Sunday, November 30, 2008

T.W.I.N. #6: Mumbai, Gujarat, Pakistan


If you're going to listen to anyone talk about Pakistan and India, Tariq Ali is the one. The round-the-clock coverage of the Mumbai hostage crisis was essentially hollow. I had MSNBC on for nearly all of Thankstaking Day, and they talked about nothing but Mumbai. Unfortunately they provided scant context and history, let alone analysis of the attacks. And forget about any discussion of root causes--I didn't hear "Gujarat" mentioned once. In 2002 over 1000 people, mostly Muslims, were massacred by Hindus (in retaliation for a Muslim massacre of 58 Hindus on a train). As if the deaths aren't awful enough, the slaughter was apparently carried out with encouragement from the right wing Hindu nationalist state government, which takes the whole affair from "communal violence" to a pogrom. According to Ashutosh Varshney, associate associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and director of its Center for South Asian Studies,
Reports in almost all major newspapers of India, with the exception of the vernacular press in Gujarat, show that at least in March, if not April, the state not only made no attempt to stop the killings, but also condoned them.6 That the government “officially encouraged” anti-Muslim violence—something often believed—cannot be conclusively proved on the basis of the evidence provided by newspaper reports, though later research may well prove that. What is unquestionable is that the state condoned revenge killings.

In no way am I trying to condone the Deccan Mujahideen's actions--they stand out as examples of just how awful we, as humans, can be. I do, though, think there is a lot more to it than "Muslim fundamentalism/extremism/terrorism." I mean, the media here, and the state of India, are pushing the idea that terrorism is endemic to Islam. Just listen to the coverage! The rush to connect these 19 year old boys to Pakistan was incredibly swift. Why?

Well, this view of Muslims has a practical, geopolitical function, namely military action against the people of Pakistan. Which brings us to the Tariq Ali video at opening of this post. It doesn't look good, folks. The fearsome military power (both state and private) that will be shifted from Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan will not be good for any of us. It's terrorism, too, afterall.


chad v said...

Seriously it is terrorism. Sad that Obama seems not to get it. That he is leaving Gates as defense secretary. In his defense, I suppose he has to pay off all the people who got him into his position, I was just hoping his ridiculously centrist positions were just a brilliant marketing scheme to get him in the white house. Maybe they still are and when he's finally "the man" he will represent those who need representin'.
Further I hope Rice will make a difference at the UN but some of her comments make me worry that it'll be more of the same ole us bs politics. Goddess save Dar fur since no one else gives a crap.
Enuf doom and gloom I dig the page TBaum and praise Buddha, Allah, Jehovah, or whoever your god may be that Palin isn't in the white house!

a mysterious lady said...

Great post Mr. B.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this analysis and context. It was so frustrating trying to find out what the hell was going on in Mumbai. All media accounts were so vague and sensationalistic. Nice work.