Friday, December 31, 2010

The Meaning Lies in How You Use the Word

“We are scared to the point where we are no longer free.”

This observation was made by Max Price, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, to The Economist ('The Great Scourges', A Special Report on South Africa, '5th June 2010) after the murder of yet another member of the staff last March.

The murder rate in South Africa is 33 per 100,000, compared to 5.1 in the United States. The rape rate is the highest in the world. 50 murders, 100 rapes, 330 armed robberies and 550 violent assaults are recorded every day. And the violence is often mindless.

Yet - and this is even more mindless - Freedom House gives South Africa a ranking of 2 in its 'freedom of the world index'(7 being completely unfree).

If you are not free not to be raped or murdered, then what kind of freedom is that? Clearly Freedom House's definition of freedom is very different from what most of us mean by that word.

The Mule

“A class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect.”

Thomas Macaulay thus proposed to train a new class of English speakers: neither Indian nor English, but an illegitimate offspring of the two cultures - in short, a mule.

This mule has proved remarkably sturdy.

It has carried the twin loads of equalitarian democracy and inegalitarian caste; of election by the people and a Lok Shova of criminals, of popular rule and a durable dynasty, of an English-speaking elite and regional linguistic nationalism...and so on.

A mule is sterile, as we all know - we can expect nothing further from it. And here the analogy ends. When the mule dies, what happens? Do we once again get a horse and a donkey? Or perhaps Pegasus - or pig-asses?

UK/USA made use of Uzbek torture

UK/USA made use of Uzbek torture: "Anybody who is a religious Muslim of any kind, no connection to terrorism, anyone who prays five times a day, is described, will be arrested as a terrorist. Any young man with a beard will be arrested.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"




The US and UK have used Uzbekistan as a torture centre: reading the transcript, it is hard to say whether Uzbekistan practices torture or the US/UK practice torture in Uzbekistan. I suppose there is hardly any difference: Uzbek torture is part and parcel of US/UK interrogation techniques. To blame Uzbekistan as a country that tortures its own people seems wrong: it has been encouraged to torture not only its own people, but people from outside, by the UK/US.

So we have the world's great democracies practicing torture literally with their own hands and preaching liberalism to the rest of the world.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The army, our constitution and our history

Front Page: "‘Two military regimes, the first being with effect from 15th August 1975 and the second one being between 24th March 1982 and 10th November 1986, put the country miles backward. Both the martial laws devastated the democratic fabric, as well as the patriotic aspiration of the country,’ the verdict said.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"


Did the military regimes put the country miles backward?

Let us review the facts. 50,000 people starved to death even when there was enough food in the country - and that food, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (15th edition,'famine'), was exported to India. Was this part of the 'democratic fabric' and 'patriotic aspiration of the country'?

Next, a one-party rule was instituted by the beloved Bangabandhu, thereby being guilty of violating the constitution himself, yet, to the learned judges of the Supreme Court, he is 'Bangabandhu' - friend of Bengal.

"The original constitution of the republic of 1972 was mercilessly ravaged by General Ziaur Rahman who erased from it, one of the basic features, “Secularism” and allowed communal politics, proscribed by Bangabandhu, to stage a comeback." This language, with all due respects, doesn't sound like the language of an apex institution of the country. 'Bangabandhu' was not the name of the first prime minister and president of Bangladesh. His name was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. One would expect the learned court to use the legal, certified name of an individual, no matter who he is, instead of a popular appellation in a landmark judgment. The uncharitable may discern a certain servility here, of which our honourable judges are surely incapable.

Besides, the 'original constitution of the republic of 1972 was mercilessly ravaged by' Sheikh Mujib himself, as we find in the fourth amendment. It was the fifth amendment that nullified the fourth. One tyranny was replaced by another - a far better one. The country moved away from the choking socialism of the early '70s towards capitalism and free trade. Today, it is because of the move away from socialism undertaken by General Zia and General Ershad that the country's private sector is flourishing and GDP growth rate is high (although the poor have not benefited much, yet they are not starving in their thousands either).

Again, the military had to take over the country in 2007 because democracy was driving us to civil war. The current prime minister was indicted on five counts of murder - and yet there she sits in power and pomp. The two begums spent nearly a year in prison, where they, unfortunately, could not be kept confined for all 'eternity' (to borrow one of the words used by the judges) because of our constitution and its supporters. It seems that the people exist for the constitution, not the constitution for the people. But we will not commit 'shirk' and worship a few pieces of paper.

‘Martial law is totally alien a concept to our constitution.’ Fair enough. But it is not alien to out culture and civilisation - the Muslim civilisation. In his prayer for the emperor, Sheikh Saadi in the Golestan, refers to him as 'The shadow of Allah' - 'zel Allah' in the original language. Al-Ghazali and Al-Mawardi find no place for democracy in a Muslim polity. Sheikh Saadi observes: "A sultan rules by means of his troops'. Every learned person with whom I have discussed the subject, be he Bangladeshi or Iranian, has concurred with my view of the subject. "Zel Allah" is the attribute of a Muslim ruler. He is beyond criticism and controversy - the very opposite of democracy.

The Muslim polity - autocracy - has been the most tolerant of polities in history. A civilisation cannot be eliminated by a mere flourish of words; the apex court may command that a man be put in prison, but it cannot command that a man rid himself of his civilisation - or that an entire society comprising mostly of Muslims should do that.

History cannot be writted away.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Zahra's Paradise - Zahra’s Paradise

Zahra's Paradise - Zahra’s Paradise: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"


It is impossible to feel any sympathy for Iran's middle- and upper-classes. They hate Arabs and Palestinians; they hate their government for building hospitals in occupied Palestine; for supporting Hamas and Hezbullah - in short, for supporting the Umma. And, of course, they love the Great Satan.

Let's be precise: according to independent pollsters everywhere, Ahmedinejad would have won the election anyway. It was just the scale that the regime wished to expand. For, the truth is, Iran is split between an America-loving middle-class and an Iran-loving people. An Iranian journalist once asked me "Why doesn't America drop a nuclear bomb on Cuba?" She meant to say that America is so good that it refrains from nuking the small island. And this was a journalist talking. No wonder her paper was banned! America won't use nukes because then others will up the nuclear ante, simple as that. Besides, Cuba's too close to shore...imagine all the noxious radioactivity killing the fish on the Miama beaches.

John Locke observed that revolutions would be rare events, for he was advocating them. He was wrong. Today, revolution has become a habit - and with it coercion. In Kyrgyztan, there have been two revolutions in five years. In Bangladesh, there is perpetual revolution. Thailand is having a long-drawn-out revolution after regime change in 1992. The removal of Estrada in the Philippines was a shabby middle-class triumph.

As for elections, they are there to be rigged. Take the US election of 2000. According to S.E.Finer, rigging elections is one of the pathologies of democracy. In Bangladesh the Carter Center and the EU actively connive at rigged elections. The 1994 election in South Africa was rigged. In Africa today, western governments turn a blind eye to rigging - because there's just too much of it around, and without rigging there would be even more violence.

The Iranian middle-class has plainly become ungovernable. If they want paradise on earth, then they should wait for paradise - including Zahra.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The new constitution of Bangladesh

The revised, complete and unexpurgated edition of the constitution is forthcoming. I see that we draw our inspiration from Islam as well as the Franco-German religion called nationalism (which the Franco-Germans have been trying to inter for the last sixty years).

At any rate. I shall no doubt sleep better knowing that the next morning I might find that my assets have been nationalised. There will be an equally soporiferous effect on foreign investors.

Now that the document has been revised, we are surely about to take off like a rocket. After all, the only obstacle between Bangladesh and development has been a few sheets of paper.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Behind Julian Assange's Arrest: Sweden's Sex-Crime Problem - TIME

Behind Julian Assange's Arrest: Sweden's Sex-Crime Problem - TIME: "Each year, Sweden records 46 cases of reported rape per 100,000 people, roughly twice the rate in the U.S. or the U.K. Yet the conviction rate is a measly 10%, one of the lowest in the developed world.

- Sent using Google Toolbar"


And why is the conviction rate so low? Victims "drop their charges out of fear, shame or loyalty to the accused." That doesn't sound like an empowered lot of women; rather, the reverse.

It may well be that both claims are correct: rape has been increasing in number, and women feel more empowered to report it (but not to follow through).

It is a well-kept academic secret that men are evolutionarily programmed towards rape: it is a low-cost effort to procreate. Given female assertiveness, greater male assertiveness is likely to be the case. There's nothing the Swedish state can do about it: millenia of evolution lie behind such phenomenon. A society that regards men and women as the same is going to do its weakest members a great deal of disservice.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Grameen Bank's Yunus 'stole' $100 mn

Grameen Bank's Yunus 'stole' $100 mn: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"



Is this really so surprising? NGO people are slick operators; every gentleman I know who has tried to do good has come to grief. You have to be cold-blooded and sly to create a money-generating organisation.

What is even less surprising is the donors' complicity in keeping the matter hushed up. Donors know well how sleazy the world of NGOs is: only 25% of donor money ever reaches the poor.

Furthermore, during the caretaker government rule, it was found that Grameen Phone was guilty of massive illegal activity in the provision of VOIP services which were illegal. Yunus, of course, knew nothing about such shenanigans.

