The past is another country

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed May 24 13:43:40 UTC 2006

>>From the Pakistan Daily Times - Site Edition Wednesday, May 24, 2006

WASHINGTON DIARY: The past is another country Dr Manzur Ejaz

 Bush's decision to appoint General Michael Hayden as director of the CIA
a civilian institution has also caused raised eyebrows. The move is going
to intensify the perception that in this administration the military is
overshadowing civilian institutions. The Pentagon already dominates
foreign-policy making and intelligence operations. Security agencies have
encroached upon many personal freedoms I am sure that instead of the
notorious Karl Rove, it is a Pakistani American who is the chief architect
of President George Bushs policies.  Only this can explain why the US is
becoming similar to the Pakistani state where language, religion and the
military are considered vital for its very existence. After declaring
English the national language and nominating a former military man as the
head of CIA, Christianity is the only missing ingredient as far as the US
is concerned. If religion too is added to the mix, the US would become a
Pakistan-like ideological state of the faithful.

I would have suspected Dr Amanullah Khan, a Pakistani American physician,
of advising Bush (he is on a White House advisory board panel) but he is a
committed Punjabi poet who supports oppressed languages. Hence, he does
not seem to be the guilty party. There must be another Pakistani-American
mole pushing the US towards slippery slopes. On the prompting of the
Pakistani-American or pressed by circumstances, Bush and his conservative
Republican Party are playing the language card to gain an edge in the
coming November election. After their approval ratings plummeted, Bush and
the Republican Party were looking to regain political ground. Making
English a national language is extremely popular:  more than 90 percent of
the Americans want English to be the national language constitutionally it
is already the official language.

But what we need to consider is why no one, not even the most unpopular
parties, used this ploy to gain good will in the past? Similarly, no one
has tried to transform the US into a police state by giving unlimited
powers to security agencies. Likewise, it is not clear if any past
government has ever tried to induct evangelical religious ethos into state
policy ala the Bushies. In short, making English a national language is
part of a larger agenda that the ruling elite are pursuing in the US. One
thing is clear. The US is reaching a point where it is becoming an
ideological state like Pakistan. As Urdu, Islam and the military became
the essential components of the Pakistan ideology; English, Christianity,
Capitalism and the Pentagon are becoming the bases of the US state. The
transformation of a pragmatic society into a rigid, faith-based entity is
reaching a point of no-return. Like most societies, the US has reached
this state because of her perceived insecurities.

Take Muslims. Apart from 9/11, the changing US demography is also a reason
behind the anti-Muslim crusade; Muslim immigrants had started
overshadowing some other key minorities. However, this is not to say that
Muslims can compare with Hispanics. The multiplying numbers of Spanish
immigrants, legal and illegal, are seen as the ultimate demographic threat
to the White Caucasian majority. In some West Coast cities and states,
Hispanics already outnumber the White Caucasian population. If the
immigration patterns hold, the Spanish speaking population will be a
decisive majority in the next 15-20 years. According to some demographers,
White Caucasians are fighting a losing battle. According to a recent
survey, half the children under the age of five have Spanish speaking
parents. The Spanish speaking immigrants tend to have large families while
the numbers of White Caucasians are steady or dwindling. Therefore, every
trick in the world, including building a wall along the Mexican border, to
the stem the flow of Spanish immigration, cannot stop the Spanish speaking
from becoming a majority in the country.

Anticipating its bleak demographic future, White Caucasians are
redesigning state institutions to ensure their minority rule in the
future. It is against this backdrop that language becomes a useful
instrument. Latin, French and English have been used for such purposes in
different places at different times. In Pakistan, Urdu and English have
been used similarly. In addition, Bushs decision to appoint General
Michael Hayden as the director of CIA a civilian institution has also
caused raised eyebrows.  The move is going to intensify the perception
that in this administration the military is overshadowing civilian
institutions. The Pentagon already dominates foreign-policy making and
intelligence operations. Similarly, on the pretext of fighting terrorism,
security agencies have encroached upon many personal freedoms that are
protected by the constitution. It may be an exaggeration for some but for
many the US has become a police state.

Religion has also been infused into the US constitutional setting.
Evangelical Christians have left their imprint on many US laws. For
example, abortion is outlawed in many states and there is a move to
declare same-sex marriages unconstitutional. One may or may not agree with
abortion or same-sex marriage but the Evangelical warriors crusades
against such social phenomena and the manner in which the ruling elite is
playing into their hands is changing secular state institutions into
theocratic ones. How can a country that is preaching democracy to the rest
of the world justify itself as it tries consolidating all its power in the
hands of a white community that is rapidly decreasing in numbers?
Obviously, there is no answer to this question. But we ponder the question
as we watch a military general taking over the CIA, Hispanic populations
being threatened across the land, and a Christian Neo-Con in power the
future of America seems to be similar to Pakistans present, which
ironically the US is keen to change.

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz at

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