Monday, June 21, 2010

A new perspective on Race

[The following is a summary of the discussion I had on 'the concept of race in a multicultural paradigm']

The talk was given by a professor from the department of International Relations at the University of Karachi. The focus of the whole discussion was a research dissertation written by two eminent American psychologists; the title of the research was:

"Race as biology is fiction - Race as a social problem is real."

The paper presented an anthropological and historic perspective on the issue of race in the United States. In the US, the black-men and white-men divide goes back in history. Slaves were brought in ship to the 'free land' and they were forced to work in new and harsh conditions. Africans were by law not treated as human beings. Slavery was also made kosher by the contemporary Christan church. This 'religo-political harmony' meant that there was no stopping to the slavery business. Blacks were caught from the African continents and were brought back to the developing United States, the free-world. They were not allowed to marry the whites and in some cases they even couldn't marry in their own communities. This might help in establishing a permanent family system. A family system never suited the whites and black men and women were often segregated. No great black revolt is record in the history. The most important reason is that when blacks seemed to disobey their new masters, they were severally punished. Punishment for the act of treason was in some cases equal to death. Due to this the black men never tried to disobey whites.

This was the history of the white-black divide. We can speculate that capital was the driving force behind this horrendous crime of slavery.

The American psychologists have tried to prove that the foundation of racism in the US is scientific. Previously, there was an idea that a taxonomy of supremacy exists in different races. Some races are higher than other, some normal and some below normal. The Asian race is at the top of the ladder, then comes the European and lastly Africans. This conception was very strongly promoted and naturally it allowed the exploitation of one race by the other.

The American psychologists have tried to prove that although racism has scientific grounding but no race is superior to the other. Supremacy of a single dominating race can never be proved.

The basic assumption made is that race has nothing to do with biology. Race and biology are inclusive in nature. These are two incomparable ideas which cannot overlap each other.

The new concept presented in the paper says that race is acquired through ethnicity. The normative position is now taken up by a particular ethnicity rather than the old taxonomic structure. This means that a person can change his race overtime. As a person travels from the African continent to the United States, he has changed his ethnic background. As culture is considered to be external, so does is ethnicity. This black African slave might change his ethnicity as he is now brought in a new cultural environment. Hence this proves that race isn't a static constant norm. It's a collection of ethnic traits learned overtime and passed from one generation to the other. If an African has major traits of an American, then he surely is an American.

Lastly, the psychologist also discussed that, in history, race is used as a political tool. Even today, around the world, electoral constituencies are divided on the basis of class, colour, creed, language and religion. This discrimination can be subdued if we consider race as a social variable rather than something external and never changing.

Just to conclude the whole topic. The three fundamental thought are following:
1) Race is a mean of enforcing social order.
2)It is a lens through which differential opportunities and inequalities are structured.
3)Scientific methods are problematic. Science with its emphasis on identifying immutable differences between racial group as caused racial inequality.

Friday, June 18, 2010

غیرت کی بات

انور مقصود: جناب آپ کو تو صرف بہانہ چاہیے حکومت کو برا بھلا کہنے کا۔ حکومت کچھ بھی کرے ، آپ تنقید ہی کریں گیں۔ اس ہی مثال کو لیجیے، حکومت نے آپ کے فائدہ اور حفاظت کے لیے، آپ سے کہا کے چند دن کے لیے کلفٹن سے کہی اور چلیں جائے، سیلاب اور طوفان کا خطرہ ہے۔ آپ اس پر بھی تنقید کرتے ہیں۔

معین آختر: میاں انور! کیا بات کرتے ہو؟ ہماری حفاظت کے لیے خالی نہیں کرایا، اصل مقصد زمین پر قبضہ کرنا ہے۔ لوگ گھر چھوڑے گیں اور ہم ان کی زمین آپس میں بانٹ لے گیں۔ رہے نام اللھ کا!!!۔

انور مقصود: (غصے سے) جناب کلفٹن میں تو وزیر اور مشیر بھی رہتے ہیں! وہ بھی تو ڈوب جائیں گیں۔ ان کی جان کو بھی تو خطرہ ہے۔ آپ کیسی بات کر رہے ہیں! گھر تو وہ بھی خالی کر رہے ہیں، وہ بھی آپ کی طرح ہیں۔

معین آختر: (تھوڑی خاموشی کے بعد) میاں انور! وہ نہیں ڈوبے گیں کیونکہ ڈوبنے کے لیے غیرت چاہیے ہوتی ہے۔

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rainbow come near

A real rainbow in Karachi. I won't do a commentary.

A Rainy Day

Sitting on the edge of the door, trying to peek out in the dark, sounds of droplets one after the other colliding the thirsty earth; It was raining. The night sky hid most of the beauty. Rains have there own aesthetics, something which one grabs only by observing. An unending sequence of events unfolded as I tried to grab my own basket of experiences. The formation of ripples; the circular waves formed on the surface, waves which are circular to perfection; the uninterrupted sound of droplets pouring; the flash of thunder making the night sky as bright as day. I was trying to get a hold on it. As I tried to get a feel of the sound, my eyes distracted me. When my eyes were focused, my ear overpowered the scenery which my eyes sketched. But this constant battle of senses really kept me alive.

