Patriotism and nationalism, in my opinion, exist on the two ends of the same spectrum. Conventionally, patriotism is the pretty picture of nationalism. It’s more acceptable, celebrated and revered.
Nationalism, because of its historical close relationship with fascism, is a frequently boycotted concept.
But because nationalism is ugly, it’s sold under the guise of patriotism, legacy, history, tradition and heritage. That makes it very attractive and instantly sellable.
Many people do not realize when they cross over from a normal love for their country to a space where they basically are aggressively celebrating ideals.
The problem with most ideologies that have detrimental effects on a subset of the population and are upheld by the majority as a way to continue what’s considered “normal” for a region is the sheer number and vehemence of the people who follow it. This type of conviction comes at the expense of losing focus and vision. Many parallel, even worse formed, ideologies originate from the sheer mindless discussion that originates from the focus that we reserve for nationalistic themes.
Because most supremacist views are explained by the supremacists as “better”, there’s a sanctimoniousness in majority when they tell what and how something should be. This type of hyper focus causes a lot of gaslighting for the minorities and gives rise to whataboutery that doesn’t lead to meaningful conclusions of discussions.
Pakistan is seeing a rising inclination towards nationalistic tendencies. We are fast becoming a nation of patrons who define what’s right and acceptable. A group of patriarchs have been controlling the social structure, the clergy has been controlling the religious culture and now there is a group of very strident Pakistanis who have become self-proclaimed defenders of our nationalism.
Recently a video of a man circulated who had been interrogated by his boss on his proficiency of the English language. English is the official language of Pakistan. Despite many people’s best attempts Urdu has failed to gain traction with the masses, purely because of the presence of many regional languages that almost ameliorate the need for any national, unifying language.
Urdu is the language of the elite in Pakistan, whatever the social media version of this discussion may be. People are trying to make out like Urdu isn’t given enough respect and coverage but the truth is Urdu never really took roots in the prevalent culture of Pakistan. Actually Punjabi which is considered a non-language by many elite factions is spoken by more people than Urdu is. It is not taught in schools due to its adopting and borrowing Urdu script. The argument is that Punjabi doesn’t have a script. But Urdu really doesn’t come from an original script either. Urdu largely comes from Persian, Arabic and even Sanskrit. The modern day Urdu and Hindi are sister languages which have been heavily influenced due to their speakers.
The psychological inferiority complex with Urdu and why it’s not being promoted has taken a lot of precedence. We have started regarding Urdu as speak-worthy only because we feel it’s neglected. While that might be okay, Urdu inevitably is pitted against its arch rival, English.
English is creating all of this problem with the acceptance of Urdu is what many Pakistanis believe in. They call it post-colonial complex while not understanding that Urdu is a form of post-colonial complex also as it is largely only spoken and understood by economically better socioeconomic strata.
Post-colonial problems are valid but the history of Urdu’s evolution almost guarantees that this language had to see some natural fading away or merging.
While I don’t disagree with more people learning Urdu, I do disagree with pinning whataboutery with it. I have a disagreement with not identifying how Urdu has been used as a post-colonial and colonial era tool to segregate the classes, even in Pakistan.
However, keeping my grievances with zeroing in on the obvious, harping on themes that are merely detractors, following the herd aside, the furore that followed the infamous video refused to address the prevalent elitism and exclusivity that rich Pakistanis practice. We were so blinded by our love for Urdu that the sheer historical meanness of the elites of this society towards people they have in their employee was ignored. We focused on how this man was shamed for not speaking perfect English when actually in a just society where just culture is followed, we should’ve deeply analyzed why he was shamed at all.
The just culture, an organizational culture that demands looking into systems and not individuals about why mistakes happen and adverse outcomes occur, would have asked
“What happened since the inception of Pakistan that three women bullied a man for not knowing English?”
Thank you Karin
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Love love love this post
super well written
And again-love – from Germany
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