Monday, September 30, 2013

I will fix you up real good

I have one day a month that I dread the most and it is the day I receive instructions from a random member of the public or acquaintance. I have done the maths and it comes to an average of 12 per annum which statistically makes it once a month. Here are a few starting points for the instructions: What does the boy want? You can’t  put your chair here. You might want to do this or that? You should not do this or that? What do you mean it is not my business?

Why is the British so ready to instruct? Don’t take it personally, it’s not about you. if you listen carefully you will hear the inside voice which actually says: I feel powerless -  I have little control over my life -  I feel clinically depressed - I am tired of frozen pizza, cheap bear and bad weather.  It is this inside voice if you listen to that explains for the most part the popularity of football and its benign hooliganism as well as the pubs and male aggression.

Complaining is the national hobby. there is a pernicious relation with mutual impact between individual discourse on collective and nationally formed identity on individual. The media daily complaints about how nobody is fixing the climate or how disgusting it is that some dude spent £36k on alcohol in a private party. The individual submersed in this discourse mimics them and go around looking for it in the neighbourhood.  

It is not a big deal and not particular to Britons, people around the world love to complain and more those destitute. There is one thing that makes this in particular and it’s the lack of humility. I blame pop culture, comfortable life, alcohol and television, in that particular order. It is not so much complaining that you should watch out for but arrogance mixed with it, which is really obtrusiveness.

This is the fallout of national socialism in a post industrial society. People want the state to fix things for them consequently the state takes control away from them which in turn frustrate them. Most issues now delegated to the state has traditionally been the domain of individual responsibility, such as looking after the neighbourhood, personal health and family welfare. One has to be careful not to over emphasize the role of the state, after all in democratic Britain there are different forces and counterbalances that will correct a misguided direction of the state.

Obtrusiveness is also the concomitant of a  great British character, eccentricity. The English admire counter cultures, desire quirky approaches, accept the strange, cheer for the underdog and defy the mainstream. It is exactly these characters that give rise to some great British qualities such as tolerance. eccentricity brings you the surrealist, odd, unpretentious and quirky comedy of Milton Jones, Phil Jupiter, Miranda, Alan Davies and the one man institution of Stephen Fry. Ironically eccentricity is self repellent, it alters the mainstream and in the process creates idiosyncrasy. Creating ulterior motives that is revenging on common sense.   This is not so funny and has brought to you rude heckling particular to the English and self-loathing. 

The good news - you need one - 29 days 23 hours and 30 minutes is filled with the joy of dealing with intelligent and pleasant Britons. You just have to brace yourself for that 30 minutes.  

Friday, September 27, 2013

BBC is sleep walking into Political Bias

 An article published on 13 of September 2013 defines the upcoming Afghan election in regard to the politics and candidates relation to Ahmad Shah Masood, the slain commander of Mujahidin group under Northern Alliance umbrella. The article concludes that any delay to the election by some is seen as catastrophic.  “Masood was a proponent of fair election” the author adds “but some would argue he was not given the opportunity to organise an election”

In this article a key political process is defined through Masood’s perspective which is appropriate for Masood Heritage Foundation but not BBC. Although Masood’s legacy overshadows Afghan politics; influence of military leaders or of political leader for that matter remains a subject of perspective, even more so when we are talking about legacies. Some might see one of other hundred figures as influential, some might only view those alive as influential. BBC should not be using this major political event to provide a platform for coverage of Masood’s legacy. The article goes further by arguing that Masood was a proponent of election. This is inaccurate, Masood did not organise an election when he was practically running what resembled the national government neither his military wing established a national government with functioning institutions that can lay down a roadmap to election. It is not helpful to talk about a major military leader in terms of what he aspired to do instead of what he actually did; it would be unjust to those who suffered in the turmoil of Mujahidin military ambitions, to which Masood was a big part. It is indecent to dismiss civilian suffering by implying that it was delusions on their part and what actually happened was high class political discourse. I agree that BBC might want to create content about Masood’s legacy but it has to be balanced and accurate. It is inaccurate and unfair to set Masood’s legacy as the standard for election and interlink the two in an article.  

A bias article reinstates the concern of a particular group consistently and throughout without a counter opinion; little attention is paid to attribution of controversial facts. Using that definition this article is bias because it puts forth consistently and throughout the arguments currently made by the successor of Northern Alliance. Given that the author of the article is a staff member of the BBC one would expect that the article is as balanced as possible given the time allotted to story preparation and the space available, and to seek reliable sources. Common sense also commands to presume that such articles are being independently fact-checked by another employee of BBC. This only points out to the widespread domination of BBC Persian editorial by a political fiction, spreading opinions and interests of a particular political and social stream.  I have based this argument primarily on the content of the mentioned article, two other evidence I offer in support of the claim is the consistency and spread of such articles across the board. The method for proofing the former is a look at chronological run of bias articles and the later by evaluating authoring for each articles.

A second article that was published only a month before under the title of ‘lessons of Arab “autumn” for Afghanistan’, also outlines the views of the political calculus of what used to be Northern Alliance that identify themselves as former Mujhidin. The article argues that the murders committed by the military rulers of Egypt should be seen as atrocities of secular, while the Muslim Brotherhood is the victim. The author draws a clear parallel line between Mujahidin and their current political structure with that of Egypt’s Muslim brotherhood. Hence, the argument that political Islam has been incapable of sound governance and has committed atrocities while in power or seeking power does not hold ground. This is while Mujahidin fictions are responsible for most of the atrocities of the 90s as well as some that took place in the 80s which eventually resulted in the rise of Taliban. This article uses false logic by creating parallels between events that have different political roots, causes and results. The author attempts to deprecate the atrocities that various fiction of what he calls Mujahidin has committed by belittling their role in the crimes. The author attempts to downplay the responsibility Mujahidin should be taking for the crimes they had committed by overplaying the resemblance between Egypt and Afghanistan creating an imaginary group secular by its nature and somehow responsible for the crimes in Afghanistan.

Another variable I use to determine institutional bias in BBC is by identifying the authors of these articles. The premise is that institutional bias can be established if such articles are throughout and doctored by different authors. Link three below is another article I consider unduly favourable to Masood, which is by another author who is again a member of BBC Persian team. 

For plurality to be implemented an entity, in this case a nation, that represents diversity should exist. It might be the case that sectarian and ethnic divisions in Afghanistan runs so deep that the creation of balanced information based on Afghanistan wide perspective is unrealistic and unappealing. As a result any broadcaster catering to a linguistic group inclines towards the prevailing politics of that lingo-ethnic group. This certainly holds true if you look at BBC Pashto which some claim is similarly bias toward a Pan-Pashton politics. Many media outlets are ideologically motivated and inclined to support groups and parties that are politically or otherwise aligned with them. BBC Persian is intended to cater to Afghanistan wide audience and pursuing partisan politics is contrary to the policy and a violation of its mission. Should BBC decide to move toward catering to ethnic groups and semi-political fictions then that should be a conscious choice, not sleeping walking into it.

Here is the URL for this article

another article published under the title of lessons of Arab “autumn” for Afghanistan is at

link number three