Sunday, February 20, 2011

An American's "imperialistic arrogance" in the streets of Pakistan

The behavior of Rayomnd Davis in Lahore, the more we know about it, looks obviously like what someone has called "imperialistic arrogance." The American government should apologize and Davis should be tried in a Pakistani court for shooting two Pakistanis in the back in cold blood on the street in Lahore [see details in the Guardian as indicated below].

One sad element of the affair is that the Pakistanis still retain the old resentments for the way the peoples of South Asia were exploited by the British for generations, even up until 1947, to the last minute before "independence." The Americans, blithely indifferent to that history, have taken over the role of hegemon in South Asia and accordingly have received some of the sentimental baggage associated with the British. So the rash killing of Pakistanis by an American outrages the Pakistanis. They are right to demand that Davis be tried for murder.

Of course the Pakistanis, famous for the conspiracies they worry about, have no doubt that Davis was CIA. The Guardian newspaper, however, has no such inclination, and it reports that by all appearances Davis was CIA. This is not Pakistani paranoia; it appears to be true. Read the Guardian's report in the two articles below.

It's hard for us Americans to own up to the abuses our empire has been guilty of. The Germans and Japanese should have apologized, we assume; also the British for abuses in many parts of its empire; also, now, the governments of Egypt and Iran and elsewhere who have gunned down their own people. But we see ourselves as the good guys. Our programs aim to improve, deliver, heal. I believe some of the American sponsored programs have indeed been valuable and in any case good-intentioned, but some activities by our government reflect a general indifference to the feelings and attitudes of the folks in other countries.

We should apologize. For what it's worth, to the Pakistani people I apologize. I'm sorry and ashamed for the behavior of one of my countrymen; as far as I know, he behaved cruelly and brutally. His behavior does not represent my feelings toward the Pakistani people or the feelings of most Americans I know.

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