Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Insert “they” and “us” here

In a WaPo op-ed, Patrick French makes the tired claim that terrorists “they” hate the United States India “us” for our freedoms.  And, naturally, anyone who points to any other possible reasons for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai is an apologist, a sympathizer, and/or morally barren.

The terrorists themselves offered little explanation, and made no clear demands. Yet even as the siege continued, commentators were making chilling deductions on their behalf: their actions were because of American foreign policy, or Afghanistan, or the harassment of Indian Muslims. Personal moral responsibility was removed from the players in the atrocity.

mumbaiI do not have any insight into the Mumbai militants terrorists’ (lest I come under the wrath of right-wing semanticians who contend that anything less than using the t-word is also a moral abdication) motivations; perhaps French is right in dismissing the reasons provided by his unnamed “commentators.”  Yet, even if not applicable in this case, the suggestions that French cites are not “chilling deductions,” and it is offensive and irresponsible to impugn this analysis as made “on [terrorists’] behalf.”

That terrorists may be exercised by ramifications of American foreign policy, or the fallout of regional conflicts, are as sensible — and in fact, probably more so — initial hypotheses as the throwaway assumption that the actors in question “hate freedom.”  Moreover, the two motivational tacks — the “rational” and the irrational — are not mutually exclusive (a Pakistani terrorist can be angered by India’s Kashmir policy and espouse an intolerant and hateful outlook toward India’s democratic values), and nor does the former type of impetus at all excuse the heinous means by which terrorists opt to lodge their protest (see Bill Ayers, persistently complete lack of understanding thereof).

The title of French’s op-ed, “They Hate Us — and Indian Is Us,” is staggering in the extent that it repeats — and transposes to another continent — the off-the-mark, self-exculpatory, analytically hollow, and utterly unhelpful trope of “freedom-hating.”  Similar, too, is the strategy that allows him to brand anyone who ventures a more nuanced explanation as an apologist who essentially is working for terrorists.

Patrick French may insists that “India Is Us,” but, some of “us” — and presumably some of India, as well as some of the other side of this unproductive dichotomy, the otherized “they” — respectfully disagree.  But then, that probably just puts “us” right in the pockets of terrorists.

(image from flickr user stuti ~ under a Creative Commons license)

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December 8, 2008 - Posted by | Asia, Conservatives, India/Pakistan, media, U.S. Foreign policy | ,

2 Comments »

  1. […] the Mumbai terrorist attacks weren’t important Gideon Rachman, on why the attacks in Mumbai don’t make his top five list of “what we will remember from 2008″: So what is the […]

    Pingback by Why the Mumbai terrorist attacks weren’t important « Boondoggle | December 23, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] is infantilizing reductivism conducted on the part of anti-American militants everywhere.  Suggesting these factors as relevant “grievances” is one thing; boiling away all other motivations to get to […]

    Pingback by Bend it like Nir Rosen « Boondoggle | December 30, 2008 | Reply


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