After hearing the word “terrorism“ leave the mouths of presidential hopefuls exclusively and plentifully for a good few months, it looks like that “change“ thing inherent to our system is steering us toward a new period of terror in the headlines, at least for the business quarter.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the supposed brain of al-Qaida, staged his media comeback by sending America a video postcard on Nov. 18 to fill us in on his feelings on Obama’s election, the agreed Iraq withdrawal date of 2011 and just, you know, to say hey.
FOX news predictably pounced on the clip, guaranteed it had exclusive distribution rights over the transcript and conspicuously highlighted the racial comments (e.g. “house Negro“) regarding Obama. If any of you should be surprised that Rupert Murdoch’s empire of lowest-brow mind control would play off a semi-formed story for racial divisiveness and to amplify acquired Muslim phobias, be surprised no more. The comments of a powerless, caviar fed “ideological leader“ like Zawahiri in reality are meaningless and moreover difficult to test for authenticity. But, it’s that time of the year.
Obama has recently chosen his crack security team to be tasked with America’s protection in the four years to come, known to the public they serve as the ‘08 League of Super Security Friends (informal title – the team consists entirely of rivals). Being cautious to maintain a balanced image, Obama selected personas apparently tougher, you could say manlier, than he to combat the forces of evil. Of course, this meant Hillary. Obama also opted to retain Bush’s benchwarmer choice for Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, his job secure in an artificial atmosphere of insecurity against the terrorist hordes.
Like any true member of the intelligentsia, Obama probably finalized his choices at 4 a.m. the day before the deadline, and it sort of shows – Hillary I feel would have been a better choice for domestic reform and Gates would have been better tossed on the ash-heap of disposable politicos. But anyway, terror.
Front pages have also captured in their spotlight the grisly factional violence that erupted in India last week with little warning and tragic human consequences. The body count has only just been tallied, victims have only just been given names and collateral damage has yet to be calculated, yet already comparisons have been made throughout American media outlets that this is “India’s 9/11.“
The gravity of that likening shouldn’t be abused, yet Americans, who ought to be most hesitant to offer the similarity, toss it about with impunity. The average American has barely a functional understanding of the 9/11 that was 9/11, rather than the 9/11 that occurred in a different continent and different cultural context, was carried out through a different methodology against targets of a different relevance to further the agenda of different groups of different faiths. Perspectives have yet to shift – rather than focusing on the humanistic impact of the attacks in an attempt to show international unity, shouts against the despicable nature of terror, terror, terror assail our senses and color our understanding.
South Asian regional politics are shaky. The partitioning of India and Pakistan left rough scars and deep undercurrents of religious and class strife run unabated. If we are to compare the 10 Indian attacks to 9/11, we are also inviting the same consequences. “India’s 9/11” would connote “India’s fruitless seven-year campaign against terror” and “India’s descent toward domestic fascism,“ scenarios which, while yet non-lethal to the U.S., could result in incalculable losses for Indians, Pakistanis and the world as a whole. Their neighboring populations and nuclear-armed governments have too much to lose to fall prey to the same misconceptions.
The understanding of terror must change: attacks are not manifestations of a culture war that exists truly in the mainstream. Rather, they are the rare and well-funded strikes of a lunatic fringe and their benefactors. Be not divided. Staunch the wounds and move on.
CHEYA CARY wishes you a gainful finals week and a cheerful and terror-free holiday. Send him your thoughts, greetings or favorite Gandhi quotes at email@example.com.