One NGO that collapsed because the protege got out of hand was GSS (Gono Shahajjo Shangstha): donors had known for years that the director was a predatory skirt-chaser.

Another large NGO that imploded was Proshika: its former director eventually resorted to vandalism of his own erstwhile offices to try and get it back. He had packed the board with cronies and gone into politics, something an NGO is not supposed to do.

The function of NGOs in Bangladesh and elsewhere is not to help the poor but to buy the loyalty of the elite.

In this, they succeed admirably.

Bangladesh: Stalker kills victim's father

Bangladesh: Stalker kills victim's father: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"




This kind of youth violence has occurred in the past couple of months because the ruling party patronises student and young thugs.

This is how politics is conducted in Bangladesh. When ruling party thugs can get away with any crime, it encourages the others.

This explains why such events are so new - they never used to happen before.

Monday, November 22, 2010

mohajer in eblestan



The devout Muslims in the foreground don't seem to realize what they're doing: they're swearing an oath of allegiance to the United States, that is, to ebles.

Thousands of Muslims emigrate to these eblestans without a thought as to what their actions mean. They are swearing to kill the enemies of their new civilization, and in our case today, it happens to be Muslims.

Furthermore, they're going to pay tax (only net tax-payers are encouraged to emigrate) with which their adoptive nation is going to build bombs to drop on men, women and children in Muslim countries.

This is munafiqi of the highest degree.

Monday, November 8, 2010

To Whom Can I Speak Today? (short story)

To Whom Can I Speak Today?

(click above for the story)

The democratic transition brings murder to the streets and even homes of Bangladesh. Several NGO directors mysteriously die trying to scrawl a message in blood. Zafar Shah takes it upon himself to decipher the vermilion calligraphy.



Excerpt:

'“Let me start from the beginning, Zafar sahib. When General Harun-ur-Rashid was in power, I was an MBA student. I was – and am - an avid fan of both the General and you, Zafar sahib. I have read all your newspaper articles and several of your books. You predicted that with the overthrow of the General, and the introduction of multi-party democracy, there would be violence, and a strong demand for security. As soon as I passed, I borrowed from banks and invested my own money in my security agency. The General was overthrown and my firm prospered.”'

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shaken and Speared, Not Stirred

we weren't conquered
by Shakespeare

we were conquered
then Shake-speared

an open
and shut
case of
de-Sa'adification

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Dead Girl Syndrome


The Dead Girl is a must-watch movie for those interested in the plight of the American woman. Unfortunately, given the facts below, the film doesn't go far enough.

In the well-researched paper, SEX TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES, we find that the sex trade is sponsored by 'lawyers and judges'.

"U.S. military bases, especially in the South replicate the sexual rest and recreation (R&R) areas that proliferate near military bases abroad. This infrastructure of sex clubs, brothels and massage parlors has been recreated here, with inordinate numbers of Asian women especially trafficked and exploited in the sex industries surrounding the bases.

"Controllers and operators of the sex industry vary. Some sex businesses are family owned and others may be owned or backed by prominent local community members, including judges and lawyers. Others are controlled or financed by organized crime groups. The majority of law enforcement agents reported that 76-100 percent of the sex enterprises in the Northeast, Metro New York, the Southeast, and Metro San Francisco are controlled, financed, or backed by organized crime groups. In some cases, trafficking rings supply women to sex establishments. "


Brave US soldiers and their officers are involved in the sex trade and know very well where the prostitutes are coming from - if they are not bringing them themselves.

"U.S. servicemen have also been involved in recruiting Asian women, especially from Korea, Vietnam and Japan into the sex industry in the United States. Often the servicemen marry prostituted women around military bases abroad, bring them to the United States and pressure them into prostitution. A large number of foreign military wives become victims of domestic violence, displaced or homeless, and end up in prostitution around U.S. military bases."


It seems that NCOs finally get to have sex with the Major's (ex-)wife.

"The role of U.S. servicemen in the trafficking and pimping of women was noted by a significant number of international and U.S. women, law enforcement officials and social service providers. Often, U.S. military personnel promise marriage or wed women formerly in sex industries around U.S. military bases in Korea, the Philippines and Okinawa. One battered women’s advocate reported that over half the women seeking refuge at her shelter near a military base in Jacksonville, North Carolina, were abused wives of U.S. military personnel. From speaking with her clients at the shelter, she heard accounts of Okinawan women, married to U.S. Marines, who were pressured into the sex industry in the United States by their military husbands. Thus prostitution added another layer to the violence and control of the battering situation.

"Like the Korean fianc├ęs and brides who had been in the sex industry around the military bases in Korea, many Japanese women had formerly been in sex industries around the military bases in Okinawa. Lacking English language and job skills and displaced in a foreign culture, many are at the mercy of their husband/abuser/pimp’s demands and are recruited or coerced in massage parlors around military bases in the United States. "


One wonders how many Iraqi and Afghan women have been 'liberated' by US servicemen in the host countries as well as in the invading nation.

"The military demand for prostitution in the towns and cities surrounding U.S. military bases abroad continues to be responsible for the exploitation, rape and prostitution of impoverished local populations in these areas. This infrastructure and culture are recreated here in the United States, with inordinate numbers of Asian women especially, trafficked and exploited in U.S. massage parlors, strip clubs, bars and brothels surrounding U.S. military bases."


Needless to add, the record of policemen is not that portrayed on prime-time TV.

"One social service provider near a marine base, who had identified military personnel as frequent consumers of commercial sex, reported that officially, prostitution establishments were off limits to U.S. Marines. The regulation is never enforced, however, and the prostitution establishments are 71 filled with military men. The interviewee’s husband, who is a taxi driver, often picks the men up in full dress uniform and takes them to outcall venues or massage parlors.

"Several U.S. women reported that police officers or undercover cops had asked for sex in exchange for dropping charges against them.

Police officers – they were abusive. The undercover cops asked me to have sex with them – straight and oral – in order to drop the charges.

Police are frequent customers, though, and they walk in like they own the place. In fact one of the cops ran his own house somewhere in Brooklyn and was always trying to get me to be part of his posse. They’d come in and be on a power trip and treat us like we were nothing.

Another U.S. woman commented that her first “trick” was a policeman. She was not arrested, because he let her off(italics original)."


The theme of husbands-as-pimps is a recurring one in the study: which makes you wonder just how much women are respected by their partners in the USA, or even by society for that matter. The movie, The Dead Girl, makes it clear that women have a very low position in American society.

"Twenty percent of the international and 28 percent of the U.S. women had intimate relationships with the men who pimped them. They and other victims described classic dynamics of battering that evolved into pimping. Emotional and physical coercion were used to break the women’s resistance to entering prostitution. Pornography was used as an “educational tool” with many (50%) of the international women. For some, stripping was the entrance point into the sex industry, after which they were constantly pressured into prostitution."


"All of these partner-pimps were violent and physically, sexually and emotionally abusive to the women. One international woman reported: “His goal was to hold me and the other women prisoner and impregnate all of us and abuse us at his will. He thought he was doing us all a favor by rescuing us from our poverty.” Another stated, “…my husband tortured me every week. …[He] would beat me for everything or just to relieve his stress…” Other women reported that their pimps included family members and drug dealers."

"Violence was initially used to season women into prostitution. One U.S. woman talked about her husband, who sold her to his friends, and forcibly initiated her into having anal sex with him when she refused to comply with his friends’ demands. Another reported:

He used to physically abuse me when we were driving and push me out of the car and drive off. Then drive back and get me saying he’s only doing this for my own good and provide me affection. Looking back I don’t know what made me so blind to him. He must have been preparing me for the eventuality of prostituting for him (italics original)."

"Others mentioned domestic violence/prostitution situations in which movements were controlled by abusive partner/pimps. "

Often, there is a thin line between domestic violence and pimping:

"A number of the respondents in this study have described similarities between prostitution and domestic violence in the ways in which women are abused, whether traffickers and pimps were partners or husbands, or whether they were women’s daily agents of control."

"Friends should have all things in common - at a price" seems to be a common dictum.

"...one international woman did not report she was a victim of sexual assault, but said that her husband/pimp sold her to his friends. When the buyers asked her for anal sex, she refused to comply. She said, “I refused. Then my husband tortured me a week. He decided to train me himself. It was horrible. A lot of things happened.”"

Here follows a litany of what husband-pimps routinely do.

"One international woman whose husband/pimp physically and sexually abused her said, “He always told me that I am nothing without him.”"

Drugs and alcohol are used to control women.

"Another international woman whose husband/pimp repeatedly physically and sexually abused her said that, “I was sober until I met him. But he made me drink, especially after a fight.""

Pornography is a constant.

"One international woman spoke of her husband/pimp threatening her with exposure. “… my husband… shot [pornographic films of] me and promised to send the tape to my parents.” "

"One international woman summed up her health consequences and her present needs:

I need a lot of help, medically and I need therapy to deal with all the trauma I’ve suffered. I need plastic surgery and dental reconstructive surgery (from when pimp/husband knocked my teeth out). It’s hard because at the drug program, they won’t allow me to get on any assistance until I complete the program. My self-esteem is so low and I have a complex about speaking with people. I’m going to start writing (italics original). "

"One international woman whose pimp was her husband reported that, “In the morning, as all wives, I cleaned the apartment, cooked, went shopping…Then at approximately 8:00 p.m, he took me to the disco. I had two to three clients there and then went home.”"


