While visiting India today, George W Bush laid a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial.
He actually had the nerve to refer to Gandhi when talking about a responsibility to "bring light and freedom to the darkest corners of our earth," obviously completely oblivious to the latter's adherence to nonviolence, and with no sense of irony that a warmonger is exploiting the memory of a pacifist. Light and freedom are good things, but they can't be imposed from without. They can be encouraged, but not imposed.
Here are a couple of responses from the Gandhi family:
Arun Gandhi, grandson:
India is seeking business from the U.S.; the U.S. wants markets for its products so this Indo-U.S. relationship is nothing but an attempt to exploit each other. From the western point of view it is economic colonization. India has sold its soul to materialism and will bend over backwards to get some dollars from the U.S. ... The only way Bush can honor Gandhi is by taking a chapter from his life and showing greater compassion for the poor people of the world and not by laying a wreath at his memorial. Bush is a warmonger, he believes in peace through the barrel of a gun and has set the world on a course of violent devastation. Gandhi had hoped for greater compassion, respect, understanding between the peoples and nations of the world.
Ela Gandhi, granddaughter:
Gandhiji's entire philosophy was based on two fundamental principles, among others: one the belief that people can change -- that people, groups and communities can transform, and two that the force of truth and love or Satyagraha driven by the spirit, or soul force, can make a huge difference in the world, in bringing about transformation. So when Bush who is planning to lay a wreath on the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi, during the year when we celebrate the centenary of Satyagraha, performs this act, I hope and pray that this act may help towards changing his beliefs and attitudes. I can only hope and pray that maybe some truth and some possible transformation in his own philosophy is driving him to this sacred place.
I pray that this contact with the spirit of Gandhiji may inspire him into changing his position on war and violence. I pray that this gesture may help him to see that he must desist from committing the same error he did with Iraq, with Iran or any other country or peoples. I hope he will be inspired by Gandhiji's implicit belief in the fact that wars cannot solve the problems of the world, they only aggravate them. We need peace, we need some sanity in the world. Gandhiji said, 'An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.' That truth should help caution Bush against war and the use of war and violence for any purpose. I truly and deeply hope that the spirit of Gandhiji will help to transform his views and he will stop using violence and war. If Bush really wants to honor Gandhiji he will lay a wreath at the memorial and in so doing commit himself to renounce his use of violence and war.