The Anglo-Saxon male at his best

By Nita Chicooree-Mercier

It seems these days that the British Empire has never died. With the media bought by big corporations broadcasting the royal wedding, celebrated at the expense of British taxpayers’ money, throughout the wide world, all of us aged 6 to 80 are supposed to have shared great moments of fairy-tale like pageantry, festivity and happiness. Considering the lavish spending, we guess that Tony Blair’s taxes on the royal family’s riches were not high enough.

The handsome bridegroom was dressed up as an officer of her Majesty’s army with his comrades tearing the sky above the palace in warplanes, those very planes that are ramming democracy down the throats of Iraqis, Afghans and Libyans.

It was also a great occasion for the gathering of royal families from across Europe, in other words, a gathering of descendants of former 7th century best soldiers among warring forest chiefs and bandits of all kinds who were proclaimed kings by their followers. The generosity was extended to their subaltern Arab counterparts, in other words, to descendants of former desert warlords.

In the name of decency, morality, human rights, Christian-inspired democracy and civilization, the Queen felt compelled to withdraw the invitation made to the Bahraini royal family because the latter is repressing the good people who are fighting for democracy. However, the most undemocratic régime in the Arab world, the Saudi family, was heartily invited. Never mind the Sunni mercenaries that have been dispatched by the Saudis to crush down rebellions in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria.

Rule Britania 

Great people, the British. More precisely, the vigourous Anglo-Saxon male. Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, Reformation and all. Rule Britannia is still alive with all the monetary policy that originated in the City and imposed on the whole world, high interest rates, pitiless exploitation of factory workers during the Industrial Revolution which the whole world imported as a model, merchandizing everything, ruling India at its own expense, fighting three Wars against the Chinese to compel them by buy and consume opium, speculating on everything, lands, houses, natural resources, the cradle of wildcat capitalism and the generous bestower of the English language to the global village. Great, indeed! The ideas of the Anglo-Saxon males that germinated in the City in the minds of bankers and industrialists, together with the fierce combative temperament have gained in strength and power with the support of their legitimate heirs across the Atlantic and are still ruling the world.

The Enemy Culture  

Indeed, it seems that great people cannot be left alone to carry out the divine mission entrusted to them by God and the Pilgrim Fathers in the New World. The adventure was apparently tainted with an incurable mental disease that only an army of psychiatrists could heal. Maybe it is the Red Indian curse cast on the builders of the new world. The pioneers who migrated across the Atlantic more than 300 years ago went berserk in the dark forests and massacred every red soul on their way.

Just like their German cousin, Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s ‘The Heart of Darkness’. But they managed to build up a great country though and boasted in the 60s that they were feeding the world, so they did not give a damn about morality and giving civil rights to African-Americans a hundred years after the abolition of slavery.

The rest of the world has been too happy to flock to American shores where the Statue of Liberty welcomes all the wretched and ‘huddled masses’ fleeing their own countries to live the American Dream. And with what vigour and energy have they shaped the world! Progress in all domains, science, arts, technology, the fruits of which all common mortals are enjoying today.

The problem is the incurable mental disease. The enemy culture. There is always an enemy lurking in the American psyche. Hence, the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defence against real or imagined enemies: the Indians barring their way to the Gold rush and thwarting their Manifest Destiny, the sneaky untrustworthy slaves, later on, the foreigners, Catholics and Jews who might bring with them subversive ideas from Europe, the whole bunch of Socialists disguised as trade unionists.

Among other things, the anti-Jew sentiment they shared with their European brethren prevented them from intervening earlier against fascist Germany. Then appeared the real enemy, the Communists. They vowed not to meddle into the disputes of the old world but they have been dragged into them against their will; their own zone of influence, Central and South America was, paradoxically, teeming with dictators. An oasis of freedom among despots! How they managed that feat defies all logic!

The Anti-hero

In the meantime, nobody could complain. They were lucky enough to watch American westerns staging all the bravery, combativity, survival instinct of the hard-boiled Anglo-Saxon male at his best in worst moments, the hero that overcomes all obstacles and is rewarded back in the new frontier village by the sexy blonde woman opening her arms to him. The romanticized cinema version of the harsh reality of boorish pioneers and adventurers, alcoholics and wife-beaters trying to settle in new conquered lands against all odds. They have bequeathed the infamous cultural legacy of the righteous white males fighting against savages to generations of white boys in America and Europe.

