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بدھ، 8 ستمبر، 2010

Roots of western superiority complex

Shiraz Paracha
Passengers of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight to London from Islamabad were forced to stay inside the aircraft at London Heathrow Airport on 8 August as the British Police and officials of the UK Border Agency made their guns and papers ready to scare hundreds of innocent people including women and children who came to the country of ‘fish & chips’ to spend money.
I am a frequent flyer to different parts of the world and usually I travel via London Heathrow Airport. Never before I flew with the PIA and thus was not aware that the British treat Pakistani travellers in such a way. The behaviour of the UK Border Agency staff was intimidating. They nearly blocked exit gate of the plane, some of them were carrying guns and others were perhaps writing notes about the passengers. Even in the baggage reclaim area there was a vivid discrimination against the passengers who had arrived from Islamabad by the PIA. The security staff was collecting passengers’ luggage from baggage carousel. It was piled in the middle of the hall amid announcements about the displaced luggage.
And even when that was not enough the passengers arriving from Islamabad were asked to go through a separate channel where search dogs and security awaited them. Every body was ordered to open their bags and the Border Agency officials searched the bags. There was no courtesy and no politeness which the British Councils, the BBC and other British institutions sell around the world.
“Do you always welcome people like this?” I asked one officer. “This is limited to a few countries and some airlines,” he replied.
Among those who had come to the UK on that day, there were many students who pay huge fees to British colleges and universities. This money is very important for the British economy that is in shambles. There were people on the PIA flight who would spend at British High Streets. The UK needs their money so badly.
Pakistanis are among big investors in the British real state market. They own properties worth billions of pounds in Central London and in other parts of the country. High streets in up and down of the country are filled with Pakistani-owned businesses. Tens and thousands of Pakistanis work as professionals in British companies and businesses. Without Pakistani doctors and nurses the British health system would go further down the hill. Pakistanis working in different sections of social services support hundreds and thousands of British people. Male and female Asian and Muslim nurses give love and warmth to sick and lonely elderly British people, many of whom are disabled and abandoned by their families. Such people are victims of their own cruel system—a broken and disoriented society.
Exploitation of the united India by the British at gunpoint gave birth to the British glory in the past. The present prosperity of Britain depends heavily on the hard work and contributions of immigrants from India, Pakistan and other parts of the developing world.
Nearly a million-strong Pakistani community is part of the British society.
A great number of white British people believe in equality and fairness. They are democratic and often raise their voices against oppression or discrimination wherever it takes place. Millions of white people protested on the streets of London and throughout Europe against the US and British aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, it is a sad fact that despite so many wonderful and beautiful people, minorities, especially Muslims in Britain still face discrimination and racism. They are not treated as equal citizens. In 2001, following the launch of a hate campaign that was led by Tony Blair, a mastermind of state terrorism, British Muslims were subjected to further discrimination. Consequently, the British society is even more divided along religious and cultural lines thanks to the bloody policies of the British ruling elites, who pit minorities and working classes against each other.
People of the Indian Subcontinent had never heard of the British before 1583, when Queen Elizabeth I dispatched the ship Tyger to the Subcontinent to exploit opportunities for trade. It was Mughal Emperor Nuruddin Salim Jahangir who granted permission and gave exclusive rights to the British East India Company to gain foothold in India around 1615. After granting the permission Emperor Jahangir wrote a letter to King James 1 of Britain. This letter is a classic example of Asian and Muslim hospitality, friendliness, warmth and generosity that exists till date. In his letter the Emperor wrote:
“Upon which assurance of your royal love I have given my general command to all the kingdoms and ports of my dominions to receive all the merchants of the English nation as the subjects of my friend; that in what place so ever they choose to live, they may have free liberty without any restraint; and at what port so ever they shall arrive, that neither Portugal nor any other shall dare to molest their quiet; and in what city so ever they shall have residence, I have commanded all my governors and captains to give them freedom answerable to their own desires; to sell, buy, and to transport into their country at their pleasure.
For confirmation of our love and friendship, I desire your Majesty to command your merchants to bring in their ships of all sorts of rarities and rich goods fit for my palace; and that you be pleased to send me your royal letters by every opportunity, that I may rejoice in your health and prosperous affairs; that our friendship may be interchanged and eternal.” (The Indian History: 1600 AD onwards)
But 242 years later, the British murdered the decedents of Emperor Jahangir. They killed the whole family of Mughal King Bahadur Shah Zafar and imprisoned the King and sent him into exile. The British who had come to India as traders and had begged Muslim rulers for trading rights eventually betrayed their beneficiaries and colonised the country by playing foul. From the 17th century till the mid 20th century, for 300 years, the British ripped the people of India off their wealth at gunpoint and deceit.
It is astonishing to see that not much has changed in the tactics and behaviour of Western states and politicians. They continue to practise double standards and follow unfair policies. If the majority of the Western public is simple to the extent of naivety their leaders and top policy makers are hypocrites and crooks. When it comes to Western strategic interests the West has no regard for human rights or democracy.
The West is polite and civilised but its acts are ugly and ruthless, too. The Western Civilisation has been a blessing as well as a cruse for the mankind. The history of Western civilisation is fascinating but it is also dark and brutal. The West gave the world wonderful gifts in form of ideas, creativity and technological innovations but the West also brought death and destruction to the world.