Here's a vivid description of group sex by a male client.

"When women were brought into bachelor parties or conventions, they might have to engage in sex with up to 20 men. In the men’s writings, one man describes a party with over 20 men and one or two women. He writes about it as great fun, but the reality for the woman was most likely quite different.

In the LR [living room] was about 15 guys in towels … In the room to the left a group of about seven guys surrounded a slender attractive young looking latino girl. She was lying on her back getting fucked. … I stood over the crowd and watched her … I tried to get down and copa [sic] feel, but I really couldn’t get close. … She sucks me for about 10 minutes while 4-5 guys watch in the dimly lit room. I plow her for about 12 minutes… She kept her eyes closed while I fucked her and didn’t say much. Later, I go into the back room and some black guy is giving this girl another plowing … Most everyone has left. So me and another guy lay her down. I bang her … finally I slam her hard a few times … I look in the BR and she’s laying there with one leg splayed out and the other bent at the knee. Her head is turned to the side and her hair is everywhere. She looks like she’s been fucked (italics original)."

Friday, September 10, 2010

(Mis)Reporting Events

"Hundreds of Somalis may have been killed for being Christian since the Shabab arose in 2005." What a shocker! Until, of course, you notice the modal auxiliary and the present perfect: 'may have been'. It may not have been, too. Yellow journalism? No: the line is part of an Economist report on Christians in Somalia (24th October 2009).

Surely there must be some evidence offered? Yes, but it is not the Economist's own (foreign journalists could hardly get into Somalia). The report adduces second-hand evidence: "According to Somali sources and Christian groups monitoring Somalia from abroad, at least 13 members of underground churches have been killed in the past few months".

I have always been intrigued by the accuracy of reports on unreachable, obscure places. A real gem was an Independent report on honour killing by Robert Fisk.

"A 10-month investigation by The Independent in Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank has unearthed terrifying details of murder most foul. Men are also killed for "honor"...."

Yet the article does not cite a single case of a man being killed for honour: all the victims are women. This makes the attentive reader immediately suspicious. But there's worse to come.

"Many women's groups in the Middle East and South-west Asia suspect the victims are at least four times the United Nations' latest world figure of around 5,000 deaths a year."

"But lest these acts - and the names of the victims, when we are able to discover them - be forgotten, here are the sufferings of a mere handful of women over the past decade, selected at random, country by country, crime after crime."


"British Kurdish Iraqi campaigner Aso Kamal, of the Doaa Network Against Violence, believes that between 1991 and 2007, 12,500 women were murdered for reasons of "honor" in the three Kurdish provinces of Iraq alone - 350 of them in the first seven months of 2007, for which there were only five convictions". Well, she might believe that, but why should the reader? What's her evidence? What are her sources? After all, almost by definition, these crimes are well-concealed.

"In Jordan, women's organizations say that per capita, the Christian minority in this country of just over five million people are involved in more "honor" killings than Muslims - often because Christian women want to marry Muslim men. But the Christian community is loath to discuss its crimes and the majority of known cases of murder are committed by Muslims. Their stories are wearily and sickeningly familiar."

Since the Christians are 'loath' to discuss their honour crimes, and the Muslims presumably very happy to do so, we get not a single report on Christian honour killings - a curious omission, since Jordanian women's organisations make a very accurate claim.

"According to police figures between 2000 and 2006, a reported 480 women - 20 per cent of them between the ages of 19 and 25 - were killed in "honor" crimes and feuds. " Feuds? Where did that come from? Feuds are a totally different matter from honour crimes. In feuds, men are as often killed, surely? And feuds are a sign of tribal society, not male oppression.

But this line takes the biscuit:

"But the contagion of "honor" crimes has spread across the globe...."

First, it's a contagion -presumably from Muslim countries to erstwhile innocent Christians and Hindus (two Hindu cases are mentioned). Second, it has 'spread' - presumably from those nasty Middle Eastern societies.

Third, it has even spread to Bangladesh (a Muslim country). And are parents and brothers in Bangladesh killing their daughters and sisters for having strange phone numbers in their cell phones? No, it's taken a different turn:

"But the contagion of "honor" crimes has spread across the globe, including acid attacks on women in Bangladesh for refusing marriages."

The (western) reader would tend to think that the acid attack is made by parents and brothers when a girl refuses to marry the man of their choice.

Robert Fisk clearly knows almost nothing about Bangladesh. Acid attacks in Bangladesh are not authored by the family, but by criminal youths (they were almost unknown before our democratic transition of 1990). And the reason is only sometimes frustrated romance - land disputes have played a significant part, and men are also victims.

The subject surely deserved to be treated with respect, considering its seriousness.

On a less serious note, a report in the same issue of the Economist recounts how Arab men have been divorcing their wives for falling in love with a Turkish television personality:

"Yet the marital bliss portrayed in “Noor” is said to have prompted a rash of divorces in the Arab world, as female viewers compare their own husbands to the hero, Muhannad, who washes up the dishes. In Jordan a man is said to have dumped his wife after he caught her with Muhannad’s picture on her mobile phone. In Syria another did the same when his wife apparently said, “I want to sleep with Muhannad for just one night and then die.”"

It seems that Western journalists are said to have high standards of reportage. But don't believe everything you hear - or read.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

From whence the hereafter?

One of the first things to strike a reader of the Old Testament is the total absence of the hereafter - there's no life after death. When Moses dies, he just dies; he isn't resurrected somewhere else. That's the end for him. Finito.

To the recalcitrant, God (or, rather, Yahweh) never says "If you don't do what I say, I'll send you to Hell!"; nor, to the obedient, does he proclaim, "Since you have done my bidding, I shall send you to Heaven!" There simply is no Heaven or Hell.

Instead, to the recalcitrant, Yahweh says, "Listen to me or else I'm going to make your life a living Hell"; and to the obedient, He says, "I'm happy with you, so you shall have good food and nice clothes and lots of land, etc. etc." This is all the more surprising since the Egyptians believed in a posthumous existence, and the Jews were said to have spent a great deal of time in Egypt. But, of course, Egyptian polytheism would have been abhorrent to them.

Now, Christianity is supposed to be an epilogue to the Mosaic story: but the question must surely bother one - where one earth (or elsewhere) did the notions of Heaven, Hell, resurrection, the Devil and so on and so forth come from? They couldn't have come from Judaism. From Christianity, the ideas penetrated Islam.

One explanation that's been offered is that the dualities - good God, evil Satan, nice Heaven, awful Hell - came from Zoroastrianism, that is, they are Iranian influences. Zoroastrianism posits a struggle between Evil and Good as personifications. Good and Evil battle each other, but the former is assured of triumph. God's omnipotence is thus only temporarily limited.

There is resurrection as well, and a crossing of the Bridge of the Requiter: it takes the good to paradise, but the evil fall into Hell. After death, the soul meets its own religion (daena) in the form of a beautiful girl; but the wicked soul encounters a hag.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Mind of a Zionist

Louis Brandeis has been described as "A Robin Hood of the law" (The Economist, 26th September, 2009). And well might he be called that, for one of his cases has gone down in history as a fight for the little man, or, rather, the little woman.

Curt Muller, a laundry owner, was charged in 1905 with permitting a supervisor to require Mrs. E. Gotcher to work more than 10 hours and was fined $10.An Oregon law passed in 1903 prohibited women from working more than 10 hours in one day. The case went to the Supreme Court, where Muller's lawyer argued that the statute violated Mrs. Gotcher's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by preventing her from freely contracting with her employer.

Brandeis produced data to establish that women needed to work fewer hours than men: the court agreed, stating that a woman “is properly placed in a class by herself, and legislation designed for her protection may be sustained, even when like legislation is not necessary for men, and could not be sustained.”

Again, in 1905, to remedy abuses by life-insurance firms, Brandeis devised a system, used in Massachusetts (from 1907), New York, and Connecticut, whereby life insurance was offered over the counter by savings banks at rates within the means of the average working man.

He became known as the people's attorney.

He was the first Jew to sit on the US Supreme Court (1916 - 1939). He must have been a remarkably sensitive as well as intelligent person. Although never a practicing Jew, he dedicated himself to supporting the Zionist cause of setting up a Jewish state in Palestine.

A man of his sensitivity must have lamented the lot of the American Indians as well as that of the Arabs who were to be displaced. It seems not.

He wrote: "As against the Bedouins, our pioneers are in a position not unlike the American settlers against the Indians."

He had an atom of pity for neither the Native Americans nor the Arabs: truly, a people's attorney, a veritable Robin Hood of the Law.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lincoln, the mass murderer


The Lincoln Memorial shows how Americans honour their murderers and warmongers. Lincoln has been guilty of war crimes: The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press/Random House)

He did not start the civil war to end slavery, but to prevent southern states from exercising their right to secession. If the European Union today bludgeoned member states into similar submission, would we accept it?

The barbarity of the Unionists under Lincoln is brought out in this line quoted from Sir John Keegan's recent book on the Civil War: "Even during the world wars, the British and French buried the German dead, the Germans buried their enemies…The Union treated those who died in rebellion against it as non-people." They just dumped the Confederate dead into mass graves.

