Massive efforts are underway to revise school curriculum in the Muslim world. The primary objective is to neutralize Islam, present it as a religion of peace alone, and take out any reference to the obligatory struggle against oppression and injustice.
The bottom-line as underlined in General Musharraf’s strategy of “enlightened moderation” is to tolerate everything and just focus on poverty alleviation and economic development. The best you can do is appeal to the unjust to resolve the disputes with justice.Â
These attempts are part of the broader campaign to make the world forget about the root causes of present turmoil and fix the blame on the shoulder of intended target. History plays a leading role in reawakening and putting facts in perspective. That is why history becomes the first victim of the oppressors.Â
History of colonialism was already manipulated and diluted to the extent that students reading history in the former colonies would hardly know how the colonial adventures started with the blessing of the Church and continued for 500 years with killing no less than 300 million people which amount to more than 50 holocausts by comparison with what Hitler did to Jews.Â
Those who know history to some extent may pick up almost any contemporary history college-level textbook about India and Pakistan, for example, and read it with an eye first for accuracy, and in terms of the history they know, as opposed to the history they -” as historians -” may have read in the past or may have been taught. They will be as disturbed and frustrated as I am on such occasions.Â
The history we read has more often than not traveled a circuitous route through filters and biases that leave the words on the page relatively hollow and meaningless. The older folk may look for example at the chapter of British occupation of Indian sub-continent (if they find one. They will see how little resemblance there is between what is on the printed page and what they know about or have experienced personally. To this day, neither the official, government history, nor the history written by most scholars, tells but a fraction of the truth about the real extent of the European colonial adventures and their impact on the present day world.Â
There is a crying need for historians of today to reach beyond the "official," government-issue version of "history." This is especially urgent when it comes to truthfully and accurately recording the many controversial, contested, and every now and then "secret" (albeit publicly known) events of the colonial past. Â
This becomes more important at a time when more than 300 million deaths at the hands of colonialists are totally forgotten and Pope Benedict not only holds Muslims as a whole responsible for the on going global turmoil in his direct address to Muslim leader but also blesses Oriana Fallaci, the anti-Islam Italian author with a meeting. An Italian judge in May ordered her to stand trial for defaming Islam in her 2004 book, "La Forza della Ragione" (The Force of Reason). Interestingly, this author writes that Muslim terrorists had killed 6,000 people over the past 20 years in the name of the Koran and said the Islamic faith "sows hatred in the place of love and slavery in the place of freedom."
We need honest historians to stand up and say, if the death of 6,000 over 20 years makes the whole Muslim world responsible and open to lectures by Pope and others, what about the death of more than 300 million at the very least at the hands of colonialists who were directly licensed by no one other than the Church?Â
Following the foot prints of former colonialists, it is not only false CIA propaganda that continued to find its way into the media after the US replaced England as the Ruling State, and into more than a few history texts. One of the critical problems of both journalists and historians is a virtually routine, and often blind, acceptance as fact of many prominent myths, including those spawned by the designers of disinformation in the ranks of the military and intelligence agencies. Some of the myths arise more than anything from an ideological base, others from a conscious distortion of history. These myths then inexorably grow in stature and become, as expressed by one of the best investigative journalists in the US, Robert Parry, "conventional wisdom." Â
The West’s crime against humanity in the form of European colonization before the mid 20th century and the US foreign intervention since then remain a sensitive aspect of their history and the present war lords in particular feel strongly that there should be no hint of connection between the ongoing war on Islam and the past. They take this stand despite the massive historical evidence that suggest that the root causes of the anti-Western feelings and never-ending problems in the developing world are the direct result of the European and American crimes over the last 500 years at least.Â
There are highly organized and well supported groups and individuals, promoting a special view of Western history. These groups view themselves as the watchdogs against what they call in the American context as revisionist history, a label that often translates as any history that confronts their vision of America’s past. In the US there are people who exposing the truth.
These public historians and teachers of history face significant pressure when they attempt to present controversial history. This is true even when their interpretations are those generally accepted as the best scholarship available.
On the international level, however, there is an absence of personality and organized effort to uncover the truth and expose the real culprits behind the global disorder and injustice. Muslims, locked in the struggle for survival, do not seem interested in presenting the history in the right manner to demystify to deep rooted misconceptions.
It is a shame for Muslims that some non-Muslims are now telling the world that it is “time to put the ‘war on terror’ in historical perspective.”
Sean Gonsalves, gives references to the work of Gwynne Dyer in a recent article at AlterNet. After taking readers through the summary of Western colonization and the extent of subjugation where "by 1918, all the wealth and power of the Muslim world were gone and 95 percent of Muslims were living as the subjects of one foreign Christian empire or another," the authors agree to conclude: "The bitterness runs very deep, and the surprising thing is not that there are so many extremists in the Arab world willing to use violence against the West, but that there are so few."Â
We need such honest historians to filter out impurities from history and present the facts as they are so that history become a mirror for the present day war lords and they are able to see their face in it before they arrogantly boast about their “way of life” and values to justify the worst form of tyranny they have imposed on Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Although exposing the truth is always uncomfortable to many in the position of power, it is always necessary that historians stand for the best that their discipline can provide to save Muslims from the coming holocaust. We must applaud person like Gwynne Dyer and all those who have already offered their support. We all understand that history matters. Historians can matter too.
. Reuters report: “Pope met anti-Islam author Fallaci,” Tuesday, Aug 30, 2005.
. Robert Parry, Fooling America, (New York: Morrow & Co., 1991.)
. Sean Gonsalves, “It’s time to put the ‘War on terror’ in historical perspective,” AlterNet. Posted August 25, 2005. http://www.alternet.org/columnists/story/24600/