This August 14 I was bored out of my mind late at night, and started scanning TV channels for fodder to feed my idleness. I came across a programme where a man was seated in an open air forum delivering a talk with many eager devotees listening. It seemed tame enough, until it started digressing dangerously into hate speech. The man doing the talking started talking about the Hindu nation, their inferiority and how they were unfit to govern. Amongst his pearls of wisdom was the nugget that many Sikhs in Punjab are secretly Muslims whose allegiance is across the border. He teared up when he said that, and it sounded sincere.
The man in question is Zaid Hamid who does Brass Tacks for TV One. As I saw some of his subsequent programmes, obvious errors in facts came to light. For example, in his series on economic terrorism he mentioned the abandonment of the gold standard as a Zionist plot to destroy, who else, Muslims. Fact of the matter is that while the gold standard definitely has its merits in maintaining balanced budgets and containing inflation, it also causes recessions and prevents governments from pumping in programmes for poverty alleviation. If the world was to switch to the gold standard, the price of this metal itself would become untenable. The abandonment of the standard may have created its own mess (like widely fluctuating currencies), but the gold standard was not without demerits like the programme that Zaid Hamid did suggest. A strict submission to the gold standard can cause deflationary tendencies, and if we had it today we may have curbed inflation but we would not have enough to spend on our already depleted developmental expenditures.
But that Zaid Hamid chooses to support one economic mechanism is his right, and it’s not to say that no one else has ever asked for a return to the gold standard. The issue is how un-nuanced and absolute his argument is, and also his insistence that it is at the behest of the Jews, Christians and Zionists, all evil. Zionism is a deplorable creed, the last real vestige of disguised racism and imperialism in the world that has imprisoned an entire nation, but a look at the facts will show there are many left-leaning Jews in Israel who oppose their government’s actions in the occupied areas. Blanket condemnation is for demagogues, not TV anchors.
In his arguments on the imposition of economic terrorism Zaid Hamid goes on to explain just how thorough the hold of the Jews is on America by claiming the US Federal Reserve is actually a private institution. This is simply not true, the chairman of the Fed is appointed by the president of the US. Yes, the Fed does have some banks subscribing to it with something called ‘shares’, but unlike real shares it does not accord them voting rights, authorization to sell at value above the par on which it was bought. If we are to believe Zaid Hamid, then Lehman Brothers (started out as a Jewish-owned company) would never have been allowed to fail by the Fed as it was just recently.
The whole body of work that Zaid Hamid has on television is derived from opportunistic amalgamation of facts to create conspiracy theories. One look at him on screen, and one can easily believe he is sincere, which I am sure he is. A handsome man in the vein of Che, he professes to bring out the truth that the mainstream media ignores, and says himself that he brings it out at some personal risk by battling the powers that be. Whenever a question is posed at him he goes into an erudite, but factually questionable, explanation of the answer without pausing, giving an air authenticity by not harbouring doubts. But the gist of most of it is a belief that what has happened to us collectively in our underdevelopment is at the hands of evil non-Muslims, traitors in Pakistan and the trio of the CIA, RAW and Mossad. But despite how powerful he claims the outside world is at keeping Muslims at bay by charting out conspiracies that determine the future of history now, he never explains why he is allowed to get away with ‘exposing’ them if their hands are as long as he claims.
The main issue regarding Zaid Hamid is not that he is insincere or even duplicitous, but that the focus of his conclusions always come to the altar of defeating conspiracies. Very little is made of process and why certain things happen. We know if capitalism is unfettered, for example, there is a tendency for anti-competitiveness accrued by economies of scale to create monopoly situations. This will occur if the owner of a business unit is Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Klingon. But in Zaid’s hands, this process will become a situation where the greedy Jew wants to suck the lifeblood out of everyone who doesn’t share his faith. Second, and this is key, most of the anti-globalization, anti-capitalism and anti-imperialist critiques that Muslim naysayers own are actually based on secular, leftwing scholarship. They appropriate it without realizing if ever there was the downfall of the west’s greedy economic engine then the same discourse would be applied to the new dominant culture and economic powerhouse, even if it was Muslims. But these principles of egalitarianism are not owned by the Muslim commentators, they are just used as talking points against the west. But crucially, what people like Zaid Hamid do is hurt the process of self-reflection which is needed. Why look inwards for self-improvement if it is someone else’s fault?
Zaid Hamid has a natural charisma and believability, the only thing he needs is the channel to begin snipping his output responsibly. TV needs self-regulation, and they better do it before there is a move to justify it being done by the government. While programmes may bring in the ratings, they may do damage that is unforeseen and deep. Just think Aamir Liaquat and Aalim Online, another repository of the hate speech phenomena.
The writer is a Rhodes scholar and former academic. Email: fasizaka@yahoo. Com