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Take a knee – I

‘Take a knee’ has taken the world by storm – from Japan, going west, to California. My own experience of “the knee” is valid. In 1963, I returned from the US after doing Highschool. I joined Edwards College, Peshawar, and spent a wonderful 2 years. Friendships made during that spell are still prevalent. Unfortunately, during this period I tangled with a rough and tough Pathan. He gave me a knee in the groin – it took me one week to recover. In the 1960s/70s, a famous Hollywood actress, Angie Dickinson, had her legs insured for US$1 million. She supposedly had the best shaped knees in the world. Perhaps it was a studio stunt – but it worked. By 1967, Mary Quant in London and the other fashionistas around the world created a fashion revolution. A byproduct was the miniskirt (a real gift for the oglers). I recall sitting at many bars in London or New York with a group of naughty friends and studying the knees of the various cuties sitting on the barstools in their minis.

Back to the serious stuff. Racism exists everywhere. The racial tensions in the US have been exacerbated by the current administration and the explosive mixture of social media, forthcoming elections and hate speech. Recently, the ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show’ has come under attack for background racism. A few days ago, a legendary leader of Black Power and civil rights movement, John Lewis, passed away. He was given a befitting eulogy. My son-in-law is from Barbados. He has faced many trials and tribulations in his life. But the fact of the matter is that the blacks in the US are making sure and steady progress. Obama for instance. If you see the list of the richest sportsmen in the US, it is dominated by blacks. So too in the entertainment industry – Oprah Winfrey is worth estimated US$ 3.2 billion. It’s a hard struggle, but progress is being made. Not so in some other countries the US played a decisive role in ending apartheid in South Africa. When Nelson Mandela assumed power, the portents were good. After his death, the ANC got mired in massive mismanagement and corruption. Still today the White Businesses hold most of the economic power in the US.

Slavery is the oldest profession in the world (the others stem from slavery). Throughout history all empires, kingdoms, states, dominions have dealt in slavery. Slavery was also the most profitable business. The Roman Empire, the darling of ancient history, was founded on slavery. The slaves of the Roman Empire were assigned to various tasks – farming, building, infrastructure, agricultural labor, etc. The slave women were available to their masters for any task. At one stage of the Roman Empire, the slaves outnumbered the Roman population. This was of great concern to the Roman Senate. Eventually in 70 B.C., a slave called Spartacus led a revolution against the Roman masters the first-ever popular uprising in human history. It was a bloody battle, but the Romans prevailed. Thereafter the screws were further tightened on the slaves. Their status was only one notch above animals. The Western philosophers would have us believe that “Roman Enlightenment” was the fountainhead of Western civilization. A great public relations job. Many centuries earlier, Alexander of Macedon (The Great) also built his empire on slavery. Socrates, Aristotle and Plato were all sympathetic to slavery.

Farooq Hassan, "Take a knee – I," Business recorder. 2020-07-28.
Keywords: Social sciences , Roman empire , Edwards College , Socrates , Aristotle , Plato , Racism America

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