In proportion to casualties to population, the Civil War “bears comparison only with the European losses in the Great War and Russia’s in the Second World War.”

By preserving the Union, Lincoln helped create a monster across North America, from one ocean to the other. Today, most of us are slaves to this monster.

The Flames of Freedom (short story)


The Flames of Freedom


(click on title for short story)

Opening paragraph:

"I shall always feel affection and respect for the man who wanted to destroy western civilisation. I remember clearly how we met – that was an adventure in itself. We met through Faria, and I met her at Hotel Poshur at Mongla."


This is a story of how western foreign policy affects the lives of distant people: it begins by the Poshur River at Mongla and ends at Teknaf. The themes are an insatiable longing for peace and the inevitability of violence.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ershad's rule illegal - like all the others?

Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper - SriLanka/Bangladesh: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"


When Chief Justice Shahabuddin took over the presidency after Ershad's resignation on December 6 1990, he raped the constitution - according to which the vice-president should have taken over power. Therefore, Shahabuddin's reign was illegal, and elections held under him were illegal too. So were the amendments he had passed by parliament - all illegal.


According to Walter Mebane of Cornell*, mathematical analysis has shown that both the elections of 1996 and those of 2001 were rigged - they were, therefore, illegal. Hence every government in the last 15 years has been illegal.

The last caretaker government stayed in power for two years and did not hold elections within 90 days of the BNP handing over power: that was illegal.

There is a wide consensus that the army rigged the election of 2008 in favour of the Awami League - hence, that election was also illegal.


Furthermore, Sheikh Mujib himself trashed the constitution and introduced one-party rule - so he started the entire train of illegal governments.

If every government in our history has been illegal, does it matter? One illegal government is as good as another!



*"One example concerns an analysis of the last three elections in Bangladesh. The 1991 election showed no strange results. For the 1996 election some 2% of results were problematic. And fully 9% of the results in 2001 failed the test. The 2001 election was fiercely contested. Yet monitors from the Carter Centre and the European Union found the election to be acceptably, if not entirely, free and fair. Tests like Dr. Mebane's one could provide monitors with quantitative estimates of exactly how free and fair an election has been.... [The Economist, February 24 2007, p 82]"

Friday, August 20, 2010

amal khayal ast

'amal khayal ast'

'the world is an illusion' says the poet. And how can it be otherwise?

We admire murderers, and seek awards from them: the harmless people we regard with contempt. We admire the criminal, and vote for him in great numbers and defend him in our living rooms; we respect the hypocrite, the dishonest, the downright bad.

The world bestows honours on the wicked, and scorn on the good. We call the evil, good, and the good, evil.

Assuredly, 'amal khayal ast'.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

the beauty of Shakespeare

My compatriots are always going on and on about the beauty of Shakespeare, but how did this beauty get here?

We hadn't always known about Shakespeare. Before 1757, we had never even heard of him. Then after we were conquered, we learned English and began to study English literature, ignoring our very own Persian literature.

Thus, as a conquered people, we discovered the beauty of Shakespeare.

Now, after learning Persian, I see what we have lost: what is Shakespeare compared to Sheikh Sa'di?

But thousands of my compatriots each year will 'discover' Shakespeare and never think about our loss of freedom.

That is the tragedy of history.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bangladesh Bans Use of National Anthem As a Ringtone

Bangladesh Bans Use of National Anthem As a Ringtone: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"


So it's official: the country's religion is Nationalism, not Islam.

You can use suras from the Koran as your answering ring-tone, but not the national anthem.

This goes hand in hand with the recent banning of Islam from the political sphere: anti-Islamism has become rampant after the Awami League came to power.

The courts have judged half of our national history to be illegal: military rule from 1975 to 1990. That is, the benign period of our history is illegitimate, while the malign periods are legitimate.

This is a morality stood on its head: how long can it stand there? Not long.

That military rule should be declared illegal testifies to how far the intelligentsia have deviated from Muslim political history and philosophy, scorning such luminaries as al-Mawardi and al-Ghazali, who defended military autocracy unconditionally. This also explain how a Muslim society can deligitimise the benevolent part of its history, and sacralise the wicked years.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mutiny in Bangladesh: unsolved mystery threatens regional stability - CSMonitor.com

Mutiny in Bangladesh: unsolved mystery threatens regional stability - CSMonitor.com: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"



The Christian Science Monitor has come up with a ridiculous theory that the mujahideen were involved in the BDR mutiny. The article doesn't mention the facts of the case.

It took 32 hours for tanks to reach Dhaka from Savar: why? Why did the government postpone sending in the tanks?

On the internet, the dressing-down given to Shaikh Hasina by the army was broadcast: the CSM says nothing about it. We have wives' testimony that their husbands inside the BDR compound were reassured that help was soon on its way: no help came. Why?


"If the army chief had sent just one tank, or one platoon of commandos, they would have run like ants!" spoke Colonel Zaman in a voice choking with repressed tears. In fact, this was precisely what they did when the tanks turned up on Satmasjid Road, a couple of hundred yards from the scene – but the tanks arrived after 32 hours. My wife and I were living there then, and went out to see the tanks.


Why did the government of Sheikh Hasina allow the BDR mutineers to do what they did?

A plausible explanation is that the army had kept Sheikh Hasina in jail for a year, a humiliation that her party and she would not tolerate. They took revenge on the military. There was no Islamic terrorism behind it - unless Sheikh Hasina is one.

Shame on you, CSM - facts, facts, facts: stick to the facts, please (who, what, where, when, why, how - remember these?).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

watching Mars together

the most romantic evening
of my life
occurred
last month
with my wife
and I watching
Mars
above
the Khagrachari hilltops
from the dusk
of the rear
verandah
of our hotel room


such expansion
of ourselves
happen
rarely, rarely
as it did
on two evenings
in twenty years

Friday, July 9, 2010

Muslim Zionist

Israel National Radio - Muslim Zionist: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"


In my talks with members of the Palestinian Embassy here, I have found that no one in Bangladesh speaks up for the Palestinians.

Apparently, however, there's someone who speaks up for Israel.

How corrupt can you get? All our intellectuals are in the employ of Israel or are scared shitless for their careers: the Israel lobby can destroy careers in a snap, they know.


Don't you feel total respect for our intelligentsia? Such brave, honorable men and women are nowhere to be found, surely.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Father Figure

Sheikh Hasina, the current prime minister of Bangladesh, was charged with murder under the caretaker government (2007 - 2008). The charge was entirely justified: the workers of her party killed several opposition activists in broad daylight during a riot witnessed by the entire nation. Of course, she never killed anyone with her own hands: neither, presumably, did Al Capone. But the authorities couldn't get her even for tax evasion, although several cases of extortion were lodged against here. The dirty nature of politics in Bangladesh was underscored by the release of Sheikh Hasina from a makeshift jail - to become the prime minister once again. And this wasn't the first time that her henchmen had committed murder. Yet the loyalty of her supporters - which included my parents and my wider family - never diminished, never wavered.

Why?

Her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the first member of the dynasty, was a murderer on an even greater scale. He is also known as the father of the nation, and it is true that his demagoguery created the conditions for a civil war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. A detailed record of the murders and the deliberate famine that led to his killing by the army appears here.

The paradox that needs to be explained is the continuing loyalty towards the dead monster on the part of a section of the educated of Bangladesh (the uneducated never count in this country: as a writer put it, Bangladesh never represents Bangladeshis). That immoral loyalty has been transferred to his living daughter, as we saw above.

How do we explain this phenomenon?

I was baffled by this question for years until I began to study anthropological psychology, especially the role of anxiety in national culture.

What is the biggest anxiety of middle class persons? That they would cease to be middle class, and fall below their station - or, more accurately, that their children will. For the parents have struggled towards a certain elevation, and can see their way clear for some distance in time. Still, even they might slip....But they don't want their children to struggle...and slip.

Now, the working classes have their ability to labour, as Marx astutely pointed out, so their dread is of a different calibre - the dread of illness, and injury. In fact, anthropological studies have revealed that in Bangladesh, the working class define health in terms of the ability to work. This has unnerving implications: infections like HYV would not be regarded as a threat so long as full-blown AIDS did not occur. Also, doctors know that the poor suffer from chronic depression and ulcers through worry.

But the middle class is a class-unto-itself. They are highly articulate, clubby and ambitious. They can make and break nations. When Bangladesh was East Pakistan, the eastern wing of Pakistan, with the western king a thousand miles away, known as West Pakistan, the middle classes had just emerged from two hundred years of British rule. They had seen what the Indian middle class achieved - independence for India, and the devil take the poor. Today, 800 million Indians labour for a minority of 200 million of the middle class. This was to be their paradigm for Bangladesh.

A full-blown mythology was created - that the West Pakistanis spoke Urdu, and the East Pakistanis Bengali, when in fact Urdu was the language of a minuscule minority of the polyglot West Pakistanis. But the trick worked: the Urdu-speakers were exploiting the Bengali-speakers.

And the man who delivered the message on behalf of the middle class was Sheikh Mujib, rabble-rouser extraordinaire. His speeches remind one a great deal of the speeches of Hitler, the leader who led a ruined middle-class to horror.


