Wax in her ears

After the apologists come the Sominists

Emily Wax—the Washington Post correspondent who, in February 2008, informed the paper’s readers that Indians don’t dress like Mahatma Gandhi—now announces that the calls made by the Mumbai ‘gunmen’ to television stations shed light on their motives.

(The use of the word gunmen should already alert you to where the correspondent, and, probably, the newspaper’s editors stand. Even by their own apologetic standards, the word ‘gunmen’ is inaccurate, for the strapping young lads from Pakistan used grenades and improvised explosive devices as well. It’s been discussed on this blog earlier, as also by the NYT’s public editor, and is not the point of this post.)

The point here is that Ms Wax failed to appreciate that the “demands” made by the terrorists who attacked Mumbai were not even close to being of the negotiable kind. Must terrorists arrive from Pakistan and take Jews hostage in Mumbai for Indians to be made aware of “how many people have been killed in Kashmir…(and how) your army has killed Muslims?” Or does taking hostages and killing people at random remotely help push the demand that “the Muslims who live in India, should not be harassed . . . Things like demolition of Babri Masjid and killings should stop.” It is understandable for Pakistani jihadis not to know that these arguments are part of the public discourse in India. But it is inexplicable, and certainly, inexcusable, for Ms Wax to be fooled by the ‘gunmen’s’ words.

Those words are merely the feverish outpourings of poorly educated, brainwashed, young Pakistani men, who were not only incapable of thinking for themselves, but were actually taking orders from their handlers back in Pakistan. To take their words literally and impute motives by simple inference is to demonstrate a similar level of intellectual development.

Those abstract demands were not the motives behind the terrorist attacks. They could well be the personal motives of the terrorists. It is misleading to merely examine their personal motives as if they explain why the terrorist attacks were carried out. If anything, their personal motives show how easy it is for the Pakistani military-jihadi complex to find gullible footsoldiers to play their geopolitical games. Yet, despite interviewing astute analysts like Ashley Tellis and Wilson John (whose name she gets wrong), Ms Wax just can’t grasp it.

25 thoughts on “Wax in her ears”

  1. > The use of the word gunmen should already alert you to where the correspondent, and, probably, the newspaper’s editors stand.

    You’ve correctly diagnosed the disease…

    > despite interviewing astute analysts like Ashley Tellis and Wilson John (whose name she gets wrong), Ms Wax just can’t grasp it

    … but then the symptoms of Waxy’s illness should not come as a surprise.

    I would make one correction to your initial, correct diagnosis.
    Ms Wax is not standing, she is kneeling in fear before the jihadists “kill them injuns, but leave me alone”

  2. Besides valid points you mention above, another thing that strikes me as surprising is that all the “revelations” she has reported today were known on 27th November morning itself. So, what is she and WP trying to reveal on 16-Dec with facts (or just idiotic chatter) that was well know some 20 days back? I guess these western papers post under-performing and dimwitted staff to India as a punishment.

  3. She’s deliberately trying to contrive a connection that suits her own agenda. Better to look up her wider body of writing, and see what’s motivating her.

  4. Sanjay,

    There is that thing they say about attribution, malice and incompetence. Usually a good rule to follow unless there is evidence to the contrary.

  5. Raag,
    So, what is she and WP trying to reveal on 16-Dec with facts (or just idiotic chatter) that was well know some 20 days back?

    16-Dec coz earwax and her buddies want to prevent another Pak capitulation (this time in the perception war) like that happened on 16-dec-1971.

  6. Osama bin Laden has recently written a letter to the American people, sounding more like Noam Chomsky arguing against American Imperialism.

    Are the Americans ready to take the letter at its face value ?

    Why should Indians be expected to do the same ? Why should we listen to a maniacal person intent and content on killing innocent civilians ? Would his words have any meaning than the rants of a serial killer or a rapist ?

  7. Good post.

    Citing mistreatment of Muslims in India is just an easy way to lure young Pakistani kids into the terrorism industry. Even I believe this has more to do with our age old Kashmir problem, and the whole geopolitical mess on Pakistan’s western borders.

