In Defense of Those Cartoon Improvisations As a Means of Protest Against the Squeezing and Engulfing Fascist Evil in Bangladesh – OpEd
Yes, those two YouTube videos (https://youtu.be/JZs4W3R4PV4; https://youtu.be/EQ6DW3sUxTY) and many more, compared with the similar or even worse buzz and blizzards all around, are indeed decent and amazingly creative. They have probably been intended by the original master-artists as a means of legitimate protest against the egregious evil that is the mafia-style fetid and freezing-to-the-bone fascism let loose in Bangladesh by Sheikh Hasina. Such protests are well recognized and have been a vital part of the creative tradition existing in the society and civilization since the early times of history. However, when some one who must have been intelligently aware and morally keen and informed concerning the corrosive and cancerous erosion in all fronts in Bangladesh — from political to moral to cultural — recently took the two videos from the cyberspace and put them through some group chat email forums in North America, there has been some unnecessary hue and cry – immature and imbecile — against them being recirculated or redirected.
It is only the sensible and satirically constructive protest that is suggested in those two or more YouTube videos, which have been created to challenge or confront the atrocious mafia monstrosities going on unchecked and unbridled for years in Bangladesh with the RAW and Gopal police as the main instrument of the fascist strangulation of the nation by dictator Sheikh Hasina. Produced in support of freedom of speech and in criticism of all-out fascist terror, torture and tyranny unleashed in Bangladesh, a country divided, a country in bondage, a police and prison state, and a suffering people under the clutches of reckless and senseless state terrorism, such videos fall within the category of befitting and well-earned protests against the she-autocrat Hasina. Far from being ill-motivated, malicious and controversial, those videos and the like are not only funny, rhetorically oriented, and carefully crafted, but also projected to uphold moral correctives as all satires do from a certain vantage point. They are neither pungent nor abusive invectives; they are hilarious, entertaining, and light-hearted with their messages projected in a pointed manner that the fascist regime deserves.
Not to speak of the rich satirical tradition from the ancient Greek and Roman times through the Renaissance and Restoration comedies, comically portrayed characters in poems and plays are in abundant supply. To turn to serious literature, the greatest English poet John Milton’s Areopagitica (1644) is “a prose polemic opposing licensing and censorship. It is among history’s most influential and impassioned philosophical defences of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression. Many of its expressed principles have formed the basis for modern justifications […] The work argues forcefully against Parliament’s 1643 Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing, also known as the Licensing Order of 1643, in which Parliament required authors to have a license approved by the government before their work could be published.” English writer John Stuart Mill’s classic On Liberty (1859) “emphasizes the importance of individuality, which he considers prerequisite to the higher pleasures—the summum bonum of utilitarianism.” According to French philosopher Voltaire, “Let us read and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” In his reasoned and democratic tolerance of others, he said, “I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it.” Bengali Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose grandfather owned a thriving and flourishing prostitution business in 19th century Calcutta, said, “অমঙ্গলকে জগৎ হইতে হাসিয়া উড়াইয়া দিবার চেষ্টা করিও না; তাহা হইলে মঙ্গল সমেত উড়িয়া যাইবে। মঙ্গলকে যে ভাবে গ্রহণ করিয়াছ, অমঙ্গলকে সেই ভাবে গ্রহণ কর।“
I’m therefore sorry to disagree with those who are critical of these well-produced and well-choreographed videos as a voice of democratic protest. They are amazing artistic productions. I have nothing against them — satirical and delightful cartoon videos of dancing and singing as theyb are, creatively executed and aesthetically satisfying, suggesting freedom of expression and the vigor and vitality of human imagination at the same time. To protest a fascist regime marked by total tyranny tearing the entire nation of Bangladesh and by complete destruction of all norms and values, let the critics of such devilish demolition of a nation resort to any means of combat and confrontation available. Why react against out of flattery and sycophancy? To censor and censure these charming videos is to behave like the fascist dictator herself who has been forcibly suppressing and snatching away all kinds of dissent including the democratic expressions of challenge or criticism of her horror and terror through whatever few cartoon pictures, sketches and drawings were made and released, in addition to the entire range of the main stream media being thwarted and throttled, left with no space in the chokehold political environment in Bangladesh.
