The City That Fell Into The Trap: NPR
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – Mayor of Newark Ras Baraka speaks during the groundbreaking celebration for a new development in Newark, New Jersey on April 26, 2022. Bennett Raglin/Getty Images hide caption
Toggle caption Bennett Raglin/Getty Images
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images
Mayor Ras Baraka of Newark was kind enough in January at a ceremony to make Newark “sister cities” with the “Hindu nation” of Kailasa.
“I pray that our relationship helps us understand cultural, social and political development,” he said in a joint appearance at City Hall, “and improves the lives of everyone in both places. “.
However, the city has recently had to – how do the experts say? – “backing off” these comments after it was reported that Kailasa does not exist.
In fact, it’s worse: Kailasa appears to be just a website and a scheme launched by Swami Nithyananda, a notorious Indian fugitive, who has been trying to evade authorities since being accused of kidnapping and child rape in 2019.
Newark officials said in a statement that they now consider their sister cities’ proclamation “baseless and void.”
The revelation that Newark had joined a non-existent nation inspired boos left and right.
“How can an entire town be fished out?” Kal Penn, the actor who also worked for a time in the Obama White House, said while hosting The Daily Show. “There must have been so many red flags. The biggest being that everyone wanted to be sister cities with Newark.”
Mr. Penn is from Montclair, New Jersey, about 11 miles but a world away from Newark. Some might say the people of Montclair shouldn’t throw stones at Newark…especially since unlike Kailasa, Newark is real and someone could get hurt.
On the right, Jesse Watters on Fox News asked, “No one on the Newark City Council thought, ‘Hey, I’ve never heard of this country…Let me do a Google search before I bring these guys into a room and make it our sister city. “”
The Kailasa website bills itself as the home of an “ancient enlightened civilization, the great cosmic Hindu nation without borders”. I can understand why someone in the urban hustle and bustle of Newark City Hall who may have searched for “Kailasa” might read that line and think, “Sounds good!”
The Newark city government may have deserved some rebuke for its naïveté. But I also find something appealing about it. That Newark said “Yes,” without thinking too much about it, strikes me as serious and courteous. It is the hoax that deserves the mockery, not the hoax.
And if Newark is still interested, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell.