Newspaper Articles

Liberal extremists? Pray tell – by Nadeem F Paracha

Oh, my, that label again: ‘Liberal extremist.’ What on earth does it mean? Absolutely nothing. Great wordplay and deliciously idiosyncratic, but that’s about it.

However, since the popular electronic media in Pakistan is usually about a rather nihilistic strain of whatever it considers to be news and analysis, this topsy-turvy label has become the catch-all term of a number of TV anchors, hosts and, ahem, analysts.

So, then, what is a liberal extremist? How many Pakistanis do you know who advocate the abolition of faith, legalisation of cannabis, the creation of nude beaches, support gay marriages or… oh, okay, so this is not what you mean. Then what? If you guys who have suddenly become so fond of this phrase mean by it Pakistanis who emphasise reason over passion (especially in political and theological matters), or who find religion synonymous with humanitarianism, tolerance and compassion, or who like political parties that they support to retain a degree of secularism, or those who cherish the concept of social and religious pluralism and diversity, if these are the dreaded liberal extremists so many Pakistanis have suddenly started moaning about, then I pray for me to become one of the finest liberal extremists in this land of the pure.

So, can one suggest that what passes as being plain old liberal elsewhere becomes liberal extremism in Pakistan? There is another innocent question I would like to ask of all those who have been swinging their fists by suggesting the following brilliant insight: ‘The problem in Pakistan is religious extremism and liberal extremism.’

If so, then pray tell, dear sirs and madams, exactly how can one couple the two phrases in the same sentence? To begin with, one can safely suggest that those you call liberal extremists constitute an embarrassingly minute percentage compared to the glorious blooming and flowering we have seen of what are called religious extremists.

Over and over again we have heard and seen the delightful things faith-based extremists advocate, preach, feel happy about and shower rose petals for, but what have the malicious liberal extremists to gloat and float about? I’ve heard arguments (and that’s about it) from the liberals in the following cases, but no liberal extremist distributed sweetmeat when Dr Aafia was convicted; never saw this extremist chant ‘yea, baby, let’s have more,’ when the news of a drone attack breaks; never seen one claiming that such or such person should be killed just because he or she disagreed with the liberal extremist. Sure he or she may have a sympathetic argument about what their counterparts may consider to be treason, sacrilege, etc., but that’s it.

Kindly stop using this term, liberal extremists, as if it was an indigenous made-in-Pakistan media masterstroke. The term first began being used in the US during the 1970s. It was coined by some ultra-conservative Republican politicians and Christian evangelists against certain mainstream American newspapers, TV channels and filmmaking circles. These guys from that country’s far right in politics and religion thought that the American media and Hollywood were brimming with atheists, agnostics and liberals who were soft on the Soviet Union (mostly because the media was opposing the war in Vietnam).

It was a lunatic fringe whom the then liberal American media suspected of having extreme political and religious views, and this fringe retaliated (in typical knee-jerk fashion), by calling their detractors as liberal extremists. This term was again used during the conservative Reagan years in the 1980s against mainstream media outlets who were opposing his overtly laissez faire economic policies and his arming of the paid mercenaries to topple the revolutionary leftist regime in Nicaragua.

By the end of the Cold War (1990), the liberal extremist tag was hung around social and environmentalist groups that began agitating against large multinational corporations and ‘globalisation.’ The media in this respect was finally let off the hook and the reason was simple. With the arrival of such monsters like FOX-News and SkyNews, things in this respect were turned on their heads when it was the media that began adopting this term for detractors of corporate capitalism and the new millennium’s ‘neo-con’ polices.

In Pakistan it was the military dictatorship of General Musharraf who first used this term. In many of his apologetic speeches he defended his (albeit half-baked) actions against extremist religious organisations by adopting the old 1970s American ultra-conservatives’ mantra of being against both extremes (religious and liberal). However, the irony was that genuine liberalism (that the American conservatives used to call liberal extremism in the US) was almost non-existent in Pakistan.

Right-wing apologists of faith-based extremism now found in abundance in the FOX-News like environment in Pakistan’s electronic media have simply picked up where Musharraf had left: Blame the large-scale presence of both state sponsored and populist, civilian extremism in the country on the handful of vocal liberals by calling them liberal extremists. Of course, intoxicated on the delusion that they have discovered a perfect explanation to defend their sheepish defence of violence-prone extremism, they conveniently forget it is not liberal extremists blowing themselves up in public places or showering rose petals on killers.

