Adonis Diaries

Archive for July 24th, 2013

Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, simply because she wanted to gain an education, it sent shockwaves around the world.

The Western media quickly took up the issue.  Western politicians spoke out and soon Malata was whisked to the UK.

The way in which the West reacted did make me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala’s case was taken up and not so many others.

Assed Baig posted this July 13, 2013:

“There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education. There is however a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

Is this a story of a native girl being saved by the white man? 

Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation.  It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized.

Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case.  The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armor to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations, the preemptive wars… all seem justified now: “See? We told you, this is why we intervene to save the natives.”

The truth is that there are thousands of other Malalas.  They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world.

Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt also known as the white man’s burden.

Gordon Brown stood at the UN and spoke words in support for Malala. And yet, he is the very same Gordon Brown that voted for the war in Iraq that not only robbed people of their education but of their lives.

The same journalists that failed to question or report on the Western wars in an intelligible manner now sing the praises of the West as they back Malala and her campaign without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan.

Malala’s message is true, it is profound, it is something the world needs to take note of; education is a right of every child…

Malala has been used as a tool by the West.  It allows countries like Britain to hide their sins in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It allows journalists to report a feel good story whilst they neglect so many others, like the American drone strikes that terrorize men, women and children in Pakistan’s border regions.

The current narrative continues the demonization of the non-white Muslim man.  Painting him as a savage, someone beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is to wage war, occupy and use drones against them.

NATO is bombing to save girls like Malala is the message.

Historically the West has always used women to justify the actions of war mongering men.  It is in the imagery, it is in art, in education, it is even prevalent in Western human rights organisations, Amnesty International’s poster campaign coinciding with the NATO summit in New York encouraged NATO to ‘keep the progress going!’ in Afghanistan.

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were also shot along with Malala, the media and politicians seem to have forgotten about them.

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi – how many of the Western politicians and journalists know about this name?  She was the 14-year-old girl gang raped by five US soldiers, then her and her family, including her 6-year-old sister were murdered.  There are no days named after her, no mentions of her at the UN, and we don’t see Gordon Brown pledging his name to her cause.

I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of Western politicians and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused.

Malala is the good native, she does not criticize the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native.

The Western savior complex has hijacked Malala’s message.

The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have.  The West has denied more girls an education via their missiles than the Taliban has by their bullets.  The West has done more against education around the world than extremists could ever dream of.

So, please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala.

Follow Assed Baig on Twitter: www.twitter.com/assedbaig

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder…Diagnosis of grieving Human

The news that 11% of school-age children now receive a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — some 6.4 million — give the chill.

Ted Gup, an author and fellow of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, published this April 2, 2013

“My son David was one of those who received that diagnosis.

In his case, he was in the first grade.

Indeed, there were psychiatrists who prescribed medication for him even before they met him.

One psychiatrist said he would not even see him until he was medicated.

For a year I refused to fill the prescription at the pharmacy. Finally, I relented. And so David went on Ritalin, then Adderall, and other drugs that were said to be helpful in combating the condition.

In another age, David might have been called “rambunctious.” His battery was a little too large for his body. And so he would leap over the couch, spring to reach the ceiling and show an exuberance for life that came in brilliant microbursts.

As a 21-year-old college senior, he was found on the floor of his room, dead from a fatal mix of alcohol and drugs.

The date was Oct. 18, 2011.

No one made my son take the heroin and alcohol, and yet I cannot help but hold myself and others to account.

I had unknowingly colluded with a system that devalues talking therapy and rushes to medicate, inadvertently sending a message that self-medication, too, is perfectly acceptable.

My son was no angel (though he was to us) and he was known to trade in Adderall, to create a submarket in the drug among his classmates who were themselves all too eager to get their hands on it.

What he did cannot be excused, but it should be understood.

What he did was to create a market that perfectly mirrored the society in which he grew up, a culture where Big Pharma itself prospers from the off-label uses of drugs, often not tested in children and not approved for the many uses to which they are put.

And so a generation of students, raised in an environment that encourages medication, are emulating the professionals by using drugs in the classroom as performance enhancers.

And we wonder why it is that they use drugs with such abandon. As all parents learn, and to their chagrin, our children go to school not only in the classroom but also at home, and the culture they construct for themselves as teenagers and young adults is but a tiny village imitating that to which they were introduced as children.

The issue of permissive drug use and over-diagnosis goes well beyond hyperactivity.

In May, the American Psychiatric Association will publish its D.S.M. 5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

This voluminous book is called the bible of the profession.

Its latest iteration, like those before, is not merely a window on the profession but on the culture it serves, both reflecting and shaping societal norms. (For instance, until the 1970s, it categorized homosexuality as a mental illness.)

One of the new, more controversial provisions expands depression to include some forms of grief. On its face it makes sense.

The grieving often display all the common indicators of depression loss of interest in life, loss of appetite, irregular sleep patterns, low functionality, etc. But as others have observed, those same symptoms are the very hallmarks of grief itself.

Ours is an age in which the airwaves and media are one large drug emporium that claims to fix everything from sleep to sex.

I fear that being human is itself fast becoming a condition. It’s as if we are trying to contain grief, and the absolute pain of a loss like mine.

We have become increasingly disassociated and estranged from the patterns of life and death, uncomfortable with the messiness of our own humanity, aging and, ultimately, mortality.

Challenge and hardship have become pathologized and monetized.

Instead of enhancing our coping skills, we undermine them and seek shortcuts where there are none, eroding the resilience upon which each of us, at some point in our lives, must rely. Diagnosing grief as a part of depression runs the very real risk of delegitimizing that which is most human — the bonds of our love and attachment to one another.

The new entry in the D.S.M. cannot tame grief by giving it a name or a subsection, nor render it less frightening or more manageable.

The D.S.M. would do well to recognize that a broken heart is not a medical condition, and that medication is ill-suited to repair some tears.

Time does not heal all wounds, closure is a fiction, and so too is the notion that God never asks of us more than we can bear.

Enduring the unbearable is sometimes exactly what life asks of us.

But there is a sweetness even to the intensity of this pain I feel. It is the thing that holds me still to my son.

And yes, there is a balm even in the pain. I shall let it go when it is time, without reference to the D.S.M., and without the aid of a pill.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on April 3, 2013, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Diagnosis: Human.
Note: And billion of people go hungry, suffer malnutrition…and die of curable diseases before the age of 5.

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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