On One Hand

November 29, 2008

Neoconservatives want to make Mumbai all about them again as usual

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:40 am
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This week we saw horrifying terrorist attacks on India’s most modernized city, Mumbai, when a group of 30 or more gunmen simultanneously held hostages and exploded bombs in several cafes, hotels and community centers in the city.

India is a place known first and foremost for its deep spirtuality, respect for its own diversity, and the high cultural value placed on compassion and nonviolence. Hindu-dominated India has the second highest number of Muslims of all countries in the world, surpassing Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh, falling second only to Indonesia. It has a history of more than a thousand years of multiculturalism, yet in a place where staunchly monotheist Islam and panthiest Hinduism converge, there has been strikingly little violence before modern times.

After a prolonged attack strikes India, the Neoconservatives have pounced. Tim Rutten explains in the Los Angeles Times that terrorists hate modernism, Jews and, essentially, capitalism. He goes on to argue that “fashionable sectors in the intellectual West, including the U.S.,” sympathize with the terrorists as part of the “socialism of imbicelles.” So before the terrorists and their motives are known and identified, Rutten knows exactly what they want. Before U.S. elites from these so-called “fashonable sectors” even have had a chance to respond, before he even knows what they are going to say, Rutten has decided that they will sympathesize with terrorists and that they are doing so because of their socialism.

In the OC Register, Mark Steyn writes that the real problem is the Islamic ideology and the fact that they hate everyone, Americans, Europeans, Jews, and Hindus alike, and that we don’t need to wait to know more. He scoffs at the incoming Obama administration’s beleif that “there are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet held talks without preconditions with,” which is hardly the Obama Administration’s viewpoint. Though he points out that Islamic terrorism is neither centralized nor predictable, he condemns those who think invading and occupying predominantly Muslim nations only makes matters worse.

We’ve heard this all before. It reminds us of the facts-be-damned, we-already-know-all-about-the-terrorists approach of wealthy white men in their country-club mansions who have never met a real live Muslim in their lives but think that simply reading the Qur’an leads to all kinds of dastardly acts against innocent people – the attitude that gripped the United States during the charge to war in Iraq, and is largely responsible for our historic blunder there.

It reminds us of the way that American Capitalism is elevated, while socialism, Islam, communism, multiculturalism and American liberalism are linked together as some kind of unified enemy, and only they, the few and proud neoconservatives, have seen clearly into the way the world works through an intuitive judgment they made while reading Atlas Shrugged.

It denies that most experts now know something else about the way Islamic terrorism has functioned: they like to be attacked. They love conflict. They like to lure their enemies into battle with them and then convince the Muslim world that their enemies are doing so because they hate Islam. (The Right Wing falls right into the trap by saying public hateful things about Islam.) This is an ideology that belevies that Muslims killed in battle are immediately transported to heaven. The Islamic version of Revelations insists that God’s Judgement Day (and the transportation of all beleiving Muslims to paradise) occurs the moment an evil enemy empire destroys the shrine in Mecca that all Muslims make their pilgramiges to.

They DON’T beleive in eventual global domination of Islam – a little-known fact about Islamic prophesy is that the religion will end “in a land of strangers;” they beleive that Islam is eventually wiped out by foreign empires, after which case God resurrects them in heaven and sends their enemies to eternal fire in Hell.

Sounds like they want a full-on war between the United States and Mecca, right?

The Islamic terrorism we saw on 9/11 and in London and Mumbai isn’t just about indiscriminately killing a few hundred of the 5-billion nonbeleivers on Earth every now and then. More people die of cancer in a single day than have died in the whole history of Islamic terrorism. They choose high-profile targets and dramatic incidents because they want a response. These are not people who backtracked or tried to soothe tensions when President Bush first called for a hunt of WMDs in Iraq and mentioned the possibility of war. They wanted the United States to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, and they wanted as many innocent people as possible – on both sides – to be killed, because it is in the deluge of video of bleeding, screeming children in the streets in Iraq that they win the most recruits and feel closest to the global apocalyptic battle leading to their Judgement Day.

What’s funny is that the neoconservatives and the Islamic extremists want exactly the same thing. In spite of their differences, they are kissing cousins when it comes to drawing Americans into foolish conflicts that lead to more deaths and perpetual terrorist attacks. Extremist Islamic ideologues have the neoconservative-Right by the balls in that instance, precicely through the Right Wing’s ignorance and failure to explore the true motives of their “enemies” they love to hate while appeasing them with more calls to violence.

Experts on Islamic terrorism immediately beleived that the intent behind the Mumbai attacks was to draw the country into war with Pakistan. The people who carried out the attack are likely Indian-born Muslims who speak Hindi and were possibly even raised in Mumbai. Even if violent conflict doesn’t break out, tensions will likley draw Pakistani troops away from the Afghani border toward the Indian border, freeing up the rural Pakistani-Afghani provinces that are currently occupied by the Taliban and the base camps for Al Quaida.

In other words, terrorists are hoping for an aggressive backlash against Pakistani Muslims in India, which would help them strengthen to perpetuate further terrorist attacks on Western nations in the future. The first thing American Neoconservatives would do is inform Hindu Indians that Islam is an evil religion (a religion it has, by the way, lived peacefully with for over 1,200 years) and to create a cultural environment that further isolates and marginalizes Indian-born Muslims – the very people who likely carried out this attack in the first place – while simultanneously protecting and appeasing the Al-Quaida camps who don’t want to be bothered by Pakistani troops.

Barack Obama just won an election with 53 percent of the popular vote in the United States, signaling a slight shift in the electorate from its attitudes under the policies of Bush. But in no way does this mean that those attitudes are over, and that we can rest easy assuming we know better than to repeat a war in Iraq.

