Thursday, May 19, 2005

NY times edit-page opinion on May 19, 2005: By DAVID BROOKS

Finally, they are strategically ruthless {protestors, protesting desecration of the Holy Qu'ran}. Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker, who has spent years reporting on extremists, says they use manufactured spasms of hatred to desensitize their followers. After followers spend a few years living through rabid riots and vicious sermons, killing an American or a Jew or even a fellow Muslim seems no more consequential than killing a mosquito. That's how suicide bombers are made.
The rioters are the real enemy, not Newsweek and not the American soldiers serving as prison guards.

A cup of tea, MrBrooks?Ahhh! You worked for Newsweek, now things become clearer.
What you criticize about the Moslems, Mr. Brooks, is no different than what happens in thousands of little bethels across the USA, as the fundamentalist start feeling their oats, what with their grand mufti in the White House. So your first task should be cleaning your own house.

Task number two might be to read the news carefully. Moslems demonstrated in Afghanistan. And the military got trigger-happy and fired on them. Well, I assume that soon, when the police first on anti-Bush demonstarators here, you'll say: Oh, they were fired up by that liberal press and it's their own damned fault.
Mr. Brooks: Is being a conservative non-thinker a genetic problem, something that comes from , I don't know, eating too many doughnuts, or sucking too hard on a silver spoon for generations?

Before George W. Bush embarked on this get-rich-quick scheme in Iraq, which like all of his business adventures was a flop, the USA had a fairly good chance to turn much of the Moslem world into an ally. The remaining bunch of fanatics, of which there are groups in ANY culture, we could have dealt with easily. The Koran desecration story or non-story is just one little bit added to a pile of justified complaints on the part of Moslems, and the whole Iraq thing has served mainly to politicize and radicalize many of Moslem faith.
But the conservative mindset is simply too arrogant to be able to grasp why these people don't like us. Well, sir, pride comes before the fall, it's an old saying and it's unfortunately true. Our planet has become too small and too interlinked for jingoism.

To use the bogey of Islamist opposition to justify anything is fast becoming a fad. Isn't it convenient to think that the only reason Afghans are protesting reports of Koran desecration is that they are whipped into a frenzy by Al-Qaeda types who deserve the gallows anyway.

How easy it is to look away from all the mounting evidence of abuse and torture and pretend that Afghans who hoped for a better life after decades of war and are now having their worst fears confirmed - i.e. that the Americans came first to weed out people they didn't like, no matter if it entailed cultural domination, rather than to liberate them - confirmed, might be legitimately upset at reports of religious humiliation in camps where they are detained with no respect for law. Reports of the Koran being put in the toilet have come from British detainees who were released for lack of any evidence against them (BBC reported this in August last year) - far from the Islamist warriors of Al Qaeda.

Perhaps Mr. Brooks would today call Gandhi, who started his mobilization against the British in South Africa after being humiliated because of the colour of his skin on a train, "cynical, delusional and fascistic" and urge us not to "bend over" to show any sensitivity to him. Surely anyone whose opposition is inconvenient is driven by some sort of fundamentalist religious ideology.

Oh, and Newsweek... they are overblown versions of the National Enquirer, with ousy reportinbg, schlocky language, and what's more cheerleading reporting. In other words, rubbish. Insipid stuff.

Sameer Bhat

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