Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Reviewing reactions to Islam and Terrorism

God bless Its a great, low-cost way of accessing the magazine online and reading relevant opinions on current issues.

Take for instance, C. Christine Fair & Husain Haqqani's article on on islamist terrorism,'Think Again: Islamist Terrorism'. A well written article, that seeks to clear away the prevailing myths about who terrorists are and where they come from:

"Pundits and politicians of all stripes are quick to offer their wisdom on what fuels Islamist terrorism. It just so happens that much of what they say is wrong. Poverty doesn’t produce terrorists, a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem isn’t a cure-all, and young Muslim men aren’t the most likely to turn to terror. If we are going to fight a war on terror, the least we can do is understand who we are fighting"

The article addresses some of the most burning aspects of islamist terrorism that papers such as the New York Times have devoted many dead trees to, ever since 2001-- Madrasas for example, and the muslim, unmarried, male, unemployed demographic thats been touted as the most susceptible to acts of terrorism.

"“Young, Unmarried Muslim Males Are the Most Likely to Become Terrorists
No. It is de rigueur to suggest that young, unmarried, Muslim males are the most likely population to become terrorists or to support terrorism. But from the perspective of the global supply of terrorists, this claim is false. Consider the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. They are the world’s single largest group of suicide bombers. Their cadres are not Muslim, but Hindu by religion and nearly 40 percent are female.

Even on the issue of support for terrorism, there is reason to be skeptical about the popular convention that young males are leading the pack. In a recent survey of 6,000 Muslims in 14 countries published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, females were more likely to support terrorism than were males. What’s more, married and unmarried persons are equally likely to support terrorism..."

As stated before, it is a well written article. C. Christine Fair is a senior research associate at the United States Institute of Peace, and Husain Haqqani is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and is a source well-trusted by Prof. Sawoski, a teacher of mine whose classes deal with international relations here at RWU.

However, a point I found interesting was this--

"...the significance of each regional conflict varies from one jihadi group to the next. For Algerian jihadists, their war, provoked by the refusal of the pro-Western Algerian military to accept the results of elections won by Islamists in 1991, is as significant as Palestinian resistance to Israel. Pakistani and Kashmiri jihadists spew the greatest amount of venom in their publications against “Hindu India,” not Jewish Israel..."

By stating such, the authors seem to point out that there are multiple causes, and multiple groups. This much may be true. And yet, the fact is that if what is perceived as an insult or threat is offered to the global أمة or ummah, a collective reaction will be offered by all jihadi groups, around the world.

Take for instance, the recent matter of a danish newspaper publishing "offensive" cartoons-- "The newspaper published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, some of which depicted him as a terrorist" (

There were reactions to this act at all levels, from around the world-- Ministers of 17 arab nations asked the Danish government to take strong action against those responsible. Embassies were closed, or the threat was made to recall ambassadors. The publication was protested in Gaza-- many thousands of miles away. Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa said:
"Why do they talk about democracy and freedom of expression just when the issue concerns Islam?" he asked. "If it concerns other religions the facts will change."

Bingo, Mr. Moussa. This is the indicator of the key fact that the authors of the FP article, the danish newspaper editors and the danish government have collectively overlooked-- Islam today has a unifying strength that no other global religion has. This is because it is far more monotheistic than christianity is today, and carries a sense of community that other religions don't have, or possess to a smaller degree. There is no hurting the sensibilities of a part of it-- You affect the whole.

The editor of the paper tried arguing for the freedom of speech. He forgot abt malicious libel.

Its not about religion or ideas-- it is people dealing with people, people hurting other people. The "terrorists" are not fighting a crusade, or attempting to convert the world to their belief. They are protecting their culture and beliefs from external aggression. Take away the aggression and things could only get better.

But who am I to talk?

That danish cartoonist is going to have his ass kicked though. Rightfully so. How dare you use the gentle art of cartooning for propoganda? Children and whimsical-minded adults read that stuff. May the spirit of Gary Larson and Bill Watterson twist his undies forever. Sniff.

