An Investigation Into Hypocritical Activism In Modern Age

To make a long history short, the scale balances. In different eras, different groups have risen to power, indulged in systematic exploitation

‘There is no sort of the wrong deed of which a man can bear the punishment alone; you can’t isolate yourself and say that the evil that is in you shall not spread.’ George Eliot

The philosophy of identity is a longstanding branch teeming with unanswered questions, as is the case with most philosophical pondering; whether it is the body that results in personhood or one’s memory and personal understanding of who one was and is.

In contemporary terms and plainly put, too, identity is that part of one which one feels strongly about.

Defined by ‘labels’, identity is that which one calls oneself in solitude and who one sees in the mirror when the second pair of eyes isn’t looking; ranging from financial class, race, sex, gender expression, sexual orientation, body image, political or religious affiliation and faith, nationality, profession (present or aspiring) and personal relationships, even, only to name a few.

Of these and many more possibilities of what can define a person, the prioritizing is based in part upon natural disposition, in part upon how one is brought up and the labels of one’s caretakers, in part upon friends and acquaintances, in part upon personal history or the lack thereof (known as systematic erasure) and media representation or the lack thereof.

That humanity has proven time and again to be animal and has inflicted pain and suffering upon itself from the beginning of recorded history cannot be denied by theists and atheists alike, though why this is the case is always answered differently by the two groups.

There is even sufficient proof to extrapolate this graph back into primitive times and suspect that if it wasn’t for the absolute need for cooperation between the many groups of early homo-sapiens, humanity would not have taken so long to display what seems like an innate vile nature.

Not only would it be a long and taxing task to list all the atrocities that one of the aforementioned groups has inflicted on a fellow group to push it below the line of social equality, but it would also be unnecessary because much of political and sociological literature has been dedicated to it that is easily accessible.

To make a long history short, the scale balances. In different eras, different groups have risen to power, indulged in systematic exploitation, in a turn of events have been pushed into the obscurity of discrimination themselves and the wheel turns.

There are, then, exceptions to the rule. Race: a black man has been a white man’s slave and never experienced a turn of events (not that it would be morally desirable).

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Sex: women were second class citizens from Ancient Greece up until only about a hundred years back and continue to experience a wage gap with no relief through a turn of events (also not morally desirable).

The purpose of this article is not to raise a debate about the nature of any group’s systematic oppression.

Consider the classic moral quandary. There are ten workers on one railway track and one on the other and a train must travel upon one of them. Most people almost immediately kill a solitary worker.

Now imagine this; you, an adult, male, Muslim person of color have to choose between a single worker with the exact social identity as yours and ten white, male, Catholic workers.

Once you have chosen an answer, consider personally knowing the singular worker while the ten workers are strangers to you, irrespective of identity.

The way our answer deflects between these three questions dictates our moral compass, keeping in mind the external variable that the particular labels of sex, religion, and race, are ones we strongly identify with.

Our natural sympathies lie unapologetically and subconsciously with people we love, know, identify with; in that order; consequently, so does our activism.

However, ‘natural’ is not unavoidable (after having witnessed this exact argument being used to oppress minority groups like the LGBTQ+ community, one expects the awareness of nuance or everything reduces down to a one-size-fits-all pair of jeans with a 26-inch waist size in the ‘inclusive’ section of clothing).

Empathy can be cultivated and should be, or bystander apathy becomes a social norm. A few questions of morality arise here: as a biological race, have we fallen to the despair of grouping and quantifying fatal oppression, and if we don’t, do we invalidate the anger of those who have been wronged more thoroughly?

Is it reasonable or even possible to expect empathy from an already oppressed group for another minority they cannot feel strongly enough about? The issue is that history is written by the oppressors so we lack the objective evidence to catalyze an ‘eye for an eye’ movement; and when the law fails the people, what ensues is pandemonium and a further misbalancing of the scale, so to speak.

This is, historically speaking, characteristic of nationalistic movements and religious groups (Read Alert: God is not great by Christopher Hitchens) while racial, gender-based, and sexual minorities seek total equality of rights and opportunities, though often misinterpreted and even misrepresented by certain members of the group that are conveniently assumed to be the whole.

