When I first read Ms. Rabinowitz's personal attacks on me as the lead article on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal, I have to confess that my first reaction was that she was an ethnocentric racist and prejudiced bigot. After some reflection, I realized that she was probably more ignorant than bigoted. I could have let the matter rest there, but aside from the personal attacks, there are a number of factual errors, that, in the spirit of clarity ought to be corrected.
Ms. Rabinowitz is on the editorial board of the now Fox News-affiliated Wall Street Journal. Its editorial page has long been a faithful stenographer for the Neoconservatives and the Bush/Cheney administration's benighted approach to militant Islam. Elsewhere, my son addressed the complexity of the terrorist problem and the US involvement in it. Gotham Chopra has experience as a war correspondent in the Middle East, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. While returning from Afghanistan, he was arrested after interviewing an Afghani leader (which caused immense anguish for my wife and I). Suffice it to say that the causes of Islamic terrorism are complex. To trivialize my views on a topic as vast as terrorism with: "Deepak Blames America," as Ms. Rabinowitz has done, not only suggests how abysmally uninformed she is, but also speaks to the ever-sinking journalistic standards of her newspaper.
Now on a more personal note: I am one of Midnight's Children as Salman Rushdie refers to those of us born during the tumultuous separation of what used to be the British Raj into the newly formed states of India and Pakistan. I came into this world amidst the carnage of the Hindu-Muslim riots that swept across the Indian subcontinent in the aftermath of the separation. Partition of the Indian subcontinent was an idea generated by the British colonial government and resulted in mass migrations of Muslims to Pakistan and Hindus to India. Both my parents grew up in what is now Pakistan. They, along with their parents, fled from Rawalpindi, now Islamabad. (My father went to medical school in Lahore, Pakistan.) They were innocent victims and refugees of a mass genocide and a collective psychosis that gripped the land at the time. Members of both sides of our family were murdered by Muslim extremists. And of course, countless Muslims in India were also slaughtered in the violence then. I grew up listening to stories of vicious brutality, but also stories of compassion, and acts of heroism that occurred on both sides of the Hindu-Muslim divide. Although my parents and grandparents lost all their possessions, their bank accounts, their homes, and many of their family members, still, in spite of all that, they never expressed any hostility. There were only stories--poignant, powerful, and tragic stories. I and my siblings grew up listening to these stories, and in turn, so did our children. Now Gotham and Mallika are telling these stories to their children as well.
(Our son Gotham was born in Boston, but Mallika, our first child, was born in New Delhi. At the time, I was an intern training in medicine in the US and our health insurance did not cover the preexisting condition of pregnancy. So, since I could not afford the cost of my wife's delivery in the US, I sent her at the 11th hour to India where my father took care of the expenses.)
Obviously I don't blame Ms. Rabinowitz for being unaware of my family's personal experience as victims of religious sectarian violence, but I hope she can appreciate that my interest in conflict resolution does have a real context in the area of religious extremism. Ms. Rabinowitz smirks, "how the ebullient Dr. Chopra had come to be chosen on an authority on terror remains something of a mystery." While I do not consider myself an authority on terrorism, it has had a formative impact on my life and I have used that experience and interest to become a serious student of the root causes of terrorism throughout my life. I am currently the president and one of the founders of the Alliance for a New Humanity. I, along with co-founders and Nobel Peace Laureates Oscar Arias and Betty Williams, are attempting to create a critical mass of awareness to address the deeper causes of global instability including war and terrorism, climate change, social injustice, and radical poverty.
We live in a world were 50 percent of its population lives on less than two dollars a day and 20 percent lives on less than one dollar a day. We can't dismiss these as trivial facts if we want to understand the deeper causes of instability and violence in the world.
Ms. Rabinowitz accuses me of being "a faithful adherent of the root causes of crime." As a matter of fact, I do adhere to the theory that crime does have sources that can be understood, and I have addressed this topic it as it pertains to terrorism in TIME magazine. Ms. Rabinowitz ought to realize that you can kill a terrorist, but that doesn't kill his ideology. And as long as that ideology has power and life, it will continue to regenerate new terrorists no matter how many terrorists you kill. The ideology of Islamic terrorism is barbaric, savage, brutal and primitive, yet still it is born in a context. That context is historical, cultural, religious, economic, and political. Refusing to understand that context, dooms us to an endless failed anti-terrorist policy.
An ideology can only be overcome through the creation of a new more appealing ideology. In order to accomplish that we need the participation and help of moderate Muslims throughout the world. There are between 1.6 to 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, and by far, most of them are the moderates we need to enlist in our efforts. We can't solve this global problem by branding almost 25% of the world's population as terrorists. I would hope Ms. Rabinowitz could recognize that this issue is far too serious of a problem for her to exploit it for her personal petty agenda. The Mumbai tragedy obviously gathered extensive international attention. Instead of channeling this global focus toward productive insight and solutions, Ms. Rabinowitz chose instead to direct the attention of this tragedy into a personal attack that can only further fan the flames of hatred and exacerbate the situation instead of helping it.