In her endless and unlimited torture and tyranny and sell-out pro-India and anti-state position, she has earned all modes of protest by peace and democracy loving patriotic people of Bangladesh. Only the blind supporters of the regime will find the images harsh and hostile, while others—the suffering society–find the videos not only amusing and entertaining but also as ventilating their repressed emotions. In these videos, dance and music have been effectively weaponized against a devil fascist dictator. Those who do not like these interesting videos may just ignore them without being rudely judgmental and making distasteful comments about the art of satire. A rich part of literary heritage and culture from the ancient times, satire contains a large moral content intended for the correction/rectification of the faults and follies of the society.
Those who are talking about the rejection of these beautiful videos in a cowardly manner find, most unfortunately, the fascist annihilation, elimination and strangulation in Bangladesh pleasant and tasteful. By contrast, in coarse contradiction, they find these charming videos offensive and objectionable. Aren’t they unfair and illogical and senseless? Without any substantive grounds, they find the nicely done videos beneath what is actually their unrefined and underdeveloped taste. Do they claim their taste to be otherworldly ideal, inhumanly benign, extraterrestrial, angelically innocent, and prophetically endowed, unfit for the world stage? In the context of the sublunar and terrestrial democratic society, these images are perfectly fine and harmless.
Let us take the following 19 points in argument for consideration:
1. There are many such images that are flying and floating around on YouTube and other social media. They abound the internet. They are meant to stay at least for a while with no legalities or proprieties violated by democratic standards.
2. Many of them are creative, artistic, and legitimate expressions of democratic dissent, particularly in the context of the fascist ruler in question.
3. When this tyrant ruler herself attacks her opponents with savage, cruel, X-rated, foul and filthy and nasty and dirty language every day (remember what she said about the great and glorious and noble and lofty Khaleda Zia again and again, at least on two occasions on record?), these images are nothing by comparison. They are safe and clean as weapons of protest, well above and beyond reproach. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these fantastically beautiful videos as a tool against the fascist clients and clowns.
4. When the subject herself, her mafia regime, her gangs and goons, and her brutal police are involved in massive, widespread, and wholesale corruption, abduction, looting, stealing, killing, election rigging, confining, remanding, imprisoning, hanging, torturing, oppressing, and raping thousands and thousands, why the artistically talented producers of these videos should be objected to? Let them fly and float around as freely as possible without being curtailed or stemmed.
5. When the fascist she-ruler, bent on inflicting and imposing choking and suffocating suppression and strangulation on the Bangladeshi nation, allows no freedom of speech, why to curb and control such legit expressions by artists of creative ingenuity?
6. When the fascist subject has unleashed totalitarian police terror and tyranny and intimidation for years and ages, why object to artistic freedom of expression?
7. When she and her Gopal police catch, beat, murder and throw creative cartoonists and journalists to rot behind bars, why should these harmless videos be subject to undue reprimand?
8. When the tyrant subject has allowed the sculpture (in Firozpur/Mymensingh) of a completely naked woman proudly showing her genitals and other private parts, what’s wrong with these nice and decent videos of dance and music beautifully and aesthetically weaponized?
9. If hard core pornography and prostitution and X-rated cinemas are, unfortunately, legit, available all over, what’s wrong with these funny and entertaining videos?
10. When pornographic go-go striptease dances are live on stage and lurid underground casinos are everywhere, what can go wrong with these clean images of dance and music? Probably nothing.
11. When there are X-rated videos of Word Bombs (শব্দবোমা) hurled unopposed daily by Sefatulla Sefuda (from Vienna) and Bollom Rosy (from Montreal) in protest against Bangladeshi political actors, including Hasina, nothing can go wrong with these sophisticated satirical songs and dances.
12. If Donald Trump can catch all women by their (expletive/most private parts) and can still get elected and is likely to get elected again in 2024 (Trump movement is well and alive and active), what’s wrong with these funny and artistic videos? Nothing.
