Saturday, March 20, 2010

Stereotypes, Double Standards, Judgments

~ If I were to write a novel and have one of my Pashtun characters a beast who abused his wife/sisters/daughters, I expect to be slain for having done so, since it’ll make many Pashtuns think that I’m letting this ONE character be the representative of ALL Pashtuns.

~ If I were to write a novel and had one Pashtun character in it who was a nationalist and agreed that Pashtuns need independence from Pakistan or need to re-unite with Afghanistan, the non-nationalist and the anti-nationalist Pashtuns WILL insult the hell out of me because, they’d claim, “Pashtuns are NOT nationalists! We love Pakistan! This is our home!”

In their minds, I’d be representing ALL Pashtuns with just *one* character. In their minds, that ONE character and her/his experiences, beliefs, behavior, etc. will be an expression of the beliefs/experiences/behavior of ALL Pukhtuns. It might not cross their minds that each individual has her/his OWN story to tell. I have a million to tell, many from experiences, some from observations, and others from imagination. Why should I be condemned for telling ANY story at all?

~ If I decided to make one of my characters a Quran teacher, or a mullah, who molests little children (girls and/or boys), the entire MUSLIM World will rise up against me upon reading them. Why? Because they’ll see it as my attempt to bash Islam, to show that “*All* Mullahs molest boys and girls, that all Quran teachers are disgusting people,” etc. And I may not have that intention: I may only be trying to show parents that, look, folks, don’t trust your mullah too much; just because he’s SUPPOSED to be pious and good doesn’t mean he’s any more trustworthy than any other man.

Never mind that those scenarios/stories will be based on FACTS, direct observations – I HAVE been a witness to molestation/rape crimes committed by Quran teachers. But how dare I say this out loud in a Muslim community, right?[B]

~ If I decide to narrate the events of the recent war in Swat – and the Taliban were BEYOND brutal, mind you; it won’t be exaggeration at all – I BET you Pashtuns will get angry that “Pashtuns don’t do this!” or those who support the Taliban still (if any at all) will say, “She exaggerated; the Taliban aren’t THIS bad.”

~ If I describe what the Pakistani army did to our women – including elderly women – in Swat and base it ENTIRELY on the circumstances that flooded on my relatives and other people I know/knew, the Pakistan-lovers (whether Pashtuns or not) and many Muslims in general will say, “OMG! How DARE she! Pakistanis are MUSLIMS, and Islam doesn't ALLOW for that! They RESPECT women! The army was in Swat to HELP Pukhtuns, not to humiliate their women! Eff this author; she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She just wants to give a bad name to Muslims and Pakistanis!”

And my response will be: “Say that to the Pukhtuns whose families have been demoralized by the PK army.”

And the readers will say, “But not ALL of the soldiers were bad! Only SOME!”

And I’ll say, “I didn’t say ALL of the soldiers were bad; I only showed the reality that there were disrespectful soldiers with no sense of humanity, pretty much just as bad as the Taliban.”

Yet, when we go around bashing American soldiers for what they’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, we get all happy and say, “YES! They’re HORRIBLE people! Kill them all!” Do we not realize that there actually DO exist some who are decent humans, who REALLY care about humanity?

~ If, in my novel, I included a Punjabi character who had no respect for, say, his mother, I BET you none of us here will stand up and say, “Hey, that’s not true! Some Punjabis DO respect their mothers, okay? In fact, they respect them so much that they’re willing to divorce their wives if their mothers say so!”

It might not cross the readers’ minds that I have NO attempt of allowing this character to be the representative of all Punjabis.

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