Our country is tragically ignorant when it comes to knowing the ways of other cultures. If most Americans knew and understood that the difference between an Islamic extremist and a regular beleiving Muslim is that the extremist wants us to occupy Muslim countries because they think it will hasten the appocalypse, they probably wouldn’t favor the militaristic approach that Neoconservatives advocate. Those who get on TV or radio certainly wouldn’t want to make matters worse by bashing on Islam publicly when they know it is part of the terrorists plan to use that language from Americans to heighten tensions.

We know that our enemy, despite its extreme religiosity, is well-versed in human nature, and they seem to have human nature on their side when they assume their enemies (us) will act against their own interests and with their fear and anger instead.

Until we are all willing to take a basic World Religions 101 course, and hold our pundits and elected officials to the same basic standards of knowing what they talk about, these kinds of attitudes are going to be with us. It surely isn’t rocket science. Every sixth grader in America is intellectually capable of understinging what’s going on. It’s time for the adults to wake up and follow.

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4 Comments »

  1. Comment

    First, there are parts of your post I do agree with. But, I am taken aback on two aspects of your writing:

    1) You criticize members of the American Right who make ill-informed, inaccurate and harmful generalizations. I agree with this sentiment – some on the Right do repeatedly claim a false connection between “socialism, Islam, communism, multiculturalism and American liberalism.”

    Yet, while making this point, you also make statements like:

    “…It reminds us of the facts-be-damned, we-already-know-all-about-the-terrorists approach of wealthy white men in their country-club mansions…”

    I’m not sure that this is an entirely fair characterization either.

    You seem to be criticizing the Right for being unfair and false in their claims. But, at the same time, some of your writing reflects snap judgements of the Right that are not completely fair or accurate.

    2) Your interpreation of Tim Rutten’s article is curious to me. Now, I have not read any other writing by Rutten. But, the piece you linked, did not seem to be particularly “neo-conservative” in its orientation or focus.

    Rutten’s article focuses on religious liberty and Islamic terrorism, and he makes only passing introductory remarks about the recent violence in Mumbai. Moreover, the main point he makes is that Islamic terrorism of the Taliban, al-Queada brand has contempt for religious tolerance. That’s not a particularly controversial view for members of the American Left or Right.

    Now, Rutten seems to glaze over the motives of the latest attacks in the beginning of his article. But, that does little to qualify his remarks as “neoconservative”. Further, any inaccuracy caused by this rashness is little since his subject is more Islamic terrorism in general – not necessarily the attacks in Mumbai.

    Comment by sleepyreaderz — November 30, 2008 @ 11:16 pm | Reply

    • Re: Comment

      I don’t criticize members of the American Right for making ill-informed, innacurate and harmful generalizations, I criticize them for advocating bombing or invading foreign nations based on in-informed, inaccurate or harmful generalisations. If I was saying we should invade the homes of the American Right, fill their neighborhoods with military bases and enact “regime change” there, you would be fair to hold those statements to the same high standards that I hold them to.

      Rutten made “passing” remarks about the terrorist events in Mumbai, and that is exactly my point. Mumbai is a news peg to bring up the same old tired talking points about how Islamic terrorists are intolerant, blah blah, as if there was anyone left who didn’t know that. When he mentions the “socialism of imbecels” in “fashionable sectors” of the West, he needs to explain who he’s talking about if not those who critique neoconservatism, because there’s really no other reasonable interpretation for that group of people he backhands as being somehow pro-terrorist.

      Part of being a responsible journalist or public commentator is to be aware of what currents are already there and know how your language feeds existing arguments, especially if those currents pertain to broad attitudes toward stigmitized social groups. If Rutten wants to talk about Islamic terrorism in general rather than the attacks in Mumbai, he should offer something novel or interesting about the whole phoenomenon rather than discussing how bad the terrorists are, or how bad the broader group of people who surround and support them are. When we talk about terrorist attacks, we should be cautioning prudence in judgement and advocating informed worldviews and responses, not using charged buzzwords like “Islamists” and completely reversed explanations of what “they want.” We already know that the natural instinct of millions of people is going to be to return to the same tired ideologies we saw after 9/11. Rutten’s comments are rhetorically similar and simply feed into that vein.

      Comment by ononehand — December 1, 2008 @ 1:42 am | Reply

      • Re: Comment

        Point by point:

        1) With your clarification, it’s clear that you are not guilty of the inconsistency of charge I suggested. I retract my claim there.

        Instead, I’m left with a curious question.

        It sounds like you condemn members of the Right for their specific policies and not necessarily the more general bad ideas behind those policies. I would would hold both things equally against them.

        The type of brash generalizations you mentioned, tend to be the source of flawed policies on both the Left and Right.

        In general, why wouldn’t you hold ill-informed decision-making against someone?

        2) I agree – as anyone would – about your comments about responsible journalism. And your claim about Rutten’s passing over is clear.

        But, my point is with regard to the magnitude of your claim against Rutten. His main point is about religious tolerance, which I think you and I agree, is not particularly new or novel and not particularly partisan in any direction. In my reading, he makes a passing point about Mumbai in order to gain some relevance for his general point.

        Now, my point here is that I do not see at all how any inaccuracy about Mumbai thus makes him a Neoconservative. (Again, I don’t know his other writings so you should let me know if you know otherwise). I can see how you could claim that Rutten is guilty of accepting a single Neoconservative premise – with respect to criticizing the “fashionable sectors”, etc. But, to me, that doesn’t indict him on the full charge of being a Neoconservative.

        Comment by sleepyreaderz — December 1, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  2. our world depresses me.

    Comment by culive2ride — December 3, 2008 @ 2:19 am | Reply


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