By Nita Chicooree-Mercier
In the years following the Second World War, which wrought widespread destruction, horrendous genocide and traumatizing experience of barbarism in all forms, world powers, mainly the key western leaders, took the lead in enunciating lofty resolutions to promote peace and economic development, which they achieved fairly successfully for more than four decades.
After witnessing the dire consequences of nationalist ideology, racial hatred and territorial expansionism, well-meaning discourses in international conferences spearheaded by influential western politicians and high profile intellectuals took care to ban the language of race, religion and nationalism in assessing international political and trade relations. The emphasis in advanced societies was on Reason and Rationalism. In the eagerness and enthusiasm to create a better world, idealists embarked on political correctness which they applied to themselves because they had had their fill of century-old history of atrocities. In the process, they also expected the rest of the world to follow in their footsteps notwithstanding the level of specific political, economic and cultural development of various countries.
After the genocide of six million Jews in Europe, the worst in the history of mankind, people across the world are expected to put race and religion in their backyard, not to resort to violence to resolve issues, not to use race-related abusive language, to believe in the ‘love one another ideal’ and not to harbour prejudices. That is why at the 1953 conference at the UNESCO, all the idealists were astounded to hear the famous ethnologist, Claude Levi-Strauss say that it is normal to have prejudices; what is abnormal, he said, is the fact of not having prejudices! There are, what he called, healthy prejudices. Des préjugés sains.
In recent years, developed countries enacted laws to punish those found guilty of discrimination in recruitment policy, using or publishing offensive language related to religion and ethnicity. To varying degrees, governments in smaller countries felt obliged to adopt the same laws. So any breach of that principle causes a stir and is widely commented in the press by intellectuals and editorialists of all hues, especially those who claim to have a leftist leaning. They address one another, the public and their fans in the same intellectual jargon that appeals to the higher ideals they are all supposed to share and propagate.
It leads to absurd situations where opinion-makers run down their people, religion and country for the sake of political correctness. In France, they have felt free to run down the Catholic Church but taken care to spare minority religions. Such biased and cowardly stance is wearing out as the proverbial French intellectual is on a steady decline, others have dropped the veneer of intellectual arrogance. Given that imported ideas survive in colonized countries, it seems that the most outspoken leftist radicals have taken refuge in India. So-called secularists from their ranks have no qualms denigrating Hinduism, making fun of swamis and resorting to media-lynching of any Hindu intellectual or politician who is supposed to have abused minority communities publicly.
This tendency is taking on in smaller island democracies such as Mauritius where editorialists of all sorts think they are contributing to the idea of progress if they target Hindus somehow in editorial columns. There have been a few examples recently. In the name of what principle does a journalist feel free to drag the name of Krishnee Bunwaree in the mud? All the fuss over a derogatory remark on a different faith posted on a social network has led to an absurd portrayal of a Hindu woman as a symbol of racial and religious prejudices. She is lumped in the same category as the average American or immigrant Christian extremist. That beats it all! Hindus of all people in this country and in this world? Why not talk about Hindu Terror? Certain morons in the press as well as their so-called secular and progressist supporters in India should know that the very idea of Hindu Terror is sheer fiction.
Three weeks ago, another Sunday editorial column published erroneous information to the effect that the 1999 riot would have been a Hindu-Creole conflict. Was it? The former President brilliantly emerges as a saviour of the country in that context. Remember that no one talked about inter-ethnic conflict when Kaya’s death sparked off protests in some areas and spread out across the country until an editorialist felt obliged to bring in ethnicity into the debate in mentioning that the riot was not against any ethnic group. At that point, it was totally unnecessary to even allude to ethnicity. It just shows how some people continue to be obsessed with ethnicity in this country. Even the so-called electoral reform being proposed these days is partly tainted with an ethnic undertone to displace power to satisfy permanently disgruntled categories.
Current events hogging the headlines in the world are drawing mitigated reaction from all quarters in the international press. Political correctness has stifled deep thinking and muzzled free speech. In opposition to this irresponsible and cowardly stance, the world actually needs a few politically incorrect people to tell the truth, the plain truth.