13. If Trump and all politicians are free to use “f-words” in public shows and speeches, what’s wrong with these entertaining videos? Possibly nothing.
14. When there are so many satirical cartoon expressions about Donald T, George B, Barack O (as a gorilla/chimpanzee), and others, why react negatively to all those nice videos of fine dance and music well harmonized, crafted and choreographed?
15. When the Western art is full of nudes, all worth millions and millions of dollars and eternally housed and harbored in the greatest museums of the world, why this fuss against these entertaining videos? There need not and cannot be any.
16. When the streets are full of almost naked LGBT parades and partners, why find these beautiful videos offensive? There must be something wrong with those who are commenting in the negative.
17. When the authoritarian she-ruler’s friend and master and lord India is full of more than semi naked dances by actors and actresses on screens and stages, what’s wrong with these harmless videos? Let her critics uphold political and artistic freedoms of expression everywhere, especially in the fascist Bangladesh. All dirts and abuses need to be exposed from inside out, top to bottom, not just nicely but also mercilessly and roughly, as necessary. Let the people face the fascist oppression by all means, as it deserves.
18. Bangladesh is not an Islamic state not even a Muslim country any longer. It is futile and beside the point to invoke Islamic tradition to register resentment against those beautiful videos and the like of which there are many swimming in the cyberspace. Under the Modi-fied Hasina, Bangladesh has become a simulacrum of a Hindu state under the mercy of RAW with millions of Indian Hindus working in Bangladesh where the majority has become the minority. Hindus are the dominant force under Hasina — be it admin or police or judiciary or whatever. To make a long story short, Hasina’s abominable abysmal abuses are so numerous that this kind of videos are long overdue as a tool of protest. They are not only sane and sensible but decent and aesthetically satisfying. They are also needed to uphold freedom of expression and the creativity of human imagination. They are great works of art by way of improvisation.
19. Even in Islam there is a provision, among others, the option of tit for tat, “equivalent retaliation,” and “infliction of an injury or insult in return for one that one has suffered.”
Let’s take it easy and have fun with such videos as protests may take place in different forms and forums and formats, hard and soft, against the all-swallowing and all-engulfing evils and injustices at home and abroad.
*Q M Jalal Khan
Author, Co-Author, and/or Co-Editor of the following:
1. Bangladesh in Bondage: Tarique Rahman, SQC, LB, and Other Essays (2021), www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9789811612350;
2. Begum Khaleda Zia: People’s Leader of Bangladesh (2020)
www.amazon.com/Begum-Khaleda-Zia-portrait-Bangladesh/dp/1680531050 (for cheaper paperback)
www.amazon.com/Begum-Khaleda-Zia-portrait-Bangladesh/dp/1680531042 (for expensive hardcover)
3. India’s Hegemonic Design in Bangladesh (2020)
www.writersrepublic.com/bookshop/indias-hegemonic-design-bangladesh ($15.00 plus shipping). www.writersrepublic.com/bookshop-preview/9781637281581
4. Bangladesh: Reflections on a Divided Country (New York: Peter Lang, 2018). www.amazon.com/Bangladesh-Political-Literary-Reflections-Divided/dp/1433146134
5. Bangladesh Divided: Reflections on a Corrupt Police and Prison State (New York: Peter Lang, 2019). www.amazon.com/Bangladesh-Divided-Political-Literary-Reflections/dp/1433165961
6. Bangladesh: A Suffering People Under State Terrorism (New York: Peter Lang, 2019), www.amazon.com/Bangladesh-Suffering-People-Under-Terrorism/dp/1433176580
7. “Sheikh Hasina’s Brutal BNP-Phobia and Her Scandalous ‘Midnight’ Power Grab Through Vampire Vote Dacoity and Villainous ‘S/Election’ Rigging with an All-Time High Record of Humongous White-Collar Corruption” in Bangladesh: A Suffering People Under State Terrorism (New York: Peter Lang, 2019), www.amazon.com/Bangladesh-Suffering-People-Under-Terrorism/dp/1433176580
8. Forthcoming: President Ziaur Rahman: Legendary Leader of Bangladesh