|Asunto:||[LEA-Venezuela] Fwd: Another perspective (fwd)|
|Fecha:||Lunes, 1 de Octubre, 2001 10:06:46 (-0600)|
|Autor:||karl h schwerin <schwerin @...edu>
Dispense que es en ingles, pero creo que es un mensaje importante de un
academico musulman de Pakistan.
Karl Schwerin SnailMail: Dept. of Anthropology
Univ. of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM 87131
Cultural anthropology...is valuable because it is constantly rediscovering
the normal. Edward Sapir (1949:151)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001 15:49:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: William A. Gross <wgross@...>
Subject: Fwd: Another perspective (fwd)
Thanks for Granny D. I think this is very thoughtful and convincing.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Todd Fahnestock" <grnningfox@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 14:02:31
Here is an essay written by someone living in the area toward which we are
turning our guns. I find his arguments of a different shade than the
prevailing attitude in the U.S., and yet still full of compassion and an
insight that may be escaping us in our time of anger.
BLACK TUESDAY: THE VIEW FROM ISLAMABAD
by Pervez Hoodbhoy
The author is professor of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University,
Samuel Huntington's evil desire for a clash between civilizations may
well come true after Tuesday's terror attacks. The crack that divided
Muslims everywhere from the rest of the world is no longer a crack. It is a
gulf, that if not bridged, will surely destroy both.
For much of the world, it was the indescribable savagery of seeing
jet-loads of innocent human beings piloted into buildings filled with
other innocent human beings. It was the sheer horror of watching people
jump from the 80th floor of the collapsing World Trade Centre rather
than be consumed by the inferno inside.
Yes, it is true that many Muslims also saw it exactly this way, and felt
the searing agony no less sharply. The heads of states of Muslim
countries, Saddam Hussein excepted, condemned the attacks. Leaders of
Muslim communities in the US, Canada, Britain, Europe, and Australia
have made impassioned denunciations and pleaded for the need to
distinguish between ordinary Muslims and extremists.
But the pretence that reality goes no further must be abandoned because
this merely obfuscates facts and slows down the search for solutions.
One would like to dismiss televised images showing Palestinian
expressions of joy as unrepresentative, reflective only of the crass
political immaturity of a handful. But this may be wishful thinking.
Similarly, Pakistan Television, operating under strict control of the
government, is attempting to portray a nation united in condemnation of the
attack. Here too, the truth lies elsewhere, as I learn from students at my
university here in Islamabad, from conversations with people in the streets,
and from the Urdu press. A friend tells me that crowds gathered around
public TV sets at Islamabad airport had cheered as the WTC came crashing
down. It makes one feel sick from inside.
A bizarre new world awaits us, where old rules of social and political
behavior have broken down and new ones are yet to defined. Catapulted
into a situation of darkness and horror by the extraordinary force of
events, as rational human beings we must urgently formulate a response that
is moral, and not based upon considerations of power and practicality. This
requires beginning with a clearly defined moral supposition - the
fundamental equality of all human beings. It also requires that we must
proceed according to a definite sequence of steps, the order of which is not
Before all else, Black Tuesday's mass murder must be condemned in the
harshest possible terms without qualification or condition, without
seeking causes or reasons that may even remotely be used to justify it,
and without regard for the national identity of the victims or the
perpetrators. The demented, suicidical, fury of the attackers led to
heinous acts of indiscriminate and wholesale murder that have changed
the world for the worse. A moral position must begin with unequivocal
condemnation, the absence of which could eliminate even the language by
which people can communicate.
Analysis comes second, but it is just as essential. No "terrorist" gene
is known to exist or is likely to be found. Therefore, surely the
attackers, and their supporters, who were all presumably born normal,
were afflicted by something that caused their metamorphosis from normal
human beings capable of gentleness and affection into desperate, maddened,
fiends with nothing but murder in their hearts and minds. What was that?
