Historical accounts are so mutually antagonistic, exclusive and self-serving, and yet peoples and nations invariably fail to see the crude distortions in their own versions… The popular narratives of history reduce it to vehicles of patriotism and nationalism, shamelessly extolling oneself and unabashedly deriding the other.
Part – 1
History, in its simplest definition, is the systematic study of past events. But, like beauty, it lies in the eye of the beholder. Unlike beauty, however, history not just lies in the eye of the beholder in the sense of being situated, but it also lies in the meaning of giving a false impression. The popular narratives of history reduce it to vehicles of patriotism and nationalism, shamelessly extolling oneself and unabashedly deriding the other.
For many Americans their history goes like this:
Injustice and tyranny filled this world before the American Revolution. Our founding fathers, led by George Washington, liberated us from the colonial yoke and founded this great country, a haven for all the hard-working people of the world who love freedom and democracy.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of bad guys in this world. There are some good guys too, like the British. Whenever the good guys, like, have been threatened or attacked by the bad guys, we have always, like, come to their assistance and rescued them from defeat. Of course, they are not always very grateful, like the French, but we suppose that is human nature.
The Japanese bombed us at PearlHarbour and we beat the hell out of them. We nuked them. That turned them, like, from bad guys to good guys. But now some really, really bad guys want to have the nuclear bomb too. We could, like, kick their asses if we wanted to, but our friends and their friends won’t let us. But if the bad guys insist on having the bomb, we will bomb them first.
When the Russians wanted to create an Evil Empire and overthrow our Free World, our European friends got the jitters, but we stood firm. Better red than dead, they said. Better dead than red, we declared. The Afghan Mujahideen did a good job kicking the Russians. The Evil Empire, like, self-destructed.
Now some of those Mujahideen who we helped and other Islamics hate us because of who we are: they hate our freedoms and liberties and the fact that we are the world’s only superpower. These Islamics were led by Osama bin Laden and Sad-Damn Hussain. Osama sent his suicidal hijackers to crash passenger planes into the WTC and the Pentagon, while Sad-Damn threatened us and our friends in Israel with nuclear weapons. Some say those hijackers killed themselves and others because that crazy Osama, like, promised them 72 virgins or whatever in heaven.
Boy, we beat the hell out of Osama and his Al Kaeeda. He fled, like, from his cave in Can-de-Haar and is now hiding in some mountain in Pack-is-Tan. We’ll get him, sooner or later, like we got Sad-Damn.Hussain. We liberated Eye-Rack. Sad-Damn is now facing the music in a court room. The people of Eye-Rack are now free to vote. Isn’t that wonderful? Wonder why they are not very happy with us.
Doesn’t matter. Eye-Rack’s weapons of mass destruction are no longer directed against our big cities like they were before we went in. Eye-Rack is no longer a haven, like, for the Al Kaeeda terrorists, like it was before we went in. America is safe. God bless America.
An Israeli view of history:
When God returned to us the Promised Land in 1948 we heaved a sigh of relief and thanked Him for keeping His promise. However, our enemies attacked us from all directions for nothing. We had done them no harm, taken no land, but merely returned to our ancestral homes.
A few years later, those infidels attacked us again. Helped by God, we again defeated them and regained more of the Promised Land. We returned some of it, but still they don’t let us live in peace. The Arabs are a bunch of unsophisticated, uneducated, undemocratic people who are filled with hatred against all things good. They even use their own children as human shields! They don’t love their children like we Jews do.
Their children throw stones at us, their youth fire rockets at us and some of them explode themselves in buses and restaurants killing our innocent people. They even kidnap our soldiers. Why? What have we done to them to deserve this? We just want to live in peace in the land God promised to us.
The world sits and watches as our people die, our children cry and we suffer. They hate us because we are Jews. If it was not for the help of God and our American friends, we could not survive as a people. God is our protector because we are His chosen people.