Thus, the Bengali-speaking intelligentsia identified completely with Sheikh Mujib, who was to relieve them of their anxiety. Psychiatrists have long known that patients tend to identify them as father figures: indeed, Freud spoke of the need to transfer feeling to the pseudo-father figure to cure neurosis.

Freud observed: "It is clearly not easy for men to give up the satisfaction of this inclination to aggression. They do not feel comfortable without it. The advantage which a comparatively small cultural group offers of allowing this instinct an outlet in the form of hostility against outsiders is not to be despised. It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestation of their aggressiveness (Civilisation and Its Discontents,tr. James Strachey, W.W.Norton & Co: New York, p 61). Recent research has confirmed this to be true of chimpanzees as well.


What Freud has to say about the father in the same book is most illuminating: "In my Future of an Illusion" I was concerned much less with the deepest sources of the religious feeling than with what the common man understands by his religion - with the systems of doctrines and promises which on the one hand explains to him the riddles of this world with enviable completeness, and, on the other, assures him that a careful Providence will watch over his life and will compensate him in a future existence for any frustrations he suffers here. The common man cannot imagine this Providence otherwise than in the figure of an enormously exalted father." One doesn't have to agree with Freud here: current research has shown that identification with a father figure is important for a child's emotional well-being. Infantile powerlessness clearly has a great deal to do with it.

However, Freud is completely wrong in his definition of religion: there are religions which have no transcendent father figure, such as Confucianism (Confucius was an earthly father figure). And that modern religion - nationalism - needs no father figure at all. Nevertheless, Sheikh Mujib was a father figure of the Mosaic type: he led the chosen people - the Bengalis - against the West Pakistanis, the Canaanite equivalent, promising the former a land of milk and honey. Sheikh Mujib was the prophet of Bengali Nationalism - perhaps even the God. There are many young kids among the foot-soldiers of the Awami League, the party he led, who reject their own fathers for Sheikh Mujib: I have done a systematic study of the subject.


Hence, Sheikh Mujib's infallibility: he assuaged a terrible anxiety, delivered the land of milk and honey for narrow, corrupt elite, and drove out the Canaanites. His lineage must equally be infallible: hence the idolatry of the Mujib family against Islam, the religion of Pakistan. Awami Leaguers favourite - intramural - pastime is ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed

Naturally, the middle class are a bookish people, like all scribes: their only source of success was through education. These were the people Mujib led. Consequently, the Awami League's biggest supporters are to be found among the university teachers, and the intelligentsia. They are in a position to refute history and sanction murder.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bangladesh blocks Facebook over prophet drawings | Seattle Times Newspaper

Nation & World | Bangladesh blocks Facebook over prophet drawings | Seattle Times Newspaper



For once the governments of Pakistan and Bangladesh did the right thing by blocking Facebook, and forcing it to behave correctly.

That's more than can be said for the spoiled elite who use the ridiculous site: they were inconvenienced, and didn't care a hoot about the offence to Islam. This goes to show that our elite are a decadent lot of pseudo-Americans.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Muslim Political Philosophy

Sunni political philosophy crystallized around 1000 AD. The philosophy can be summarized in one word: nonresistance.

Ibn Hanbal affirmed our duty of absolute obedience to a ruler except under two rare and extraordinary circumstances: apostasy and failure to ensure communal prayer. Indeed, so long as these conditions are met, even a usurper, if successful, must be obeyed. The only criterion, then, is military success.

Al-Ashari denounced 'those who hold it right to rise against the leaders whenever there may be apparent in them a falling away from right...We are against armed rebellion, and civil war."

This was the culmination of an earlier theory of government, which was criticised by the Mutazilites. Al-Jahiz, for one, held that a tyrant may be deposed and criticised the Traditionists as 'innovators of our time...[who] pretend that to speak against bad government is tantamount to civil war, and that to curse tyrants is tantamount to heresy (bida')". Indeed, resistance finally did become tantamount to bida'.

Al-Mawardi and Al-Ghazzali became major proponents of nonresistance.

Today, we have come under western influence and have become rational Mutazilites again. As a Muslim country, we must abandon the seditious philosophy of the west, and reclaim our political heritage.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plassey Day

Two hundred and fifty three years ago this day, the Muslims of South Asia lost their independence at Plassey.

Mir Zafar Ali Khan, we well know, betrayed the last Nawab. Ever since then, we have had a long line of Mir Zafar's up to the present day.

We've had sixty years of nominal independence (and thirty years here) but on that fateful day we became mental slaves. Shall we ever again think like free human beings? I doubt it very much.

We may do so only if we reclaim our lost Muslim heritage: emancipate ourselves from the white man's spell and the spell of the Indian. Having studied Persian for the last couple of years, I know how strong and great our civilisation is. What is English literature compared to the power of Persian poetry? What is Shakespeare compared to Sheikh Sa'di?

But this is casting pearls before swine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Meaning of 'Secular'

It is accepted wisdom that one cannot translate between languages; words have meaning in one language but not in another. This is the case with the word 'secular'. Due to western history, the word has meaning in western civilisation: after all, the Enlightenment was dedicated to removing religion from human affairs. Tolerance was made necessary by the wars of religion. In Bengali, we have created a new word, a neologism, to stand in for the English word. It won't work.

So, what's a secular party then? For the Awami League is described as a 'secular' party. The only meaning that the word can have is 'anti-Islam' or 'anti-Muslim'. And the Awami Leaguers are anti-Islamic, pro-Indian people.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Democracy: The Historical Accident

OpEdNews - Article: Democracy: The Historical Accident


(click above for article)


The forum polity – democracies and republics – owes its origin to two major accidents in human history: accidents that were unique to the western world, and which, indeed, created western civilisation in contrast to the others, which were all palace polities.


Excerpt:


"An aspiring European king generally had to contend against three powers for supremacy: the Church, his fellow barbarians - the nobility/aristocracy – and, in more settled times, the merchants.

"Of these, the first was obviously unique to Europe alone – no other civilization had inherited an organized Episcopal, hierarchical Church from a dead empire. This was the beginning of 'civil society' – beyond the state, apart from business, away from politics, an entity autonomous."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Irene Z Khan joins Daily Star to be with mother

Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper - SriLanka/Bangladesh



Irene Z Khan joined the Daily Star to be with her mother who lives in Bangladesh. That's a laudable motive, but she could have just said that instead of pretending to be honoured by joining a third-rate newspaper in a third-world country which nobody can name.

After chief of AI, this must be quite a comedown for the lady: surely she could have landed a better gig?

I supposed years of dissembling at AI has grown into second nature: say what sounds good, never the truth.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nakba Day

CJIP - Nakba Day



Today is Nakba Day - the day when, in 1948, Palestinians were thrown out of their own country by the Zionists.

In Bangladesh, this day is never observed: in Bangladesh, we oscillate between a cursed nationalism and an absurd cosmopolitanism. We observe International Women's Day, May Day and even Valentine's Day, Mother's Day,....

But we never observe Nakba Day. If any proof were needed that our intellectuals are slaves of the Zionists, then this is it.

We must teach each other to observe Nakba Day, if only in private: to identify with the Palestinians in their suffering and in their humiliation. We have a home: they do not.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

News - World: 400 alleged bullies arrested

News - World: 400 alleged bullies arrested



It is interesting that whenever civilian rule replaces military rule in Bangladesh, the number of victims - male as well as female - soars.

In 1984, under military rule, there were around 250 rapes; in 1991, our first year of democracy, the figure soared to 900, and today stands at 4-digit numbers.

Under military rule in 2007 and2008, 18 student politicians were murdered; in a single year of democratic rule in 2009, 27 were murdered.

The criminal young students of both the major parties have immunity from the law and set the example for other young men - when ruling party boys get away with rape, why shouldn't other young men try to get away with less?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

civil society and violence

According to Chris Hedges' analysis, civil society - the churches and synagogues - have been directly complicit in the violence of war. That is not surprising: civil society has a long and dishonourable record as an instigator of violence from the Inquisition to the slave trade.

On the other hand, Islamic civilisation has hardly any civil society: western donors are busy trying to create one. Heaven forbid!

Take jihad. According to the Britannica, jihad is a recent phenomenon (I mean, of course, after the initial 100-year expansion of the Muslim world); when the west began to colonise the Muslims world, only dervishes, according to Bernard Lewis, showed some resistance.

Jihad was revived (after a brief spell in Africa) by the Americans when confronted with expansionist communism in Afghanistan. Since then, the same holy war - with almost the same personnel - has been turned against the west. And how many people have the jihadis killed? A couple of thousand.

It is interesting that the article does not mention the number of children murdered through sanctions in Iraq between the two Gulf wars: 1.7 million. During the height of the sanctions, a lower figure (still seven-digit), was cited by Norman Finkelstein in his book "The Holocaust Industry". When the figure stood at 500,000, he observes, Madeleine Albright went on prime time TV to say that it 'was worth it'.

Is it surprising that jihadis should try to hurt the west? Is 911 really a conundrum?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our Vices, Their Virtues

What allows the western world to purchase us? Our vices.

We suffer from ambition, jealousy, greed, impatience, pride....

If we could give up these vices, they (or anyone) would be unable to get a purchase on ourselves.

In fact, if we followed the advice given by Sheikh Sa'di in the Golestan, then nobody could rule our minds. We must remember that the first struggle against the west was that of the dervishes - they had nothing to lose, and nothing to gain.