Tragically, CNN and the US media have so far made little attempt to
understand this affliction. The cost for this omission, if it is to stay
this way, cannot be anything but terrible. What we have seen is probably
the first of similar tragedies that may come to define the 21st century
as the century of terror. There is much claptrap about "fighting
terrorism" and billions are likely to be poured into surveillance,
fortifications, and emergency plans, not to mention the ridiculous idea of
missile defence systems. But, as a handful of suicide bombers armed with no
more than knives and box-cutters have shown with such devastating
effectiveness, all this means precisely nothing. Modern nations are far too
vulnerable to be protected - a suitcase nuclear device could flatten not
just a building or two, but all of Manhattan. Therefore, the simple logic of
survival says that the chances of survival are best if one goes to the roots
Only a fool can believe that the services of a suicidical terrorist can
be purchased, or that they can be bred at will anywhere. Instead, their
breeding grounds are in refugee camps and in other rubbish dumps of
humanity, abandoned by civilization and left to rot. A global
superpower, indifferent to their plight, and manifestly on the side of
their tormentors, has bred boundless hatred for its policies. In supreme
arrogance, indifferent to world opinion, the US openly sanctions daily
dispossession and torture of the Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces.
The deafening silence over the massacres in Qana, Sabra, and Shatila refugee
camps, and the video-gamed slaughter by the Pentagon of 70,000 people in
Iraq, has brought out the worst that humans are capable of. In the words of
Robert Fisk, "those who claim to represent a crushed, humiliated population
struck back with the wickedness and awesome cruelty of a doomed people".
It is stupid and cruel to derive satisfaction from such revenge, or from
the indisputable fact that Osama and his kind are the blowback of the
CIAs misadventures in Afghanistan. Instead, the real question is: where do
we, the inhabitants of this planet, go from here? What is the lesson to be
learnt from the still smouldering ruins of the World Trade Centre?
If the lesson is that America needs to assert its military might, then
the future will be as grim as can be. Indeed, Secretary Colin Powell,
has promised "more than a single reprisal raid". But against whom? And to
what end? No one doubts that it is ridiculously easy for the US to
unleash carnage. But the bodies of a few thousand dead Afghans will not
bring peace, or reduce by one bit the chances of a still worse terrorist
This not an argument for inaction: Osama and his gang, as well as other
such gangs, if they can be found, must be brought to justice. But
indiscriminate slaughter can do nothing except add fuel to existing
hatreds. Today, the US is the victim but the carpet-bombing of
Afghanistan will cause it to squander the huge swell of sympathy in its
favour the world over. Instead, it will create nothing but revulsion and
promote never-ending tit-for-tat killings.
Ultimately, the security of the United States lies in its re-engaging
with the people of the world, especially with those that it has
grieviously harmed. As a great country, possessing an admirable constitution
that protects the life and liberty of its citizens, it must extend its
definition of humanity to cover all peoples of the world. It must respect
international treaties such as those on greenhouse gases and biological
weapons, stop trying to force a new Cold War by pushing through NMD, pay its
UN dues, and cease the aggrandizement of wealth in the name of
But it is not only the US that needs to learn new modes of behaviour.
There are important lessons for Muslims too, particularly those living
in the US, Canada, and Europe. Last year I heard the arch-conservative
head of Pakistan's Jamat-i-Islami, Qazi Husain Ahmad, begin his lecture
before an American audience in Washington with high praise for a "pluralist
society where I can wear the clothes I like, pray at a mosque, and preach
my religion". Certainly, such freedoms do not exist for religious
minorities in Pakistan, or in most Muslim countries. One hopes that the
misplaced anger against innocent Muslims dissipates soon and such freedoms
are not curtailed significantly. Nevertheless, there is a serious question
as to whether this pluralism can persist forever, and if it does not, whose
responsibility it will be.
The problem is that immigrant Muslim communities have, by and large,
chosen isolation over integration. In the long run this is a
fundamentally unhealthy situation because it creates suspicion and
friction, and makes living together ever so much harder. It also raises
serious ethical questions about drawing upon the resources of what is
perceived to be another society, for which one has hostile feelings. This is
not an argument for doing away with one's Muslim identity. But, without
closer interaction with the mainstream, pluralism will be threatened. Above
all, survival of the community depends upon strongly emphasizing the
difference between extremists and ordinary Muslims, and on purging from
within jihadist elements committed to violence. Any member of the Muslim
community who thinks that ordinary people in the US are fair game because of
bad US government policies has no business being there.
To echo George W. Bush, "let there be no mistake". But here the mistake
will be to let the heart rule the head in the aftermath of utter horror,
to bomb a helpless Afghan people into an even earlier period of the
Stone Age, or to take similar actions that originate from the spine.
Instead, in deference to a billion years of patient evolution, we need to
hand over charge to the cerebellum. Else, survival of this particular
species is far from guaranteed.
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