In a recent interview on Hannity and Colmes, my long-time friend, William Cohen, the former Secretary of Defense under Clinton, and a Republican, referred to Donald Rumsfeld's memo in which he reveals the futility of the Bush's approach to terrorism when he asks, "Are we creating more terrorists than we are killing?" Bill Cohen and I have worked together on race and reconciliation issues and have discussed these matters at great length. And in looking at the complex matter of terrorism, one thing is clear: the knee-jerk reaction, the eye for an eye Old Testament response to kill them all, is not going to be a successful long-term solution.
Ms. Rabinowitz also says, "nor did we hear in these media meditations, any particular expression of sorrow from the New Delhi born Dr. Chopra for the anguish of Mumbai's victims." In the few second sound bites that are characteristic of the Larry King Live show, I did mention the media obsession for pointing out victims mainly of Western origin. I specifically told Larry that we should be feeling the anguish of everyone and that all lives were precious. Perhaps Ms. Rabinowitz didn't hear that only because she chose to ignore it.
Ms. Rabinowitz has fun trying to diminish my credibility saying I am an "advocate of aromatherapy and regular enemas" and sarcastically says "no one can fail to grasp the wisdom of him who has informed us that if you have happy thoughts you can make happy molecules."
While I do not claim to be an expert in aromatherapy, there is some useful research that can clarify this issue with research. Aromatherapy has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment modality for anxiety, high blood pressure, fast heart rate, and in modulating immune function. Along with neuroassociative conditioning, it has been used for treating illnesses and for mitigating the harmful side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea and vomiting. See citations below.*
Therapeutic enemas have been used both in Eastern and Western medical traditions for thousands of years. I must admit I have prescribed enemas to constipated patients, though that can hardly be considered unique for a physician. Perhaps Ms. Rabinowitz is referring to "cleansing enemas" which are also part of many medical traditions, although I am not personally enthusiastic about them.
It is well documented that when people are having the subjective experience of euphoria or happiness, they generate higher concentrations of serotonin, opiates, oxytocin, and dopamine. These are referred to as the molecules of emotion. These molecules are neurotransmitters but they also act as immunomodulators. Candace Pert, PhD, served as Chief of the Section on Brain Biochemistry of the Clinical Neuroscience Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) former Chief of Brain Chemistry at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and former Research Professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She and her colleagues have done extensive research on these neurotransmitters, and, in fact in her book The Molecules of Emotion, she attests that happy thoughts do indeed make "happy molecules".
I do not expect Ms. Rabinowitz to know my family history with terrorism, nor do I expect her to know anything about research on traditional, alternative or conventional medicine. But her baseless and reckless pretense that she does know these things, as a means to incite intolerance, is irresponsible and callous.
In her snickering and condescending manner, Ms. Rabinowitz is suggesting that "I am a snake oil salesman." This tired canard is meant to pull the audience in on the joke that I am some kind of a con artist who doesn't deserve whatever attention I have gained. I am quite familiar with detractors using this ready-made prejudice to try to discredit or diminish me. This strategy is somewhat effective because it appeals to a certain mindset that sees the world in those terms, so I don't expect to disabuse those who are not open to the facts.
For my part I would simply say that I value practical, verifiable results in medicine as well as in global issues of terrorism. Repeating old failed policies and procedures based on outmoded ideologies makes no sense to me, whether it is political ideology or medical ideology. This creatively pragmatic view for solutions is also thankfully the direction of the future, and we see this especially in the field of medicine now.
For the record, I am board certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology, and Metabolism. I have a license to practice medicine in the states of Massachusetts and California. I am a member of the American Medical Association (AMA), and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.
For the last several years, the Chopra Center has offered courses on integrative medicine that have been approved for continuing medical education credit by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
I'm an adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management where I teach a course on leadership.
Furthermore, once a year I teach at the Update in Internal Medicine, Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School course where I speak, amongst other things, on aromatherapy and the molecules of emotions.
Additionally I write columns weekly at Washington Post On Faith and at the San Francisco Chronicle I have been invited to speak at Harvard Business School and Harvard Divinity School as well. Perhaps, Ms. Rabinowitz is unaware of my background or perhaps she simply prefers to create a caricature of me to fit her baseless preconceptions.
Once a week I host a radio show on Sirus-XM satellite radio. I intend to devote the next few shows to terrorism and creative approaches to it. The next show on Saturday December 6th is a special two hour program live from 12-2pm ET to discuss the cultural, social, and political roots of global terrorism. My next upcoming show will include the following guests: Alan Colmes, of Fox News, Gotham Chopra, Ken Robinson, Peter Bergen, Salman Ahmad, Former Senator Bill Bradley, and Shekhar Kapur.
In the spirit of reconciliation and inclusiveness I am also inviting Ms. Rabinowitz to join in these discussions to offer her solutions to terrorism. I hope she will have the courage to show up.
Mallika Chopra: What Happened in Mumbai is Very Personal
Gotham Chopra: My Response to Dorothy Rabinowitz and the WSJ
Michelle Haimoff: My Uncensored Interview with Deepak Chopra
Deepak Chopra: Response to the Wall Street Journal
Deepak Chopra: How to Prevent Another Mumbai
Gotham Chopra: Mumbai Mess
*Aromatherapy enhances immune function (Shibata, 1992)
Aromatherapy reduces need for antidepressant medication in psychiatric patients (Komori, 1995)
Fragrances can be sedating or activating (Buchbauer, 1993)
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