I'm a liberal, deal with it!

Why must the word 'liberal' always be accompanied by words like 'pseudo', or 'fascist'? Why must it be a taunt?

Faraz Talat November 07, 2012
Our political arena is strictly a battleground between the hard conservatives and the centrists. On the other end of the field, amidst rolling tumbleweeds and sprawling spider webs, stand a grand total of four liberals, one of whom almost got shot a few days ago.

Déjà vu, anyone?

When we suggest that the “liberal extremists are as bad as the right-wing fundamentalists”, we assert a symmetrical distribution of lunatics and miscreants. This proposition is entirely ludicrous. I cannot recall the last time an outspoken liberal like Hoodbhoy garlanded a killer, or if Asma Jahangir placed a bounty on someone’s head. I wonder how many girls’ schools have been burnt down thus far in Darwin’s honour, or whoever they assume is the liberals’ messiah.

“Ludicrous”, I say, because I cannot imagine a rational citizen saying,
“Well, one side’s extremists have been indulging in honour-killing, acid-throwing, school-burning, suicide-bombing and minority-hunting, but the other extreme has been cheering Veena Malik, so I suppose they’re both equally reprehensible!”

The term “liberal” itself, by deliberate design, has been transformed into an epithet, a dirty word. It’s a taunt always accompanied by an unflattering word like “pseudo”, “wannabe”, or our favourite, “fascist”. I’ve rarely heard anyone being referred to as just “liberal” sans denigrating adjective.

Essentially anyone who has had the audacity to not go genuflecting at Imran Khan’s altar can, by conventional wisdom, be categorised as a liberal fascist. To call it a “stigma”would be an awful understatement. By labelling oneself a liberal, one is not announcing his political orientation as much as he’s inviting a bullet to the head. This isn’t just me being characteristically histrionic. This is excruciatingly evident from the death threats that begin pouring down on anyone straying even an inch to the left of the political median. We know from successful assassinations in the past that these threats are anything but hollow.

Ostensibly, anyone wishing to stand up as a liberal politician or activist would be well-served having “Matrix-level bullet dodging” as a legitimate skill on his resume. What’s worse is our inability to establish a ground rule that the unpopularity of a person’s political perspective is not a rationale for murder. Regardless of how much we may disagree with Marvi Sirmed or any other activist, it is improper to articulate statements that go something like,
“I condemn this attack but (insert excuse why the victim may have deserved this).”

Stop trying to make sense of what is clearly nonsensical. The liberal side is an empty prairie field with random individuals poking their heads out of the ground, and getting immediately whacked back in by the right-wing mallet. It’s time for liberals to come out of the closet and organise into a real force so we may have at least some semblance of balance in our political system.

Read more by Faraz here or follow him on Twitter @FarazTalat
Faraz Talat

The writer is a doctor based in Rawalpindi and writes about current affairs and societal issues.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

Facebook Conversations