The easy way out | Pakistan Today

The easy way out

  • How to sell dumb ideas

The downside of democracy is that ‘the public’ is not prone to checking what it hears, and those elected to lead the public understand this only too well. What’s more, they use it. This is called manipulation, and those elected people are politicians, and their manipulation generally takes the form of slogans. Politicians are past master at sloganeering. It’s the nature of the beast.

Take Boris Johnson for example when in 2016 Britain was debating EU, in our out. Mr. Johnson of course was campaigning for out and he needed support. He knew full well which buttons to push.

“What I certainly cannot imagine is a situation in which 77 million Turks, and those of Turkish origin can come here without any checks at all,” said Mr. Johnson. “That is really mad.”

You wonder what other slogan was used in an attempt to validate this our PM’s latest spark of genius. Well, that would be contained in Mr. Khan’s twitter post – the new political disjointed pontification that has taken over from verbal irrational statements – which says that he wants our youth to do jihad against the suffering caused by this pandemic.

Said the man who while being English is himself a great grandson of a Turkish Muslim, and otherwise descended from Russian Jewish/Lithuanian Jewish, Swiss German, French, Irish, Dutch, Belgian, and American ancestors. You could call him a one-man crowd of immigrants who stormed the country without any checks at all, and took over. Mr. Johnson’s English side knew well that a reference to a horde of Turks pouring into the country would translate into a graphic image of a Mongol invasion, and he knew how it would sit with the bulk of the British population which like the bulk of populations anywhere reads little beyond the London Underground guides.

After all why not millions of Spaniards, or Italians, or Hungarians? But that would not have had quite that impact, would it. It had to be Turks and Turks it was.

The people of Israel have managed to elbow away the people who lived in what is now Israel and establish a homeland for themselves. The country is now a fact of life. It is here to stay. It has the backing of powerful nations. Yet ‘Jewish Survival’ remains a rallying cry and their elected leader uses the term freely: when he wants to re-stoke the fires against Arabs and Palestinians he invokes memories of old sufferings. Very much as the spectre of India is used in Pakistan. ‘Jewish Survival’ is a leftover from when the Jews wandered the desert in search of a homeland, and were centuries later horrifically persecuted by a monster with an idiotic moustache.  Those times are over but the fear remains in the hearts of people.

And then out there across the pond in the erstwhile democracy is the man who once said “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed” sometime after questioning why the US let people from ‘shithole’ countries enter the United States. He was referring to Haiti, El Salvador and an assortment of African nations at a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders and Cabinet members in 2018.  This is the same man who has fed himself obese on the ‘American Dream’ which he has re-defined to suit himself.

“We’re going to make the country great again,” has been his rallying cry for whatever atrocity he wished to commit, the Mexican wall, little children separated from their mothers, for attacking affordable health care for the people. And it worked. The racism which once simmered beneath the surface but had not been given the stamp of approval has come out guns blazing, crying to make the country white ‘again’. As it once was, you understand. We heard about the Indigenous man who was told to ‘go back where he came from’ so he pitched his tent in his taunter’s front yard.

On home ground then, and here we have the corona relief Tiger Force (rowwrrr), something like another army without the discipline, or a police force without the training. This yet another group is composed of men and women between the ages of eighteen and forty. They are supposed to have their own transport, no police record, be medically fit and dedicated to ‘serving the nation’ (slogan alert). They’re volunteers, but in these times of covid when every paisa should go into supporting the people who have been struck cruelly because of it and are at a loss for making ends meet, there is a special fund to support these by now hundreds of thousands of Tigers across the country. And what they’re supposed to do is hand out food packages, report any breach of SOPs, or issues identified in markets, educational institutions, public places, police stations, land record authorities, and local courts. They are also supposed to keep an eye on the prices of essential food and health items, in other words to monitor food prices and inflation. This is an incredible workload for a massive group of persons with no training or legal sanction.

You wonder what other slogan was used in an attempt to validate this our PM’s latest spark of genius. Well, that would be contained in Mr. Khan’s twitter post – the new political disjointed pontification that has taken over from verbal irrational statements – which says that he wants our youth to do jihad against the suffering caused by this pandemic. There it is, that magic word ‘jihad’ that brings up images of sword wielding Ertegruls driving back shrieking covid attackers.

Raise your hands all those who are sick and tired of religion and Arabic words being used to manipulate minds?

Not many hands. That’s why it works.

Do we honestly need another messy group of persons unable to do their job? Or do we need a dedicated group of persons capable of doing what they need to, but who lack the funds and the necessary support.

All the Tiger Force has managed to achieve for now is to attend a meeting in Attock where they violated all social distancing and safety measures themselves, all 17,000 of them at that one event. There they created uproar because their local chapter’s president was not invited. In the end Mr. Zulfi Bukhari who was to speak at the event had to give up and the affair ended in shambles. What is such a bunch of people going to achieve?

Why is it that politicians almost always try to take the easy but hugely detrimental way out?

Rabia Ahmed

The writer is a freelance columnist. Read more by her at http://rabia-ahmed.blogspot.com/



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