

  18. I think SRK needs to chill out if he truly outraged and humiliated. If it is a publicity stunt, how brilliant and fortuitious for him! In the report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says he was detained because his bags didn’t arrive and they won’t admit anyone without inspection of bags. Who knows what happened here? As an immigration attorney, my clients get detained or put into routine secondary inspection because of normal procedural matters frequently. I am not defending CBP’s actions, but perhaps there is a bit more to the story then racial profiling. Now, whether CBP should have allowed him to make a call to Indian embassy earlier, I think they definitely should have! But his identificiation as an international artist was not the issue, according to CBP. Had he been treated un-normally, then we would probably be complaining that he was treated like the mega celebrity he is andso he got to cut in line.

  19. According to some Americans of my acquaintance the most shocking thing about the Dylan case was that the cops didn’t know who he was–had never heard of him. This was an icon of the 60s–he MADE the 60s according to some of them. Apparently he does have a habit of roaming around at night. He knows pop culture inside and out and scouts out places where pop music history happened.

    “Not really, you should take a look at Denmark. Their race relationships is incredible. The general consensus is that as long as you adapt to the Danish way (meaning you don’t disrepect Danish culture), you are considered a Dane; no matter what your religion, age, sex or ethnicity is. And unlike America, they genuinely do live by that rule.”

    I hate to point this out, but the immigrants coming to Denmark submit to Danification because they are few and the Danes are currently wealthy and feel generous and invulnerable. When they are many, attitudes change and defensiveness sets in. Old story, repeating in other countries. Especially certain religious persuasions take that tolerance for weakness, the most tolerant countries being the most affected, as we see the Netherlands. The fact is, the people make the country. The country doesn’t make the people. America can’t really be compared to Europe. There are too many different kinds of people here and the original people were (big Oops for Columbus) called “indians” after all.

    Anyway, if there were an all-points bulletin out for, say, an irish terrorits passing through india, well, our efficient airport personnel would have no choice but to stop every red-head they see, unaware perhaps that most Irish are dark haired. Such is the nature of intelligence work.

  20. America can learn from its own history.

    Bravo. I was going to say the same thing (even if Suki’s baiting is usually not worth responding to).

    Ok, the media in India is making a big deal of this, as they do on so many other things. So? Yeah, let’s just bash the pompous sob for his publicity stunt. No ‘flying while brown’ sympathy for him. He should just get over it.

  21. As for Dylan, well, he really brought it on himself. Walking in the rain, hood and all, and peering through windows… I’m assuming he didn’t have his hat on, that may have merited a station visit.

  22. PS, #17

    Sorry, but Priyanka Chopra talking about what fuels hatred. Her and SRK’s (and oh I’d think he’s awesome on the screen and would love him if he didn’t do those nasty fair and lovely commercials) peddling fairness creams fuels a lot of hatred and self-hatred. What an airhead!

    Dumb comments for sure. Fairness creams fuel self-hatred… well, sure, may be. Prejudice even. But hatred? Care to explain? Real racism leads to horrific things, which I wouldn’t remotely associate with fairness creams.

    Talk about being judgmental, wow…

  23. “Sorry, but Priyanka Chopra talking about what fuels hatred. Her and SRK’s (and oh I’d think he’s awesome on the screen and would love him if he didn’t do those nasty fair and lovely commercials) peddling fairness creams fuels a lot of hatred and self-hatred. What an airhead!”

    fair and lovely is hardly related to racism. western equivalent of that is urge for tanning. hardly unusual or racist.

  24. Has SRK returned to ‘his country’ after this humiliation or is he still going to dance at a few more parties that he is booked for. So much for the trauma he suffered. Even in older times ‘nautanki’ parties traveling from city to city were stopped by dacoits or the police and harassed. SRK is just a modern version of the age old traveling theater.

    Next time he is going to charge double, mark my words. All of you making fun of him will pay twice the amount to see his shows.

    I agree with Pagal Guy.. 15th August should be a day of mourning. First we had the mournful speech in the mournin.. sorry, morning and then ‘The Great Humiliation’.

  25. Anyone in Bollywood who complains about stereotyping and prejudice is a hypocritical, two faced moron. Why? Well, Bollywood is a racist industry that stereotypes and demonises lots and lots of minorities — and I’m not just talking about Indian minorities, I am talking about white and black people too.

