Imran Jan |
A friend of mine once asked me why I wanted to become an American citizen. “The government that looks out for its citizens provides safety, and welfare would become mine too,” I explained. I grew up in Pakistan with this deeply-internalised concept — that could be a close clone of Adam Smith’s concept that our dinner doesn’t come from the benevolence of others — that the government wouldn’t rescue us out of any trouble.
Pakistanis watch out for themselves; save money for the rainy days, buy a generator to deal with the chronic load-shedding, iron the clothes while the electricity lasts, run the geyser while the gas supply is still available, buy food for ridiculous prices during Ramazan, and so forth. The first time I came to America, other than the cultural shock, I was shocked to see that people were not rushing to iron their clothes or fill the water tank. It was a strange idea to me that these little chores weren’t urgency-driven.
Over the years, these US ‘persons’ have gotten the rights that are much more than the rights of real human beings with flesh and blood.
My urge to be a US citizen was driven by having the US government’s back, among other things, that God forbid if something happened to me, at least someone would care enough not to settle. I am a proud Pakistani- American. I have been enjoyed the amazing life and the work opportunities that this great country has offered me. However, truth be told, in the wake of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, I am not so sure about having the back of the US government. Khashoggi wasn’t a US citizen but he was on his way to become one. He was a legal resident of the US.
But he was liked by the Washington power system. No wonder he was writing for the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post. When President Trump was asked about $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi’s murder, he said, “I don’t want to hurt jobs, I don’t want to lose an order like that, there are other ways of punishing them.” I am quickly reminded of the 14th Amendment to the US constitution which guarantees that no person would be deprived of rights without the due process of law.
The first time I came to America, other than the cultural shock, I was shocked to see that people were not rushing to iron their clothes or fill the water tank.
It was actually meant for the freed slaves so as to ensure that they wouldn’t be deprived of their rights. Sadly, however, it was never applied to them. The word ‘person’ in the language of the 14th amendment has been defined by the US courts to mean US corporations. Corporate personhood wasn’t established firmly until about a century ago. It was elaborated and firmly made a strong presence in the American society not by legislation but rather by courts and lawyers.
Over the years, these US ‘persons’ have gotten the rights that are much more than the rights of real human beings with flesh and blood. The free speech of these ‘persons’ is cash. These fictitious ‘persons’ are what Khashoggi, the legal resident, is up against in death. If a blue-eyed legal resident can be abandoned so that some arms manufacturing corporations can make profits from Saudi largesse, where do the rest of us stand?
Needless to say that those arms would be used to slaughter innocent civilians most likely in Yemen. This is not just a fight between a US ‘person’ with no flesh and blood and a US resident whose flesh and bones were “cut into pieces”. This is about the larger context of the erosion of the rights of us all. Today, the ‘person’ whose free speech is cash wins against the ‘person’ whose free speech were words. If he was expendable, it is not a day in distant future that all of us would be expendable to serve the profit-driven interests of the US corporations.
The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter @Imran_Jan. This article was first published in express tribune and has been republished with author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.