Sixty-Six Years Later; The Unlearnt Lesson!

May 10, 2011 3 comments

The soldiers hear that Hitler has been killed and there is a somewhat stunned, somewhat confused pause.  Then one of the soldiers ask the question that everyone is wondering: “Is the war over?”

The answer, of course, is “No.”

Still, there was a feeling of, the tide has turned.

Not being a professional historian, I embark on the following composition with ridiculing levels of bravery and fortitude. The task at hand?…to illuminate on the death of Osama bin Laden but perhaps furthermore to shed light on the sheer brilliance exhibited by the infamous comparison drawn between that of Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden.

In their new issue which hit stands Thursday May 5th, 2011, Time has emulated their famous cover from May 7th, 1945 with a similar picture marking the death of Osama Bin Laden…a bit of stretch? I think not…

Adolf Hitler, has been often cited (and perceived) to immaculately serve as a brand for violence and torture; a name that continues to ignite the brain of all those who re-visit his time of reign. Even after his demise present day academia continues to project forth the vitality behind Hitler’s strategic execution and success in instilling fear within the masses. Could it be that some sense of glory and praise is exhibited when considering such academic formulations surrounding the existence and governance of Adolf Hitler?

Adolf Hitler or the incarnation of absolute evil; this is how generations will reflect on the all-powerful Führer of the criminal Third Reich. When compared, his peers Mussolini and Franco were novices. Under his hypnotic gaze, humanity migrated towards a threshold from which one could see the abyss.

When considering Osama Bin Laden he terrorized his adversaries, he knew how to please, impress and charm the very interlocutors from whom he wanted support (very much like Hitler). Diplomats and journalists insist as much on his charm as they do on his temper tantrums. Osama’s political and strategic ambitions have created a dividing line within this turbulent and tormented century which in itself is undeniable: there is a before and an after however. By the breadth of his crimes, which have attained a quasi-ontological dimension, he surpasses all his predecessors (almost).

To further continue, President Obama, in his address to the international community (confirming Osama Bin Laden’s death) provided an operative platform for his audiences to reflect on any imagery that could/can be related to that of the times of Hitler and Bin Laden. If one continues to operate on such a spectrum can it be suggested that Obama’s address confirms the very notion of a) The United States of America inevitably confirming to its fear of the symbol of that of Osama Bin Laden and b) that because the USA’s role in World War II was jingoistic in nature that in fact their role in the War against Terror (and specifically against Osama Bin Laden) was indeed pugnacious yet again?!

There are paramount differences however when considering the role of the US in the War against Terror and that of Hitler’s time. The US did not provide Hitler with weapons to fight. Osama Bin Laden never came close to genocide, the freedoms ‘lost’ through this process (or as some would put it the ones Bin Laden took away) will still be lacking and most important (for all imperialist bafoons hold your breath as the following might give you a nose bleed) Al – Qaeda is not done-yet!

On the topic of evil charisma (as so many put it) former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, who was the co-chairman of the 9/11 commission said “I viewed him as a charismatic figure,” in an interview with New Jersey Network.

Mark Stern, professor emeritus of Iona College in New York and an expert in the psychology of evil and Messianic figures, believes bin Laden was similar yet difference from other evil charismatics, such as Adolph Hitler.

“He had more of a political world view — more like a desire to save the world than to destroy it and rebuild it in his image,” said Stern.

He was a “witness” to the fundamental cause. “The message found him,” said Stern. “He didn’t find the message.”

Former President George W. Bush called them the “evil-doers” — who wield mesmerizing power over their devoted followers and often possess qualities of grandiosity and charisma becoming agents of influence.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel ruminated on the same question when he analyzed Hitler: “How did this unstable paranoid find it within himself to impose gigantic hope as an immutable ideal that motivated his nation almost until the end?”

“The fact is that Hitler was beloved by his people…who pledged to him affection, a tenderness and a fidelity that bordered on the irrational. Osama bin Laden was no different”

The Osama Bin Laden fiasco has become nothing more than an exhaustive list of avenues being resorted to for the perpetuation of ignorance amongst the masses and that of the ‘informed’ reader.

After over a decade-long search, the Obama administration is pompous over the murder of the Western world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, making him the third Reagan-supported criminal (after Saddam Hussein and Augusto Pinochet) to die since the turn of this century. As the United States gloats over the death of its staunchest enemy and steals the world media’s attention from the bloody protests in Syria and Yemen, the crackdown of the Israeli Blockade on Gaza, the flourishing of 21st century fascism and erosion of children/women rights in the Middle East (alluding to a very few of course!)

I end with the words of Mark Stern.

…Thousands will succeed him.”


Access to Education: Pakistan’s demonic downfall.

