Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The liberal lynch mob

Important article on Sialkot killings by Mahreen Khan

This past week has seen columns, in these very pages, promoting a new brand of hatred – self-hatred – inciting loathing amongst Pakistanis for themselves and their culture. Using the horrific Sialkot killings, these “western, liberal” columnists have labeled all Pakistanis as “degenerates” and “barbaric”, hurling abusive and shameful generalizations to justify a verbal lynching of Pakistan, its culture and people.

The thrust of one column was as follows: the Sialkot murders mean that ALL Pakistanis should now view themselves as “human cockroaches” that should be “quarantined” from the rest of the world. So what should the wretched Rwandans call themselves? They wiped out half of their population in a killing spree. Is quarantine enough or should they be culled to prevent them exporting their genocidal tendencies? A liberal fatwa is issued: due to the Sialkot atrocity all Pakistanis are now “undeserving of sympathy”. Not even the ones stranded in swirling waters, bereft of food and shelter, not the millions of hardworking laborers, drivers, and builders who toil in foreign lands to support families back home, not even the ones who have been maimed by terrorists, none of them.

The article “Don’t act surprised” penned by an Englishman resident here for a few years is full of gross generalizations, defective reasoning and inflammatory one-liners: “We (sic) are, and have always been, a barbaric, degenerate nation reveling in blood lust (sic).” Firstly, his arrogance in speaking for all Pakistanis, particularly to emit such defamatory and prejudiced words, is nauseating. Next, the claim that the horrific violence during Partition was “reveled in” and gave “heady, almost orgasmic delight” is a blatant perversion of history. Muslims were more the victims of communal violence, as documented by various noted historians who also describe the role of the departing British colonizers as culpable.

This “bloody” Partition is used by George Fulton to conclude that Pakistan has always been a “barbaric and degenerate nation”. An intellectually feeble extrapolation, as most nations are born out of violence or war. Israel, in 1948, was born out of the terrorisation and forced displacement of Palestinians — tales of which are regaled with much pride to this day by Zionists, their chief leaders even going on to become Israeli prime ministers. Does Mr Fulton think that “Israel is a barbaric and degenerate nation reveling in blood lust”?

He goes on to state that the Sialkot lynchings are typical of Punjabi culture because Maula Jutt movies prove Punjabis are a bloodthirsty, vengeful lot. So the popularity of gore fests like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre prove that Americans, who also spend hours playing violent video games killing, maiming and torturing for entertainment and relaxation, obviously “celebrate barbarity and vengeance” as per the writer. Attributing the propensity for violence to a specific culture or race is the bigoted reasoning of a racist. Africans were also called “degenerates”, “uncivilized barbarians” who deserved to be enslaved due to their “savage” ways.

These columnists would not dare to write in such sadistic terms about western cultures. No, they only prey on weak – pure lynch mob mentality – developing nations like Pakistan, battered by natural catastrophe, war and poverty. The reality is that Pakistanis are inherently no better and no worse than any other people. The best amongst us lay down our lives to rescue those in need, open our homes and hearts to complete strangers, protest peacefully for justice. The worst amongst us are as brutal as the mobs which massacred women and children in the streets of Gujarat, with the Indian police looking on, harbor as much bigotry as the preachers of hate, whether they be Christian, Hindu, or Muslim. When the rule of law is eroded, men, irrespective of race, turn into an unruly mob – as evidenced by numerous studies and the good citizens of New Orleans who looted and rampaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – police officers turn into executioners and ordinary people into accomplices. Pakistanis will and must maintain pressure to obtain justice in Sialkot. They will do so not out of self-loathing or in response to the verbal lynching liberals, but because they believe it is the right thing to do.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pakistan's ticking time bomb: Overpopulation

By Frosty Wooldridge

A quick glance at the human misery and suffering brought about by the flooding in Pakistan moves anyone to tears. The regular CNN, FOX and NBC depictions of human tragedy overwhelms anyone's senses.

Every international relief agency from the United Nations to the International Red Cross calls on governments around the planet to send relief, food, water, shelter and medical teams.

