This letter was written to the editor of PTH and my dear friend Raza Rumi. He was kind enough to publish an edited version of this letter.
The basic aim of this letter was to highlight the fact that intellectual and progressive history shows that Fascist, Far-Right and Conservatives have over time built a highly offensive system of “witch-hunt” against those who have stood up for equality. The stereotype was to brand every one who stood up against the system as “Communist”, “Jew” or “Homosexual”. More often all these were part of a wider “stereotype” which in United States where even Liberals were called “commies”. Hilliary Clinton for examples states in her autobiography how she was slandered as a “commie” in deep south. Pinko is one such derogatory term used by American Right against progressive and civil right activist many of those lost their life and honor during McCarthy era. “Pinko-fag” is a term one often hears in USA while talking to bigots. The point of the letter was should a publication which claims itself to be progressive and secular-humanist and liberal allow language of American Right especially one associated with hate crimes during McCarthy era. Weather we should rise above “Niggers”,”Pinkos””commies” and “fagots” or we should celebrate one of the greatest “witch-hunting” by keep associating with it. Its neither about “communism” nor about “homosexuality” , any one who has read history knows McCarthy and Red Scare targeted people who were not all communists. Arthur Miller is perhaps the only writer who has truly captured the mania of Red Scare and witch hunt in his remarkable and celebrated classic Play “The Crucible”. Its my failure , my personal failure that i couldn’t convey to my friend that i only didnt wanted to live in a “Salem”
Dear Raza Rumi,
After reading one of the articles on Pak Tea House I have been forced to write this letter of protest to you. The reasons are my great personal attachment to you and Pak Tea House Blog-zine I have always considered you not only a dear friend but also a mentor and spiritual companion in my quest for truth. The importance Pak Tea House has in my life is clear from this simple fact that I wrote my first ever “public article” for this internet publication. I am neither a professional writer nor I intend to be one I like some other people who can be called “dysfunctional neurotics” or “impractical Romantics” etc write only for one reason to voice our conscientious opinion. We neither claim “neutrality” or “impartiality” nor do we believe in “hegemonizing” the opinion. Our commitment to our values could be judged from the fact that the first target of our criticism is “Self”, in my case you are aware that I have always targeted intellectual expression of the “my self”, my country, my religion, my gender and my sexuality. I have been vocal critic of the things which according to the essentialist point of view are very nature of my being. I have been a vocal critic of Pakistani nationalism, despite the fact that I grew up with green flag on my chest and that I love this soil more than anything else in my life, I was born in a muslim family and have a deep emotional attachment to holy family, sufi mystics and other Islamic traditions but I have also been a passionate supporter of those who want to subject Islam to a libertarian critique. I am classified biologically as a “Male” who have XY genotype, but I reject the essentialist notion of Gender in line of philosophers like Bulleh Shah “Kanjri ban.ne meri izzet na ghati , mein ten ach ke yaar manana” Jacques Derrida , Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. I am a “homosexual” but I reject the modern “Gay” label and associate my self with “Queer Movement”
The reasons for elaborating my intellectual history are to show our firm commitment to “Freedom of Expression” and “Right to Dissent”. Having said that, I come to the issue at hand; Mr Yassir Latif Hamdani’s latest article which has been written in response to a critical piece by “Freethinker” . I was shocked to read it. Now , its not that I have no expectations from Mr Hamdani when it comes to petty offenses, the reasons of my shock and outrage are that such a violently bigoted “hate speech” has been allowed at Pak Tea House. I here want to make one thing perfectly clear that Mr Hamdani’s right to express himself remains inalienable and non negotiable. The debate of “Freedom of expression” and “Hate Speech” is an ongoing debate and this letter is not the proper medium to revise it. Pak Tea House Blog is not a “free-publication”, it exercises an “editorial control” which means that it recognizes “Offence factor” or “The Harm Factor” and regulates speech which it considers either harmful or offensive. When Pak Tea House is exercising editorial control, it becomes a matter of “intellectual freedom”, how that control is being asserted. The generally accepted Progressive/Liberal position is to fight bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, and gender discrimination at “social level”, at work place, offices, schools, churches, mosques and publications. The point is raising of consciousness at mass level to bring about “social –change”. The consensus is of protecting the “marginalized” groups, blacks, Jews, gays, transgender, etc for this the progressive establishments adopt “Affirmative actions” and “Pluralistic settings”. The issue of “state regulation” of this offensive speech is controversial amongst Left/Liberal/Civil Rights lobbies and activists. The more advance positions have been to resist any “state control” even if it seems to be protecting “marginalized community”. Because state control has the potential of being abused. This can be elaborated by the position of “American Civil Liberties Union”, which may occasionally plead for a “Neo Nazi” hate mongerer when he has been detained by authority but it will at social level fight hate mongering. It itself will never use its platform to spread hate; will never use offensive bigoted language. Noam Chomsky will sign a petition condemning removal from services of a French Professor who is Holocaust denier but he himself vehemently oppose anti Semitism, holocaust denial and will never use his website or articles to engage in “hate-mongering”. In this way issue of “freedom of expression” and “Hate mongering” are put in perspective. It’s fought at social level, at intellectual level, in streets but state is not allowed to restrict speech.