April 5, 2011 3 comments

I attended the Toronto District School Board’s “Take Civic Action” Conference not too long ago, where I was invited to speak to Grade 9 and 10 students on topics of youth empowerment, social activism and communal mobilization. I aimed at highlighting the works and accomplishments of TakingITGlobal, the largest online community of youth interested in global issues & creating positive change via mechanisms of social media and technology. Sort of like the ‘facebook’ of youth activism and social-global issues.

As the day proceeded, I found myself reflecting and comparing the education system of that of Canada to that of  various parts of the international community. Before proceeding let me attest to the reality that I am in no way suggesting that the education system of that of Canada is not saturated with disparities, BUT, I do however want to allude to the reality of the increasing opportunity when considering the access to education when compared to countries like Pakistan, for example. (my reference to Pakistan is a direct reflection of my personal interactions with various members of the Pakistani community hence my first-hand take on the dynamics unfolding within the Pakistani education system)

In Canada, and in most countries for that matter, (comprising the ‘West) is seen as a provincial responsibility ensuring the attainment of education up to and including high school. Access to education in Pakistan however, does not serve as a preamble for social or economic progression in the near future. Gender disparities,  the social hierarchical positioning of an individual, income, religious affiliation and perhaps the most infuriating of all, the structure of the education system in Pakistan all serve as challenges to achieve a substantive level of access to education.

The society that limits access to education and knowledge is short-sighted and destined for extinction, like the societies described in Collapse by Jared Diamond. Furthermore, along with people’s pursuit of social justice one needs to also embark on the pursuit of equal opportunities in education. Plato in “Utopia” makes reference to every citizen, regardless of sex, outlining that we must receive education from an early age, and that this should be the earliest concept of equality of educational opportunity. Education provides the bedrock for reducing impoverishment and enhancing social development.  In Pakistan, there has been a downsizing trend for the quality of education but moreover, the transparency of curriculum made available to students in various schools is questionable as different schools provide arraying levels of education  (i.e. all Middle schools lack the uniformity when considering their text books/resources/etc)

Madrasas (religious schools housed at local mosques), state-owned schools, English governed schools and private schools are the various components of the educative framework in Pakistan. Although Canada also consists of both public and private schools, does curriculum vary by leaps and bounds in such a way that it further perpetuates class difference, taking away from any opportunity to erode the clashing of civilizations? Are students in Pakistan belonging to the lower classes able to even fathom the idea of attending a private and/or prestigious school within Pakistan? Why has the education system become reflective of the social and economic classes of Pakistan? Why the arraying curriculum? Are school’s like Karachi Grammer School, Frobels, Aithison College, Beaconhouse, American School Franchise  (and many others for which I would have to re-engage into conversations with certain individuals to remember and that in itself would be an unbearable task for me)  not aware of the students that are being pumped out of their system?

The ‘elite’ schools of Pakistan are producing replicas of individuals who acclaim to be ‘elite’ as they are able to converse in English, shunning and considering their very own culture to be tainted with traits of backward and outdated.  If access to education wasn’t atrocious enough, such ‘elitist’ schools have further contributed to ejecting students who, in some cases, further foster the already created social hierarchies within Pakistan. [Case and point:  Consider the social interaction of some Pakistani students abroad and their pre-conceived notions of each other based on the school they’ve attended within Pakistan]

Access to what may be considered ‘decent’ education is undeniably tied to the class structure looming within Pakistan. This included geographical placement (and 70% of Pakistanis live in rural areas) so if one does not live in a major city your hopes for a post-secondary education are drastically low. When shedding light on job prospects and a prosperous future, the decline ratio between that of the Cambridge system (targets upper and upper-middle class) and the Urdu medium system (this encompasses government schools catering to the ‘rest’ of the population) is dramatic and continues to rise exponentially.

From Nicholas D. Kristof’s article, formulated in Nov 2010 and published in the NY Times states

One reason Pakistan is sometimes called the most dangerous country in the world is this: a kindergarten child in this country has only a 1 percent chance of reaching the 12th grade, according to the Pakistan Education Task Force, an official panel. The average Pakistani child is significantly less likely to be schooled than the average child in sub-Saharan Africa.

Such numbers are not surprising, but it seems that they have to be parroted time and time again to shake up the myopic vision of upper-class Pakistan.

Dear Pakistanis…it’s more than just a cricket game!

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Today, millions embarked and witnessed the unfolding of a historic event; the semi final match between Pakistan and India as the ICC World Cup 2011 continues to poke at the hearts of many.

This sporting event was one of the first for which I not only got up for at 5am but stood by also finding myself standing affirmatively by the men in green in a state of submersion as I engulfed myself with the world of Cricket.