I need bed. I also needed a post scriptum on this piece, due to the comments it generated. Do read it, here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


By gorry, do I have much to tell ye--

of a quiet enlightenment, a love I thought I lost only to find I always had, a new penchant for shoes, my run in with the law, trans-atlantic flights, unexpected angels and MA courses.

It will all be told. Slowly, slowly.

For now though, an article that MUST be pointed out-- Attorney general Gonzales trying to justify the illegal serveillance indulged in by the Bush Administration:

Confronting Gonzales during his nearly half-hour speech were more than a dozen young people in the audience who turned their backs to him and held up for a banner for television cameras. The banner, loosely based on a Benjamin Franklin quote, read: "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."
- PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer.

Read the full article here. And check out the pic-- Dang, I'm proud of these guys.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Walk the Line just picked up the golden globe.

Joaquin Phoenix won best actor. Reese Witherspoon won best actress-- The category hasn't shown up yet on starworld, but carries the news.



ok, I know. No typing in caps. But I'm happy.

Oh aye-- In india. Will be back on tuesday.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Reason

For the longest time, I have not been able to understand why I came back to madras this winter. There had to be a reason for leaving my comforter-lined new-found fishbowl behind so soon-- Come on, 7 months doesn't warrant a teary-eyed return to ma and pa. It wasn't like I was homesick. In fact, as late as october, my plans for the season were meant to include at least two of the following:

i)working with Maya in the global studies office in Bristol

2) Going back to Portland and seeing Laura and Ryan and Kansei and Aman and Mike and Mary and Linda.

3)Ayush, Maya, Abdel Khader and myself together yelling in Timesquare when the ball would fall on 31st night.

And till yesterday, I did not know the reason why all that didn't happen. Being with mum and setting up the tree is all very well. Meeting old friends and new, driving to the coast and plane-ing it to delhi is quite alright. But that didnt explain a certain pattern to my actions-- ensuring I met the people I had been with last year around the same time. Laughing with them, grateful that I exist now outside their lives. Grateful too, that the few I count as close, still are. Driving past certain places-- an ex-college, a fishing village, a mofussil bus terminus, a temple, a beach, a chinese restaurant, a bridge. My room that carries no scent or smell of me, anymore. Throwing out old papers, old books. Climbing up to my water tank, relieved to find that the dragon spirit that used to live there has now gone.

It took a little book to tell me that I returned due to the second of the two greatest instincts known to human kind. The first one is fear.

"Then she turned, moved closer to Pedro Cantos, and did what she had lived for.

She curled up behind him: she pulled her knees up to her chest; aligned her feet until she felt her legs perfectly paired, the two thighs softly joined, the knees like two cups balanced one on the other, the calves separated by nothing; she shrugged her shoulders slightly and slid her hands, joined, between her legs. She looked at herself. She saw an old doll.

She smiled. Shell and animal.

Then she thought that however incomprehensible life is, probably we move through it with the single desire to return to the hell that created us, to live beside whoever, once, saved us from the inferno. She tried to ask herself where this absurd faithfulness to horror came from but found that she had no answers. She understod only that nothing is stronger than the instinct to return, to where they broke us, and to replicate that moment forever. Only thinking that the one who saved us once can do it forever. In a long hell identical to the one from which we came. But suddenly merciful and without blood"
- Baricco, Alessandro. 'Without Blood', Trans. by Ann Goldstein.

I returned due to the second of the two greatest instincts known to human kind--

The need for

Merry christmas, darfur. Happy new year, baghdad.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

On the Greatest Song U2 ever wrote

And don't think that this was written in a drunken frenzy, or in haste to avoid yet another of those oh so famous madrasi power cuts.

Now I know you've had this discussion with yourself and whichever peer group you choose to go on a downer trip with--

"dude, 'with or without you'. I know the words backwards, and--"

"yeah man, when he sings "nothing to win and--"

"nothing left to lose. Fuck. And you give yourself away..

fuck. I need another drink"

True. I see the point in this discussion. Any poor fallen sod who's had the ill luck to have loved and lost the one person who will--unwillingly-- haunt every 3rd waking thought; any poor sod who will refuse to attempt getting 7 hours sleep for fear of dreaming; any such unfortunate wraith *will* share this view-point, and will--hoarse-voiced-- yell along with Bono, 3:03 into the song.

