Syed Talat Hussain, finally officially confirmed as having been imported into DawnNews, must be feeling like that right now.
Syed Talat Hussain in his 'liberal' avatar
The article in question was published in the Urdu daily Express as an op-ed piece yesterday under the title "Jolie Ka Thhappar" [Jolie's Slap in the Face], and has rightly caused an uproar among most of those people who read it. Not because of the thrust of its main point, which was criticism of the government's alleged insensitivity to the plight of the flood affected - based on media reports of an allegedly leaked confidential report by UNHCR's goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie to the organization after her visit to Pakistan - but in how he viciously maligned Angelina Jolie's character to build his case.
Here is how
In essence, Hussain went on a diatribe against Jolie's personal life, her "immoral" lifestyle, her allegedly selfish and cut-throat nature, her alleged hypocrisy and manipulation in adopting children and even her "plain" looks - most of his 'facts' are in fact made up or sensationalized - only to build the case, right at the end, that even an 'immoral and wayward woman' like Jolie was deserving of more respect than the government since she at least criticized it for its peripheral preoccupations during the flood crisis. If you think that is a rather convoluted way of attacking the government, you would be dead right.
What Hussain has actually shown up with his words is his own sexism, his own bigotry, his own racism (he actually derides Jolie's children as "rang barangay yateem bachay" or 'multi-coloured orphan kids'), his own homophobia and his own amazingly parochial nature. He has conclusively proved, if it needed to be proved, that the paet ki daarrhi (beard in the stomach i.e. concealed bigotry) has a way of coming out at some point or the other. He has also shown how some hypocrites in the media write in one style for the Urdu-reading public and maintain quite a different persona for the English readership (perhaps he thought those who read English papers would never actually read his column in Urdu).
But you could not possibly understand why I say all of this without reading the article itself. For those who cannot read the purple prose in the original Urdu, here is my translation of it which tries to remain as true as possible to Hussain's style and meaning:
Jolie’s Slap in the Face
By Syed Talat Hussain
"Hollywoodsuperstar Angelina Jolie’s life is a tortuous and colourful tale. This 36-year-old woman has suffered all those misfortunes about which her fans (I am not one of them) are all praise [sic] and which some of them enjoy thinking about. At a very tender age, she had adopted many of the habits of adulthood because father and mother could not bear living together and so this little girl and her brother were forced to live outside a family structure, with her mother. Madam hated traditions right from the start and thus constantly ran away from home to try and live life on her own terms. Finally, bidding farewell to even these broken relationships, she began working in the theatre (In America, theatre and prostitution are two different professions, readers are advised not to draw the wrong conclusions based on ’s example). Pakistan
Because her looks were average, she couldn’t make much of a mark in acting. If one takes a look at Angelina Jolie’s photographs from that time, her face wouldn’t even invite a second glance: hollow cheeks, triangular nose, big startled-looking eyes and lips like an uncovered clay pot, no glow on her face nor the vitality of youth in her body. This is why, in order to advance her film career, she relied on marriages. She established relationships with well known filmmakers and thus inducted herself in the race for big budget films. Then with unflagging energy she worked hard to convert those opportunities into making a name for herself that is the envy of every good actress.
Angelina’s personal life is full of going against all those values that in every society lay the foundations of distinguishing good from bad. She is famously known as someone who can cross any limits to achieve her objectives. Her critics bestow titles such as “Sorceress” and “Queen of Hell” on her. In circles close to her it is said that, were murder not punishable by life in prison, Angelina Jolie would quite happily kill with her own hands any woman or man who came in her way, because softness is not part of her character.
According to some reports, the lady treats substance addiction like a profession and every year experiments with new substances to regularly nurture this disease. Besides her ambition for climbing the ladder of success, she also enjoys loving women (what you understand from this is right!). According to a recent newspaper report, Angelina Jolie calls herself the mistress of Sapphic love and considers these despicable experiences among the best of her life. According to her, only a woman can really understand the delicate emotions of another woman. Men, despite all their attempts, can never achieve the standard that is the apogee of women’s real desires.
Angelina Jolie has also made provisions to deflect attention away from these dark aspects of her life. That is why she has adopted multi-coloured orphaned kids to project herself as the goddess of motherly warmth and empathy. Her expert public relations machine has presented these aspects of her in such an effective way that the United Nations appointed this
Hollywoodactress as a goodwill ambassador. What special education or skills Angelina possesses to be appointed to this position, we do not know. Up until now, her biography does not reveal any period in which she shows herself to be proving her mastery of international affairs. In a life studded with addiction and intoxication and moral waywardness, if there is any glittering star, it is her efforts in the profession of film. Other than that, this lady does not live up to any standards and then Eastern standards are far higher than her character demonstrates.