    So, why the hell aren’t Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, Priyanka Chopra and all the rest of them doing something about that? Pathetic hypocrites.

  26. Aww Lizzi, Its the same relativism again here, eh? “Bollywood” might stereotype minorities, but “Bollywood” was not stopped at EWR, but SRK was. So unless you have proof that SRK is racist, I suggest you get off your high horse.

    And secondly Hollywood is equally if not more racist. Maybe you should read how Salma Hayek was treated by Hollywood before you start posting cr@p.

  27. Dumb comments for sure. Fairness creams fuel self-hatred… well, sure, may be. Prejudice even. But hatred? Care to explain? Real racism leads to horrific things, which I wouldn’t remotely associate with fairness creams.

    Sure I’ll explain – prejudice and hatred are often synonymous and I do think that fairness creams, that depict there is something wrong with dark skin, whether it be in the Indian population, or the other populations around the world that are dark-skinned and it fuels hatred/prejudice for those populations. And yes, I am judgemental of these actors that peddle this garbage. And it’s not limited to India, and I don’t even think it’s as widely used in India as in East Asia…there are many stars, many models from Eastern Europe, East Asia, etc. that have signed contracts to peddle this garbage that promotes hatred, not only of oneself but against populations that are dark.

  28. Hmm..this guy has been travelling to US for a couple of decades. The only time he is detained for “his name being Khan” is at the time of his new release called “My Name is Khan”.

    Mr Khan is good actor and is a well loved man in US (some might claim he makes more money overseas than in India). To show the whole country in bad light, just for a little publicity stunt makes Mr Khan look like a 2 bit whore!

  29. Presumably publicity can be arranged with all these US govt agencies participating? But then we don’t have corruption in the US, do we?

    2 bit whore? Jealousy that someone is rich, loved and successful? Ah, the hatred of one’s brown self comes thru in more than using fairness creams.

    BTW, white folks fairness is not appreciated, the admired color is sort of pale gold brown: gehuvarna. No white person in india is considerd beautiful simply bec s/he is fair. As for light eyes, they used to be considered cat-like and untrustworthy….

    Imagine if SRK had been African and the same had happened to him in India. Can imagine the SP support.

  30. I am not sure where my post gives the hint of jealousy or self hatred or whatever fair and lovely thing.. my point being that this is too much of a co incidence. He was asked to wait because his baggage didn’t arrive and he was questioned. I am sure it must have been an inconvenience but from whatever I have read so far, it doesn’t seem like that he was harassed or anything.

    I don’t think its a matter of corruption on behalf of customs but just a case of getting a chance to feel discriminated and just cashing it to one’s benefit.

    My frustration comes from the fact that SRK is too big of a star to resort to such things to drum publicity for his movie.

  31. “As for light eyes, they used to be considered cat-like and untrustworthy….” While I know you are just quoting folklore and not necessarily you’re own beliefs, I think it best to leave cats (and latterly, macaques) out of the aesthetic phenotypical debate. Dogs have soulful brown eyes, but they haven’t fared well in India either. The poor creatures have been subjected to much oppression and prejudice over the centuries. Cats are not “untrustworthy.” They are cats, and as such are quite predictable. As Shyamalan might say, “they can’t help it if they SEE things.” Only humans have the prerogative to be untrustworthy and anyone who thinks green eyes indicate untrustworthiness is in imminent danger of being a Racist AND an Aish hater. I hate it when people drag animals into human squabbles. They don’t care which one has yellow or black fur. At least I don’t think they do.

  32. Priyanka Chopra saying that SRK is a world star is hilarious. 99% of Americans have probably never heard of the guy. Maybe a third world star, but that’s it. And let’s face it..there is a difference in terms of the status given to hollywood stars vs. those given to bollywood stars. Outside of India and Pakistan, are these guys really that famous? Yes, in England with the large diasporan community maybe, but SRK is nowhere near as famous as MJ or even P.Diddy or Brad Pitt. Does he think he is well known to Americans?

    On Fairness cream: Indians have such beautiful olive skin. Why, why, why ruin it with those fairness creams?

  33. Priyanka Chopra saying that SRK is a world star is hilarious. 99% of Americans have probably never heard of the guy.

    Well yes. But I heard on CNN that much of the world lives outside America. Could this be true ?

