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Monday, February 6, 2023

Columns

Western humanitarianism does not include all humans


Sonny Singh/The Cougar

Last semester, a tragedy took the University and its students by storm. The dearly beloved white tailed squirrel passed away, and Cougars could not keep calm.

How could they, when their good luck charm, a campus “legend,” an “icon” and unofficial mascot had abruptly perished due to reasons unknown? This calamity had been utterly unprecedented and unexpected.

Students coped with their trauma in versatile ways ranging from decorating the memorial site to remembering the late squirrel on social media. One student started a fundraiser for a commemoration ceremony and taxidermy.

To an international student like me, it seems humanitarianism and benevolence for humans and animals runs deeply within the hearts and minds of Americans and Westerners.

At the same time, so does ignorance.

It is great that people of the West feel such grief for their deceased, especially animals, but would the squirrel have had been honored with such tribute had it been Muslim or if it had been killed in a drone attack by America, or perhaps in an invasion?

Ideally speaking, magnanimity, social consciousness, compassion and understanding should not be limited or discriminated upon. It is a harsh reality that most Westerners choose to ignore that millions of innocent, harmless civilians — including women and children — in numerous Muslim majority countries, excluding Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are butchered on a daily basis due to the decisions their democratically elected leaders make.

There has been proliferation of civilian casualties in most Muslim dominated countries that are currently going through the American-led war on terror.

For instance: In Afghanistan alone, 31,000 civilians have died in vain since 2001. In many cases, the drone attack strategists mistakenly choose the wrong location, resulting in carnage in non-combat areas, such as the December 2013 drone strike in Yemen, in which a wedding party was mistaken for Al Qaeda militants.

The list of Muslim countries that have lost magnitudes of people to invasions, occupations or drones is long and does not seem to end. Syria and Iraq, just like those other predominantly Muslim nations, have lost more civilians than extremists in this war on terror led by the United States.

This list does not even include captivity of people with no proven charges by the American military, proxy wars propelled in the pursuit of oil through provocation of sectarian violence, U.S.-motivated coups against democratically elected establishments, invasions or human rights violations.

Causing thousands of 9/11s in Muslim countries is not legitimate retribution; it is murder of innocent people who have absolutely nothing to do with September 11.

Muslim countries have to go through tragedies like 9/11 everyday and end up losing millions. The Iran-Iraq War is one such example.

Iraq alone lost a staggering 500,000 people during the Iran-Iraq War, which happened as consequence of U.S. invasion and political exploitation of the Sunni-Shia conflict.

This figure far surpasses the total number of casualties from the historically horrifying American atomic bombing in Hiroshima.

The attack on Hiroshima is considered to be one of the most violent and brutal massacres in history and still impacts the people of that area today. Yet the attacks on many preponderantly Muslim countries have casualties that far surpass even the Hiroshima bombing.

This haunting list of mass casualties in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya and many other Muslim nations continues.

So, here is a country — rather, world power — that touts peace, justice and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, yet massacres countless civilians after labeling them terrorists.

Extremists using the name of Islam and Americans calling it a war on terror; both seem to be like two sides of the same coin, not having stayed true to the alleged causes that they say they are fighting for, and instead brutally executing mass genocides while knowingly violating basic human rights.

Anatol Lieven, author of “Pakistan: A Hard Country,” described this illusion of patriotism as: “city on a hill and embattled fortress: An anatomy of American nationalism.”

As history repeats itself, it seems Agent Orange and Napalm were only the beginning of incendiary chaos that soon followed. Attitudes and decisions keep recurring through the decades, except it gets bloodier, more lawless and more inhumane each time.

American and Western attitudes of bigotry have to change. All militarily active, powerful nations, no matter how high they hold themselves in regard, should be held accountable and take responsibility for how they have impacted so many countries around the globe.

They cannot offer compensation for the damage they have done through their supposedly generous aid that comes with stipulations and makes the receiving countries even more economically dependent on the United States.

Terrorism severely hurts more Muslims than non-Muslims. In fact, some Muslim countries themselves are going through civil wars with different terrorist insurgent groups — Al Qaeda and Daesh being just two of many.

Fundamentalists, whether they are in Al Qaeda, Taliban, Daesh, Bharatiya Janta Party or the Ku Klux Klan, have no religion.

A striking similarity between all these groups is that they shamelessly subvert the law, be it Shariah law or national constitutions, then prosperously claim to be ambassadors and scholars of religious beliefs and jurisprudence.

Terrorism should be recognized for what it is: Godless.

The world needs to not just realize but acknowledge that not all Muslims are radicals, just like how not all Americans and Westerners are invidious. At the end of the day, world citizens share a mutual agenda of peace. A life lost in vain is an unjustifiable murder, regardless of any faction.

Mass negligence, inequity and insensitivity have to end.

Iqraa Bukhari is a print journalism sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]

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