If you have any doubt about this claim, open up the Constitution of Pakistan. Take out Articles 62 and 63. What do they say? Does it not say this: We who consider ourselves the flag-bearers of Eastern traditions, will consider those the best amongst us, who in addition to achieving excellence in other affairs, “possess a good character, do not go against the laws of Islam, do not commit great sins, are pious, and not involved in moral turpitude” etc. etc.? Our concept of piety is rooted in the assumption that those people who do not possess these traits in their personal life cannot have a position of respect in society. Be it in everyday life or matters of state, characters like Angelina Jolie, be they Muslim or non-Muslim, should remain deprived of respect. Indeed, had Angelina Jolie admitted to her shenanigans while living in
, she would have been stoned to death many times over. Pakistan
But even this filmic woman drowning in her Westernisms has enough of a glimmer of values remaining in her to understand that pushing and shoving distressed flood affected people because of [official] protocol is a bad thing. In her report to the UN upon her return back from Pakistan, Angelina Jolie has expressed surprise that, at a time when 10 million people are restless with hunger, she was feted like royalty in the Prime Minister House. The prime minister’s family traveled in a special plane to come and meet her and give her gifts. This report is such a slap on the face that, if a person’s blood is not already cold, the redness of his cheeks would be visible to the entire nation. I don’t know why, after this report of her experiences in
, this Pakistan Hollywoodactress seems more worthy of respect than her prominent hosts. And I wonder if the hosts have learnt any lessons from this actress’ morals."
Just to set the record straight about Jolie:
1. She has been married twice, to actors Johnny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, neither of whom fall in the category of people who could give her a leg up in big budget films (in fact, how many people even know who Miller is?). She currently lives with actor Brad Pitt, whom she met long after she had become famous, and she has publicly said that she does not want to marry again until gay people also have the same right.
2. She has won one Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, two Screen Actors Guild awards and three Golden Globe awards, hardly someone you would classify as a non-serious actor who only got to stardom by sleeping her way through. In fact, there is no evidence (documented or gossiped about) of relationships with any directors or producers.
3. Where Hussain picked up his quotes about Jolie's intensely ambitious nature is a complete mystery (maybe Hussain spends his time reading The National Enquirer or has a yen for Brad Pitt's ex, Jennifer Aniston). In fact, Jolie has often expressed a desire to quit acting altogether to spend more time with her family.
4. She has never been accused, to my knowledge, of substance addiction, though she has admitted experimenting with drugs in her teenage years and has openly talked about her rebellious phase during adolescence.
5. The post of Goodwill Ambassador at the UN is predicated only on celebrities who wish to use their fame to advocate for causes the UN agencies wish to bring attention to. It has nothing to do with being experts in international relations. Jolie was appointed Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) because she is a famous actress, not because of the children she adopted.
The "plain" Ms Jolie in Pakistan
Contrary to the sensationalist claptrap that this article peddles about Jolie, this is what we DO learn without doubt about Syed Talat Hussain from this article:
1. He believes all divorced or single parent families are unnatural and it is impossible to grow up happy or well-adjusted in them.
2. He hates people who hate traditions, no matter how stifling, and rebel against them.
3. He thinks all theatre actors in Pakistan are prostitutes. Actresses and perhaps all showbiz people are not worthy of any respect.
4. He enjoys making fun of people's looks, even if they are adolescent children.
5. He thinks that anyone who rebels against society's norms is destroying the good in society. Anyone who advocates equal rights for people based not on their gender, race or sexual orientation - as Jolie does - is the scum of the earth.
6. He has no problem making shit up to justify his claims.
7. He really, and I mean REALLY, hates gay people or even those who try and break down the barriers of discrimination against them through their words. He thinks of homosexuality as moral turpitude and despicable.
8. He can't imagine how any woman might find more fulfillment from another woman than a virile man.
9. He mocks children.
10. He has deep-rooted racial prejudices.
11. He thinks adoption is unnatural and is done out of pity by people as a public relations exercise.
12. He thinks everyone in the UN is a moron who gets fooled easily by PR machines.
13. He is xenophobic and thinks there is a clear line between Western and "superior" Eastern values. He also believes the West is irretrievably morally "corrupt" as evidenced by the 'looseness' of its women.
14. He thinks Article 62 and 63 of the Pakistan Constitution - inserted by the hypocritical dictator General Ziaul Haq to manipulate the parliament - are the epitome of Eastern values.
15. He thinks stoning people to death for their personal lifestyle choices or expression of opinion is acceptable.
16. He thinks it is okay to throw mud on someone's personal life to titillate readers as long as you are just marshalling your sleaze to make an unconnected point. Even if that person is completely unknown to you and has only gone out of their way to garner sympathy for the same people you claim to be fighting for.
Most people probably do not remember the fact that this cretin of a pseudo-intellectual was often himself accused (unfairly in my opinion), in the early part of his journalistic career, of being an empty-headed boy-toy for his female boss. They also probably do not remember the vile homophobic rant he once wrote (about 10 years or so ago) as an op-ed in The News, which is no longer available in the archives on the net (if anyone can find it, please do send it along to us). But we do, even if Hussain has tried to erase this past with a carefully cultivated image of sensibility and balance. Most, however, might recall that he is as fond of invoking the bogey of "liberal extremist", to label anyone who argues for secularism or progressive politics or offers dissent against antiquated societal norms, as people like Shireen Mazari, Ahmad Quraishi, Ansar Abbasi and Hamid Mir (great club you have there Talat). Someone should ask him to actually define what a "liberal extremist" is and how many of them actually exist in this country for them to be constantly used to scare people. We might learn some more about him.
There has also been a lot of speculation about where the well-spring of this anger and bitterness against Jolie actually arises from. Personally, I think Jolie probably ignored LittleMullahBoy on her trip to Pakistan, something his narcissistic ego just could not take.
But whatever the reason, we know now what the Express' idea of editorial decency is, and we also know another thing for sure: the Dawn Media Group really should reconsider long and hard about who it is taking on. Does Syed Talat Hussain really represent the values Dawn claims to uphold?