Jan 30, 2021

hegemony and the Hazara state of survival

The relationship of the Hazara people and the Afghanistan's state has always been a historical hegemonic relationship. Historically it has been the Pashtuns (and to some degree the Tajiks) as superior tribe ruling the country. Not the class, not the political party, but a tribe. The Hazaras have been scapegoats  for various problems that the state faced. As a result, they have become the primary targets of systematic persecutions, which has historically created a lingering hegemonic force that can be exerted against the Hazaras at any given time.

Let me contextual this historical hegemony. Recently, the Afghan central government deployed security forces to Behsud district, in Wardak province, to ostensibly quell the unlawfulness there, which is controlled by locals. The locals have armed themselves against the onslaught of the Taliban and to prevent their advance towards Bamiyan and the Hazarajat.

Yesterday, the government forces opened fire on civilians who were gathered in a local Bazaar to inquire why these forces were there. According to BBC, the government forces killed 9 civilians and injured dozens of others. Different sources indicate that at least 10 people are killed and 28 others are wounded. The government, simultaneously has shut down the telecommunication system, so that the locals can't report what is happening there.

We know that the Taliban has kneeled on the neck of Ashraf Ghani's government and it is gasping its last breath. And we know that sooner than later this government is gone and there will be an interim government installed. This is what the international communities that support the Afghan government has already decided. So, the end of this government is imminent.

What can the Hazaras do at this critical moment in order to end the government's onslaught? The Hazara leaders and elders should call on the Hazara men and women, who serve in the army and are now in the battlefield against the Taliban, to come home.

Jan 27, 2021

farewell my mtb

ah I'm missing my rad mountain bike. Rad is a term commonly used by mountain bikers, I like it a lot, especially if you constantly use it, like a rad ride, a rad bike, a rad drop, it does not only vigorously boast your self-assurance but also indexes something else, that you are a professional rider and close to others of that ilk. Another telling indicator is that you have successfully fetishized your bike so much so that you talk about it in a manner that no other can relate. Yeah, that's a bit of me, when I'm on the trail or descending down the hills. Anyway, I sold this rad icon but now I'm having a compulsive urge to buy another one. I'm thinking of Santa Cruz or Yeti. 

Jan 16, 2021

Iranian flag at pro-Trump rally

I just read a great piece by Sonja Thomas explaining about the presence of the Indian flag at the capitol riots. It's confusingly fascinating to see that among the sea of flags at pro-Trump rally on January 6th, there were flags of many other nations. I noticed an Iranian flag of the pre-Islamic Revolution monarchy with a lion holding a sword waving among the crowd, and signs that repeatedly read "we love you," "#Iranians for Trump," and "stop the steal." There is an article about it here

Trump supporters hold a sign that says: "Iranians for Trump" (MEE/Ali Harb)
Iranians of pre-1979 Iranian revolution have strong feelings about their particular history that can be traced in their support of Trump and his policies against Iran. As far as I have been following the US politics, this particular group has always supported conservatives and their policies. They ideally think Trump aggressive policies may cause the current Islamic regime to collapse and the monarchy get restored, so that they can go back, but it seems that is unlikely to happen, at least now and perhaps, in the near future. But as a minority, their presence at this dangerous rally and their support of far-right groups, may hunt them in the future.

Jan 14, 2021

The semantics of racial slurs in Afghanistan

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on my Farsi blog about my experience with racial discrimination and racial prejudice in Afghanistan and today, I thought I should start writing a few posts about the semantics of ethnic slurs that Pashtuns, Tajiks, and even Sayyids, who are Shias and look like Hazaras, commonly use against the Hazara people. Here is one of the most popular racial slurs used toward the Hazaras:

"God forbid my dog to be a Hazara" (خدا سگ مره هزاره نکنه  khuda sagi mara hazara nakuna). 

Here are four common features of this racial slur:

1. Dogs are known to be loyal, friendly, and protective. Hazaras are so disloyal, unfaithful, and unfriendly that they do not deserve to be even like dogs, and as such, God has created them a different species other than humans.

