The Modi government’s recent revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir caused a moral uproar in Pakistan. Both the government and the people felt outraged at the revocation and Indian government’s continued atrocities against Kashmiris.
No one with a sane mind and a little empathy in their heart would deny that condemning India’s atrocities in Kashmir is the right thing to do, morally.
However, when moral outrage becomes selective, such as outrage over atrocities in Kashmir and deafening silence over egregious crimes against minorities inside the country, it should also be condemned.
Why? What is wrong with selective moral outrage? Spencer Case, Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado Boulder, says, “To be selectively outraged is to be guilty – of irrationality at least, and probably of moral hypocrisy as well.”
A counterargument to this claim, as Case explains, is that a moral human being, especially a psychologically normal human being, can not be evenly morally outraged in a world so full of outrages.
This is true, as our moral outrage and empathy have limitations, but there is also a counterargument to this view the support for which is found in theology and moral philosophy.
In Islam, your neighbor and your community have the utmost right over your solidarity and support. For example, Zakat (obligatory alms-giving) should be given to the deserving in the community first. Once this responsibility is fulfilled, then one can support the economically deserving elsewhere.
Similarly, if the members of your own community or nation are in some kind of suffering, they are the first deserving of your solidarity. The rest of the people come later. In moral philosophy too, you have the utmost responsibility and solidarity to show with those who are the closest to you geographically and in other ways.
Again, you can counterargue that moral outrage at the fate of others and your own are not morally competing interests. That is true. They are not and should not be, but only if you have your responsibility to those in need and close to you fulfilled first.
In Pakistan, the ethnic and religious minorities have suffered for decades, but the government and the majority of the people have been silent.
Religious minorities such as the Hindus, Christians, Ahmedis and Shia Muslims have been persecuted by Islamists for decades, but one sees from little to no moral outrage in the country.
Similarly, ethnic minorities such as the Baloch, Pashtuns and Mohajirs have been persecuted by the state, yet again the moral outrage at the atrocious acts from the successive elected governments and the people is from little to non-existent.
Moreover, elected parliamentarians are in jail. Thousands of activists are missing and as many killed extra-judicially. A large number of bodies of political activists have been found in mass graves.
There have been curfews in Waziristan. When people speak about their rights, they are silenced, detained and even killed. The state’s secret service harasses and surveils activists even outside the country.
The Baloch have been calling on the UN for help for decades. The Pashtuns after the emergence of the rights-based Pashtun Tahafuz (Protection) Movement and state repression, marched on UNO in Geneva for their constitutional rights last month.
Most people are silent on these atrocities against their own people but outraged against India’s atrocities in Kashmir. This is a fake and selective moral outrage. I am enraged at this selective outrage.