[Some Indian and “Western” commentators] have reduced India’s rape crisis to a cultural problem. Men, we are told – specifically, Indian men – are culturally lacking and barbaric. They have no concept of women’s rights or equality. They are born and bred to sexually assault and degrade women. This is a familiar phenomenon, and an outgrowth of colonialism. When horrible crimes happen, specifically to women, we reduce the culture, in this case, of about 1 billion people, to a gang-bang-enabling society of rapists. And of course, by blaming Indian culture specifically, Western sexism is brushed under the table. We arrive at Gayatri Spivak’s formula explaining the colonial exploitation of anti-woman violence in colonized societies: “white men saving brown women from brown men”.

The process of reducing brown men to savages has been all too familiar in recent years. We have seen Egyptian men reduced to “animals” and “beasts” by the New York Post because a mob high on a combination of stupidity and jubilation about Mubarak’s downfall brutally assaulted white reporter Lara Logan. We have seen a number of “native informants,” from Mona Eltahawaly to Hirsi Ali, tell us that Arab and Muslim men “hate” women. In typical colonial fashion, gender dynamics, including real crimes and acts of brutality, are reduced to “cultural” problems in which we can reduce entire societies to large gang-bang parties predicated on savage men who simply prey on women.

 

mehreenkasana:

How Thomas Friedman Distorts Realities in Egypt, Pakistan, and India by Amith Gupta in Jadaliyya

Writers such as Gyanendra Pandey have noted that despite the systematic nature of Indian state’s violence against its Muslim minority, such violence is always deceptively depicted as an aberration, “aberration in the sense that violence is seen as something removed from the general run of Indian history: a distorted form, an exceptional moment, not the “real” history of India at all.” This is a fitting commentary on Friedman’s own whitewash of the history of India. This is, of course, not to mention India’s short stint as a dictatorship, from 1975-1977, when Indian leader Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, jailed political opponents, dramatically limited freedom of the press, and began a campaign of forced sterilization against the poor—following a court ruling that she had broken the law during her election. Furthermore, there is India’s declaration of war against jungle tribes within India itself: peoples that have been dispossessed and robbed of their lands, only to be massacred by helicopter gunships as they try desperately to resist. Nevertheless, Friedman somehow manages to ignore these glaring problems in favor of highlighting a token Muslim appointee as proof of Indian cosmopolitanism.

Such omissions are only the beginning of Friedman’s absurd musings. He asks if Egypt, under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, might become like Pakistan, opting for strict military rule and intolerance against minorities. In the process of posing and exploring the question, he makes another glaring omission: the role of the United States. In both Pakistan and Egypt, US policy has been a major determinant in the outcome of internal power struggles, especially those which concern military-civilian relations. Pakistan did not become a militarized (near-failed) state without the active intervention of the United States. A major Cold War ally against the non-aligned India, the United States backed Pakistan with billions of dollars in military aid since its founding in order to contain the alleged threat of communism. This carried over and was intensified during the Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.

The massive and unbalanced aid flow to Pakistan’s military establishment has resulted in the weakening of Pakistan’s civilian institutions, creating a nuclear military power that can and does ignore the rule of law with the blessing of heavy US support. In the process, the United States has enriched a core of Pakistani military officers who have used the billions of dollars to fund various pet projects, while preventing any serious oversight from the Pakistani civilian government. This continues even as Pakistan’s military and intelligence services back al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. There should be no doubt that the United States has underwritten the Pakistani military’s domineering, lawless hand in Pakistan’s domestic affairs so as to quell any real or alleged threats from other regional powers.

[continued]

Thank you and shukriya for proving that Friedman will always be a God damn idiot. Read this.

 
mehreenkasana:


Native Orientalists in Pakistan
The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism has existed in the past but it has grown dramatically since the launch-ing of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the man-ner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Reading right now. Profound and important.

mehreenkasana:

Native Orientalists in Pakistan

The Orientalist enterprise of Western writers has received a great deal of critical attention since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978. As Western academics have learned to bring more objectivity and empathy to their study of the Islamicate, a growing number of Muslim academics, novelists and journalists – in their home countries and the diaspora – have started looking at themselves through new Orientalist constructs that serve the interests of Western powers. This native Orientalism has existed in the past but it has grown dramatically since the launch-ing of the West’s so-called global war against terror. This essay examines the man-ner in which native Orientalists in Pakistan – writing mostly in the English language – have been supporting America’s so-called global war against terror.

Reading right now. Profound and important.

 

I could venture into the deep thesis of Orientalism, but let me not. A simpler explanation is because the editors at these foreign publications demand a certain style. The foreign correspondents reporting from “exotic” locations, where a “life is cheaper than the bullet that takes it”, have to conform to corporate demands. Many have internalised this style, while others let the desk editors do the Stylebook adjectivisation. Some foreign correspondents have spent enough time in Pakistan to know its nuanced life, while other “parachute journalists” use adjectives as crutches to bolster their “fact-challenged” reportage. […] The result is a colourful picture of Pakistan for the world to read. Here “moustachioed” and “turbaned” men rub shoulders with “powerbrokers in pin-striped suits”, who are always fighting a losing battle with brass-laden generals who always “swagger”. […] Yes, this is a war we fight on a daily basis. It is a war of adjectives that slash like a whip and cut like a scimitar. At the end, the poor Pakistani journalists can only look at the foreign correspondent and say with a resigned shrug: “Saala angraizy kee maar dey giya” (He vanquished me with the English language).