2. Dogs in Islam are considered najis (Arabic word), meaning untouchable and unclean. Hazaras are so vicious, wicked, and dirty that dogs are way kosher and clean that deserve to be kept as friends but not Hazaras. They must be outcasts.

3. Dogs are animals, and Hazaras are even worse than animals. They have no culture, no religion, and no ethics, and they deserve to be annihilated. 

4. Dogs are also considered infidels. This trope is twofold. One is that Hazaras are infidels. Therefore, they are not Muslim. It has religious and historical bearings, so it is commensurate with the mainstream Sunni doctrine that the Shias are heretics. As a direct result, Hazaras have been subjected to genocide twice in history and almost 100 years apart. One was by King Abdul Rahman during the 1890s, which resulted in 60% extermination, and most recently by the Taliban between 1998 and 2001. Another meaning of this trope is that infidels (any non-Muslim) in the West keep dogs as friends. In a way, it lacks strength, but it also brings back the idea of infidelity and the dehumanizing view that the Hazaras are not part of Islam and should be dealt with like non-Muslims because, ultimately, the purpose is to deprive them of humanity and anything,, that aids this purpose is functional.

These are the four significant and important semantic features of the ethnic slur, "God forbid my dog to be a Hazara," that powerfully pervades the ordinary sense of Afghan racial discriminatory language and thinking against the Hazara people. It has a broader range of invisible but dangerous connotations beyond this blog post. I may come back to this later. 

The primary purpose of this kind of slur is to dehumanize the Hazaras, to dispossess them of their humanness, and to project or see them as less than themselves. Subsequently, what might follow would be cruelty and suffering through different means, resulting in killing Hazaras mercilessly. Based on dehumanization ideology, when you deprive someone of all human qualities, then it's easy to kill them.

Jan 12, 2021

and those for us who stammer

Many of us at some point stammer, either for a short or longer time, or often try to remember but we can't help ourselves. The repercussion is of course a multiplicity of psychological anxiety, but here's a video on the BBC website showing kids can't utter their names, a BBC journalist who experienced years of stuttering but worked her way out; a UK MP who is being ridiculed in the House; and Joe Biden who acknowledges that he has worked hard to deal with his stuttering. Also check out this video where an Irish fireman tells his story of fighting stammer stigma.

Jan 10, 2021

to speculate about targeted killings

Everyone wonders who is behind all these targeted killings in Afghanistan. No one knows the answer yet. I have been asking my journalist and pundit friends, they have no idea, and if they do, they just regurgitate what government officials have been touting. Basically, the prevalent view among the general public is that the Taliban are be behind all these attacks. The Taliban deny but if we look at the patterns of the attacks, we can see a repetition of the same tactics the Taliban have used in the past. The only difference is that they now go after every prominent figures irrespective of their political affiliation or ideological standing. 

But there are also those who argue that why the Taliban should kill people who pose no threat to them. For instance, in the past few months former journalists, activists, and not very high profile individuals have been targeted whose presence obviously considered innocuous because they were simply not very much active as they used to. Now, we can also speculate that it might be the ISIS group but that still leaves a room for doubt, specially when we consider their sectarian ideology. They generally target Hazaras because they are Shia who are considered heretics from Sunni extremists perspective.

Superficially, I think that behind these latest strings of attacks might be a criminal group but that is anachronistic and one wonder why now. My sense is that there is a parallel ultra criminal religious group forming that is ideologically not far from that of the Taliban or ISIS and it is going after those individuals who are considered liberal and socially influential. Generally these are journalists, writers and pundits. 

Jan 7, 2021

the irony of yesterday's events

In the aftermath of the attack on the capitol in Washington D.C., a lot of leaders around the world reacted, some condemned Trump for inciting the violence, while others expressed anger, horror, sorrow and sadness. In the Muslim world, the attack turned into an interesting topic of satire and reticule of Americans and their democracy. In the Arab world, people draw cartoons of the attack, they satirized and criticized the US for being hypocrite, the fact that its leadership can't deal with its own problem at home, they have no right to point fingers at others or meddle in their affairs. 