* * *
Under the Gaze of Buddha
A British journalist is desperately trying to launch an awareness campaign to save the Buddhist monastery from destruction as a Chinese state-owned mining company is set to create the world’s largest opencast copper mine and destroy the Buddhist monastery at Aynak. Twelve other Buddhist sites have been discovered in the area this year. The pursuit of economic benefits at the expense of the greatest religious figures is likely to arouse less passion in this case. We will be all buying smartphones using the copper from that mine from China in a few months
It may be recalled that the world did not burn down when Mullah Omar sent his followers to blow up the Buddha of Bamiyan and reduce it to rubble. It was mullah fight against idolatry, other people’s religious belief, from that point of view. Once a territory where Hindu civilization extended, Afghanistan was also the meeting point of Alexander the Great and Buddhist monks. The learned Greeks who accompanied the emperor recorded all the conversations with the monks and once back in Greece, they brought home the teachings of the Bihar-born Buddha. In contrast, the Romans who invaded Greece and wrapped themselves with the trappings of Greek civilization and later became the torchbearers of a new religion, could not come to terms with Science at that stage: they decreed the death of the scientist who dared to say that the earth turns round the sun and not the other way around as it was believed in the faith at that time. Time transcends differences of views but not many agree to give it a chance.
* * *
Serial American Failure
In the wake of the recent assassination of the US ambassador and his four aides in Benghazi, Libya, which was a clearly planned commando-style attack carried out by Ansar-al-Sharia (supporters of Sharia) following the confirmation by the Americans of the death of Yahya al-Libi in Afghanistan, Libyan cleric affiliated to AL Qaeda, let us recall a few points.
In their bid to bring about a régime change in Libya, the U.S-sponsored NATO alliance headed by Britain and France recruited, trained and armed external radical Islamist extremists to break down the stiff resistance put up by Colonel Gaddafi. Henceforth, the radicals set up sleeper cells in Libya, now identifying the US as their sworn enemy.
In Egypt, the Army and the Intelligence continued to monitor the activities of Al Qaeda even after the overthrow of Mubarak by a civilian protest movement. There was no intelligence and security vacuum in Egypt. Conversely, the brutal massacre of Gaddafi and his aides in Libya resulted in the collapse of the command and control of the Libyan Army and Intelligence. Al-Qaeda and affiliates filled this vacuum. That’s how America lost its bet.
Again, religion figured prominently as a theme of US policy during the Cold War when Communism provided the overarching ideological rationale for American globalism. For many Americans, the Cold War derived its moral clarity from the conviction that there was a contest pitching the God-fearing against the God-denying Communists. The Judeo-Christian strategists in Washington drew on the theologically correct belief that Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same God. So in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, they threw their weight behind Afghan Mujahideens, calling them ‘freedom fighters’. The Americans funneled aid via Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to the most religiously extreme among them to fight against godless Communists. God, of course, was on the side of the God-fearing alliance of believers. The Mujahideens were even hosted at the White House on occasion.
After the Soviet pull-out from Afghanistan, extreme right-wing views replaced extreme left-wing views in that place. Yesterday’s ‘freedom fighters’ metamorphosed into Taliban and shared the view of Middle-East radicals who considered America as the ‘Great Satan’, their sworn enemy supporting Israeli domination of their downtrodden brethren in Palestine. In the meantime, for the Americans, anti-Communism was suddenly replaced by anti-Terrorism which, in their view, if left unchecked, would sweep across the globe and have dire consequences for freedom. Unlike, the godless Communists, the new enemies embraced God with startling ferocity against the equally God-fearing Americans and presented themselves as God-avenging agents. Right-wing religious organizations hastened to occupy the vacuum left by the overthrow of leftist secular régime in Afghanistan in 1994, that left behind by Ba’athist Party in Iraq (1950-2006), and the open space in Libya in 2011. Ba’athist Syria is going to follow suit most probably if the pattern continues. All this reflects a consistently failing American policy across the board.
There are a lot of issues to worry about in the global world: economic crisis, unemployment, indebtedness, global warming, genetically modified food, transgenic maize causing cancer in rats as revealed by a team of French researchers at the University of Caen. Research work carried on secretly is in the meantime banned and regarded as ‘blasphemy’ by the vested interests in Monsanto, US, and the whole corporate-o-cracy who benefit from the poisoned food we eat on a daily basis. As if that were not enough, the US has, through its successive governments, been going out into a misconceived political adventure all the way through that has ended up overwhelming it and making it lose its sense of direction. The world is not becoming a better place for all of that. Quite the contrary.
* Published in print edition on 28 September 2012