Media Watch: Eat the rich | Pakistan Today

Media Watch: Eat the rich

The Press Information Department’’s twitter handle ( @pid_gov ) is, in effect, the official twitter account of the Government of Pakistan.

One wonders why, then, those managing the account feel the need to tweet inspirational quotes. Quotes that don’t even have anything to do with Pakistan.

The account had a faux pas on Friday when it tweeted a statement often erroneously attributed to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. “If you born poor its not your fault,” read the graphic with stellar grammar. “But if you die poor its your mistake.”

It was almost immediately called out for being a fake quote. But the good folks over at twitter pointed out something else, something far more important than an honest mistake.

The sentiment expressed in the quote is vile and quite certainly downright contemptuous towards the poor.

Muhammad Saleem, a development economist with a specialisation in income support for the very poor, while speaking out against the subsequently deleted tweet, spoke of an “oppressive structure which keeps the poor in perpetual poverty.”

Fatima Bhutto was of the same view. “What kind of utter nonsense is this? In systems of ruthless structural inequality, the poor cannot be blamed for poverty.”

The problem here is not the shoddy work in selecting a fake quote (though it is a public servant goofing up if he or she is getting paid to do only this) but is the mentality that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has shown towards the poor.

Consider: even if it were actually a quote from Bill Gates, a man who, along with his wife, has donated massive amounts of their personal wealth to the betterment of the poor. Consider, in a parallel universe, that he wasn’t quite the bleeding heart that he is and actually subscribed to such views. Would it have made the tweet right?

The poor of the world are poor because, well, because they are poor. A tautology this might be, but that’s it. They are not lazier or any less smart than you, dear reader, perusing through the website or print edition of this English newspaper. An accident of fate, barring a few, have landed some in one place and others in another. One doesn’t want to discount the sheer force of will that some of the lesser fortunate have displayed, punching upwards, crushing the seemingly impenetrable ceilings of socio-economic classes, but even there, their hard work would have been complemented by some luck.

To add insult to the injury of policies that keep the systemic oppression in place, the Republic now also wants to wear this on its sleeve.

The Tube

Media Watch column is meant to offer commentary on the affairs of the media.