Remembering to Forget

So many nations across the world have chequered histories. Their foundations rest on the annihilation of indigenous peoples eliminated supposedly because they were uncivilised or backward. In the course of time, as the new communities arrived and settled, they created a nation in their own image. Rather than there being a commemoration and remembrance of those who perished at the hands of the invaders, in some instances there is a national celebration. Nowhere is this more profound than in the United States when Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday. It is when millions of Americans roast a hormone-inflated turkey and sit around eating endlessly until their throats are gagged with processed foods combined with home-made delights.

As I sit here in my apartment on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, I look out of the window and see not a single American walking the streets, or getting in and out of taxis. America is on standstill as the everyday folk gobble away their afternoons in the company of their close kith and kin. But as I ponder this image I can only think of the indigenous Native Americans who were brutally massacred at the hands of the European invaders. Led by Christopher Columbus, who was sure he had found ‘Indians’, waves and waves of raiders brutally and systematically annihilated the indigenous people of what is today the United States of America. Left with only a tiny part of a worthless part of the Mid-West, these Native Americans have been written out of the history of this part of the world. Meanwhile, Columbus is venerated, and the tradition of giving thanks to the Lord for what has been reaped in the harvest has turned into a colossal holiday. What is worse is that tomorrow is Black Friday. All the half-witted and deranged Americans with ambitions to consume beyond their needs will be literally crushing each other to death to get their hands on useless items that have no productive value.

These two days of soul-crushing observations are of a society that once was regarded as having the best of education, research, technology and science. It is now merely reduced to mythological fabrications of nationhood and the endless consumption of useless consumer goods. These products are made by the hands of exploited workers in far off lands, where profits rest among a certain elite with no interest in the wider wealth of the nation, its peoples or its memory.

1 thought on “Remembering to Forget

  1. Prof. Tahir, thank you so much for this reminder of ‘Thanksgiving’ and it’s symbolic relevance to conquring nation’s history or exploits as you so allude to. History is full such exploits from Gengis Khan to marauding Ottoman Turks to former mercantile traders and to fomer Colonial masters. The difference, which is historical too is that many nations that survived the onslaught of conqurers such as case in point even to present day is that of ‘Afghanistan’. It is very well written and quoted that no one was ever able to rule or conquer Afghanistan! I believe that natives of Americas or for that matter Aborigin of Australia were simply too ill equipped both mentally and physically to stand up and fight or even for that matter understand other human instincts for survival was at that point in time based on xero sum game which today too is prevalent in all international affairs. Call it what we may but some non european cultures seem to have slowers pace change, perhaps due to their own tribal and cultural inhibitions about the other or it could be many other factors such beleifs in myhths and some aspect of religious following. I believe there is room for research based on why such tribes or nations do not survive when faced with change? Many thanks for introfuving this debate.

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