What we have witnessed recently is the repetition of the capture of Saddam Hussein a few years back, an absurd and pathetic display of the ingenuity of American heroism which smacks rather of anti-heroism ever since a few angry young men attacked key symbolic points in the world’s mightiest country in 2001. Ten years to lay their hands on their most wanted enemy in an era of sophisticated communication, surgical strikes and unmanned drones.

That is nothing to crow about, they have been cheated by their closest ally for years while pouring billions of dollars into their coffers in the fight against terrorism. The satisfaction and joy of the cheering crowds summons visions of the dark sordid moments of an-eye-for-an-eye reprisals that mark the mindset of the people throughout American history. The populace suffering from chronic amnesia applauds its heroes and forgets how the country gets entangled in all the mess in the Middle East and has created a new enemy in its psyche since the fall of the Berlin wall, Muslim extremists in the Arab world embodied by Osama bin Laden.

In the eye-for-an-eye rejoicing, Obama has scored political points but has missed a unique opportunity to mark a turning point in American mindset and initiate a therapy of the enemy culture. Why? Because another big fearsome enemy has already occupied the American psyche: China. It is most unlikely that the Anglo-Saxon white male will put into practice the strong belief of Martin Luther King, ‘A great individual is a compassionate individual, a great nation is a compassionate nation.’

Our hope is that there is another great nation that can materialize this ideal for the benefit of the world’s citizens in the new world order that is taking shape.

* * *

Carnet Hebdo

Dégâts irréversibles ?

En ces temps difficiles d’inflation et d’augmentation du coût de la vie, l’on nous explique que la principale cause en est notre dépendance sur les importations. La question que l’on se pose est : Que compte faire les autorités pour pallier cette faiblesse?

L’association des agriculteurs a tiré la sonnette d’alarme depuis des lustres déplorant la perte des terres fertiles au profit des constructions tous azimuts. Faut-il « se remplir l’estomac » en passant devant les hôtels qui ont poussé comme des champignons un peu partout et dont le remplissage reste problématique malgré les chiffres avancés officiellement ? Et, toutes ces villas IRS initiées dès 2003 par les lobbys que l’on connaît, et que le peuple impuissant a regardé sortir des anciennes terres des propriétés sucrières sous prétexte de libéralisme économique.

On a libéré l’appétit des requins pour des projets qui, à la longue, profitent à un groupuscule au détriment de l’intérêt national. Créateur d’emplois, fait-on miroiter. Quels emplois les étrangers retraités qui passent une partie de l’année ici créent-ils directement si ce n’est le secteur très ambitieux de femmes de ménage et de jardiniers ? Si c’est ça la vision d’avenir…

Ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir économique se complaisent dans cette vision de maintenir le peuple au bas de l’échelle. On serait tenté de penser qu’il y a une volonté délibérée de maintenir un vivrier des ratés de CPE et SC pour qu’ils atterrissent dans les secteurs des bas salaires dans les usines de textile, le service hôtelier et les centaines de villas pour riches. Pensez-vous que ceux-là consomment la bière locale et d’autres produits locaux? Ils sont les principaux clients des produits importés à des prix prohibitifs que l’on voit dans les épiceries fines.

Water everywhere…

La guerre de l’eau n’est pas pour demain dans le monde mais on en parle déjà, avec les pays riches qui tenteront de s’accaparer l’or bleu pour leur propre consommation. Ici, ça fait des lustres que l’eau est rationnée à outrance et que le bon peuple s’y accommode bon gré mal gré. Il semble que les grands projets de récupération d’eau sont en panne. Mais l’on n’hésite pas de construire des piscines pour chaque nouvelle villa qui sort de terre. C’est de la folie!

Les nouveaux riches le long du littoral veulent aussi une piscine alors qu’ils sont à quelques mètres de la plage. Tous ces besoins démesurés par rapport aux ressources du pays ! Il va falloir revenir sur terre un jour.

Entre ciel et terre

Certes, dans cette politique désastreuse de la gestion des terres, le logement de tout et de chacun s’annonce difficile. Les étrangers d’abord dans les villas de luxe et ces hôtels inutiles à moitié vide à longueur d’année, et pour les Mauriciens, les immeubles, à plusieurs étages, perdus dans le ciel, se présentent comme une solution d’avenir, une véritable tragédie du style singapourien… (mais là-bas, ils n’ont pas de choix). La spéculation rend les terres inaccessibles aux Mauriciens. A la Pointe aux Cannoniers, un terrain de 15 perches acheté à Rs 50000 dans les années 90 est vendu à Rs 4 millions actuellement. Où va-t-on? Le salaire du Mauricien moyen n’est pas monté en flèche pour autant.

