September 12, 2007

The Strange Case of the "Islamist" Suddenly Believing in Collective Responsibility

By some piece of cosmis irony, today I came across a blog post that tries to blame an entire group for the sins of a few. It's about a USAID consultant molesting a child in Bangladesh. I urge everyone to read the entire piece, but here's a small excerpt:

"USAID consultant in case of kiddyfiddling in Bangladesh
Sunday, September 09, 2007

Apparently he was meant to be developing the shrimp industry. This story is disgraceful, but i suspect it wont really chasten the development industry.

One wonders what sorry excuses for literate and ngo employed human beings like Touhid Feroze would make of that. I'm thinking something along the lines of, 'we shouldnt judge as standards always change' perhaps. Or maybe something like 'nothing to get emotional about, none of the protagonists were Bangali'."

Now I'm going to overlook the terribly trivialising word "kiddyfiddling" to denote something as serious as child sexual abuse. What else can I expect from inhabitants of an island which calls cigarettes "fags", the Underground "the Tube" and all South Asians "Pakis"? They only invented English. The rest of us are burdened into speaking it properly...

I love the logic of those sentences up there. One NGO consultant molests a 10-year old. This somehow reflects on the ENTIRE NGO sector. Therefore the "development industry" needs chastening, and NGO employees are expected to "make excuses" for it. I note that the author does not reproduce any reactions from anyone in this mythical industry, just irrelevant links about what he thinks they MIGHT say....

However, I "admire" the logic involved: that an entire group must apologise for the sins of a few. What does that remind me of I wonder? *taps fingers thoughtfully on cheek* I re-direct you here to an interesting debate on a completely different issue at Serious Golmal while I think on that question.

More to the topic on hand, my "admiration" of this sort of logic also leads me to reproduce a few news stories of my own. Here's one that talks about the difficulties a Bangla daily in New York faced when they ran a story about an Imam accused of the crime in question. Here's one of a Male imam accused of the same. Does the entire ulema and their "apologists" and perhaps all Muslims including myself now have to "make excuses" and clear their/our good name?

Not to me, they don't. Perhaps the author of the blog will hold them accountable COLLECTIVELY. I highly doubt it given his previous statements. A friend of mine calls it in-group heterogeneity vs. out-group homogeneity: the in-group is composed of individuals, while the out-group has collective responsibilities for everything. All partisans work on that dynamic.

In the meantime, spare a thought for a traumatised child. I know organizations calling themselves "NGOs" who actually work to help victims of child sexual abuse. I don't know of any Bangladeshi self-proclaimed Islamist organization (who technically might be NGOs too, but since when did logic and consistency matter) that does so. What does that say about collective responsibility?


(PS. Fugstar, please don't come back with stories of how bad the "secular" media is and how much it lies about "religious" people. There really is no way you can justify that post in light of what I've just said. Trust me.

But feel free to try. I know you will....)

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