I also saw some Afghan leaders on social media expressing their concerns about the future of United States and the transition of power. They called for calm and urged Trump to respect the people's vote. I laughed at this bitter irony that Afghan leaders are now worried about the integrity of the US presidential election. It sounds like one of those April fool's jokes, but it's for real.

Jan 6, 2021

When democracy dies

Photo credit: Getty images
Today, I was watching the live session on Biden's certification of electoral college on NYT when suddenly a chaos ensued in the congress. The camera was running but the sound disappeared immediately. Lawmakers rushed to the exit doors and then suddenly the video stopped. It was sad to see what was happening at the capitol after. I used to believe that Americans are more civilized than what I saw today, but today's events changed my mind. Today's events showed that even in a civilized nation violence is inevitable and that what happens sometimes in the developing world can happen in the most democratic country like the US as well. I just looked at the international news headlines, the world laughs at the US. It's sad and full of sorrow. I feel there are some Americans who grieve and mourn their dying democracy.

Jan 3, 2021

Terror and chaos in Kabul

The Times speculates that behind the targeted killings might be some factions in addition to the Taliban. It's not clear what factions might be in point, but it is pretty clear at this point the Taliban is behind such attacks. It's possible to assume that they carry out their attacks through their third-party criminal groups but what makes the difference? It's still Taliban carrying out these attacks against innocent civilians. The claim that magnetic bombs are homemade is also questionable, at least we should cast doubt on Afghan government officials who make such claims under anonymity. How does the Afghan government know that the sticky bombs are homemade? We know that every one of those bombs are exploded so far and the question is, how did the government find out about the nature of the bombs after they blasted? The degree and magnitude of explosion of all these magnet bombs reveal that they are not homemade, they are rather imported from one of the two neighboring countries. 

Jan 2, 2021

Discovering Marx too late

For the past few weeks, I have reading Marx. To have a better understanding of his social, political, and economic theories, I visited Feuerbach and Hegel. How happy I'm for this late discovery, and how much I envy those who discovered him early in their lives, and those who read his works and understand him better. Today, I thought if had I discovered Marx 20 years ago, I would have a better understanding of the world and situation that I grew up, and the situation that I'm in now. Perhaps, my life would be different, perhaps, I would be different person.

For the past few days, I had a heavy feeling of some sort of loss, loss of time and opportunity. I told myself, alas, what opportunities that could have produced strength and ability I missed! Or opportunities that I took for granted and now I have to work hard to revive or repossess that in some sense is not too late but frankly it's late. Anyway, I feel contented to have spent the latter part of the month of December 2020 in reading Marx and understanding him a little bit.

Jan 1, 2021

reMarkable 2 pdf and ebooks review

Here is a short review of Remarkable 2. It's strictly about the reading features and how adaptable this device is to pdf and eBook files. I did not look at other features since I did not see the need. I have read a lot of good reviews but they did not mention anything about its capability of handling pdf files and eBooks. As you can see in the video, eBook files are fine but there are some issues with pdf files, especially if you want to zoom in. 

The normal view which is 100% is too small for me, so I need to increase the text size but unfortunately you can't customize the percentage of zoom in and zoom out. So you are strictly left with some preset options that you can select from, and if you do, the text goes off the edges. That means you can't pull up or pull down or pull to the right, you are stuck with 100% normal view which is really small, at least for me. 

On the other hand, you don't have issue with eBook files. It has a perfect normal view but if you zoom in or zoom out like you do on iPad, you have similar issues with pdf files, meaning text goes off the edges. It is so pricy, I paid $557 (including a marker and a sleeve case) and it took four weeks to arrive. I don't think it's worth it. I will return it and keep using my iPad for now.