Pakistan unfortunately was defeated, allowing for the masses in India to illustrate the behemoth of all celebrations. All in all it can be said that Pakistan truly displayed astounding talent and exceptional sportsmanship to have made it thus far.

For a Pakistani who is geographically situated far from the mother country, such a match became the vehicle for being transported back to Pakistan, in every way one can be mobilized. And that’s what this is about…the role that sports (in particular cricket for the Pakistani people) play in harmonizing and further creating an “imagined community” as Benedict Anderson would so eloquently allude to first in 1983. Furthermore, it allowed me to reflect on the role sports play when considering the outburst of Nationalism and mobilization of the masses.

Can such outbursts of nationalism further foster a growth igniting self-consciousness for the people of Pakistan?…and for Pakistani’s dwelling within foreign frontiers?

When considering the amalgamated groups of Pakistani’s that watched this sporting event together it is safe to say the religious and ethnic makeup of such groups was diversified. There were diminished lines of boundaries in the areas of interaction, bondment, co-existence and mutual respect.

Than why the separated lines and boundaries of co-existence within Pakistan? Why the acts of blasphemy for example? Why the impinging imposition of economic and social hierarchy? why the aggregated demand and need for corruption, lack of access to education and imbalance within the horizon?

The streets of Pakistan, I’m told are itching with disappointment and anxiety. But let’s stop in our tracks and take a look at what these players have achieved…!

They’ve brought citizens of their nation together under the umbrella of that very ‘imagined community.’ How you ask? Transport yourself back a few hours and reflect on your thought process when it came to the future of the team and the level of joy and understanding you exhibited. I can vouch for myself and attest to the reality that for the duration of this game I was just as much of a Pakistani, Muslim, Woman and Believer as the individual next to me. I was co-harmonized with the millions of Pakistanis that were up at the crack of dawn with me…we were all equal!  

When will the ‘imaginative’ evolve into a platform of reality?

Yesterday, any and all Pakistanis, regardless of their geographic location, religious affiliation, economic standard, political connection and/or ethnic make-up could converse, trust and depend on their fellow Pakistani…even to be updated with the score of the match. For us outside of Canada, the joy of running into a Pakistani on the train, bus, school or restaurant was as significant as finding a piece of home as it provided the psychological attainment of having a common ground.

So you see its more than just a game. With every pitch and every hit. Within ever catch and every fall. With every cheer and every dismissive word…the men reminded us of merely one thing; Unification! And I saw the ability within the people of Pakistan to obtain and execute that unity and Nationalism. Therefore, it’s become evident that the ability and drive is there. Than what are we missing?…a cricket match to re-ignite the rationality that will serve us to become better citizens? Let’s hope not…

So as you sit there dwelling on the lack of progression to the final on the part of the Pakistani team today, I’m sitting here asking you all to reflect on something beyond that as progression is one that is measured by the willingness to realize and evolve towards obtaining a larger goal. The goal to unite, the goal to speak and to be heard…the very premise on which Pakistan was coined!

…well that’s my take on it!

Kudos to the Pakistani cricket team for their heightened efforts and for illustrating the essence of what one may call a torch-bearer! These men have truly left us all with some pivotal thoughts to unravel and tackle. Vitruvius indeed!

Pennsylvania Mom Michele Gray Opts Her Children Out Of Standardized Testing

March 24, 2011 1 comment

Its refreshing to see that parents have started to take action against standardiz­ed testing. Personally­, having written the GRE myself I can’t help but consider such tests to be a paradox in themselves­; a standardiz­ed way to proove that one is not standard (above par) at all?

The design and method of execution of such standardiz­ed tests take away from the natural aptitudes and educative makeup of students (i.e. written tests vs alternativ­e methods of execution such as verbal/exp­ressive/on hands etc)

Here in Canada, the focus is much less rigorous, when considerin­g the integratio­n of standardiz­ed testing but is undergone every few years between middle and high school. Although its claimed that opting out of such tests affect the yearly progress of the schools, perhaps the focus should be on re-vamping the structure as such tests do very little in measuring a student’s understand­ing of concepts (and its applicatio­n) but rather force students to resort to forms of memorizati­on and cubersome methods of learning.

But perhaps that’s the problem…­yet again the quality of education has been put on the back burner.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Categories: Uncategorized

Anti-Muslim Rhetoric in the U.S – Is this your idea of Democracy?

March 12, 2011 Leave a comment

 As a matter of fact, I know quite a few marines who will be willing to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.- At Orange County Hate Rally, GOP Councilwoman Says She Wants Marines To Send Muslim Families To ‘Paradise’

“The most popular name in the United Kingdom this year for babies was Mohammed, am I racist to think that I’m alarmed by that? Because I am…’ –Bill Mayer

“Islam is a violent religion, no wait I can’t say religion, political system. Islam is a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the government and world domination.” -Pat Roberson, television evangelist.