Source: Dawn, 23 Jan 2011

About the author

SK

10 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • “How many Pakistanis do you know who advocate the ……

    My Dear Mr.Nadeem Paracha, I am afraid to say either you are trying to play smart or you are so simple and innocent indeed. No doubt that as yet that herd of Liberals and their Change Agents in Pakistan are dare not to ask and demand for all that stuff, but indeed they are all striving hard to create an environment so favorable, congenial and suitable for their intents where at a stage they can ultimately ask and demand for all that.Because that all did’nt happen overnight even in west..To make it all happen they strategically moved towards their targets..So is the case In our society, they want all those barriers and hurdles removed towards their ultimate objectives. Their objectives which they think are hidden from us but are actually now very obvious..In the name of INFOTAINMENT They every now and than are attacking our basic values to destruct our social fiber and destroy our family institution in first place to craete a general environment for abolition of faith, legalisation of cannabis, the creation of nude beaches, support gay marriages and bla bla”

  • http://www.opinion-maker.org/?s=Our+Infotainment&submit.x=14&submit.y=17

    The world which we live in today is under such mind control tests and exercises where a certain herd of influential people in world, we generally call them the ‘Elite Capitalists Groups’. These groups are monitoring our behavioral patterns and applying trend analysis with their hidden & obvious objective to direct and drive all our efforts and energies towards their own diversified vested interests, benefits & advantages. This Market has hype for today’s so called local and cross border intellectuals who are being rented by these Capitalist groups as their Change Agents. These change agents are deployed to launch special propagation expeditions to induce our life styles and intrude into our family rooms in order to upset not only our social fiber but also create a general sense of disbelief and ambiguities especially in minds of our youth. ” For the purpose they depute rented force on our social fronts to control minds of people through a double edged weapon which has been now termed as “Infotainment”

  • These agents in the name of Infotainment regularly but strategically attack popular beliefs, established customs, religious fundamentals, social norms, political ideologies and historical, cultural and educational heritage of our society. Turning un-important non serious and settled issues into burning issues through variants of good for nothing talk shows, their primary aim is to create general unrest, confusion and doubts in the minds of common people and give maximum benefit of doubts. These change agents apparently propagate that freedom of speech and expression helps to bridge the gaps and harmonize the factions. But through opening unnecessary use-less debates on topics of their own sensations and leaving so many questions un-answered their hidden motive is to create polarization, widen the gaps and brew the conflicts among various schools of thoughts in our society. To devalue the self pride of our social, cultural and religious inheritance and belonging they intrude our living rooms with irresistible fascinating ideas of seduction and consumerism.

  • They are continuously doing so by manipulating and exploiting human desires wants, expectations and thoughts to take maximum advantage of human weakness in curiosity and myth of change. By bringing up non-issues at upfront to convert them into burning-issues they are making us simply confused and diverted from those really so genuine issues of economic and social imbalance and injustice. For their objectives they keep us into continued fear of loss that in case we don’t comply to their given options and requirements, we’ll lose everything like our jobs, wealth, status, home, lives etc etc.. This fear mechanism is forcing us to submit to their economic authority. This manipulation mechanism and technique of controlling human mind makes the job of these change agents much easier.

  • There is of course no reservation and apprehension against modernization, education and knowledge unless it is not necessarily that particular kind of westernization which can put a damper on our values, ethics, morality and social limitations. 24/7 In the name of Mauj Maila Mustee the kind of modernism, moderation and enlightenment being effectively promoted by those commercialized media rentals no way offer our human capital any kind of opportunity and edge to compete in the challenging world. They are simply making the , faces and mindset of our men & women more and more ugly, stupid and funny through seducing sub-standard and degraded practices carried out and displayed every evening and morning on mediums of Print, Ramp and Screen.

  • World media researchers and analysts have drawn to the conclusion that TV channels and websites easily accessible to all age groups of a family can be altogether shown dramatic and mellow-dramatic packages full of seducing sex, violence, street crimes and family intrigues to impact as a major source of social disorder in any society. Clash of Civilization as a matter of fact is now that remote controlled clash between those Religious extremists who want to cover the this world with their robes, hoods and turbans and these Liberal extremists who want to convert the world into a Free society without any kind of civilized social barrier and without manifests of family institution. Whereas really civilized, really moderate, and really enlightened people of pedigree and human values are actually those elements of any society who prefer to dress up properly and soberly on their bodies and minds at least for the time when they remain out of their living rooms and bedrooms.

  • @ Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui
    “My Dear Mr.Nadeem Paracha, I am afraid to say either you are trying to play smart or you are so simple and innocent indeed. No doubt that as yet that herd of Liberals and their Change Agents in Pakistan are dare not to ask and demand for all that stuff, but indeed they are all striving hard to create an environment so favorable, congenial and suitable for their intents where at a stage they can ultimately ask and demand for all that.Because that all did’nt happen overnight even in west..To make it all happen they strategically moved towards their targets..So is the case In our society, they want all those barriers and hurdles removed towards their ultimate objectives. Their objectives which they think are hidden from us but are actually now very obvious..In the name of INFOTAINMENT They every now and than are attacking our basic values to destruct our social fiber and destroy our family institution in first place to craete a general environment for abolition of faith, legalisation of cannabis, the creation of nude beaches, support gay marriages and bla bla””
    ———————————————-
    good reply!