Thursday, June 19, 2008

YouTube of the Day

Harvard student and professional douchebag Samad Khurram refusing an award from American Ambassador Anne Patterson. I had written about Khurram on my old blog in response to a ludicrous article he wrote calling Ansar Burney an Indian agent. I hope the US cancels his student visa.


AKS said...

I just read that article, he's such a little shit-head! And his attempt at humour / sarcasm - Ansar Burney (Singh!) - fails as miserably as my various, and still continuing, jocular attempts on this blog; and I didn't even go to Harvard. That's just shameful!

Asad said...

the 'burney-singh' idiocy aside, i'm wondering why you find this act of his to be so douchey (yeah, it's a real word... google that shit).
i ask because a lot of people found his rejection of the award to have symbolic importance which they took pride in.

bubs said...

AKS: He also got the world's highest marks in thinking studies. which I'm guessing is like Logic. Standards have certainly fallen since I was a student.

Asad: I can understand why people are proud of his protest. I just happen to get very annoyed by theatrics (the main reason I found ZAB so annoying).I also dislike people so intensely political that they aren't willing to set aside their differences for a non-political event. If, for example, George W. Bush was handing out medals to the Pakistani hockey team at the Olympics, I think it would be incredibly rude not to accept it, and that too in such an ostentatious manner.

Ali said...

Regardless of how asinine or OTT we see this dude's act, there is one important objective aspect of it which made me recall Antonio Gramsci. As a student of politics and law, i'm heavily influenced by Gramsci, amongst others, who said:

"Politics as the operation of power is not just about governments, elections, or even the police and army. Rather, politics occurs daily in everybody's lives, whether one is going to school, reading a novel or visiting the doctor."
(cited in Edward Said's 'Culture and Imperialism')

Some of the crucial operations of
power occur at a micro level.

Asad said...

i feel that any act of protest, or any act that seeks to call attention to alleged injustice is by definition theatrical, and even ostentatious.

no matter how subtle the act in and of itself may be, once the purpose is understood, perception will catapult the action into something bigger.

example: black power salutes at the 1968 olympics.

secondly, for many individuals, politicizing the seemingly apolitical is the only means of having their voice heard.

the idea is that if you have something to say, one feels an obligation to utilize their 15 minutes, as it were, for something poignant.

such obligation tends to trump apparent rudeness when an individual feels strongly about an issue.

Ali said...


That's the point Gramsci was making, even the seemingly apolitical is political. Or the way Salman Rushdie put it in his book 'Fury': 'Even anti-Americanism was Americanism in disguise, conceding, as it did, that America was the only game in town and the matter of America the only business at hand…'

I too feel that most popular acts of protest today are inflated precisely because they are "allowed" i.e. they are not really threatening enough.

Example: 1,000,000+ protestors in Central London 2003 against the Iraq War. Not threatening enough for behavioural politics.

The other avenues of resistance are more subtle, yet very political.
Example: Cultural resistance in the arts -
Aime Cesaire's poetry;
Harold Pinter's plays (check out his Nobel Prize speech on youtube);
Salman Rushdie's writings before he became a pro-war apologetic for which he was knighted;
the original Jazz movement before it became packaged by the US government and showcased to Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Russia in the Cold War context to show the world the greatness of American liberalism;
Naji Al-Ali's cartoons (for which he was killed);
Banksy's and other artists' pieces on the wall in Jerusalem;
and the writings of "3rd world" intellectuals like Edward Said and Frantz Fanon.

bubs said...

Asad: I would have been far more tolerant of Khurram’s actions if nearly 100 per cent of the country didn’t agree with him already. That’s also the main problem I have with Iftikhar Chaudhry. He had no compulsion taking oath under Musharraf when he was popular. And I would have vociferously praised Khurram if there was even the slightest chance that he would suffer for his ‘protest’.
Margaret Thatcher was the speaker at my college graduation ceremony and I, like the vast majority of the primarily liberal student body, absolutely detested her politics. But if I had made an ass of myself while receiving my degree, I certainly wouldn’t have thought of myself as a courageous dissident.

Ali: Thanks for reminding me why I disagree so strongly with Communist theorists. If Khurram had silently taken his award, Gramsci would have felt that was giving tacit approval to US policies, a notion I find particularly preposterous. Communist theorists, particularly Trotsky, always saw culture only as a political tool in their fight. When you consider culture only in political terms, you rob it of all its beauty. And artists who consider politics more important than craft tend to produce very dismal output. Consider Harold Pinter’s godawful recent poetry which is solely concerned with castigating political stances he disagrees with and his far more nuanced plays, which while still political, don’t bludgeon you with the author’s politics. The same could apply to the propagandist documentaries of Michael Moore and the artistically visionary documentaries of Errol Morris.
I also find some of the examples you have given curious. Salman Rushdie is as much ’resisting’ (although I would never apply that phrase to anything Rushdie has ever written) now as he was before he became pro-war; it’s just that now he opposes Islamic terrorism. And your aside about the Jazz movement being used by the US government is an example of Gramsci’s theories in action. When you view everything, including accepting an award from someone you happen to disagree with(as any Communist theorist worth his salt would have), through a political lens, it becomes very easy to bludgeon everything to fit into our particular worldview.

Ali said...


i have to disagree with you on your use of the word 'resistance' to describe what salman rushdie is doing while being pro-war. he's 'opposing' terrorism, i'd agree with that. 'resistance' has a different and deeper meaning, i'm of the view of attributing it to the 'subaltern'. you can't be pro-oppressor while being engaged in 'resistance'. you may disagree with all this, and that's fine. that's just my opinion which i wanted to share.

oh btw, where did you graduate from that maggie thatcher was the guest speaker? (you don't have to disclose that if you don't want to)

Uni said...

A cause is a cause. You stand up FOR it whenever you have a chance. He had nothing against American education, thats why Harvard. He had everything against American policy makers (government personnel), so he refused the award.

Pretty simple logic.