Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Why Terrorists Will Fail

Yes, I just left the link - because I could not write any more. Watching Moshe cry out for his mother - I knew why terrorism, of any kind, for any cause, is fundamentally wrong and stands against what is good in being human. And, this is why terrorism can not succeed.

But then I get this comment from a friend:

Hey,I thought u r a liberal person but after watching that vdo now i am doubtful about yr thoughts. Did u see the comments??? They said they hate Islam, muslims r evil.........etc etc. Is this what u want to see? Then the heading of yr blog should be " Why we shall hate Muslims". Do u know what is Islam mean??? Islam means peace. U cant blame the whole muslim world for few terrorists. Anywz, i dont want to argue with u but yes after this i will never visit yr sundayposts.blogspots.com.

I must shout Not Guilty here - the comments on the Video are not mine, nor do I subscribe to those thoughts. However, I did realize the dangers of leaving the video without an explanation. So, here is one - why I think that video tells us why terrorists will fail.

But, before that, I must also acknowledge that some people sent me emails saying that I don't remark upon the children crying out in Gaza. But that's the wrong point. The cries of Gaza's Children do not justify the killing of Moshe's parents. The difference of being human and being a monster is to choose between feeling the pain and trying to square up by killing someone else's parents. And, the history will bear proof: Monsters never win.

Coming back to the original comment - of course, all Muslims are not terrorists. I have been reading Amartya Sen's Identity and Violence recently, where Professor Sen argues that reducing ourselves to a single identity [an Indian, a Muslim, a Salesman, a Son, a Husband, a Father and the like] and giving up the choice, which allows us to play different roles depending on the circumstances, essentially leads to loss of self and violence. Besides, there is this quote from Jean Paul Satre I came across, which is relevant for any community: 'The Jew is a man. It is the anti-Semite who sees the man as a Jew'. Yes, indeed, there is no one who is a 'muslim' out and out, it is one of the many identities of the man [or woman] who happens to follow Islam; s/he carries many other identities - a parent, a sibling, a ward, a professional, a business person, a working man, a lover of books etc. It is only our eyes, if we choose to see it that way, s/he appears to be a muslim, and only that.

Indeed, we have started equating, no doubt influenced by clash of civilizations thinking, muslims with terrorists in many parts of the world. But that thinking is obviously flawed, as it is indeed hard to find a pure civilization. One wonders how the euphoria about globalization and belief in such civilizational boundaries can sit side by side in popular imagination; but that 'us and them' thinking also narrows our perspective and limits our own choice of identities. So, by that thinking, it seems logical to reduce, for some people, being an Western Man [or woman] and lay an automatic claim of being civilized: experience often suggest otherwise.

Therefore, all Muslims are not terrorists. Therefore, many of my Muslim friends felt upset watching the video, not because they thought that this was justified on ground of atrocities in Gaza, but because their human self, of being a son/daughter, parent and so on, took precedence. To tell the truth, when I watched the video, I could not resist tears: this is because I was thinking of my longing to see my own late mother, and the realization that no amount of effort can bring her back. Such moments make us feel human - in all our frailties and feelings - and so felt many friends, regardless of their religion and political allegiance, and nationality.

This is exactly why terrorists will not succeed. Each new recruit they inspire with the cause of Gaza, Kashmir and Iraq, thousands will be repelled by watching Moshe cry. This is also the central point of a book by Gilles Kepel [Beyond Terror and Martyrdom: The Future of Middle East] where his central thesis is that as George Bush failed in his strategy to bring change in Middle East through violent intervention, Osama Bin Laden failed too - in his strategy, yes, to bring change in the Middle East through violent means. Bush's ill fated intervention in Iraq helped recruit thousands of new terrorists and suicide bombers; but the violent jihad in Iraq repelled many decent, clear thinking Muslims all over the world. And, this is the point, in any political movement, throughout history, extremism never wins. Never wins long term. The basic decency in human nature always wins. All the time. This possibly proves Professor Sen's point: every man/woman represents multiple identities, but any extreme doctrine puts unnatural, and therefore unsustainable, stress on one.

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