This principle has been violated at PTH. Mr. Hamdani’s article is titled “Brownies for Pinkos: Freethinking Paki Style”. Being a philosophy student “language” is my obsession and “etymology” my Passion Now this “Pinkos” have a very special significance for us “Commies”, “fags”, “sissies” whose genders is so “indeterminate” that we be addressed as “His/Her”. The term is literally drenched in blood. First appearing in Time Magazine, in 1926. Reference sources will talk bout its contemporary use as a “derogatory term used for those with sympathies with “communism”. A little detail will shed more light: The politics of colour. Those who used and popularized this term are those who saw “communism” in every emancipatory movement. But for “communist” the favored term was “Red”. I will remind you of the Spanish Civil War where General Franco and his “patriotic nationalists” read “Fascists” gave the Slogan “Better Dead than Red”. For them “Red” was every one who was on other side, poets, intellectuals, liberals, Anarchists, Socialists, Trotskyites. And than it all had a complete package “Jews, Fags Commies”. Communism was a “Jewish conspiracy” and their method to destroy a nation was to spread evil, atheism and homosexuality. By making the honour loving brave men of the nation “Homosexuals” the Jews/commies were destroying the nation. You remember Lorca, the Spanish poet, who Neruda laments in his poem on Spain. In Andalusia when he was captured the great patriotic men of Catholic non violent morality tortured him. He was asked to bow and say he was a “communist”. He was shot. Two shots were fired on his butt because he was a “Homosexual sissy” as well.
Now leave these Reds or commies aside, let’s come to Pinkos. Now in United States, those sissies who were not communists because they criticized USSR and totalitarianism but because they use to talk about “Peace”, “non violence”, ”Civil Rights” those long haired, hippies, sociopaths, they had to be commies so they coined the term “Pinkos”. Pink being the lighter shade of “Red” of communism and Pink also the colour of Gay Liberation. Of course who could forget Adolf Hitler the great made us wear “Pink Triangles” before killing us in Gas chambers? Now for American Right the Liberals were all commies and fags. A complete stereotype was created.
The great Time Magazine who coined this term used it in a specific perspective. Joseph J Firebaugh in his “Vocabulary of Time Magazine” says “Term has been used along with “Parlor Pink” for people with Left sympathies with a special implication of “effeteness”.
Now this “effeteness”, the Latin root of this word is “effetus”, fetus, fruitful, “More at Feminine” Impotent, sissy, faggy, Fruit” is yet another term for us “sissy boys” in American High schools.
From Time Magazine we come to Wall Street Journal , they used this term in 1920 , they talked about the “complete package” used the word “Pink” while describing supporter of progressive politician La Follete:
“Visionaries, ne’er do wells, parlor pinks, reds, hyphenates [Americans with divided allegiance], soft handed agriculturalists and working men who have never seen a shovel” so coming to point “Sissy Lefties”
Speaking of bigotry how could we forget another hero of Mr Hamdani , Richard Nixon , who using the same bigoted and sexist line , used this during Senate campaign against Helen Douglas , its one of the most infamous usage of this word “She is Pink right Down to her underwear”. The term was used most frequently during the worse times of United State History known as “The Red Scare” and McCarthy Era” where many Pinkos were tortured, killed, their lives ruined. Ku Klux Klan burned many long haired pinko sissies who stood up for Black Rights
The great Term was also being used In Apartheid South Africa, the ANC after all was “commie” and “Pinko” How many “Pinkos” were murdered and tortured there I leave it to you.
The real assault on the “Pink” happened in Germany with Homosexuals being killed en mass during Holocaust .They were asked to wear “Pink Triangles” to assert their “homosexuality” and “sissy-ness”.
Now let’s come to “Paki”. The great Pakistani “Patriot” Mr Hamdani uses this overtly “Racist” word. “Paki” has been declared by courts in UK to be “racist”. Just 2 days back Prince Harry made a public apology for using this term. Yahoo News says:
“LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s Prince Harry apologised Sunday for any offence caused after a self-filmed video was released showing him calling an army colleague a “Paki“ and telling another he looked like a “raghead”. Politicians condemned his remarks and welcomed his apology, but Muslim youth organisation the Ramadan Foundation said the comments were “sickening”. The Ministry of Defence said it would not tolerate “inappropriate behaviour” and Harry’s commanding officer would look into his remarks. Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper said the clips, posted on its website, were made in 2006 when the prince was still an officer cadet. footage begins as Harry is waiting with his platoon in an airport departure lounge for a flight to a training exercise in Cyprus. Touring the room with a video camera as his colleagues snooze, he spots a colleague of South Asian ethnic origin and says: “Anybody else around here?… Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed.“”Paki” is a racist term for Pakistanis or other South Asians.