[For wraiths we are. Overweight, with blotchy lungs and dusty shoes. The undead have it better: at least they are just the decaying fleshy presence of their past. Wraiths are shadows: If we reach out to hold your hand, you cannot feel us. If we try weeping, we get a headache and itch horrifically for a smoke. We can't handle light, class reunions and old photographs. And no high works, and no new year party. But I digress.]

'With or without you' will always be a masterpiece. It is a song for the dying, for the idiot romeo who wakes up and realizes juliet couldn't see through his bad acting. It is a song for the loser left waving at an empty space in a crowd at the airport. It is meant to be sung along to on the radio when you're driving back to your personal hole, alone.

You can close your eyes at the end of it. But the screw up is, unless you have actually overcome hamlet's dilemma, pulled a madonnaish rebrand or jumped off your terrace's water tank , you have to open your eyes again and deal with the next song and the dawned day.

Which is where 'One' comes in.

'With or without you' is a howling at the moon. It's a drag race over the cliff. It's a blade in your wrist and the last words of Cobain when he said that if only he could fly with fire like Freddie on stage, if only the performance still had that for him...

'One' is for the man or woman who has the incredible balls to go sober and undoped where s/he is certain to find the ex. 'One' is for the calm handshake at the wedding, with no flamboyant gestures, because in truth no one is Slash and life aint a gnr video.

This song is for those who have the kind of humility that only comes with living the loss. This one is for the quiet standing face to face, and the laying down of the still sharp-edged weapons in front of the one who knows how to use them best. This song is for those who have the grace to turn away, no matter the mob, the kisses, the tears, the foot pressed against yours in silence.

This is for the meeting in a corner table for coffee, leaning forward and asking quietly
"is it getting better
or do you feel the same
is it getting any easier on you now
you've got someone to blame."

It is the song for kissing the ex, and then cursing yourself for the poisoned bitterness you both exchanged, when you laughed like it was no big deal and this is the way grown ups meet, and hey I'm busy all day tomorrow, and my flight's in the night so see you when I see you, and take care of yourself.

It is walking back upstairs without screaming your rage at yourself, it is refusing to give into being a compulsive alcoholic, it is admitting you are a coward, it is admitting you cannot live without him but now must, it is admitting you are overweight and don't give a flying fuck. It is admitting that it was more than just need in the night, and that nothing you write or say can ever change the words you typed over msn. It is admitting that it's too late tonight to drive the past out into the night. It is knowing the restraint it takes to not blog this, and admitting you have none. It is wishing you had refused that kiss. It is not minding them selling the story on their blog, to Time or NDTV. It is accepting that they had the nerve to make the final cut. It is telling your parents that everything is fine. It is not changing the song however much it aches. It is not clicking the send button.

Did I ask too much, more than a lot
You gave me nothing now its all I've got
We're one but we're not the same
we've hurt each other and we'll do it again.

It is bono and pearl jam performing the song live together, and bono, over the out-of-tuned screams tears hugs cries of the crowd, quietly flowing into the chorus of 'unchained melody'.

Because that's the fuck up with being a wraith. We may turn away, but we can never forget.

One of the greeks [remind me which one, please] said that we are all but halves of a whole, wandering the earth to find the completing piece. So what happens when you realize you're the kid who ate the 3,999th jigsaw piece, that you're the dude who broke the last match-stick in the last match-box on the camping trip at 2:04am?

There is no such thing as a new year. The power fails, and when you reboot, winamp comes up clean coz you hadn't saved the playlist.

Mr. Kipling, I know you said that if I could bend and pick up the pieces when the others break it down, I would have the earth and all that's in it.

But what if I raised the first hammer, and what if I don't want the earth, nothing at all except the thing that cannot be?

The song's changed. The Stones have a new album. He won't meet me tomorrow. Bob sings that when you hear the music, you feel no pain.

Goodnight, Mr. Marley. The song is done, the time has come.. thought I'd something more to say.