In the aftermath of the tragic events in Paris today hypocrisy has at last become the fundamental and defining characteristic of modern, Western culture, a culture that was once grounded on principles of reason, aspiration to enlightened values and the quest for knowledge and truth. Today the Western world teems with consumers clamouring to excuse themselves with the ardent denial that this was ever so; corruption, self-serving and deceit, they say, have always been the norm and it will always be so.
Ardent, loud assertions about “free speech” unanimously celebrate the right of Western media to indulge themselves in senseless and inflammatory insults to Islam and its billion-plus followers. But personal reflections take me back to 2006 when I was aggressively confronted at Heathrow because I was wearing a T-Shirt declaring George Bush to be the World’s Number 1 Terrorist and later denied return flight from Australia when I refused to remove it. Within Australia I was also denied travel for the same reason:
“In January 2007 Virgin Blue attracted controversy when its staff at Adelaide Airport ordered a passenger to remove a T-shirt bearing the slogan World's Number One Terrorist above an image of George W. Bush. The wearer, Allen Jasson from London, was informed that the garment was potentially offensive. Jasson had also experienced difficulty on earlier flights with Qantas. A spokeswoman for Virgin Blue defended the decision. Note the words “potentially offensive”.
An airline spokesperson denigrated me in the media as irresponsibly going out of my way to provoke and offend people.
Of course, I have not returned to the airline’s offices to slaughter their staff, but then, I have not had my life ruined or my children murdered with ‘smart’ bombs or helicopter gunfire by the people who have destroyed my country. I could hardly take offence at insults to my religion when the spiritualism of Western culture has self-evidently degenerated to a sordidly, disgraced church intimately wedded to an utterly corrupt, capitalist enterprise under the ‘Christmas’ logo. Yet no Muslim of Western society could dare to say the same without an expectation of savage retribution.
My view remains that two commercial airlines had engaged in political censorship of the worst order and at a petty level that would be embarrassing to a mature adult capable of introspective reflection but more ominously, no different to a NAZI German government denying basic services to families who have not signed up their children to the Hitler Youth. It was rather surprising to be treated this way by Virgin Blue, an enterprise of the allegedly ‘enlightened’ capitalism of Richard Branson but extremely depressing to see senior staff of Qantas being so zealously authoritarian.
Qantas was once my own country’s flagship airline and should have been a source of some pride, flying, at the suggestion of Philip Adams under the epithet of “Spirit of Australia”. But the experience provided a second point of reference that allowed me to chart the decline of Australian national integrity. The other point being that of the 1975 coup in which the nation sheepishly submitted to the denial of their democratic rights and grovelingly elected the usurpers into office.
Extrapolating the line it reached zero and rock-bottom in 2013 at a third point when Tony Abbot was elected Prime Minister; the ‘Midnight Cowboy’ of Western geopolitics, screeching the platitudes of American propaganda who will no doubt soon come to the stage with indignant pronouncements regarding Paris.
The most frequently used pejorative in the media regarding Paris is now “Barbarity”, which of course, applies to the terrorists who operate on the ground, on foot, with hand-guns, not the ones who operate at 30,000 feet with ‘smart’ bombs, or from helicopters and tanks with 35mm machine guns and hellfire missiles. The word for them is ‘Heroism’, notwithstanding the fact they are fighting wars against impoverished nations that have no air force, navy or sophisticated weaponry and communications. Wars in which, despite the ‘smartness’ of the bombs, over 80% of the casualties are civilians.
While there is, of course, no justification for “Barbarity”, and naturally, leaving aside the question of “Heroism”, the measure of it must be conducted in proper context and to appreciate that we need to reflect on the course of events that has shaped the mind-set and the psychology and possibly, in fact probably, has reduced these once-human beings to this condition.
Looking back to 1991 we have Iraq War I. A nation humiliatingly defeated in battle by superior fire-power, thousands of its sons slaughtered for sport in retreat, its civilian infrastructure reduced to rubble and facing 12 years of debilitating sanctions that would see the deaths of half a million under-five children counted as a price worth paying. By 2003 the surviving children of that nation were now young men and women who had matured in the shadow of a bitter persecution by the empire. Bring us now to the ‘Shock and Awe’ of Iraq War II inflicted by a ruthless and arrogant aggressor, the vindictive subjugation of Fallujah, a modern Carthage scorched to death with white phosphorous.
The nation again reduced to rubble with over a million deaths at the hands of people who ‘don’t do body counts’ and quibble about the numbers, give or take a hundred thousand, in the measure of the ‘collateral damage’ to a nation that would see 4 Million of its citizens displaced and the rest reduced to poverty and nurtured civil strife. A decade on we can count the millions whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed, many of whose families have been murdered or have died of disease around them. Another generation matured in a climate of hatred, conflict and despair inflicted by the powerful motivated by greed and the lust for OIL.
Repeat the story in Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Syria and ponder the thousands of desperate people fleeing the homelands that once were places they had no desire ever to leave.
The time is passed when we could ask with a true will to discover why they hate us, or even what they might say to us, if given the chance they could speak to us, face to face. The time has come to ask, what they would do to us and perhaps, to ask ourselves, what would we do, in their position, if the tables were reversed.
No such questions will be asked in any search for truth among this putrid slurry of lies, hyperbole and disinformation dished up to the mentally degraded masses of a society that no longer believes that society even exists but nevertheless rightly judges their politicians and government as not worth the printing cost of a ballot paper.
But as they begin to groom their sons as “Heroes” for sacrifice in the noble, modern holy wars against these ‘Barbaric’ terrorists they will increasingly see them facing weaponry designed and manufactured by the same people who have so ardently rooted for war, vengeance and violence without regard for International Law or even decent standards of civilised human conduct in international affairs.
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|Syed Kamal Hussain Shah|