Il y a un an l’Université de Maurice annonçait les mesures proposées pour diversifier la consommation des produits agricoles, en développant des cultures que l’on pourrait aussi exporter telles que le fruit à pain, entre autres. D’autres habitudes alimentaires s’imposent, la dépendance sur le riz ne pourra pas durer. L’Afrique se tourne vers la culture du riz, on y gagnerait à y participer et à en importer à un prix moins élevé à l’avenir. On s’accorde pour dire que l’importation est excessive.

Les ignares que nous sommes en économie pensent bien qu’il y a la possibilité de développer l’industrie agro-alimentaire en produisant à grande échelle les plats locaux tels que « puri », « dholl-puri », pâtés, plats cuisinés variés, etc. La Malaisie exporte bien des paratas, papadums, etc. ; l’Inde exporte en Europe des chips faits avec les fruits tels que le « jacques » et les bananes ; Singapour exporte bien des épices. On peut en faire autant avec du fruit à pain. Les épices mauriciennes sont excellentes, notamment celles où l’on a ajouté la mangue séchée. Les marchés de l’Afrique du Sud, des pays africains, du Singapour et les pays du sud-est asiatique et pourquoi pas l’Europe seraient envisageables. Les Réunionnais se raffolent des plats mauriciens à base de « roti » et de « dholl-puri ». Ils exportent des milliers de samoussas en Europe, les nôtres sont quand même meilleurs ! Il y a des créneaux prometteurs si l’on veut bien les exploiter.

The Infernal Trio

While protest movements raged in the Arab world, we may have hoped that the people of Pakistan would raise their voices to save their country from descent into hell. Instead, while minorities are facing hard times ahead, Pakistan is responding to the call of Saudi Arabia to rescue Sunni-minority governments in the Middle-East. Saudi Arabia, a country that has been cradling Pakistan with petrodollars and radical ideology for decades, is reaping the benefits today with the blessing of the US. Currently, mercenaries from Pakistan are crushing the Shia uprisings in Bahrain. It suits US interests to counterbalance Iran’s influence in the region. Contagion of discontent in the vast Shia-dominated areas around the oil fields is rattling the Saudi régime, and its Wahabbi clerics in the administration may soon have to face demands for change and reform. The Pakistani military is poised to intervene in Saudi Arabia in case the simmering discontent seriously unsettles the Saudi clan.

In this part of the world, the Americans are set to reinforce the Sunni/Shia divide. But they face bleaker prospects in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Taliban have not been vanquished and their suicide attacks continue apace. US politicians are upset that the billions of dollars poured into Pakistan have not yielded results. Meanwhile, the US is being requested to stop drone attacks. Pakistan is trying to get the Taliban to open talks with the Afghan government, sparking US fears that Pakistan wishes to sidestep it in a bid to safeguard its own interests in the process of concocting its own agenda with the Afghan government. The Americans want a strong centralized government and a powerful army in Afghanistan while Pakistan would rather have the opposite so that it could exert its influence and power.

Such combination of an imperialist power, a failed state well-versed radical ideology and a clan of former desert warlords turned kings consorting together in hot spots of the globe is bound to bring hell on earth. At this stage no one is expecting the jasmine contagion to reach Pakistan and Afghanistan in the near future and for people power to flood the streets in those countries. But who can tell the designs of the Almighty in advance?

Black Year for Minorities

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Pakistan reveals the plight of minorities in 2010 in that country and warns of worse times ahead. Anti-minority hate literature is spread widely across the country and even mainstream Urdu newspapers carry such literature.

HRC Chairman Mehdi Hassan declared that as voices against human rights abuses and intolerance became more isolated in face of violence and intimidation, extremist voices grew more vociferous. Various assaults were conducted against Shia Muslims and their educational institutions in Balochistan. Recently, a barely 17-year-old boy was arrested for participating in a suicide attack against Shias; he confessed that he had been trained by the Taliban who assured him he would go directly to paradise as a martyr. 500 Hindu families had to migrate from Balochistan to India due to threats to their lives and security, while 27 others have applied for asylum. Two Christian men accused of blasphemy were killed in police custody.

The worrying thing is that there is no due process of law in such cases. The police and judiciary do not have to be involved. On the contrary, in many cases of harassment and abuses, it is reported that police was suspected of framing false charges against minorities and failing to protect them. And in most religion-based killings, the federal and provincial governments failed to even express sympathy with the bereaved families.

The report predicts worse times ahead for minorities. In the face of such human misery and torture, we should expect both the Pakistani and Indian governments to tackle the issue before it leads to an even bigger humanitarian disaster…

* Published in print edition on 7 May 2011

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