 

The American media has falsely convinced its viewers that Malala was shot because she wanted to go to school. It is unfortunate that most viewers have accepted this narrative and failed to ask simple questions like, “Is Malala the only girl in all of Pakistan who goes to school?” The average Muslim woman, or even the average Pakistani woman, does not get shot on a daily basis; millions of girls and women go to school daily, even if there are still many families who deny education to their daughters. Yet, for the American media, Malala has become a stand-in for the condition of the generic Muslim woman. Yes, there are issues in the Muslim world—including Pakistan—but many of the experiences of women in the Muslim world are shared by our sisters in the non-Muslim world. Highlighting one Pakistani girl’s case, and misrepresenting it as an attack on any Muslim woman who wants to go to school, not only trivializes the issue but also diverts attention from women’s mistreatment in the rest of the world—including the so-called Western world.

Orbala - How Not to Talk About Malala Yousafzai in Tanqeed magazine.

An excellent article by Orbala who argues that while criticizing US drone strikes is extremely important, one should not forget to criticize and bring attention to the ongoing attacks by the Pakistani military in the tribal agencies as part of being an ally in the so-called US “War on Terrorism.”

Make sure you read this.

(via mehreenkasana)

 

mehreenkasana:

Every once in a while I like to share books with Tumblr. This time I bring several books on the politics of imperialism, Orientalism and Empire narrative(s) experienced by post-colonial nations in the Middle East and South Asia as well as Africa. Five writers from five different places with excellent thoughts for you to read and share: (From left) Eqbal Ahmed from Pakistan, Edward Said from Palestine, Hamid Dabashi from Iran, Vijay Prashad from India, Aimé Fernand David Césaire (Frantz Fanon’s teacher!) from Martinique.

Click on the links in order to download the books:

Have fun learning (and dismantling hegemony).

Bookworms, here’s some brain-food.

 

mehreenkasana:

Isn’t it amazing how rhetoric shapes politics? Simple words and images. If you’ve studied US foreign policy specifically in terms of the Middle East and South and Central Asia, you’ll notice how the Western media has maintained a very strong and even strangely hypnotic kind of control over consumers when it comes to the notion of “danger.” It’s full of sensationalism and trigger-happy as well as trigger-paranoid narrow-minded discourse. After 9/11, the most “dangerous” places in the world were Iraq and Afghanistan. US and its allies deployed troops in both regions, killed thousands and thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, plunged itself into an economic failure, and unwillingly realized only recently that its decision was a flawed, hypocritical one.

Now the rhetoric has shifted its focus on Iran and Pakistan. Two countries that have been under aggressive and relentless US foreign policy for the past decade. With sanctions imposed on Iran and drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan, USA continues to increases its violent pressure on both states. What’s amazing is how there’s very little opposition from American viewers; the majority plays easily into media’s aim to create a phantom Muslim enemy. An enemy that is, statistically speaking, so small and negligent that it barely exists as an “imminent” threat. Putting power politics aside, what does that say about Western media? It highlights its purposeful, malicious bias that perpetuates violence and bigotry against Muslims but it’s more than just that: Western media operates like a machine. It facilitates war.

Do you remember this from 1945? Look closer.

“Kill Japs, Kill Japs, then kill more Japs.” We all remember what happened then.

It’s just incredibly saddening. I grew up thinking words are obsolete, that human sensibility could see through the loopholes and inconsistencies of political rhetoric but when you have media so passionate about exaggeration and dishonesty, and people who are not only unaware but unmoved by tragedies proven over and over again, piles and piles of dead children and women and old people, it’s easy for war to happen - again. It’s convenient even. Because it satisfies that fear put into you. That “enemy” is dead, your politicians tell you. Then they create another enemy. It’s time to kill that “enemy” too.

Words are everything. Western media insists that it is “fair” and “neutral” but it contradicts itself by analyzing international relations without discussing actual politics. Yesterday everyone was worried about nonexistent WMD in Iraq and Afghanistan; today they’re worried about Iran and Pakistan.

And you know what could possibly happen after that. Everyone knows.

It’s like they have an infinite supply of ridiculous images to go with their even more ridiculous titles. Tasbeeh did a great post on this a few hours ago.

 

But who really cares what happened behind closed doors. More importantly: [Hina Rabbani Khar] got high marks for wearing Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, classic pearl and diamond jewelry, a blue designer dress, and toting an Hermes Birkin bag. And thus ladies and gentleman, a glamour icon is born. We give it three months before Vogue comes calling… wait, maybe two. [Goswami said] She could be Pakistan’s new weapon of mass destruction.

Robert Zeliger for, obviously, the Foreign Policy.

“Pakistan’s new weapon of mass destruction.” I’m not even commenting on that.

Let’s just limit a Pakistani female politician to her fashion taste because obviously a Pakistani female politician is only about her fashion taste. Great journalism going on there, Zeliger. You should win an internationally acclaimed medal for your astute and totally serious analysis coming from the West on an Eastern female political figure.

Except not.

(via mehreenkasana)

 

'War By Other Means' by Hamid Dabashi ›

Taking down Nick Kristof’s inanity one rebuttal at a time. Really, really good stuff by Mr. Dabashi.

I have no clue where Kristof has been over the last few decades, but he would have done well to read his colleague Roger Cohen’s excellent columns on the Green Movement in Iran before he flew to Tehran, to learn that “discontent with the entire political system” has been brewing in Iran over the last 30 years.

[…]

But why would a seemingly educated and even liberal man not see this, you may wonder? Why is it that he does not “see any other way to pressure the regime on the nuclear issue or ease its grip on power”? Is this intentional or unintentional blindness? Why is he incapable of seeing the proverbial elephant in the room?

[x]

Because he’s Nicholas Kristof, Mr. Dabashi. He’s Nicholas Fucking Kristof.

#Iran   #Asia   #Politics