In order to acquire knowledge, we can and should travel the world. But the knowledge must be for our souls, not for greed and ambition and pride.

As Rumi said in his divine couplet:

Elm ra bar tan zani mari bod
Elma ra bar dil zani yari bod

Knowledge for gold becomes a snake
Knowledge for soul becomes a friend.

Monday, May 10, 2010

munafiq

Just before the second Iraq War, Mrs. Rowshan Jahan (wife of Dr. Mozaffar Ahmed, former teacher at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) and Chairman, Transparency International, Bangladesh) came to visit my wife and myself in our apartment.

"Mata bimata ho-e jachche," she exclaimed. Translation: "Mater is becoming nonmater!"

Her 'mater' was apparently the United States of America, not the Muslim civilisation, even though she (and her husband) say their prayers five times a day (Dr. Ahmed has the marks on his forehead to prove that he bows before the Almighty on his prayer mat).

She was confident Congress would never furnish the money for the war. I knew it would, and it did.

What does one make of these people? They claim to be Muslims and yet their entire careers depend on the USA. We respect them because the West respects them. I know the couple very well: they were my father's friends. They are the munafiq against whom we have been warned. There are countless munafiq like them.

Between 1991 and 2001, the US killed nearly 2 million Iraqi children with sanctions - a Holocaust. Yet Mrs. Rowshan Jahan could still call the US her 'mater'! But the second Iraq war was too publicized an event for her to ignore.

With munafiq like these, we don't need enemies!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

"I believe in pluralism!"

Thus bellowed Depapriya Bhattacharya at a party we attended. For a die-hard Marxist, who did his PhD in Moscow, this was quite a volte-face.

Of course, nowadays many pretend to believe in pluralism and democracy and all that because the rewards are immense - and the prestige of the idea is so vast that if you say that you don't subscribe to it, you risk being laughed at.

Psychologists have a term for it: cognitive dissonance. A person will pretend to himself to believe something he doesn't believe in if the rewards are low! If the rewards are high, the person need not even fool himself. It seems that it takes very little to get people to say the opposite of their true beliefs; but it causes more stress. On the other hand, if you offer high rewards - or high penalties - then it becomes easier to lie about your real beliefs.

The lesson from this is that people who merely stand to lose 'face' undergo a lot of inner strain to lie about their political belief, but people like Bhattacharya, who have grown rich on these ideas, need only deceive other people, not themselves.

Therefore, it may be that the donors are paying too much to get people to parrot their views: small rewards to the Bhattacharyas would be just as, in fact, even more, effective. The evidence is that they will take greater pains to fool themselves.

Clearly the donors are paying too much - but then it's their money, isn't it?

Racial Climbing Again

Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper - SriLanka/Bangladesh


A Bangladeshi-born person has been elected to the House of Commons - and thousands celebrate in Bangladesh. This is really sad: this is racial climbing at its worst. When will this stop?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Desacralisation and the Intellectual

"Desacralisation" was a phenomenon that occurred in western Europe between 1500 and 1900 AD. This was the identification of the sacred and the profane, and began with Martin Luther's pronouncement that all work was sacred, not just a priest's work (the conclusion that if all work was sacred, then no work was sacred apparently did not occur to him). The work was carried on by the so-called Enlightenment. Consequently, today, in Europe, God is just a word without meaning, and even in America religion is only one among several possible world-views, as pointed out by Charles Taylor.

Therefore, our intellectuals have imbibed these ideas from the west, and have regurgitated them here (another sad came of 'commit and vomit'). This explains their hatred of Islam. This also explains the appeal of the anti-Muslim Awami League to these intellectuals, while only practical types, especially businesspeople, are drawn to the BNP - and, latterly, those hostile to the anti-Islamism of the League.

So far, so consistent.

But consistency is not the hallmark of the Bangladeshi intellectual. While he (or she) may hate Islam, he doesn't hate all religions. And how can he? The experience of desacralisation occurred over 500 years in a particular corner of the world, and however much we may imbibe ideas, they can never be part of our digestive system: we can never feel them in the 'guts'.

Consequently, intellectuals have a passionate fondness for Hinduism, and by extension all things Indian. I have described a bureaucrat, who is currently a secretary, in my blog An Evening With A Lunatic. I have met countless incoherent lunatics like him - all Awami Leaguers.

A Strange Sequel

No sooner was my article THE ETHNOCIDAL CIVILISATION published online than a report appeared in the Christian Post on trouble in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

It appears that missionaries had converted some Buddhists in the area, and the locals have strongly resented this: they have used violence to reconvert their former brethren.

In my article, I observed how the British, despite protests from the East India Company, sent missionaries to India to convert as many as possible, using the English language as an instrument. I have described the conversion of the Garos: but the Buddhists are a different story. They have a strong sense of identity, especially in the hill tracts. I have observed that Muslims, over several hundred years, never tried to convert the Garos. Why is it that missionaries are so eager to convert? In the process, they have instigated violence.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Racial Climbers

Most of my acquaintances are racial, not social, climbers.

That is because socially they are well-established and don't have much of a climbing to do. But racially, they perceive themselves to be untermensch.

They leave Bangladesh for the west, not because they are driven by pecuniary considerations, but because they wish to promote themselves up the racial ladder. They bring up their children to resemble the ubermensch as much as possible.

I am all for migration, but who are the people who should be migrating? Not these fat indoctrinated fellows, but the lean, uneducated, even illiterate ones. They are the ones who should be picking oranges in California or gutting cattle in Chicago. We don't need men and women with master's degrees and doctors leaving the country.

I have a friend who felt such respect for the untermensch that he used to describe America as 'heaven'. He is now ensconced there and very happy to be serving under the ubermensch when, in fact, he could live here like a lord. He even tries to speak English like the ubermensch (on the other side of the Atlantic) : he curls his lips around the vowels so that he takes on a positively simian appearance: ooooh ooooh ooooh!

They say slavery is illegal now, but what need is there for physical slaves when you have psychological ones? These don't even have to be policed for they'll never run away. They don't need to be branded because they are spiritually branded.

The recent recession has hurt these untermensch a little: the are losing jobs, tuition fees are going up, loans are disappearing....How can one feel sorry for them?

I know a driver of a three-wheeler here who is a credit to his faith: absolutely honest, totally reliable, and dirt poor, he was planning to sell his meager house for his father's prostate surgery. Well, that fate was finally avoided by the generosity of those who know him well. He bows before none but God, and does not know what an ubermensch is. He's the kind who should emigrate to escape poverty, and he's the kind the west will never accept.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Ethnocidal Civilisation (article)

The Ethnocidal Civilisation


(click above for article)

Ethnocide – culture murder – has been the repeated behaviour pattern of western civilization, as testified by Alexis de Tocqueville. The culture is not content with mere conquest: it must control the very thoughts of those conquered. A recently published book on a Christian mission in Bangladesh retells an old story against the background of both the Muslim and British invasions of India, centering the Garos and the loss of their ancestral religion.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Devil and the Intellectual

The young man was hunched over his book when he felt that somebody was standing behind him.

He turned slowly around and nearly emptied his chair with terror.

"Have no fear," came the deep-sounding reassurance. "I come as a friend." And this was performed with a bow.

The young man sat down and stared. The figure before him was that of a very handsome man in his mid-thirties; however, he wore a suit and jacket on a very hot and humid day, and his shoes seemed to conceal a hairy foot; he also wore a cap, which had two projections. A sharp arrow sneaked out from his trouser-leg and wagged at times.

"What...what...do you want?"

"Want? Why nothing. I'm here to give you everything YOU want. And I know what you want."

"What do I want?"

"You want your family to be proud of you, you want to do your PhD at a renowned western university, you then wish to come back and be an outstanding intellectual, fawned upon by both locals and foreigners alike....Need I go on?"

"How do you know all this?"

"There's very little I don't know, though I don't know everything" - he looked up with a frown - "unlike Him."

"You're not the devil, are you?" The young man looked at him out of the corner of his eyes.

"Why, a modern young man like you surely doesn't believe in the Devil, or in God, or Heaven and Hell, and all that rubbish, surely!"

The young man's vanity was wounded, and he drew in his chin. "No, of course not!"

"Or the soul?"

"Rubbish!"

"Good! Then you won't mind signing this paper, surely."

"What am I signing?"

"For everything you desire on this earth, you will give me your eternal soul."

"That's rubbish, like you said, and I'm not signing anything."

"Can your parents afford to teach you at Harvard?"

He became quiet and thoughtful.

"No! You know they can't. They have the middle-class problem. They want the best, but can't afford it."

"If I sign that stupid paper, then I'll study at Harvard?"

"Certainly! And other places you would care to visit."

"Gimme the pen. What have I got to lose?"

Then he signed on the dotted line.



He was hailed as a prodigy at Dhaka University.He electrified the students' union with talk of freedom and democracy. All eyes were on him as he flew to the USA. He outdid the finest students at Harvard,finished his PhD and came back to be a teacher. His parents beamed.

He was courted far and wide. He was always jetting off to some grand conference with the most eminent people in the world. Prizes and honours were heaped upon him. He married a brilliant academic and the two had brilliant children and they had brilliant children....

