Brass Tacks: Zaid Hamid


alliburton after the CFO of the energy company met with BOA officials. So by one degree of separation, isn’t Brass Tacks, the company of Zaid Hamid, linked to Halliburton because of the BOA connection?

Now I want to clarify that all the above facts are true, but I do not believe in the yarn I wind around them to make them connect. I do not believe for a second that Zaid Hamid intends to create fear and profit from it. He just happened to be a security expert who landed on TV with a pre-existing business and started preaching his prejudices derived from random conspiracy theories. I wrote the scenario above to illustrate how the coincidental can be woven together to make a compelling narrative that has no real truth, nor is it causal or correlated. It is thinking like this that I wish Zaid Hamid would question himself on, because as demonstrated above even he could fall prey to the world where nothing is substantiated and the dicey is used as truth to fan hatred.

As far as profiting from concerns he preaches against, well that’s for him to resolve. But the absolutism that Zaid Hamid holds others to, he does not hold himself to apparently.

This absolutism is not just moral in his case, it is intellectual as well. In his recent programme, he described how income taxes were one of the greatest conspiracies of the US. Had he just bothered to look into the system of income taxes and public finance, he would have realized that a progressive taxation system is one of the greatest tools to redistribute wealth and to help the poor. Accidents of birth, talent and intelligence can be mitigated into a more just society when there is a documented tax base, and societies can pay for services to the economically disadvantaged. A progressive taxation system can make sure that there are good hospitals, schools, pensions and other benefits that can help them overturn an unequal society by redistributing from the rich to the poor. The welfare state that all populist Islamic leaders promise will be based on the progressive income tax system, not government sales tax (GST). If we had no income taxes, and only GST then we would be taxing consumption, and for the poor food is a large part of that, which means relative to income no income taxes and only GST; it would penalize the poor more than the rich and they would eat less. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

For example, Zaid Hamid has been insinuating for the longest time that most of Pakistan’s leaders are in the pockets of the CIA. I am sure some are. However, Zaid Hamid makes one exclusion to his thesis, General Musharraf, someone who overtly cooperated more with the US than anyone else in Pakistan’s history. Now exactly how Zaid Hamid has the knowledge to make this distinction, no one knows. By continuously insisting on television the he is the only one who knows these things, he is creating the cult of personality, not that of objectivity. After all, this is a man who decries the state of representative politics, of democracy, but that does not mean he has the right to do away with it, because the only alternative in his eyes would be someone he approves of (himself?), not who the people choose.

In the end, I would like to add a few cautionary notes. Brass Tacks is not a programme entirely without merit, and neither is Zaid Hamid. For example, he is right when he discusses the rancid imperialism of the US and its misadventures abroad, he is right when he believes that unfettered capitalism is bad, or that Muslims need to awaken from their slumber. He is right when he mentions there are flaws in an economic system that allows for hot money, that sells credit irresponsibly for mindless consumption. These are legitimate themes, and the fact that Zaid Hamid is non-sectarian is applause worthy.

But where Zaid Hamid should draw the line is upholding the facts that withstand query, abstaining from hate speech even if he opposes large swathes of humanity and verifying tracts that may not fit into his presuppositions. There is a place for both the right and left on television, after all that is what creates consensus through dialectic. What should be common is remembering Islam is a religion of peace.

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