Democracy is gradually being supplanted by raw and crude populism where hatred for and of the outsider is growing by the day. A commentary on justice can perhaps be best articulated by the colored citizen.
By Wajahat Qazi
I am a brown man. Of course, this is not an ascriptive self identity; it was brought home to me in my wanderings across the West. I was told I am brown and it was brought home repeatedly to me. My identity and personality is layered: my primary identity is Muslim (Islamic), and my secondary is my Kashmiri. My assumptions about identity, personality and politics received a jolt in the West and I then fancied myself to be cosmopolitan and I lost (thankfully) many of my prejudices. I attributed all this, at one point in time, to the West but I now realize that the personality shift was the consequence of my own endeavors, study and temperament.
I must make a digression here.
I drooled , like many other “ brown” men and woman, over the West. I was not seduced by its glitter or materialism but by what the West touts as its values and principles- rule of law, democracy, human rights and justice. I was victim of this fanciful notion for a long time. But now I stand disabused. The West – especially the United States which deems itself to be the standard bearer of the West – is what it is: an entity where there might be rule of law but it is for the White native; for others it appears that there is rule by law. Democracy is gradually being supplanted by raw and crude populism where hatred for/of the outsider is growing by the day. A commentary on justice can perhaps be best articulated by the black men or women.
White Americans also have a peculiar world view. They think their country is exceptional and that they are God’s gift to the world. America touts itself to be multicultural, but the fact is that it is a giant capitalist machine and a huge labor market where, to invert Marx, the value of labor determines a person’s worth. The system socializes the immigrant into this capitalist whirlpool and then determines his worth in a social Darwinist way. But the immigrant believes otherwise: the immigrant or the brown man, a victim of false consciousness, as I admit I was, falsely believes that he or she has rights. But rights, if America is taken as a yardstick are expensive: the cost of litigation is high and access to justice is prohibitively expensive. There then is a disconnect between the reality of America and its practice.
But the oddity is the brown man’s world view and his drool toward the white man. The white man/woman believes in his/ her superiority and makes no bones about it. This is best reflected when the white man/woman travels in the brown world. A white man may give in charity to the poor in brown worlds but again this appears to stem from a position of vainglorious superiority complex. The same appears to hold in other domains of life and related themes. The stark irony here is that the white man/woman commands great respect or even awe in the brown world – a white can perhaps even get away with murder here! However, there is no reciprocity involved even in the realm of basic mutual respect: the white man/woman looks at the brown as either a half-tard or half-human. The brown man does not realize this in his little brown universe and white man/woman steeped in a superiority complex and politico-social flawed rhetoric spewed by powers in the West is blissfully unaware of the contradictions involved in their self belief and actual practice. The brown man/woman – a victim of false consciousness – continues to drool until reality hits home – usually in the white world. Brown and white, in the final analysis are constructs developed by the White man perhaps to create difference and then maintain it. The brown-white dichotomy is a false and a facetious one imposed by the white man. This false construct must be given a short shrift and made to wither and wilt. The question is, will this ever happen? Maybe. Perhaps, the role and the duty falls on the brown self. Will this ever happen? Hope springs eternal in the human heart!