Sunday, November 21, 2004

Patriotism and Objectivity

The Daily Star has done it again! Some time in October, I stumbled across a "Letter to the Editor" on the main page of the Daily Star, a newspaper I check daily (except during Eid, because, hear this, the newspaper stops publishing during Eid! Wow, only in Bangladesh).

In this very interesting "Letter to the Editor," a man laments the "international conspiracies" hatched against Bangladesh, one such accusation levelled at Bangladesh that basically says Bangladesh is "Asia's most dysfunctional country." I believe he was referring to Time magazine's infamous article, "State of Disgrace." Although, I think the article was a bit harsh, I think it hits the mark close enough.

Rather vexed by the argument that patriotism dictates being blinded to realities that may be harsh, I wrote a reply, which I thought never got published. But apparently, it did, and I discovered it in the Daily Star's archives just tonight! Almost a month after they published it!

"In response to Md Shahidul Islam's letter to the Editor on 27 October, I couldn't help but chip in my opinion on this matter of patriotism and reality.

"I believe the common man should make it a point not to believe in "conspiracies" like the "international conspiracies" Md. Shahidul Islam quotes to "stop [Bangladesh's] progress." It is extremely naive to think that in this world, with problems as deep as looming water shortages, global warming, energy crises, genocide and wars initiated for purely political and economic ends, anybody would care about a small country in South Asia that most people have never heard of. It is indeed true that truth is stranger than fiction, and on most occasions, conspiracies are very easily mistaken for stupidity. The two are divided by a very fine line. The harsh reality about Bangladesh is that nobody really cares what happens in this far corner of the world, and no international conspiracy is out to get us. Disregarding the vast majority of our politicians that come from the lowest crust of our society and academy, if notable intellectuals say something, it's time to listen. If intellectuals say Bangladesh is a den of terrorism, it's time to give the situation a look.

"People, however learned, are always subject to their ego [sic], and it is possible that some intellectuals are known for their verbosity and over-emphasis, the academic equivalent of making a mountain out of a mole hill. As such, I would agree that to say Bangladesh is a den of terrorism like, say, Afghanistan was, is libellous. But to say that our patriotism dictates that such a claim, or any other claim that potentially reflects on our nation negatively, is an international conspiracy to hamper the progress of a fledgling, immature democracy, is no less than sheer denial.

"The fact that our bureaucracy is viciously corrupt is undeniable. Whether we are the world's most corrupt is debatable, but the fact that corruption is a part of life is as true as the sun rises from the East.

"To be patriotic is admirable. To be blind to your own mistakes is blameworthy and will harm nobody but yourself."

In response to my response, another fellow wrote a Letter to the Editor.

Maybe I should write a reply.

So much for my Blog Hiatus.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Tech Support Generation

"Next week, millions of college students and young professionals will head home for the [...] holidays. We’ll sit with our families in warm, [...] dining rooms [...], reminiscing over old photographs, [...] and … Please. Let’s be frank. We are going home to fix our parents' computers."

"We are the Tech-Support Generation. Our job is to troubleshoot the complex but imperfect technology that befuddle mom and dad, veterans of the rotary phone, the record player and the black-and-white cabinet television set."

"For our parents, the lingo is foreign and indecipherable. IP address? Why should they even have to know what that means? The worst part is that they know it should and can work—if they can just crack the alien code. When they can’t get it to work, they make preposterous compromises they never would accept with a new car or household appliance."

Story of my life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Blog Hiatus

I'm on Blog Hiatus until the 27th of November.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Sheikh Zayed Expires

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'oon.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, 33-year ruler of the United Arab Emirates, my birthplace, passed away yesterday.

Whatever the merits or demerits of his rule, this unlettered Yemeni has made his mark in history.


About Me

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I write essays in my spare time on things that are important to me. The ones that I feel are any good, or make any sense, I put them up here. :)