Ashfaque Swapan

The writer is an Atlanta (US) based freelance journalist.

Lit Fest and Boi Mela: A linguistic, cultural apartheid?

Both the Dhaka Lit Fest and Ekushey Boi Mela offer sobering insights into the underlying socioeconomic challenges that have hamstrung Bangla publishing.

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Does the world really have the West’s back on Ukraine?

The war in Ukraine has spawned a mindless Russophobic war hysteria in the West that is appalling. It reminds me of my days in the US during the Iraq war. As Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Ukraine invasion and the dystopian US political landscape

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rages on, one of the strangest spectacles is a bunch of video clips of Fox News Channel’s conservative

The path to cultural redemption

The Nazrul Festival 2022, a two-day cultural extravaganza that was open to the public, has recently concluded.

A day in infamy in US history

A year ago, on January 6, armed, violent supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the US Capitol. Lawmakers hid in fear of their lives.

A green shoot of hope in a (still) arid, racist terrain

The USA’s battle against racism continues to be a Sisyphean struggle. No sooner do you bask in the comforting awareness of the enormous strides the nation has taken than you are yanked by the scruff of your neck to face some dreadful sign that this ugly affliction is well and alive.

The urgent need to battle the growing rise of hatred

My recent open letter to Hindu brothers and sisters published in this newspaper was accompanied by a photograph that is seared in my memory.

For communal violence, the burden of guilt falls on the majority too

My dearest Hindu sisters and brothers, I am overcome with grief, outrage and shame as I write to you.

Auf Wiedersehen, Chancellor Merkel!

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves a distinguished—if unavoidably mixed—legacy as she ends a long stint at the helm of Germany, the economic powerhouse of the European Union.

The great ‘tamasha’ of California recall election

It was a political circus almost as outsized as America’s largest state: California.

A pluralism that transcended the sectarian divide

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is rightly celebrated for leading the people of Bangladesh to independence after a prolonged, decades-long struggle that required acute political acumen, a remarkable capacity to win the hearts of his people, and most important of all, that rare sort of courage that had the power to stare squarely into the eyes of death.

Sobering lessons 100 years after the massacre of African Americans

Racism is America’s original sin. Its manifestations are myriad, and notwithstanding occasional spurts of progress, the struggle for justice continues to be an uphill battle.

Domestic cracks in blanket US support for Israel

No child, Palestinian or Israeli, whoever they are, should ever have to worry that death will rain from the sky. How many of my colleagues are willing to say the same, to stand for Palestinian human rights as they do for Israeli? How many Palestinians have to die for their lives to matter?”

In fond remembrance of the colossus of Bengali cinema

Dear Satyajit Ray: Happy 100th birthday, maestro.

A US battle between democracy and the fear of it

Hello from Georgia, ground zero in a massive US political battle.

A plan that serves the people and a party that doesn’t

"Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Socialism is what they called public power.

A historic, trillion-dollar triumph for Biden and US

Despite razor-thin majorities in the US Senate and the House—where corralling lawmakers can be as frustrating as herding cats—Biden has managed the near-impossible task of steering through Congress a massive USD 1.9 trillion bill about to profoundly change America.

The promise and challenge of Bangla in the digital age

Every Ekushey, we renew our pledge to the language martyrs of 1952 that we will ensure that our beloved Bangla continues to flourish. To redeem this pledge, we need to remember a critical fact: The continued survival of a language depends on how well it adapts to the changing technologies of the age.

The strange kabuki of the trial of Donald Trump

The trial of former US President Donald Trump in the US Senate had all the hallmarks of a Shakespearean tragedy. The Democratic impeachment managers put together a chilling case proving Trump’s complicity in the January 6 assault on the US Congress.

A traveler’s adventures in Covid testing

During a recent round-trip from Atlanta, US to Dhaka, Bangladesh, I had wildly contrasting experiences in the two cities as I tried to get tested for Covid-19.

Biden’s balm of normalcy soothes US

America’s quadrennial celebration of peaceful transition of power is one of its more hallowed traditions.

Stunning democratic wins in Georgia defy history

As the world continues to reel from images of the outrageous assault of the US Capitol by Trump’s goons, history was made in the southern US state of Georgia this month.

For US, after a terrible year, perhaps a respite?

Here in America, are we finally beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel?

US elections survived a threat, but the future is bleak

The toxic political fallout of the recent presidential elections has truly tarnished America’s reputation.

Trump’s enablers – a grave threat to a nation in crisis

President Donald Trump will leave the White House in January, thank goodness. Unfortunately, his malign influence on American politics will remain.

Joe Biden eyes arduous path after historic election

Never before has a hard-won victory had such a bitter edge.

Thank You, Donald Trump! (And you too, Fox News)

Today, Americans are terrified of a pandemic virus whose infection rate has spiked up again. With just four percent of the world’s population, the US already has a quarter of the world’s Covid-19 deaths.

World Bengali Literature Conference 2020

Last year, when about 150 people—a substantial chunk from out-of-state—gathered in Atlanta for a convention, the event had an intriguing twist: The first ever World Bengali Literature Conference, as the event billed itself, focused exclusively on Bangla literature.

And you thought the US presidential debate was boring?

US President Donald Trump could give Caligula a run for his money. The deranged, violent Roman emperor had once made his donkey a consul, but Trump is no slouch when it comes to outrageous behaviour.

Who’s afraid of democracy?