For the first time in US history, at least 15 states have either approved or introduced bills banning Shariah Law this week. These very bills could present themselves to consider fasting and praying a crime for Muslims in the U.S. In Tennessee a Muslim could potentially face up to 15 years in jail for praying 5 times a day, fasting or even donating to charity as it would be defined as engaging in practices that are ‘shariah law’ hence forbidden to do as such according to the proposed unconstitutional and congressional hearings chaired by none other than Peter King, the republican representative.

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Islamic scholar, convert and co-founder of Zaytuna College in Berkley, California states that there is  ‘immense misunderstanding of Shariah Law’ within the U.S and further notes that ‘the Shariah Law is of no threat to the U.S.’

Have Muslims replaced the cold war communist boogie man in the american psyche? Why is Islam still considered to encompass attributes of pre-modern conceptions and why have such understandings become normative in places like the U.S?

Happy International Women’s Day – 100 years later!

March 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the global event since its inception in 1911.

International Women’s Day embarks on the story of ordinary women as creators of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women worldwide to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for “liberty, equality, fraternity” marched on Versailles to demand women’s suffrage.

 International Women’s day reminds us of why feminism and transnational networks of solidarity and unification must not lose its stamina. The feminist movement is rapidly changing…but there is still a long way to go.

I dedicate today to the women of the Middle East, as their role in front line activism and movements of uprise and revolt have allowed them to become beacons of hope for women worldwide. Docile, submissive and passive Arab women you say? …Think again!

With Gaza on my mind…I wish you all (and/or the beauties in your lives) a very Happy International Women’s Day!

In solidarity,

Revolution vs. Revolt vs. Trend

March 2, 2011 1 comment

With all of the upheavals surrounding the ‘revolutionary’ wave throughout the Middle East I’m taken back by the overly optimistic reactions that everyone around me is submersed in. Revolution! Revolution! is all I have seen in the papers, within dialogues and engagements as well as within any and all topics of discussion yet the simple question must be asked…

Does one know the difference between that of a ‘revolution’ and ‘revolt/uprise’? The systemic difference and overthrow of a governmental STRUCTURE  is vital for a revolution to be considered as such. Do you see examples of such a manifestation to date? or are we simply expressing jubilant tendencies and hope towards yet another revolt where the uprise and mobilization of the masses has ignited hope and the idea of conquer within us. The triumphs of that of the Egyptian people has become a milestone when considering the level of activism and participatory engagement on behalf of the Egyptian people who cannot be in any way discounted. However, media outlets I feel are inaccurate in classifying such to be a ‘Revolution’ as this is merely the beginning.  World leaders are continuing to resort to the word ‘Revolution’ in defining the happenings in Egypt, and strategically so. By doing so, they are once again pursuing the masses to believe that their word indeed is done!

Moreover, I continue to be bombarded with headlines infiltrated with whats next for Libya, the question of Yemen, the secretive advancements in the relationship between Bahrain and Israel and more importantly of who’s next in line for the wave of revolution I can’t help but notice the downsize in coverage and discussion reflecting on Egypt? It’s almost as if it was an overnight miracle and now poof….GONE! Egypt who?

Which brings me to my next point…The Generating of Political ‘Trends.’

The manner in which, we, as passive consumers, engage with the daily news (via newspapers, news channels, online articles and other various media outlets etc), its seems to be parallel, and does mimic, the way we behave as shoppers within the market. As a consumer, there is continuous hunger that is looking forward to the next big thing. The next ‘in fashion’ item or the next ‘trend.’ As a result retailers and furthermore the manufacturing machine of that of Capitalism caters to our need and continues to keep the human mind boggled from always wanting more…always wanting to partake in the ‘trend’ that is operative at that moment.

Ever consider the similarity between that and the generating of political stories as ‘trends.’ If so can one suggest than that the geographical importance that is in the limelight presently and the unfolding taking place within the Middle East will soon be replaced by the next big thing? Consider the entities that generate such political trends and  consider what lies behind such manifestations.

Newspaper readers, the international community and the average citizen seems to have already moved on beyond Egypt…and soon enough will advance to focus on yet another political ‘trend’ or story. Could it be that the generating of such political events is to merely cater to the human mind as it seeks boredom, unable to accumulate much thought towards a single issue? If so, than the story / ‘trend’ is not of importance but rather the occurring and unfolding of one; whatever it may encompass.

…consumerism prevails! One point for Capitalism.

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