Of course, the first year after signing the document, he had forgotten all about it and he attributed every achievement to his own intellect. He recalled the contact, however, one day - on his death-bed.

He knew he hadn't long to live. The newspapers had been full of reports about his ill health. Heads of state and academics from famous universities hoped for his recovery.

"I remember you!" he said, lifting a trembling, wrinkled finger.

"Yes, I thought you would," said the handsome man with the tail, and the horns and the hoofs. This time he had come in puris naturalibus. He waved the contract.

"Then it was you all along who was responsible for all my greatness."

"How vain is humankind," smiled the Devil. "How vain are Bangladeshis, and how forgetful."

"And now you want...." The word was too terrible to utter. He saw his life flash before him. All the evil he had done, all the young lives he had ruined with his hypocrisy, all the stuff he had written to please people, all the lies he had uttered, all the ruin he had brought upon his country, all the men and women who had died or were raped as a consequence of his policies...all, all had been directed towards one end by this being standing before him. Evil.

"Your soul," finished the devil.

The last words that his auditors recalled where: "What have I done!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

water boarding in fiction

The full horror of 'water-boarding' was borne in upon me by this story by Conan Doyle.

I strongly urge the reading of this short story to appreciate the diabolical and mediaeval nature of 'modern' American interrogation techniques. It seems this method of questioning goes back all the way to the middle ages.

In the story, an - admittedly guilty - woman is going to be tortured by forcing her to drink buckets of water through a funnel inserted in her mouth. She would have to keep drinking to prevent suffocation. Since the event has already occurred (it is recalled in a nightmare), the terrible torment is made even more terrifying.

The reader's attention should especially focus on the teeth marks on the funnel: what distress can force a human being to bite so hard?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yet, freedom, yet, bikini torn but flying...



Vida Samadzai is not a totally free woman. Logic compels one to conclude that the less a women wears, the more free she is.

Samadzai here is wearing something. She is still not the antithesis of the burqua-clad slave: only when she appears in a Playboy centerfold will she be totally free (and us men would have something to drool - or worse - over).

But would that be enough?

Aren't the freest people those without any inhibitions at all? Surely, the freest people must be porn-stars. They reveal - everything. They have the courage to flout what I call "the monarchy of the gaze".

Go on, show us a little spunk, Samadzai - and let the men liberate theirs!

Monday, March 15, 2010

cultural imperialism

"Over the last several decades, major women's rights organizations in the Western World have focused attention on eliminating clitoridectomy and infibulation in Africa, the Near East, and among immigrants from those areas. In order to demonize these cultural practices, they refer to them as "genital mutilation" and usually insist that it is violence against women done as part of the male repression and control of women. The latter assertion fits Moslem dominated countries more than the non-Moslem sub-Saharan African societies that follow these practices. The reality in many non-Moslem African societies is that the surgery is performed by older women and is an integral part of the initiation of girls into the world of women. Men usually are not allowed to be involved in anyway. Continued political pressure from the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and other groups has resulted in many Western governments and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopting as an important goal the global repression of clitoridectomy and infibulation. Some indigenous African women's organizations have responded angrily."

The above is from an anthropological website. UNESCO has never pointed out the use of young high school children in violent student politics in Bangladesh, but has had the gall to preach cultural imperialism in Africa.

Most of these do-gooder NGOs and supranational bodies have no knowledge of anthropology, nor could they care less. For instance, there are innumerable organizations and states trying to turn our society democratic even though that is against our culture (Samuel Huntington was one of the wise minds to make this point).

But the unkindest cut of all is when anthropologists, lured by lucre, join the imperialists.

Friday, March 12, 2010

when criminals prosecute

So, we have something else to look forward to after the recent hangings: a trial for crimes against humanity on the part of 'collaborators' in the 1971 civil war. Never mind that those who rape and murder these days are seldom brought to justice: what were crimes in 1971 have become mere peccadilloes today.

We have the moral high ground: we were the victims in 1971; all we wanted was recognition of our nationalist aspirations and fair play, but we got a bloody nose instead. Heinous indeed!

Then, after we achieved our nationalist aspiration, we were immediately and rudely confronted with the nationalist aspirations of the Chakma people: how dare they?

Of course theirs was a bogus nationalism, just like ours: Bengali nationalism was a super-duper elite phenomenon having nothing to do with the people. The Chakmas speak Bengali just like we do ('Chakma', Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition). So what was their beef? They weren't being persecuted, just as we weren't persecuted during our ersatz nationalist longings. When one bogus nationalism meets another, what happens?

"What the Pakistanis did to us," observed my late uncle, Major General M. Khalilur Rahman to me, "we did to them". Indeed. And western donors were content to let us do so during the cold war.

But it will be retorted by Bengali nationalists that we were merely trying to preserve our territorial integrity: well, so was West Pakistan. Besides, the Chakmas didn't want to secede, like we did: they 'merely' wanted autonomy, albeit on grounds of fictive ethnicity, closely resembling our fictive nationalism (indeed, the nation-state has failed throughout South Asia, according to Stanley J. Tambiah).

One wonders why the Chakmas have raised no demands for a tribunal to try crimes against humanity committed in the hill tracts. One fears that their leaders have sold out just like ours.

So, we do not have the moral high ground anymore. We are as guilty as any nation trying to preserve its territory, from Abraham Lincoln to Indira Gandhi....

Let's just stop pretending otherwise.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The gall of a Gaul

"In democratic ages men rarely sacrifice themselves for one another; but they display general compassion for the members of the human race. They inflict no useless ills; and they are happy to relieve the griefs of others, when they can do so without much hurting themselves; they are not disinterested, but they are humane."

I came across this piece of garbage, not in my rubbish can, but in the second volume of Democracy in America. Humane?

The author seems to have forgotten what he wrote about Native Americans and negro slaves in Book I: he noted the treachery, inhumanity, illegality, and indifference towards these people on the part of the 'democratic' white Anglo-Americans, as he called them.

Perhaps he means that the misery inflicted on Indians and Negroes were 'useful ills': certainly useful to the white people, and certainly not useful to the victims.

In Chapter 18 of Book 1, he makes the following observation:

"None of the Indian tribes which formerly inhabited the territory of New England--the Naragansetts, the Mohicans, the Pecots--have any existence but in the recollection of man. The Lenapes, who received William Penn, a hundred and fifty years ago, upon the banks of the Delaware, have disappeared; and I myself met with the last of the Iroquois, who were begging alms. The nations I have mentioned formerly covered the country to the sea-coast; but a traveller at the present day must penetrate more than a hundred leagues into the interior of the continent to find an Indian. Not only have these wild tribes receded, but they are destroyed; and as they give way or perish, an immense and increasing people fills their place. There is no instance upon record of so prodigious a growth, or so rapid a destruction: the manner in which the latter change takes place is not difficult to describe."


To cap it all, this (by no means feeble-minded) Frenchman, has the idiocy to observe that the Spaniards were able to assimilate themselves to the Indians because South American Indians practiced agriculture - it doesn't occur to him that it was precisely the absence of democracy - the citizen-versus-non-citizen antithesis - that enabled the Iberians both to assimilate the Indians as well as the Negro slaves (I have touched on these subjects elsewhere).

Monday, March 8, 2010

noosepapers

I am sick and tired of hearing newspapers extolled: apparently their only function, according to men like de Tocqueville and Amartya Sen, is to provide information. The former is a more discerning writer and reflects that newspapers serve to form associations of like-minded readers; that is, those possessing the same prejudices.
It is a short step – not a giant leap – from this consideration to one about the powers of language. These views totally ignore the persuasive powers of language. In Bangladesh, for instance, one of the chief functions of newspapers is to promote jingoism and nationalism. When the world is trying to move away from nationalism, with all its inherent destructiveness, our newspapers wholeheartedly devote themselves to perpetuating it.

Newspapers have been responsible for the misery of the Native Americans, for inciting wars, for inflating speculative bubbles thereby creating poverty where there was abundance…all with the power of language to persuade.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sir Flunkey, A Nursery Rhyme

Fazle Abed, Fazle Abed,

Where have you been?

"I have been to London

To see the queen."

Fazle Abed, Fazle Abed,

What did you do there?

"I munched on a mouse

Under her chair."

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Frankish Disease

"Your language is closer to you than your jugular vein."

From where did this piece of wisdom come to this part of the world? It wasn't always there. When the British came, we gladly relinquished our languages and learned English (and still do). Something changed between the time the English arrived and the time they left. They taught us more than 'Jolly good!" and "Old boy": they taught us nationalism.

But not all of us: only the microscopic minority of educated 'monkey-see-monkey-dos' produced by the imperial education system in South Asia.

But nationalism was not all we ingested from the superabundant harvest of western civilisation. There was Marxism, socialism, secularism, democracy….

That these contradictory ideas could lodge in a single head seems extraordinary today, but one must keep in mind the fact that we had been ruled for two hundred years, and rendered incapable of thinking for ourselves.

Take the Middle Eastern expression for nationalism: when it first arrived there, it was known (correctly) as the 'Frankish idea'. The accompanying physical malady that accompanied it was known as the 'Frankish disease'. Now, syphilis has the same effect on the brain as the Frankish and other assorted ideas. Therefore, we were able to accommodate all sorts of opposing ideologies in one diseased brain.