    That’s why I fear that no matter how well people of different faiths live in India, that will only solve part of the problem. We need to resolve Kashmir, and more importantly, Pakistan has to resolve its own internal contradictions and the uneasy relationship with Afghanistan.

    You should do more posts on geopolitics as applied to this problem. I’m fed up seeing people treat terrorism as just a religious issue, on either side of the political spectrum.

  8. Whenever i’m browsing the washington post site, for my own sanity, i usually stop reading any further once i see that Emily Wax has written the article.

    Wasnt she the one who wrote about how Yasin Malik was a great Gandhian disciple? That too on the day after Malik was reported to have met with LeT leaders…

  9. Pramod Biligiri wrote:

    You should do more posts on geopolitics as applied to this problem. I’m fed up seeing people treat terrorism as just a religious issue, on either side of the political spectrum.

    Quite the contrary! What do bombings in Bali, Philippines, Southern Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, Algeria … have to do with Kashmir or Palestine?

    Actually analysis of terrorism is long on economic and political motives (domestic and international), and short on religious motives. Even extreme wingnuts in the U.S are loath to dig deep enough to reveal the ugly religious commandments that motivate global terrorism. I guess residents of glasshouses of any hue don’t like to throw stones at others!

  10. Christian Amanpour is another such dumb ‘expert’. She always has the same reading points for every terrorist attack on India. They do a better job being the PR or spokesperson for the jihadi outfits. Why do they set such high standards for terrorists to be called ‘terrorists’?

  11. @Pramod,

    “I’m fed up seeing people treat terrorism as just a religious issue”

    Was that a joke? Tell me, why exactly don’t you believe the terrorists and their sponsors themselves.

    @Nitin, it is about geopolitics, but ultimately it is about Islam and the foot soldiers jihad against Hindus (or Hindu nation as they see it). Unless we grasp that issue, and deal with it, the Islamic jihadi cancer will continue to grow.

    There was an IE editorial a day ago, along similar lines, which was patting up the apparent secularism of Bharat, in response to Pakiland’s UN spokesperson calling Deobandi to issue a fatwa against Islamic terror. Deobandi says they don’t have influence over terrorists group. But they, most secular people in India are missing the point. The Pakiland elite seem to understand the problem and the cure.

    It is all about Islam and the jihad it, as religion, authorizes and encourages. That’s why solving the so-called J&K problem will not stop Islamic terrorism in Bharat.

  12. Vakibs has said it.

    My request to all people who do not yet know how to talk to Americans:

    Put the US on the defensive. Bring in Osama, Iraq,..whatever.

    And do it *first*. The average Wax/Amanpour/(insert pampered American here) does not read your response. But if they do, God has not blessed them with the ability to read beyond the first sentence. So please, say it right off the bat when you talk to them. And hopefully your first sentence will be shorter than 10 words, because don’t hold your breath if its longer. They will not understand longer sentences.

  13. So, to control terrorism, we need to

    1. solve Kashmir. (basically India should let Kashmir go)
    2. deposit the equivalent of average infy salary to the account of every muslim in India.
    3. hang Modi, Advani and co.
    4. ban Bajrang Dal, VHP et al.
    5. nuke Israel.
    6. Reserve 51% of seats in IITs & IIMs for Muslims.

    Did I miss something?

  14. Folks,
    Please do yourselves a favor – ignore Emily Wax – she is no body – just another liberal who has zero understanding of geo-politics or islamic jihad for that matter.

    There was this UK journalist who called these bastards “practioners” – calling them “gunmen” is as insulting as calling the 9/11 terrorists , pilots.

  15. >>Even I believe this has more to do with our age old Kashmir problem

    You can believe in whatever you want to, Billgiri. Some people believe in djinns, some in ghosts and yet others in exorcism. There’s also the flat earth society. The commies believe in the dictatorship of the proles.

    I believe 😉 though, that those of us who comment on blogs must offer opinion that we are in a position to defend with reason and/or fact. Belief as defence is best left to the superstitious, the dogmatic and the commies. What say, Billgiri?

  16. [There was this UK journalist who called these bastards “practioners” – calling them “gunmen” is as insulting as calling the 9/11 terrorists , pilots.]

