Pakistanis & Anti Racism

A stand taken by a Pakistani in solidarity with the stance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests against police brutality against African-Americans in this USA is, more often than not, met with ridicule and dismission. The reactions invoked by this stand include, but are not limited to, some of the following statements:
The protests taking hold of a country millions of miles away does not concern us. The movement speaks to a culture and history separate from ours. We would rather concern ourselves with solidarity with our Kashmiri brothers, with the killing of innocent Shi’as, with the plight of the lower classes in our own country and the plethora of indigenous problems.

In the introduction of this piece, the term ‘normalized racism’ has been mentioned. Normalized racism quite simply is the subtle ways through which racism or discrimination exists in and is perpetuated by our day-to-day lives and interactions. It is the subtle ways in which one group is glorified and the other denounced and belittled. This concept should be kept in mind while perusing the forthcoming arguments.

This piece posits that the reactive assertions put forward against an anti-racist stance, are not only frivolous and detrimental to any informative and educated debate, but also disrespectful and distasteful. This piece speaks to why educating ourselves about the struggles of African-Americans is important for Pakistanis. It argues that the narrative that plagues the western nations and promotes bigotry and normalizes racism has more to do with Pakistani society than most who put forward the aforementioned reactions believe.

The argument that Pakistanis should concern themselves with more indigenous issues rather than bringing attention to those issues that are taking place in the United States of America and the western world is a classic example of the maneuver known as ‘whataboutism.’ Whataboutism, or whataboutery, appeals to hypocrisy to discredit an
argument without putting forward any logical reason to refute or disprove the opponent’s stance. Simply put, it use fallacy to detract from a perfectly logical argument. It was first used as part of Soviet propaganda during the Cold War and in more recent times has become a common maneuver, often employed by POTUS and other political leaders to discredit their opponents. The argument that so-and-so issue exists that demands our
attention should not detract from another issue. The reader may recognize this maneuver in the following statement: ‘the economy is in plunders, but what about the years of corruption by the previous leaderships that have looted our nation.’

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The author would also like to highlight a point that seems simple enough, but is easily overlooked: it is in fact possible, much to the surprise of many, to care about more than one issue simultaneously. It is possible to read about a multitude of socio-political issues and familiarize ourselves with the history of various countries. Our attention need not be limited to one socio-political issue. Supporting anti-racist dialogue is not mutually exclusive with
supporting indigenous causes. Another point that may seem obvious, but is evidently worth noting here is that: caring about human life and the plight of a community in any part of the world should not be met with ridicule or dismission.

~written by Ameerah Said

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