The Nation and Xenophobia

Feb 15th, 2010 | By | Category: The Nation

The Nation deserves praise for publishing Zaheeruddin Baber’s column, “Xenophobic tendencies” in which the author calls attention to the growing problem of intolerance being promoted by some media personalities. But, at the same time, The Nation would do well to read this column carefully and distribute it to its staff so that The Nation can work on cleaning up its own xenophobic tendencies.

Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of foreigners. This is becoming increasingly a problem, and Mr. Baber rightly points to media types for promoting this attitude:

The shocking intolerance, sectarian, secular, xenophobic and otherwise, increasingly displayed in ‘current’ societal structures here is fast getting dangerously out of control, the fires stalked by people who should know better such as Imran Khan and those who apparently don’t, Zaid Hamid of the red topi being a prime example of the latter, with the resulting conflagration, when it erupts, set to completely desecrate any remote semblance of sanity that tries to prevail in the country-shattering inferno that will, undoubtedly follow if left unchecked.

But Mr. Baber leaves out one other media organization that promotes fear and hatred of foreigners: The Nation.

Examples of The Nation‘s xenophobic tendencies are not hard to come by. From Kaswar Klasra’s infamous article in which he accuses American reporter Matthew Rosenberg of being a spy, to statements that any actions by India must be seen as “a deliberate pattern towards some nefarious goal,” to the recent column about Aafia in which Sikander Shaheen accuses the US, India, and Israel of being “in an unholy alliance to tighten the noose around a Muslim lady”The Nation makes a habit of promoting xenophobia in its pages. In November, the newspaper even ran an article by Azam Tanoli that was all but a transcript of a speech by Zaid Hamid – the same who is so soundly criticized by Baber today – praising him as “a prominent” scholar” and echoing Hamid’s claims about the threat of foreigners to Pakistan’s existence.

I was glad to see The Nation step outside its usual ideological boundaries and publish Baber’s article. Let us hope, dear readers, that the editors of The Nation will take the time to read their own newspaper and consider the suggestion to avoid cheap xenophobia in the future.

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