The English wiped out the people of Tasmania when they colonised that African country. British officers and British rulers used to hunt Tasmanian people like animals. They would chase them in forests and shoot them as if they were not human beings. Killing of human beings was a game for the British. Often the British officers and soldiers would use Tasmanian people as live targets to practise shooting rifles. Consequently, the whole nation of Tasmania disappeared from the face of the earth.
The British enslaved millions of Africans and forced them to work on plantations in British colonies in the Caribbean and Americas. French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and other European nations were involved in the mass murders of Latin Americans, Africans and Asians. Spanish and Portuguese killed and tortured Latin American people. Till this day, Latin Americans are victims of Western cruelty. In the past it was Spain, Portugal, France and Britain, now it is the United States.
European settlers launched campaigns to clear North America of Native Americans. After the US war of independence as new immigrants from Europe arrived and moved westwards, the US generals ordered their troops to hunt and kill native people. And they did.
From the 15th century onward, the West destroyed countries and cultures out of greed. The West has been involved in the loot and plunder of world’s resources and Western countries have ripped off many nations of their wealth. Peaceful people of Latin America, Africa and Asia were shocked and surprised by Western brutality. In Latin America, native people treated the Spanish as guests but they murdered entire host tribes because the Spanish were after gold and silver.
The 20th century saw another wave of Western violence when from Berlin to Baghdad, from Hiroshima to Nagasaki and from Vietnam to Cambodia the West bombed and destroyed hundreds and thousands of homes and killed millions of innocent people.
The 21st century started with the bombing of Kabul and Baghdad and now the killing business has extended to the North Waziristan in Pakistan. Western brutality has touched new heights as the West is using new technologies to kill human beings; pilot-less drones hit people who are trapped in the tribal areas of Pakistan due to the US occupation of Afghanistan.
While Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan bleed, the Western-backed violence continues in Palestine. And the West is planning to give Iran a bloodbath if it does not bow to the Western pressure.
One could only laugh at Tony Blair, George Bush and others when they claimed they were defending freedoms and civilisation.
Interestingly, violence is an accepted norm in the Western civilisation and can be easily justified under different pretexts. Colonisation was carried out in the name of spreading civilisation among barbaric people of inferior cultures but actually it was an ugly campaign to rob other nations and communities. Some believe that in the last few decades major Western powers have subjected developing countries to neo-colonisation under masks of human rights and democracy.
The West approves violence because intellectually and historically it associates itself with the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire thrived on violence and brutality. Bravery, manhood and honour were celebrated values in the Roman Empire and all were associated with violence. War was a way of life in the Roman Empire. Western rhetoric about war and violence is rooted in the Roman past and the martial race mentality.
Secondly, the secular West is still spiritually Christian and highly values Christian purity. Christianity emerged in the Middle East and was preached by a coloured man—Jesus Christ. Today, it is implied that as if Christianity belongs to the civilised West, particularly to the Republican Party of white Christians in the United States. Christian missionaries around the world present Christianity as a religion of peace opposed to Islam that is depicted as violent. Well, much of the violence in Europe was committed by Christians. How can one forget Crusaders? Ironically, early Christians faced prosecution in Europe and at the hands of white Romans, the predecessors of the current day Western worriers.
Another pillar of the Western civilisation is its orchestrated link with the ancient Greek philosophy. For one thousand years the West remained unaware of the works of Aristotle. Book burning was common in Europe but the intellectuals of the 15th century Renaissance period found Greek works and in the following centuries European writers and scholars developed a connection between the Western civilisation and 332 BC Greek philosophers. It was not that late, after all!
Western leaders use Roman historical references and rhetoric in the name of defending their people. Those who refuse to buy the garbage and promote peace are labelled as pacifists. The signs of the Western love for humanity are visible in Guantanamo Bay, Abu-Gharib, in Kabul’s Bagram airbase and in hundreds of prisons and torture cells on unknown islands and even at ships that roam the world oceans.
The Western civilisation is based on capitalist materialism and it practises superficial values. In the Western corporate culture, people are treated as profit-making machines who are encouraged to cut each other’s throats in order to be more efficient and productive. Workers, white and blue collar both, are used for making more and profit. Workers have no choice–they can be selfish and cruel working machines, or they fall to the bottom and suffer.
Our world is faced with a serious threat of Western arrogance and ignorance. After the peaceful split of the Soviet Union, powerful Western elites want to control the world by all means. Some want to use military power to achieve that goal, others apply economic pressure in form of reforms, trade agreements and structural adjustment programmes.
Also a significant number of people in the West honestly believe that every one in the world must follow the Western model because the West has achieved the highest level in the spheres of economic, social and political development.
A large group of Western writers, scholars, educationists as well as members of many Western NGOs and think tanks blindly believe in the finality of Western system. They want to educate people of other cultures. They do not see them as equals and thus patronise them. Under such line of thinking, it is implied that non-Western people and cultures should give up their way of life and adapt to Western values and western education and social system simply because it is the best. Western cultural imperialism or a superiority complex is a problem we are living with. But do we have to?
Shiraz Paracha is an international journalist and analyst. His email address is: shiraz_paracha@hotmail.com

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