Unfortunately, that will not help their short term and long term predicament. At 172 million people in a tiny landmass called Pakistan, that country, without any concern for birth control and family planning-expects to add another 80 million people by mid century. Even today, they cannot feed or maintain clean drinking water for their overloaded population. Ironically, ancient religions such as Islam fail to understand carrying capacity, water, environment, resources and quality of life issues that drill down into the harsh reality that behind all the misery suffered in third world countries stems from two accelerating dilemmas: illiteracy and human overpopulation. Without dealing with overpopulation, no country can deal with illiteracy.

As the third world countries grow by 77 million annually, they cannot educate their citizens and they cannot intellectually move past their cultural paradigms and human suffering.

Dr. Garret Hardin, author, Stalking the Wild Taboo, brings home their dilemma:

"Those of us who are deeply concerned about population and the environment-"eco-nuts," we're called, - are accused of seeing herbicides in trees, pollution in running brooks, radiation in rocks, and overpopulation everywhere. There is merit in the accusation.

"I was in Calcutta when the cyclone struck East Bengal in November 1970.Early dispatches spoke of 15,000 dead, but the estimates rapidly escalated to 2,000,000 and then dropped back to 500,000. A nice round number: it will do as well as any, for we will never know. The nameless ones who died, "unimportant" people far beyond the fringes of the social power structure, left no trace of their existence. Pakistani parents repaired the population loss in just 40 days, and the world turned its attention to other matters.

"What killed those unfortunate people? "The cyclone," newspapers said. But one can just as logically say that overpopulation killed them. The Gangetic Delta is barely above sea level. Every year several thousand people are killed in quite ordinary storms. If Pakistan were not overcrowded, no sane man would bring his family to such a place. Ecologically speaking, a delta belongs to the river and the sea; man obtrudes there at his peril.

"In the web of life every event has many antecedents. Only by an arbitrary decision can we designate a single antecedent as "cause." Our choice is biased - biased to protect our egos against the onslaught of unwelcome truths. As T.S. Eliot put it in Burnt Norton:

"Go, go, go," said the bird, "Human kind cannot bear very much reality."

"Were we to identify overpopulation as the cause of a half-million deaths, we would threaten ourselves with a question to which we do not know the answer: How can we control population without recourse to repugnant measures?" said Hardin. "Fearfully we close our minds to an inventory of possibilities. Instead, we say that a cyclone caused the deaths, thus relieving ourselves of responsibility for this and future catastrophes. "Fate" is so comforting.

"Every year we list tuberculosis, leprosy, enteric diseases, or animal parasites as the "cause of death" of millions of people. It is well known that malnutrition is an important antecedent of death in all these categories; and that malnutrition is connected with overpopulation. But overpopulation is not called the cause of death. We cannot bear the thought.

"People are dying now of respiratory diseases in Tokyo, Birmingham, and Gary, because of the "need" for more industry. The "need" for more food justifies over fertilization of the land, leading to eutrophication of the waters, and lessened fish production - which leads to more "need" for food.

"What will we say when the power shuts down some fine summer on our eastern seaboard and several thousand people die of heat prostration? Will we blame the weather? Or the power companies for not building enough generators? Or the eco-nuts for insisting on pollution cuts?

"One thing is certain: we won't blame the deaths on overpopulation. No one ever dies of overpopulation. It is unthinkable."

As Hardin said, we abhor dealing with reality. In fact, in Joel Kotkin's recent book, he 'celebrates' adding 100 million people to the United States as if it amounts to a "Red Badge of Courage" in a diminishing world. He speaks on NPR with glowing reviews from Jennifer Ludden. He enjoys interviews in papers as he crosses the country to pitch his book. He leads Americans down a primrose path of more denial, stupidity and ignorance of their predicament.

Wouldn't Pakistan be better off with only 30-35 million people? Wouldn't it serve its own citizens to engage birth control and family planning. Wouldn't it better to life within a safe and sustainable country? Would it be much more enjoyable a life experience to live with dignity and equality? Answer: you betcha!