Those two M’s recur, on this blog and elsewhere, in the heated discussions around the tragic, provocatove events that have unfolded this past week. I am reminded of this point Martha Nussbaum wrote after Obama won:
His phrase “the scourge of terrorism” is virtually Bushian in its suggestion that terrorism is a single thing (presumably Muslim) and that many nations suffer from that single thing. (Note that it is not even true that most world terrorism is caused by Muslims. Our University of Chicago colleague Robert Pape’s careful quantitative study of terrorism worldwide concludes that the Tamil Tigers, a secular political organization, are the bloodiest in the world. Moreover, Pape argues convincingly that even when religion is used as a screen for terror, the real motives are most often political, having to do with local conflicts.) [3 Quarks Daily]
More from Wikipedia:
Pape’s Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (2005) controverts many widely held beliefs about suicide terrorism. Based on an analysis of every known case of suicide terrorism from 1980 to 2005 (315 attacks as part of 18 campaigns), he concludes that there is “little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions… . Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland” (p. 4). “The taproot of suicide terrorism is nationalism,” he argues; it is “an extreme strategy for national liberation” (pp. 79-80). Pape’s work examines groups as diverse as the Basque ETA to the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers. Pape also notably provides further evidence to a growing body of literature that finds that the majority of suicide terrorists do not come from impoverished or uneducated background, but rather have middle class origins and a significant level of education. [Link]
Now, that part I have emphasised, doesn’t it make sense when you read columns about how this attack in Mumbai is to be seen in the context of what has been happening in Pakistan?
A Pakistani journalist writes what these events could do to Pakistan’s Taliban policy, and perhaps that is what the perpetrators wanted to achieve:
There is now the possibility that Pakistan will undergo another about-turn and rethink its support of the “war in terror”; until the end of 2001, it supported the Taliban administration in Afghanistan. It could now back off from its restive tribal areas, leaving the Taliban a free hand to consolidate their Afghan insurgency. [Asia Times Online]
So if this is about geo-politics, about Bush and Afhanistan and ISI and Taliban and Al Qaeda and Musharraf and Kiyani and Zardari and surgical strikes and collateral damage… why blame the Indian Muslim?
The Islamophobia that is becoming more and more blatant after this attack is the sort of thing that misses the woods for the trees, that seeks easy targets and easy enemies, helps exacerbate the spiral of violence and counter-violence Aditya Nigam warned against here.
Take, for example, this sms I got:
A guy goes in 2 an adult store and asks for an inflatable doll. The guy behind the counter says male or female? He says female. Store guy asks black or white? Guy replies white. Store guy asks Christian or Muslim? Guy asks, what the fuck does religion have to do with an inflatable doll? Store guy replies, the Muslim one blows itself up!
If all Muslims don’t blow themselves up, why do all Muslim dolls in that store? Did that shop have Tamil Eelam dolls too? And Hindu dolls that were not Islamophobic? And Bajrang Dal dolls that blew up the buyer if he were Muslim. Questions worth asking.
Reply that I got:
Stop that partner :)
I stop. But your Islamophobia is not going to stop terrorism.
These words of Gautam Bhan should be inscribed in gold:
Let us look at arms trades, transnational networks of terror, but at actions and actors, not people, nations and communities; through active investigation based on real evidence, not discursive battles that target identities, faiths and belief systems. [Spot on!]
By the way, Peter Griffin has an excellent set of links to read.