The sheer brazenness of the Republican volte face following the death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is breathtaking. In 2016, eight months before presidential elections, US Senate Republicans balked when US President Barack Obama wanted to fill a vacancy in the US Supreme Court. They invented a new “principle” that in an election year, this should wait until elections.

What kind of a rinky-dink democracy is this?

Americans elect their president through a crazy-quilt mosaic of elections conducted by a bewildering variety of local jurisdictions spread out over the entire country, and its wheels may come off come November.

The meltdown of the US Republican Party

“Owning the libs and pissing off the media. That’s what we believe in now. There’s really not much more to it,” said long-time senior congressional Republican aide Brendan Buck on what the Republican Party stood for today, while in conversation with Politico reporter Tim Alberta.

In affectionate remembrance

It’s hard to believe a full 45 years have passed since you became the victim of one of the most barbaric political murders in living memory.

Amazon Kindle, here we come!

Online juggernaut Amazon owns Kindle, the 600-pound gorilla in the US electronic book space. Its global presence is also formidable.

Not a blue wave, but a blue tsunami

In “The War of the Worlds,” HG Wells’ science fiction novel, the world is brought to its knees by a vastly more technologically advanced species. The tides are turned after the humble bacteria triumphs where man failed, felling the Martians.

Is it really different this time? Maybe

In the long tortuous history of the battle for the emancipation of Blacks that continues to this day in the US, progress has sometimes been so slow, and recalcitrant racist biases have been so resistant to change, that the tardy progress or lack thereof has been a cause of bitter frustration.

Crisis not Trump’s fault alone

Sometimes you wonder in bafflement.

The Fire Next Time!

A horrified world is watching as the US goes up in flames. An appalling racist murder by police has triggered protests in more than 140 US cities. Rioting, looting, cities ablaze, police brutality, night curfews in major cities—it’s all happening. The federal administration is ratcheting up tensions by unleashing the US military.

A pandemic revelation: women rule (better)

As the world reels from the biggest health crisis we have seen in our lifetime, some countries have dealt with the coronavirus pandemic better than others.

Bidyanondo and the battle for our soul

The voluntary organisation Bidyanondo is a stirring example of what amazing things goodwill can achieve. It’s youthful founder, Peru-based Kishore Kumar Das, has a richly deserved, devoted following of millions.

How best to survive the coronavirus

Here we are, in the middle of a global pandemic, desperately trying to figure out how to survive. The US now has the dubious distinction of being the world’s leading nation both in terms of number of deaths and identified cases.

The Sanders campaign: A requiem

After a spirited, valiant battle for the Democratic nomination for US presidential elections in November, Bernie Sanders, a US senator from Vermont, called it a day.

The centrality of reason

It is one of the less salubrious facts of life that at times of profound concern and insecurity, charlatans, cranks and confidence tricksters come out of the woodwork.

Fatal Flaws: Coronavirus Exposes US

"You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” — Warren Buffett, US investor and business magnate

Bernie or Bust?

The primary process for choosing a presidential candidate in the US can be inordinately long drawn and unwieldy.

Welcome, New Stewards of Dhaka

As citizens of Dhaka vote for Dhaka’s twin city corporation elections today, this is a good time to take stock of their significance. We underestimate the importance of these elections at our peril.

ILLIBERAL DEMOCRACIES: The looming oxymoron

As the impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump unfolds in the US Senate, something very strange is going on.

January 11, 2020
January 11, 2020

Back in the assassination business

US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to assassinate top Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani has brought the US back into the business of killing foreign leaders.

December 21, 2019
December 21, 2019

Okay Boris, you won. Now what?

The results of the recent elections in the United Kingdom took me back to another ghastly political moment.

December 7, 2019
December 7, 2019

As the terrible denouement unfolds

Here’s the awful truth in a nutshell.

November 25, 2019
November 25, 2019

All The President’s Crooks

It’s not exactly breaking news that another accomplice of US President Donald J Trump has been found guilty and is contemplating at jail time. This is something, alas, that has been occurring from time to time for a while.

November 2, 2019
November 2, 2019

Vive la Canada! Three cheers for our northern neighbour

it is fair to say that given the political mess, leading Anglophone countries are drawing a mixture of horror and derision from the rest of the world. Both are richly deserved. While you’re at it, throw into the mix a queasy, disquieting feeling about a disaster waiting to happen.

October 19, 2019
October 19, 2019

The US presidential battle in 2020

It is, when you think about it, a bit of a Faustian bargain for the Democrats. A few whiny Republican attempts notwithstanding, the Republican candidacy for the 2020 presidential elections is cast in stone, as it pretty much always is in the US when an incumbent is running for president.

October 4, 2019
October 4, 2019

How to impeach a US president: A brief primer

The possible impeach-ment of US President Donald Trump is the talk of the town. However, many people, particularly those outside the US, have better things to do than delve into the minutiae of US politics and history. Here’s a brief primer on how the process of

September 22, 2019
September 22, 2019

Trump, Johnson and globalisation’s discontented

One wonders with a resigned sigh: Is life not depressing enough? Here we are, in the United States, saddled with President Donald J Trump, the leader of the free world who on any given day can blithely contradict in the afternoon what he says in the morning.

August 17, 2019
August 17, 2019

Toni Morrison and Trump

The passing away of Toni Morrison shook up America, well as it should.

July 27, 2019
July 27, 2019

A tweet that will live in infamy

A few days may have passed, and the news media may have moved on, but US President Donald Trump’s racist rant on Twitter on July 14 has ripped open a raw wound for US immigrants of colour (this writer included), that will take a long, long time to heal.