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Ignorance in our schools

Ignorance in our schools

Author: Angela Williams
Publication: Daily Times
Date: April 25, 2005
URL: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_25-4-2005_pg3_3

It is time that Pakistani schools stopped pumping their pupils full to bursting point with narrow, blinkered history that leaves these young people open to superstitious, illiterate rubbish purveyed by hate-mongering ignoramuses

Who would have guessed, back in April 1945, as Hitler's monstrous regime was finally in its death throes, that a new form of Nazi-ism would be flourishing 60 years later, cynically brandishing the memory of the Holocaust victims as a rallying symbol and a raison d'être? That Ariel Sharon would be systematically butchering Palestinians with a relentless efficiency and vicious disregard for human life that would have earned him medals and commendation under Adolf Hitler?

By April 1945, some of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps had been liberated by the Allies and through newsreels, the shocked world witnessed the black eye sockets, the sparse hair, the unspeakable trauma in the faces of the walking, flesh-covered skeletons who emerged from the prolonged nightmare that was Dachau in south Germany, Auschwitz in Poland, Bergen-Belsen in north Germany. One of the survivors was Anne's father, Otto Frank, whose entire family perished in the camps. That poor man created for himself a reason to go on living by dedicating the rest of his life to publishing and publicising his darling younger daughter's diary, as she would have wished.

Zionism rages unchecked, decade after decade, and indeed, is even rendered "cute" by the seemingly innocent allusions to nice Israel by the patently Zionist Friends TV show. Film after film comes out of Hollywood, depicting not the suffering of the 20 million victims of Stalinism, not the attempts to wipe out the Kurds, not the wickedness of British imperialism, the extermination of native Americans, of Australian aborigines, the ravaging of Africa... No. Only the Holocaust. Only saturation point, cinematic 'reasons' for the 'necessity' of Israel's existence, according to the dictates of each successive American administration.

What is, however, almost equally gross, and what has prompted me to write this article, is the ignorance of world history prevalent in many Pakistanis whom I have met, and worse still, their blatant anti-Semitism and denial of documented historical fact.

Their rabid religious mentors seem to be instructing them that Jews are The Enemy and that any who kill Jews must be friends of Muslims. Hitler, they say, was a 'great' man who conquered many nations and treated Jews according to their just deserts. Anne Frank's diary they regard as a fraud, a Zionist conspiracy. The numbers of Jewish dead in concentration camps, they say, have been wildly exaggerated. Let us suppose for an instant that this were true and that only 10 people were starved and worked to death in a concentration camp, that Anne Frank is alive and well, not dead at all. Would this be grounds for supporting Hitler, for refusal to condemn his policies with all one's might?

Don't these daft, misguided people know that blacks were also despised by the Nazi regime and that all non-whites, including Asians, were viewed as sub-human and would have been herded into gas ovens, had Hitler succeeded in his quest for world domination? They have not read of Jesse Owens, the magnificent black American athlete who repeatedly out-ran all the blond, blue-eyed German Aryans in the Berlin Olympics in 1936. They are too educationally stunted to know that Hitler, as Germany's president and chancellor, walked out of the stadium in a fit of pique at the prospect of having to shake hands with the black, four time gold medallist who so spectacularly disproved all the filthy Nazi theories on the superiority of the white 'master race'.

It is time that Pakistani schools stopped pumping their pupils full to bursting point with narrow, blinkered history that allows 15 year-olds merely to bleat dutifully that Pakistan was created in 1947 by Quaid-e-Azam because the Hindus were discriminatory, but gives these young people no understanding whatsoever of anything pertaining to the rest of the universe, and leaves them open, for the rest of their lives, to superstitious, illiterate rubbish purveyed by hate-mongering ignoramuses. History teachers must wake up and teach intelligently and meaningfully, so that, when the police come in the middle of the night to take us away because we are Muslims, when they come for our neighbour because she is black, for our nephew because he is handicapped, when they are rounding up the Arabs, the intellectuals, the homosexuals, the Jews, the activists, the gypsies and the Shias for extermination... we are, for once, ready for them, and will stand up in our thousands and say No to such wickedness.

The writer is the Academic Co-ordinator and a founder of Bloomfield Hall Schools. She has been teaching in Lahore for the past 20 years and has directed numerous highly acclaimed stage plays

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