Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ethan Casey's Orientalism

The Huffington Post blogger Ethan Casey has been living in Pakistan and writing articles defending them for quite some time. He doesn't hesitate to viciously attack Americans, including making offensive comparisons between tragedies here in America (but more about that later). In other words, he's a perfect Huffington Post blogger. His latest article is just the most prominent example of whitewashing Pakistan's flaws, so you'll have to excuse me if we take a second outside of our usual topics here on HPM.

He starts by talking about a recent anti-Christian rampage in Lahore, Pakistan. He admits he does not "know much" about the background information, but proceeds to write about it anyway. He says that Americans only have negative views about Pakistan because of what the media shows them:
"But when what they see on TV is Muslim Pakistanis burning crosses in a Christian neighborhood, it makes it even harder than usual for me and other friends of Pakistan to make a case."
Yes, Ethan, I'm sure that 120 people that were put in the hospital with burns are very upset that your pro-Pakistan case has become so much harder. Maybe you can get the 100 families who lost their homes to sign a letter that you drafted saying Pakistan is actually a wonderful place where everyone gets along. Which, despite all evidence to contrary, is what Casey actually believes. Notice the attempted deflection his next point, which come right after he says people shouldn't do that:
"As an American, I feel shamed by the ways that my society mistreats Muslims here. By exactly the same token, Pakistan and all Pakistanis are shamed by mistreatment of Christians in Pakistan."
What a newbie mistake, as we would say on the Internet. Ethan Casey, do you really believe that all Pakistanis don't approve of mistreatment of Christians in their own country? What does the word "all" mean? If you really think that all Pakistanis are shamed by this, then who are the people mistreating Christians in Pakistan? Martians? Australians? Nigerians? No, they are Pakistanis, because Pakistan is where it is happening. So Casey is either a lazy writer, or has his head buried firmly in the sand.

Let me add, before we go any further, that it's not like only Christians get mistreated in Pakistan. Hindus are treated like crap, there are blasphemy laws so atheists are out, there were 150 acid attacks in 2011, and a radical section of the Muslim community will rampage about any number of things including Youtube videos and Danish cartoons. So you can whine about the television all you like, but when people think of radical Islam they think of Pakistan precisely because there is a lot of radical Muslims who live there. The facts don't lie and if you want to make your case you have to use them.

After coming clean in his next paragraph that it's actually quite common for Pakistanis to mistreat Christians, thus undermining his point made above, Casey makes the case that it's not because of Islam. Oh no sir, Islam is the only religion in the world that is tolerant of other religions. If there's a problem with Christians, it must be because of something else. But let's let him talk:
"Islam had, and has, a very similar humanist and egalitarian appeal, which is why the persistence of essentially Hindu hierarchy and snobbishness is so jarring and distasteful when one encounters it in ostensibly Islamic Pakistan. I'm not a Muslim or any kind of expert on Islam, but I do know that if there's anything Islam is supposed to be all about, it's human dignity and equality."
Hindu snobbishness, huh? But I'm glad Casey admits that his knowledge about Islam is very limited. Because when we see Islam in practice, at least in the 21st century, human dignity and equality is the first thing to go. That isn't Islamophobia, that's legitimate criticism of the way that the so-called "Muslim nations" treat their own people. I had a lecturer from Pakistan in college, and she said a lot of people are leaving Pakistan and coming here. I guess all that human dignity and equality wasn't working out for them so well there.

At this point he goes after America (emphasis mine):
"The moral and political health of any society is expressed in how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. Muslims, as members of a group against whom many Americans blithely and wrongly consider it excusable, or even admirable, to be bigoted, are among the most vulnerable people in America today. Shame on my country for the way it treats Muslims...Some of my own friends and family have felt I've gone too far at times, particularly when I published articles titled "The Colorado Killer Is Not a Muslim" and "Newtown Is a Village in Pakistan." I stand by those articles, against my own relatives, because I want to stand up for anyone who is mistreated or misunderstood."
Moral relativism in action anyone?

New Muslim immigrants are freer in America than they are in any other country, including Europe, where they haven't exactly gotten along so well with the natives. Americans have never charged into Muslim towns and burned 100 homes to the ground, and neither for that matter have Israelis, the Huffington Post's other favorite punching bad. Christians aren't the ones committing genocide in Sudan, and they aren't the ones telling people how to behave in their own countries. Sure, there are problems of bigotry in America just like any other country. But Americans have nothing to be ashamed about in our relationships with Muslims here at home, and demanding that we should feel ashamed is nothing more or less than Orientalism. If the problem is that serious (contrary to all facts) then the Muslim community can come and speak to everyone else. Not through proxies who have an obvious agenda like Casey here or CAIR. By the way, in reality Jews are the most vulnerable people in America today, if you go by hate crime statistics. The Muslim residents of Dearborn Michigan don't seem too vulnerable to me.

As for after the ellipses, I'm just not buying what Casey is selling. He's an Islamophile, and there's nothing wrong with that. He wouldn't exploit dead innocents in Aurora and Newtown if he really cared about doing the right thing and standing up for mistreated people. Radical Islam is making the world an unsafe place right now, and whining about the "snobbishness of Hindus" (thousands of whom have been murdered I might add, and mistreated in Pakistan) and castigated America for what he justifies in Pakistan is nothing more or less than hypocrisy. Or what one might call the bigotry of soft expectations.

Good luck to Ethan Casey. I wish him all the best, and hope that he never gets to meet that radical Islam running rampant in Pakistan for himself.

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