This is also interesting because it is the former minorities that have tasted power at some point in history while the latter minorities continue to fight for basic equality.

The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is rather nuanced because present anger within minorities stems less from historical oppression and more due to the present atrocities inflicted upon them and as long as these wrongs are being turned to rights formally, their anger is not invalidated and these groups are willing to let go of past oppression.

People of color, especially black people, do not want revenge, they are fighting for equality.

The Feminist Movement is not a misandrist scheme, it is the march to total equality. Muslims in Syria, Kashmir, or China, like the LGBTQ+ community, do not want murder for murder, they want the right to live.

To make claims of being a balanced activist from the comfort of a home under the roof of privilege is not commendable.

And this is exactly why it is grossly unjust for activists, sitting in the comfort of their houses in front of luminescent screens or with their family over a plate of biscuits, to actively condemn one thing and not the other.

Expecting the same from an oppressed group would be unjust because one naturally cares more about the clan one belongs to, especially in the throes of severe oppression.

And then, what would be, in the true sense, activism? We have presented two clear cut choices. One would be to maintain a myopic and sorely concentrated focus upon the social groups one belongs to.

When related to the aforementioned moral quandary, this is the one that makes the most sense in accordance with the most frequent answers.

Often the example I think of is that of one’s own child in a class of thirty children. One is fully cognizant of one’s own child’s progress, report cards and typically comparing one child to another is considered bad parenting.

Similarly, in this case, one must strive to direct one’s activism proportionately to the good and the bad ensued by the social groups one identifies with, whether it be on itself or other social groups.

With this approach, it will also be essential to completely disregard the ‘gratefulness principle’; to always strive and achieve unrealistic gratefulness by comparing our wins to the shortcomings of the ‘other’ or any other way, for that matter.

This type of activism only compares the group to itself and plots a graph of personal progress.

On the other hand, if we choose to actively speak of issues in a global context, which would make more sense in the persistently expanding global village we live in, it is essential to look at the progress, help extended or atrocities inflicted by the ‘other’ as objectively as we look at our own identities.

Our victories cannot be disproportionately celebrated and theirs cannot be taken as a given or as blood money for any amount of historical oppression.

Our wrongs cannot be ignored or excused any more than can be that of the ‘other’. A step in the right direction is always just that and if it seems like theirs is smaller when in fact it is quantifiably just one standard step, that there is hypocrisy.

Activism is not proportionate to historical oppression, though that may catalyze it, it is done in accordance with present problems because its purpose is to raise a voice in the favor of a substantial change.

To relate anecdotally, I have been told that a woman got incensed at a man opening a door for her when I talked of a documentary recording female suffrage and the fight for the right to vote to effectively explain how misandry is thriving just as is misogyny.

I have been told that Muslims are dying in Kashmir when I have talked about forced conversions, abductions, and rape inflicted on the Hindu minority in Sindh, Pakistan.

Apparently, up and coming trillionaire, Jeff Bezos, at least gave something substantial to the world, even if it was at the cost of his workers urinating in bottles for the sake of efficiency.

Apparently, all lives matter even if it is only a black neighborhood that is one fire, by all means, throw buckets of water all over the world.

I have also been told it is not politically viable for us to speak of what seems like a second holocaust being enforced on the Muslims of China, which is also interesting because it conveys how little care there is for Muslims or humans, for that matter, and how much of it is a fixed personal policy.

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I am also told all these things with absolutely no mention of the issue of racial and provincial minorities in Balochistan or the Pakhtun Movement or the LGBTQ+ community which all seem to essentially not exist.

When one indulges in such selective activism and ignorance, expecting to be taken seriously when talking about what one feels strongly about is ridiculous.

Activism is love that has learned how to fight and is easier now than ever before, with the rise of social media and information at our fingertips.

A child dying is a child dying whether it be in the arms of a black woman, in the lap of a Kashmiri wrapped in her chaadar, in the body of a girl child, in a gay support group; a child dying is a child dying and if it seems otherwise, it is time to realign vision.

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