A Hindu version of Indian history reads as follows:
In the period of Ram Yug, there was peace, prosperity and harmony. The people of Bharat lived like brothers and sisters, all in one happy family. Then we made some mistakes and fell into disunity and became weak. Muslim invaders occupied our land, converted us and killed us. Then the white man came. He was a friend of the Muslims and conspired with them to partition Mother India. The British pursued the policy of “divide and rule” because they do not want India to be strong.
Even after partition they did not leave us alone. First, the Chinese communists invaded us, then the Pakistanis attacked us twice, first in 1965, then in 1971, always with total American support. Both times, we taught them a lesson they will not forget. Of course, we did not do well in the war against the Chinese. That is because we thought they were our friends and they launched a surprise attack. Some communists in our government also betrayed our country.
Our generosity knows no bounds. Our president is a Muslim, our prime minister is a Sikh and some ministers are Christians or communists. India is a secular country where everything is done to keep the minorities happy, especially the Muslims. Hindus are being converted and killed in India while Muslims have four wives and are breeding like rats. Hindus are second class citizens in their own country.
Sikhs killed our prime minister and the Muslims burned Hindus alive in trains. Of course, to every action there is a reaction. Yes, some Sikhs got killed in Delhi and some Muslims got killed in Mumbai and Gujrat. We hope they have learned the lesson. You can’t mess around with us Hindus any more.
Our Muslim and Christian population are not patriotic, they do not want India to be strong. Then there is Pakistan’s ISI. They are always looking for opportunities to hurt India, to make her weak. They take advantage of secularism and democracy, western concepts which the minorities and the West imposed on us to prevent us from becoming powerful. Gandhi and Nehru did a lot of harm to India. They always tried to appease Muslims and other minorities at the expense of the Hindus.
India should not be a secular but a Hindu state, like Nepal. That is the only way for Hindus to be safe in this country. Jai Hind.
Historical accounts are so mutually antagonistic, exclusive and self-serving, and yet peoples and nations invariably fail to see the crude distortions in their own versions
(Published in Daily Times, 19 October 2006)
Part – 2
The popular Pakistani mishmash of history is a combination of narcissism and victimitude, aided by massive distortions. It reads somewhat as follows.
Before the advent of Islam people lived miserable lives in ignorance and poverty. Fighting, banditry, rape, killing and revenge-killing were common, new-born girls were buried alive and everywhere it was the law of the jungle.
Islam completely transformed society, everyone lived happily and women got full rights. Even slaves were happy. Muslims ruled the world and made many great scientific discoveries. Famous Western scientists actually copied many things from Muslims.
After our golden period, something happened, somehow we lost our way. Our clever and devious enemies not only succeeded in seizing power from us, but they also copied our perfect socio-economic model to create just and prosperous societies in their own countries.
The Christian, Jewish and Hindu enemies of Islam succeeded in destroying, first, Muslim Spain, then the Mughal Empire and, finally, the Ottoman Caliphate, which were perfect examples of good government where everyone, even Hindus, enjoyed full rights and lived happily.
The Christian powers established a Jewish state, Israel, over a large part of Arab land called Falasteen. Millions of Jews now live there, on land seized from Muslims. Some of the Muslim countries have oil, but Western companies, guarded by American troops, take all the oil from the Muslims. Of course, this is possible because some Muslim leaders are not good, they are agents of America and Israel.
In the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, the mighty Mughal Empire made great contributions to the world, such as Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, but the British and the Hindu leaders conspired to deprive us of everything, including education. However, under the brilliant leadership of the Quaid-i-Azam, we succeeded in achieving a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent.
Of course, Pakistan was much smaller than was our due. For example, we did not get Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagarh. What is worse, Punjab was partitioned. We were also deprived of a land corridor to connect East and West Pakistan.
After independence, we failed to live up to the expectations of our great leader, deviated from the path of Islam and began to argue and fight amongst ourselves. In contrast, the Hindus across the border united (“aik platfarm per jamaa ho gai”) with the purpose of destroying our “mumlakat-e-khudadad” (god-given country).