The climax of these intellectual developments, if lunacy can be credited with development, was the 1972 constitution of Bangladesh. Nationalism was part of it; as was nationalisation of all industry in solidarity with the workers of the world (but – heaven forbid – not the nationalisation of land). How Bengali nationalism could appeal to a Czech factory worker was beyond comprehension. The architects of the constitution wished to create a paradise on earth – but for Bengalis only. But 'Bengalis' also designated those living in West Bengal in India. So, Bengali paradise was not for West Bengalis. Yet nationalism reached across the border….In other words, the constitution was a cocktail meant for immediate inebriation.

In fact, one can't blame the pater patriae for kicking over that piece of paper as a colonial-period relic: it was really just that.

A constitution not in keeping with the culture, the 'manners', to use de Tocqueville's expression, of the people must be worth less than the paper it is printed on. Indeed, it is not worth less, but worthless.

Monday, February 22, 2010

thoughts on de Tocqueville on slavery

"The negro, who is plunged in this abyss of evils, scarcely feels his own calamitous situation. Violence made him a slave, and the habit of servitude gives him the thoughts and desires of a slave; he admires his tyrants more than he hates them, and finds his joy and his pride in the servile imitation of those who oppress him: his understanding is degraded to the level of his soul.

"The negro enters upon slavery as soon as he is born: nay, he may have been purchased in the womb, and have begun his slavery before he began his existence. Equally devoid of wants and of enjoyment, and useless to himself, he learns, with his first notions of existence, that he is the property of another, who has an interest in preserving his life, and that the care of it does not devolve upon himself; even the power of thought appears to him a useless gift of Providence, and he quietly enjoys the privileges of his debasement. If he becomes free, independence is often felt by him to be a heavier burden than slavery; for having learned, in the course of his life, to submit to everything except reason, he is too much unacquainted with her dictates to obey them. A thousand new desires beset him, and he is destitute of the knowledge and energy necessary to resist them: these are masters which it is necessary to contend with, and he has learnt only to submit and obey. In short, he sinks to such a depth of wretchedness, that while servitude brutalizes, liberty destroys him."


Thus observed Alexis de Tocqueville during his stay in America. Yet reading the lines, I felt myself inserted into the pathetic tale of mental servitude.

Since infancy, I have been brought up on the notion of the absolute and unqualified superiority of the White Race. This deep impression – like all impressions made upon the childish intellect – remained with me; and I am ashamed to admit, remained with me till my thirtieth year.

I was woken from this dream of inferiority by the study of comparative history. I recoiled with horror at the object of my prolonged infatuation. Was this the beast that I had embraced as a beauty?

Looking around, I found a nation incapable of reason, unable and unwilling to govern itself, incapable of original thought, and without a pulse of authentic emotion. And the more I studied this animal, the more I discovered the rot to lie in the head rather than in the body. In short, I refer to the thinking part of our society – the so-called intellectuals ("Have you heard? Jihadis blew off the head of a Bangladeshi intellectual, and spattered the place with faeces. What a pong! They've sworn never to go for the head again.")

It has been observed that a slave has only one master, but that a man of ambition has many. This is true of our intelligentsia, who fawn before their European masters as well as their domestic ones – for since their careers straddle two realms, the local and the foreign, they needs must keep two sorts of masters happy.

I have never yet met any educated person in this country: experts, yes, but not men or women of education, what the Persians would call 'elm'. This is not surprising: the profound disgust for knowledge that carries no reward comes naturally to those used to calculating their whole lives on the benefits to be derived or the losses to be sustained from certain courses of action. It is always the main chance, the master's blessing for a job 'well done'. That something can be a good-in-itself is beyond the imagination of a servant.

Naturally, from this parochial view of knowledge arises the other vices: the indifference to immorality ('what's in it for me?'), the apathy towards the suffering of others, the lack of indignation at evil done or goodness withheld.

When was the last time that we were shocked by a murder in this country? Imagine: the premature and unnatural death of a human being solicits no interest simply because 'there's nothing in it for me', because the victim was not related to me in any way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Real Stigma

"Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous."
- Exodus 16:19

They say that the stigma that attached to Bangladesh has been removed with the trial and hanging of the assassins of Sheikh Mujib, supposedly the pater patriae.

Really?

The real stigma has been permanently reinforced.

And the real stigma is the fact that you have to be a very powerful person to exact revenge in the guise of justice in Bangladesh. You have to get hold of the entire state power and get the press and the flunkeys of the so-called civil society on your side, undermine the judiciary, and secure the lynching you desire.

And if you are a poor man whose daughter has been raped and murdered by student politicians, then there is no way in this world that you are going to get justice. In the next world, yes, but not in this diabolical den of despair; for here every injunction from the book of Exodus above has been violated: yet seven righteous men refused to hear the case.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Rats and the People

The Daily Star is caught between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, it has to make the right noises about the killers of Sheikh Mujib to please the ruling party and its thugs. Besides, the editor and his cohorts are sympathetic to the Awami League, if not actually Awami Leaguers themselves.

On the other hand, Mahfuz Anam and his wife have to please the European donors as well, and Europe is against the death penalty. The Star dare not say openly that the death penalty should have been commuted to life imprisonment. The office will be raided the next day by armed thugs of the ruling party and by every intellectual in Bangladesh.

This example clearly shows the hypocrisy of our ruling elite: they seek the approval of foreigners, but subscribe to local prejudices. They pretend to be liberal, when they are anything but. They support two tyrannies, the House of Mujib and the House of Zia, all in the name of democracy and the people.
All they want is to advance their careers and make their moolah, and sound a bit like their European masters.

They are like those rats that were given contradictory pleasure-pain stimuli simultaneously: they showed clear neurotic symptoms. Our scatophagous elite receive double stimuli, one from abroad and one from here; only they are not neurotic. They are perfectly sane: totally unscrupulous, but perfectly sane.

However, it has been a pathetic – or perhaps ennobling - spectacle that the execution of the assassins of the beloved 'Father of the Nation", Bangabandhu, has been greeted by not an atom of enthusiasm on the part of the people who are supposed to love him so: all excitement and anticipation have been concentrated in the bloodthirsty, intellectual elite. As Lawrence Ziring pointed out, Bangladesh will never represent Bangladeshis. The former have no affinity with the latter, and no more apodictic display has been in evidence than the apathy of the people to the 'celebrated' and 'long-awaited' executions, celebrated and long-awaited by a bigoted microscopic minority we miscall 'the nation'.

Monday, February 8, 2010

5th Amendment

The Supreme Court has declared the 5th Amendment illegal based on one case, that of Moon Cinema Hall.

Logically, therefore, every law and public contract ever passed or made in that period stands null and void. But this is not the view of the learned judges. According to them, some transactions are illegal, some are legal.

Now, we, the public, frequently, and deservedly, furnish the spectacle of a bunch of asses; however, we are not always asinine. Sometimes, at rare intervals, we recognise incoherence when we see it: as when it is stated that a woman is slightly pregnant or a man partly dead.

Thus the status of the 5th amendment seems to commit the same logical solecism: it is both partly pregnant and slightly dead.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Let me never forget


Evil returns, recurs and rises anew. How could I forget?

Five jihadis have been executed in Bangladesh for their bravery in 1975. I was paralysed by this injustice until I realised that this is how jihadis are meant to die. Islam is clear on the subject of evil: "If you find evil, fight it; if you can't fight it, speak against it; if you can't speak against it, hate it". This is jihad.

We must accept that evil endures, but we must not let it prevail. Evil has returned after 30 years, and, no doubt, it too will cease in the fullness of time. But there will be new evils to conquer, for the soul of men and women is darker than the darkest subterranean grotto.

Throughout the world today, jihadis are being killed, tortured, maimed….But they never relent. Millions of children have died in Iraq, yet their murderers are respected and our NGO people take awards from them and feel honoured to be honoured by them. Thus they sanction evil: but they will not prevail. The baubles of the world are worth less than a child's trinket: yet these are the things men and women seek: the honour of the dishonourable, the esteem of the contemptible, the recognition of the infamous, the adulation of the atrocious.

Evil is our daily companion, our constant adversary. I hope I never forget.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

nine-eleven versus nine-one-o-one

"Health Ministry Statistics say that the incidence of abnormal births has increased 400-fold since 1991. The Iraqis also say that, all told, 1.7m children have died because of the various effects of UN sanctions."
- The Economist, September 14th 2002, p 39

Notice the date: a year after 9/11, the Economist decides to publish a piece of the utmost interest in a casual and disinterested manner. What has been brewing under Bill Clinton, John Major and Tony Blair between 1991 and 2001 appears as though it had been the work of the previous year. Furthermore, the article occupies only three-quarters of the page, whereas the Economist constantly prints surveys of a dozen pages and briefings of three to four pages. Why this extreme economy? The Economist was a rabid supporter of the 'war' against Iraq: its willful neglect of the subject wears the aspect of a fig-leaf. Moreover, by placing the article in an issue before 9/11 in a style suitable to the gravity of the subject, the newspaper would have thrown light on why 9/11 occurred: 2,700 Americans died because nearly 2 million Iraqi children were killed. While we hear constantly about 9/11, we never hear about '91/'01 – nine-eleven versus nine-one-o-one.