    • America funds the Pakistani military and enables them to conduct terror against India : Minimal outrage in India
    • America adds India to a “religion watchlist” while excluding more blatant violators : Minimal outrage in India
    • Filmstar gets questioned for an hour : Suddenly everyone’s red in their face and outraged

    Fellow Indians, get your priorities straight – There is a lot to be outraged about and this should be last in the list

  34. “Indians have such beautiful olive skin. Why, why, why ruin it with those fairness creams?” I agree–it’s a dumb product, but “Indians” may have any color of skin, just about, from white to black to all shades in between. Your idea of “olive” may be different from that of, say, a Spaniard or a Lebanese. and to my British colleague, Catherine Zeta Jones is “olive” skinned (!?). A certain nice shade of medium brown (strong wheatish?), made for intense sunny climes, is most common among desis, in most areas. Might be an interesting study to determine just who really is using it. I never knew of anyone of my acquaintance employing such artifice. If they are worried about color at all, they don’t carry it beyond sunscreen.

  35. Vancouver’s own Suki Dillon wrote: USA is far better than all countries in the world as far as race relations go.

    Why the hate for our home onand native land? Here in Canada, brownz are welcomed with open arms. Angry Polish immigrants – not so much.

  36. Priyanka Chopra needs to STFU or maybe go get more plastic surgery, fairness cream, hair extensions and acrylic nails.

    She has the nerve to talk about racism after the blatantly racist scene in her movie fashion where sleeping with a black guy was portrayed as lowest an Indian woman could go.

    As for SRK, he is a loudmouthed attention seeker who has an inflated sense of his importance in the world. The big baby is crying over being detained for 66 minutes while they checked his credentials. Note to SRK there are more important issues currently than you being delayed for an hour.

  37. This may or may not be a case of racial profiling. It could be both. I’m glad that as a celebrity he didn’t get special treatment.

    Lizzie and PS you both are spot on. The hypocrisy of Bollywood actors complaining about racism in the West is beyond nervy.

    Aww Lizzi, It’s the same relativism again here, eh? “Bollywood” might stereotype minorities, but “Bollywood” was not stopped at EWR, but SRK was. So unless you have proof that SRK is racist, I suggest you get off your high horse. And secondly Hollywood is equally if not more racist. Maybe you should read how Salma Hayek was treated by Hollywood before you start posting cr@p.

    Desi Dude I don’t see how Bollywood not being stopped at EWR proves it’s not racist. Plus Bollywood is way more racist than Hollywood. I’m surprised that someone would have the gumption to say the opposite. At least people of different races and complexiones are represented in Hollywood and have a chance of success whereas in Bollywood you have absolutely no chance of making it if you’re darker than “wheatish.” Bollywood is also clanish with more restricted access than Hollywood.

    Furthermore, Hollywood isn’t trying to be something it’s not while Bollywood simply as its name implies and the physical looks it favors (i.e. European features with light eyes) is imitating the former (regarding the actors’ looks that is). I don’t see how the self hatred in that can be any more obvious. As for SRK, one doesn’t need much proof to see the integrity of someone who promotes bleaching cream as the key to sucess for a dark-skinned nation. If you still can’t see the connection between bleaching cream and racism than look up the history of colonialism, how it has affected global beauty standards and why dark-skinned nations see their complexion as inferior in the first place. What was inapproprate was comparing tanning salons to bleaching cream which does not have the same historial baggage.

    PS: Don’t claim that most Indians are “wheatish” to justify Bollywood’s racist exclusivity because 1. there is no average Indian complexion. I’m tired of Indians saying that. Indians come in all colors and 2. basing looks on skin color is just plain prejudice and has nothing to do with acting skills or attractiveness.

  38. “Brown”??

    For all you USA haters there is not credibilty to you! This is by far hands down or up the BEST COUNTRY in the world – PERIOD! You obey law and pull no stunt and answer the authority when asked flat truth you will be free as one can be in USA! Sad to say but India don’t stay a showdow of a chance to be upright vs USA! My name is Khan will be a Big Flop in USA! We will see to it! How do desis act when your local (Indian) police takes you in for whatever reason? Saab, Bribe, Kiss, act nice but when it comes to the US authorities you all B+tch! Khan or Johar the real stnt pullers! Stop that nonsense! No more Bovine Slump!