The political correctness industry

  • When Imran called Bilawal a ‘sahiba’


Last week wasn’t particularly uneventful. In Karachi, in separate incidents two minors lost their lives due to alleged negligence/incompetence of the medical staff; and a police officer was captured on tape threatening the father of one of the victims with dire consequences in case he decided to press charges against the hospital administration. The week also saw Mian Nawaz Sharif doing a Musharraf by asking the court to allow him to go abroad for treatment– something the PML-N fans never tire of ridiculing Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf for. On the international front, the Indian elections remained in full swing and Sri Lanka was shaken by multiple explosions killing and injuring hundreds of people. So, while the efficacy of showing outrage is debatable at best, there were any number of things over which indignation could be expressed if one decided to do so. However, the nation chose to get its collective knickers in a twist over Imran Khan calling Bilawal Bhutto a ‘sahiba’. All hell seems to have broken loose, and it is likely to take a bigger non-issue than this for the nation to get over the immense shock.

Here, it would be unfair not to acknowledge some refreshingly original takes on the incident. “Khan has insulted women” (this from a PPP female politician– solve this yourself!); “What’s the fuss about if there’s no truth to the ‘insinuation’” (a sitting minister); “It was Khan’s misogyny talking” (a relatively lesser-known anchor attempting a mean impersonation of Carl Jung). However, the typical response on the part of those known to be the loudest was that Khan had disgraced the office of the prime minister. The result was that what should have, at best, elicited a resigned chuckle if not outright indifference, ended up hogging the TV screens all week long.

Political correctness is a thriving industry, and Khan is very good for its prosperity, whatever one may say about him and the economy in general. His political incorrectness is good for opposing politicians, NGO liberals, who make their living out of political correctness, and young liberals

Anybody who has watched any amount of political talk shows knows that our TV anchors have precious little to say apart from ‘highlighting’ what a politician had said some time ago and how he is contradicting himself now– how very shocking for a politician! Give it to the nation for being appalled every time. But even the anchors recognise the worth of variety, so they pounce on anything politically incorrect uttered by a politician. That gives them centre-stage to show self-righteous indignation, which is lapped up by many among their audience. The art of showing outrage requires zero originality, so they can never have enough of it. Tune in to any show out of the 25 on offer tonight, and the chances are that the anchor– as well as his guests– will be engaged in one of the above two ‘themes’.

Now I am sure our anchors are not the devils some like to portray them as. And here I am not referring only to those who have not been beneficiaries of prime-ministerial umrah trips or caught on tape rehearsing planted questions for high-profile interviews. They certainly have their weaknesses, but then who amongst us can claim to be perfect? And who amongst us doesn’t have to pay his bills? Being reasonably decent human beings then, I am sure that in their hearts of hearts our anchors recognise their immense debt to Khan, who is absolute manna from Heaven for anybody making a living crusading against political incorrectness. In the same way, I am sure they are aware of their huge debt to Musharraf as well, who although they never tire of criticising him on air, as he was mainly responsible for their large incomes by allowing private television in the country. They may not exactly be Einsteins, but they must be smart enough to realise that we would still have just the PTV if the great democrats Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto had any say in the matter.

Political correctness is a thriving industry, and Khan is very good for its prosperity, whatever one may say about him and the economy in general. And he’s not just good for talk-show hosts by giving them something to talk about for days on end. His political incorrectness allows opposing politicians to pretend to be ‘statesmen’– which it’s rather difficult to do if the conversation turns to the uncomfortable subject of their assets growing exponentially. Of course, Khan is good for the NGO liberals, who make their living out of political correctness. They have their donors and their constituency, and there’s nothing like Khan to show how important their jobs are. Last but not the least, Khan is good for the young liberals, some of whom, though barely out of college, believe they have answers to every problem. Rebels without a cause, they badly need problems to match their wits with, which Khan provides amply. They may not make any money by paying lip-service to fashionable and politically correct themes such as LGBT, minorities, gender equality and the like; but it goes a long way toward making their lives appear worthwhile to them.