Al Jazeera recently published an article on the double standards and racism associated with the outpouring sympathy for Ukraine, that is missing for other places like Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen. This is true. However, now is the time to stand unequivocally with Ukraine.
In 2018, the Humboldt tragedy occurred in Canada. Many of the deceased and injured in the bus crash were young boys from a junior ice hockey team from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada. The tragedy was felt viscerally by Canadians who responded overwhelmingly.
Immediately, an argument was made that such Canadian outpouring of donations was due to the “maleness, whiteness, and able-bodiedness” of those who perished. This biting analysis was offered as parents were grieving the loss of their young boys. I was not comfortable with this approach – based on the general ethic that one must not kick someone when they are already down.
An argument like that which was made in the case of the Humboldt tragedy is now being made in the case of Ukraine. But this is an abrasive approach. It seeks to split people apart rather than bring them together.
Now is not the time for smart cheeky analyses. It is time for solidarity with a nation that has been attacked unprovoked by the second most powerful military in the world.
Returning to Ukraine, again, now is a time for solidarity, not for proving one’s cleverness in analysis. If anything, it is time to look within and ask why did India and the UAE abstain on the vote against Russia, or why did the Pakistani PM shake hands with Putin as he was wreaking havoc on a nation much weaker
It is important to note that people respond overwhelmingly when they see themselves mirrored in the tragedy. And this is a universal trait. For instance, Arabs care more about Palestine than Kashmir. Pakistan cares more about Kashmir than about the Uyghurs. In fact, Pakistani PM Imran Khan has rejected that there is any Uyghur oppression at all. For quite some time the Rohingyas were ignored because Muslims were preoccupied with Palestine. Moreover, Muslims have generally not been concerned about the plight of Muslims in the Central African Republic in 2014. Many would not even know about the situation there.
As for the racism of the West, it’s true there is racism. But this is also universal. You just have to live in other parts of the world to learn this on your own. When after 40 years of service you are left without pension, when your caste is an issue in climbing up the corporate ladder, when your religious denomination bars you from promotion, when the jealousy of others drags you down from success, in all such places you often don’t have the luxury to make arguments against racism. I guess the point is effectively captured by the Urdu phrase “iss hamam main saaray nangay hain” (everybody is equally naked in this bath house).
Only those who have experienced such issues can understand better than someone who was born in privilege. For often, people who make caustic arguments come from affluent places. Those at the bottom of the food chain don’t have time to complain. They just have to get by.
Returning to Ukraine, again, now is a time for solidarity, not for proving one’s cleverness in analysis. If anything, it is time to look within and ask why did India and the UAE abstain on the vote against Russia, or why did the Pakistani PM shake hands with Putin as he was wreaking havoc on a nation much weaker and smaller than his own.
In essence, it is time to unequivocally stand with Ukraine. Slava Ukraini! Heroiam Slava! (Glory to Ukraine, Glory to the Heroes)