We did make some mistakes because of our inexperience. But it was hard not to, when the entire world, Christians, Jews and Communists alike, everyone except China, were supporting Hindu India and constantly conspiring against our Islamic country.
In 1965, the enemy attacked Pakistan without a declaration of war, under the cover of darkness. Our valiant soldiers supported by our brave people, with the blessings of Allah, not only repulsed the enemy but also taught him a lesson which he will never forget.
India begged for a ceasefire and, because of international pressure, President Ayub Khan made the mistake of signing the Tashkent Declaration. Because of heavy American and Russian pressure, he was forced to return large areas of India which our courageous troops had occupied.
Our air force shot down hundreds of enemy planes during the war. As a result, the whole world recognized that Pakistani air force pilots are the best in the world. And the same is true of Pakistani commandoes. American President Reagan once said that if he could have Pakistani pilots and commandos, he could control the whole world. Our PIA pilots are also famous in many countries.
Our great Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto resigned in protest against the Tashkent Declaration and threatened to disclose its secrets. Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri died from the shock of India’s defeat. Some say he got a heart attack from joy, because he unexpectedly regained at the negotiating table what his army had lost on the battlefield. The US was Pakistan’s ally, but it secretly supported India during the war.
Being defeated on the battlefield, the wily Hindu leaders of Bharat now devised a new strategy. They began to use the Hindus of East Pakistan as well as some misguided Muslims led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for their nefarious design to break-up Pakistan. Actually, there was also a CIA plan to separate East Pakistan from Pakistan because of the latter’s friendship with China.
Anyway, in 1971, supported by both America and Russia, Indian troops again invaded our beloved country. Our troops again put up a heroic fight in both East and West Pakistan, but they were outnumbered. In East Pakistan, the enemy was supported by the Mukti Bahini, comprised of East Pakistani Hindus and some misguided Bengali Muslims. Some East Pakistanis we trusted also leaked our defence secrets to the Indians. Some people say that if Bhutto had not torn the Polish Resolution in the UN Security Council because he wanted to be President of (West) Pakistan, East Pakistan could have been saved.
But, thank God, we are now stronger than before. We even have the atom bum. Our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh are sorry for what they did and many of them would like to rejoin Pakistan, because it is a nuclear power.
We and our Afghan brothers defeated the Russian army in Afghanistan and destroyed the Soviet superpower. Some people say that if President Zia-ul-Haque had not been killed by the CIA, he would also have liberated Kashmir. Afghanistan under the Taliban government was a great Islamic country, making progress in every field.
Under Saddam Hussain, Iraq was a powerful Muslim country and not afraid of America. Saddam was a great friend of the Falasteeni people and challenged Israel. He had a strong army. But when the Americans attacked, he ordered his troops not to fight. Some people say that he was an American agent.
Afraid of Muslim unity and power, the enemies of Islam hatched this great conspiracy called 9/11. Before they destroyed the World Trade Centre, they warned all the Jews not to go to work that day. Everyone knows that not a single Jew died on 9/11. Still they blamed it on Muslims and used it as a pretext to destroy the Islamic government of Afghanistan and occupy Iraq. Pakistan is next on their list. So is Iran, because it is becoming a strong Muslim country.
But, again, unlike the Christians, Hindus and Jews, Muslims unfortunately are unable to unite on one platform. We are divided into countries and nations and within countries we are divided into groups and parties. Actually, there is a hadith that Muslims will be divided into 73 sects. It is sad but true.
Although all nations take liberties with history, the popular Pakistani account of events as summarized above is unique. And Pakistan must be the only country in the world where history itself is in danger of becoming history. As a subject of study, history is close to extinction.
Even college graduates may not know that there is such a subject as history, for it has virtually been expelled from schools and colleges. Instead, there is a compulsory subject called “Pakistan Studies”, a hodgepodge of Muslim history, Islam, civics, folklore, mythology and hagiography.
(Published in Daily Times, 2 November 2006)