Harry’s office issued an apology, but insisted the prince had used the term without malice. “Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause,” a spokesman said. Cabinet minister John Denham condemned Harry’s language, saying: “People have changed their attitudes, people realise how offensive it is and I think the fact he has apologised so quickly shows that he’s recognised it.” David Cameron, leader of the main opposition Conservatives, said Harry’s comments were “completely unacceptable” and it was “right” he had apologised, but did not call for him to be reprimanded” Sun, 11 Jan, 2009
This is the normal response to “bigotry” which I feel PTH has failed to show. What I want to remind here is all this fuss is created in UK where this remark “Paki” was uttered by Prince Harry for a friend in a situation which could be dismissed as a “joke”. Prince also pretends to call Queen in the video. But all this was not enough to let him off the hook. What is more important is that all this “did not happen because the person who was called “Paki” complained. He never did. He never was offended. This is also not about “discrimination” because the person who was called “Paki” was a cadet at Sandhurst academy, he Mr Ahmad Raza Khan was Prince Harry’s colleague and friend and was one of the best cadets and was presented with “Overseas Sword” by Queen Elizabeth herself in 2006 for being the best cadet. So there was no question of “legal discrimination”, even than British Society forced Prince Harry to apologize publicly. It was all about Language.
I don’t want to go into the academic merits of Mr Hamdani’s article and his Gandhi bashing. What I find ironic is a man who builds this case on the premise that Gandhi was a “sexist”, “Racist” “fascist” and “castist” thus masking his bigotry and communalism in Liberal ethos and impeccable English will use terminology as overtly sexist, racist and homophobic as “Pinkos” and “Paki”?? The most outrageous part is the nauseously sexist assault on “free thinker”, Knowing very well “freethinke’s” views on Gender and sexuality [His blog] and also knowing “free thinker” is a boy , even than he writes “Freethinker wants to prove “himself/herself” a freethinker” This “him/her shit goes on. Now my dear friend he has seen “freethinker’s” blog, he knows where he is hitting. Freethinker , my self and many others consider the essentialist notion of Gender a very oppressive social construct. The modern discipline of Gender theory is based on this concept. The whole discipline is of course of “pinkos”, feminists n faggots. Its no wonder the traditional Vanguard of all reaction in west Pope Benedict had recently condemned the whole academic discipline of Gender theory. It all may sound not very appealing to you but my dear friend people like us who grew up struggling with issues of gender and sexuality, who have been bullied at schools for being “sissy” and “fags” pushed to the point of suicide and nervous break down this is the matter of our life and death our freedom and liberty. What respectability English language grants to bigotry. This “Pinkos” and “Paki” , “Him/Her” is not very different to us than “Hijra”, “khusra” etc. Cant our ideas be vehemently criticized without judging us for who we sleep with, how we talk and walk and do we wear lipstick? I asked Mr Omair Raza to write for PTH, I was under impression that discussions will be on issues and ideas and not on our race, religion, gender and sexuality.
With this sort of bigotry being allowed what happens that we loose our intellectual freedom, let me give you an example. The techniques by which Mr Gandhi becomes “castist”, “sexists”,” fascist” and “racist” , every known man in history could be shown to be. I for example if uses this methodology could write about Voltaire being racist. If Hindu nationalists want to write on PTH about Prophet of Islam, with respect to Islam and Woman emancipation and sexuality, we all know the age of Hazrat Ayesha mentioned in reputed Islamic texts when the marriage was consumed. Jesus can be demonstrated to be a virulent racist and hate mongerer . What moral justification we have to “control” this hate speech and not control one which favors Pakistani muslim stra8 guy’s bigotry against other marginalized groups??
What should I expect after my post on Homosexuality at PTH that a fellow writer writes “Brownies for Commie Fagot”??
There is a responsibility to protect marginalized groups at work place, clubs etc United Nations has recently passed a resolution to end discrimination against Homosexuals and Transgender people. Criticism and racist –sexist slandering are two very different things. I have been taught to stand up to and oppose bigotry and that I will do. I only expected that PTH editorial policy would have followed normal protective mechanisms against racist and sexist offenses. If PTH chooses to keep allowing racist/sexist and derogatory language in general especially to be used by Writers against fellow writers merely for intellectual difference, I will be forced to consider it as “Abuse” and in that case will not be able to keep associating my self with PTH. My mother taught me that one can criticize Malcom X’s violence without calling him “Nigger” and I think our views can be criticized without us being “Pinkos” “Pakis” and “commies”
I am sure you will understand my pain. At the personal level I am feeling very uneasy after writing this knowing that you personally are not for all this, I want to apologize for any pain and letdown my letter may have caused you. But Raza I will be not be a party to Abuse.
I am waiting for your reply and action. I thank you and Pak Tea House for giving me chance to write and for grooming my thought. For that I will always be in debt.