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Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Wineskins, Old Vinegar: Mankind Doomed to Repeat Mistakes

An article in National Geographic from September 1972 regarding the then newly-formed nation of Bangladesh illustrates how little the world's situation has changed over the past 30+ years. The story of Bangladesh is simply appalling. It begins centuries ago, with the Bengali people being murderously ping-ponged back and forth by whatever forces trudged across their path. While at one point Bangladesh - an area roughly the size of the American state of Wisconsin and surrounded by India, with Pakistan on the west, Nepal and Bhutan to the north, and Burma/Myanmar on the east - was largely composed of Hindus and Buddhists, in 1202 it was invaded and bent under the sword of Islam by the Turkomans. After the horrendous disaster in November 1970 of a cyclone and tsunami wiped out an estimated 600,000 people, in 1972 civil war erupted after minority Urdu-speaking Pakistanis attempted officially to impose their rule over the far more populous Bengalis. The atrocities that followed included not only an estimated 3 million deaths but also approximately 200,000 rapes, vicious acts that created thousands of unwanted pregnancies and tremendous disgrace for the women involved.

Despite these casualties and the millions of refugees by the hand of man and God, it was estimated in 1972 that 75 million people remained in Bangladesh, a density of 1,300 individuals per square mile, in a country of just 55,126 square miles and comprising the 8th largest population in the world. At that time, it was also estimated that the population would double within 30 years. By 2005, there were some 144 million inhabitants of Bangladesh. At the nation's formation, the per capita income was under $80 per year. Despite fervent hopes and strides made through countless donations comprising hundreds of millions of dollars, Bangladesh remains one of the poorest nations in the world. Its people work themselves to the bone at everything from farming to bike-cab driving to milling and jute-working. Its factories are jam-packed with exhausted and thin workers. And laboring children can never be exempt in the quest to keep their families fed. Also, the Bengali economy depends largely on floods that take a certain amount of casualties so the land can be replenished and the majority may live at least a bit longer.

The National Geographic article of November 1972 calls what happened to the Bengalis a "Holocaust," addressing the mind-numbing mayhem and horror that decimated villages and left mass graves for all to see. At this time, art became filled with bloody images of murder and rape; even children were encouraged in drawing contests to chronicle these horrors. This section in the Geographic states:

"Sheik Mujib's government says that three million Bengalis died between March and December 1971. The figure is probably inflated. But certainly the terrors and atrocities committed here - in Dacca [Dhaka] and all across the gentle land of rivers and marshlands - came close to genocide."

Before its blood-soaked independence - what independence has not been blood-soaked? - Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, a nation created on two sides of India, one West and one East. The West Pakistanis would not give up East Pakistan, even though the Urdu-speaking West Pakistanis constituted only 5% of the population of Bangladesh. West Pakistan subsequently unleashed another wave of violence against a people whose pre-Muslim Hindu roots remained, exemplified by their normally pacifistic behavior. It is clear that had not these people been decimated in the 13th century under the hue and cry of "convert or die!" by members of the "Religion of Peace," they would have remained Hindu or Buddhist.

Hypocritical Faith

Among the victims of the "ruthless campaign [of West Pakistan] to suppress the rebellious Bengalis" were intellectuals, political leaders and Hindus, "considered agents of India." In the midst of this horror, caused by Muslims ostensibly led by Allah, the victims sank to their knees begging mercy from the same Merciful Allah, carrying amulets containing verses from the Koran. The pathetic irony of the situation should be as obvious as that of the Christian Crusades, which employed both professionals and amateurs to massacre entire towns of equally Christian people in their ill-founded quest to conquer the "Holy Land" and secure it from the "infidels."

As reported by National Geographic, the number of Bengali women raped during this most irreligious orgy of viciousness and violence was officially estimated at 200,000. Says the Geographic: "As with most government statistics having to do with war, the number of alleged victims - 200,000 - may be exaggerated." It is important to note that it is considered "good reporting" to mention the exaggeration of the numbers involved in the Bengali "Holocaust" - to use National Geographic's term - of poor people in the East, while such a doubtful remark regarding the sacrosanct Western "Holocaust" can land a person in prison in several "civilized" countries. The Bengalis apparently do not share the irrational view forced upon the West that the attempted genocide of only one particular group, to the exclusion of the rest, may be termed "Holocaust," as the Bengalis themselves possess their own "Holocaust Museum."

Through no fault of their own, and under the eyes of the Merciful Allah, tens of thousands of Bengali women - violently and viciously raped by men claiming to be devoutly religious Muslims - were subsequently considered disgraces who had dishonored their equally devout Muslim families, and were shunned or worse.

The Urdu-speaking Pakistanis in Bangladesh ("Biharis") fared little better, as they were forced out of their homes and jobs into foul refugee camps and given no assistance from the overlord West Pakistanis who incited them to fight in the first place, serving as another example of man's capacity for injustice and treachery.

In the midst of this mess, a primitive prehistoric tribe called the "Murungs" ("Mros" or "Moorangs") managed to maintain itself. Their only wish was to be "left in peace, to follow the old traditions." As concerns the Moorangs, Geographic states:

"The Murungs fish a little in the lake. They farm, too, using the ancient slash-and-burn method of agriculture, planting seeds in hillside soil enriched with the rain-soaked ash of burnt brush. Though they believe in spirits, they have no well-defined religion, maintaining that the scriptures they were meant to follow were written on banana leaves, and that the leaves were eaten by a cow."

Thus, a simple cow has prevented these decidedly docile and peace-loving people from following the way of fiery zealots who believe in set "scriptures" as the very words or Word of God, such that their beliefs drive them to slaughter, rape and pillage other living, breathing beings in the name of their religion and God. The relaxed and happy Moorangs seem to have the right idea, thanks to the cow, who showed them that life itself was more valuable than banana-leaf "God-given" scriptures.

If the rest of the world were so enlightened, peace would finally be within our grasp. Alas, it may never be the case, as "religious" derangement continues to infect the human brain and cause its fervent believers to wantonly murder living, feeling human beings in order to protect "scriptures" better left to the cows.

4 comments:

skullnboner said...

The Way of the Cow! How are we to get those cows to eat the banana leaves in Western society, much less the great mobs of people in more primitive societies. I think the "developed" societies have to clean their own trash first, then put the kai-bosh on the leaders of the developing worlds withdrawing any support for their regimes. But that is just a fantasy at this point. I hope fate proves me wrong on that, cause that or "faith with works" is all we have to see things change for the better.

chrys said...

Wow. Since I presently live in West Bengal (from US), I have become close to the Bengali people. I have heard some of this around, it is disheartening to see it so blatant and complete. Thank you, as usual, for sharing and for all you do.

Acharya S said...

Chrys,

You have no idea how delighted I am to have someone to share this info with.

(Not that it's a particularly cheery subject.)

Mom said...

Just yesterday my friend & I were discussing how women are still struggling under oppression & violence worldwide to this day, and how long & slow the progress has been. When we think there has been progress we hear of widespread incidences still occurring worldwide & USA, to make us question what kind of progress we have made if any at all toward the dignity of women on the mundane level of everyday real life. In the U.S. brainwashing, degradation, discrimination, exploitation, & abuse of women is still there, just has become more subtle, underground or hidden but still very much in practice.I agree that the powerful religions have much to contribute to this attitude.