Strong winds were making the trees dance. They were dancing with the winds. A pure symphony with the rain, as if the rain was directing the whole drama ans all the tree and flowers merely acting accordingly. The sounds produced by this dance of nature, overwhelmed me and for a moment I thought they have some senses similar to human beings. The oscillations of trees, the swinging of leaves, the alternating movements; everything was simply mesmerizing. They were cheering and playing like children on the street.

This dance said me, "Join Us"! I came out from the room onto the terrace. sitting at the edge I saw my street. It was like River Indus. Water following as if it will never end, gaining strength every passing second. I remembered my childhood when I used to place paper ship on the same street. The ship was sent to a journey to infinity and I was never going to meet it again. As I was thinking I saw some white paper ships, a mystical retreat to childhood. The tradition was still alive but time moved ahead. The maker of the ship was unknown - as always is the case with paper ships - but history continues. The white color of the ship was in sheer contrast with the darkness of night. One ship following the other on an undefined journey.

Seeing this whole natural drama, I got myself wet. I was feeling cold but I didn't wanted to get interrupted. So I took off my shirt, wrung it and put it over again. I focused again on the trees; their incessant dance. I noticed a new phenomena, old leaves were following down and space for new leaves was being created. The process of death for one means life for the other. The trees were going round this metaphysical for centuries but I noticed it today. For a second I thought myself of being Newton, gravity was there for thousands of year but the world never noticed. But today I was the only person in the world, so I was the world. The old leaves fulfilled their duties and now new one were coming to take their place. A monotonous cycle was about to start and I was the first one to witness it.

It was raining continuously, but I was feeling cold. I had to go back inside and now sitting inside the house I'm again experiencing the pleasures of rain....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From The Holocuast to Gaza

Reading newspapers, watching BBC or surfing the internet- I noticed how the world has spoken over the Israeli attack on the ship 'fotilla'. Tagged as the 'armada of terror' by the Isreali foreign minister, the ship was carrying basic food items for the people in Gaza strip. A land which is occupied by the Israeli authorities against all international jurisdiction.

Why do we have to see the same Middle East again and again? The Middle East of blood, tears and sorrow. Why is the blood so profane? Or is it really kosher to kill Jews, Muslims or Christians? Is it a Jewish-Muslim problem or a Jewish-Arab problem? Why do we hear human cry, the shear human agony and pain which transcends the limits of human language and uttered words?

The utter 'forlorn' of the Holocaust continues to reverberate itself with a change in geography and ethnicity. Six million innocent men, women and children were killed by the Nazis on the bases of ethnic discrimination. Hitler called them 'The Impure Race'. The Fuhrer of the Third Reich gave out 'creative plans' for the killing of Jews, including the 'March of Death', 'Gas Chambers', 'Concentration Camps' and 'Forced Labours'. Men were denigrated and humanity millions of time. But has something change; wasn't the 'Plan D' similar to what Hitler did? Wasn't it a 'ethnic cleansing' of the Palestinian Arabs? Women were raped, families massacred. The whole Palestinian civilization was at stack. The Holocaust repeated itself, but this time not the 'Insane Fuhrer' but the 'Holocaust survivors' themselves. How on earth can they forgot the pain they themselves confronted. 'History repeats itself' as the mantra goes and the Middle East is looped inside a whirlpool which seem to be monotonous. The whirlpool of 'red wine' and 'red blood'.

The whole Middle East crisis centres around a city. A city which dates back in time immemorial. Every patch and every bit of the city has a story to tell. From the destruction of the First Temple to the conquest by Ayubi and then up till the Crusades; the City seems to have stored everything in it lap. This city is known as the 'Jerusalem' or 'Yerusalem'. Near it Prophet Jesus(pbuh) was born, Prophet Muhammed(pbuh) went on the journey of 'Miraj' and Jews have there Solomon Temple right at the heart of the city. The Abrahamic religions seem to have a common denominator. But is 'common denominator' is nothing different from today's Gaza. Same stories of innocent massacre, people die without any reason except that they are born in Jerusalem. The noise of bullets and rocket fire overwhelm all other holy rhymes and recitations, people pray in a sacred warzone with hundred of check-posts and armed personal watching each and every activity being performed. The solace of guns and arms diminishes the solace of love and religion.

"Let the children of Abraham intermingle together", said the president of the united states at the university of Cairo. Sir, who is stopping them? Who is stopping the Jews and Arab to live together? Who give a 'peace road-map' and than another 'peace road-map' and than another? Who is playing with their lives? Let them intermingle! and please don't the latest Israeli Terrorism as you don't support the rocket attacks on southern Israel.

As far as the Arab world is concerned, they should accept the world as it is. Gone are the days of Arab Imperialism. No more 'King Abdullah' play. Expansionism is neither coin of this age and nor it will help the of Gaza. Consider Palestine a land which transcends the geographical boundaries of the Arab world. Until then, no solution is possible. A unified Arab force is not a solution, we have seen then in the Arab-Isreali war. The Arab couldn't get even a meagre piece land in the seven wars they fought.

The people of Gaza need our help. But the Palestinians which are in their mother's womb need a Middle East which is more secure and peaceful than today. Gaza is as large as Singapore, let Gaza be the Singapore of the Middle East. The Israeli should know that 'There is a tomorrow after today' and history always repeats.