    LOL

  17. Religion (Islam in this case) is used as inspirational rhetoric. But people don’t kill people from another country solely because of religion. It doesn’t even add up. Say let’s assume they decide to spread Islamic rule. And they start by killing random civilians all over the world? How will that help their cause?

    This use of Islamic symbols is like how a government justifies all wars in the name of liberty, peace or some such. You don’t talk about oil, natural gas, trade routes and thorny legacies of history when stirring the troops on the front lines.

    Also, isn’t it too much of a coincidence that Kashmir has ever been a problem. Babri Masjid caused avoidable violence. And kings like Aurangzeb or [insert fanatic Hindu king] have always utilized religion to empower themselves.

    Not to mention the never ending geopolitical games in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, [insert all countries having oil].

    My argument is that we have to first keep our government completely secular (BJP, Congress, CPI – all 3 suck in this regard). Then try to solve Kashmir, figure out a smart way of not getting entangled in Afghanistan (Nitin would disagree on this). Most importantly, Pakistan is very unstable with loose cannons in the Army and ISI. I don’t know how to fix Pakistan. But these are the problems we should be worrying about. I don’t fear that some lunatics will one day enforce Sharia law all over India. Hasn’t worked in the Middle Ages. Will not work now 🙂

    Btw, I normally say I “believe” because these are just opinions in the end, however much I back them up. Politics and Economics are not sciences.

  18. 1. I do think if we solve the Kashmir tangle to some reasonable sense of satisfaction (nobody’s going to be perfectly happy) we will have *fewer* crazy nuts to deal with elsewhere in India. I dont think this as a problem will ever completely go away, but it seems better than where we are now.

    2.”figure out a smart way of not getting entangled in Afghanistan”…

    Kind of agree with Pramod here. At least, we shd have well defined and worthwhile goals here and make sure US will stay engaged. A worst case scenario that makes everybody happy except us is as below:

    – we militarize heavily in Afghanistan, draw Taliban/ Pakiban fire.

    – take the heat off US deployments; US likes.

    – Pak/ Taliban take on age-old enemy who has lower tech weapons. they definitely like.

    – ISI is less under the gun, no more American lives are being lost; ISI likes.

    – mullahs able to draw more recruits; they like.

    – Pak army and taliban now more in sync, dont need to do any much dummy fighting; they like.

    – Pak civil society hardly bat an eyelid as the post-Mum events show, they dont seem to expect anything from their govt. maybe they dont like the events above but theyre comatose. so nothing from them, except the ice-cool realist from a few posts back will map strategy sessions like some chess game.

    – we dont expect or get anything much for all the activity above, except a pat on the head and a “good job, guys! we’re with you morally”. The patter surely likes.

    – we think we’re engaging them in Afghanistan, but he engages us both there and in India. we’re stretched too far and dont draw enough benefits from the double deployment. they like?

    – Karzai or his successor fed up with the violence cut deals with the local islamists undercutting india, we just dont have pull over them like US has. the resulting situation, Pak hugely likes.

    – Karzai or successor employs tactics indistinguishable from Taliban and we end up with part-responsibility.we just dont have pull over them like US has. the resulting situation, Pak hugely likes.

    The above is admittedly a deliberately gloomy scenario. I hope we have planned for all such situations. Just my opinions only. I dont have any good alternative plan to suggest.

    regards,
    Jai

  19. Pramod,

    “Religion (Islam in this case) is used as inspirational rhetoric. But people don’t kill people from another country solely because of religion. It doesn’t even add up.”

    Well, you tell us why these Islamic terrorists kill then, if not in the name of Islam? It may not add to a secular sensibility. But who says these terrorists are secularists? How do you think Islam was spread through out history – surely not as Buddhist monks who carrying their messages to vast lands of Asia to the east? They look to their history, including Mohammad’s, to do what they think is the right course. Obviously it worked from then and it seems to be working pretty well in Europe now.

    “And kings like Aurangzeb or [insert fanatic Hindu king] have always utilized religion to empower themselves.”

    Huh, the moral equivalency!! Because there were Islamic tyrants that destroyed temples, build masjids over them through out north India, in such unimportant places as Kasi, Mathura, and Ayodhya, and treated non-Muslims as second class citizens, there must be, naturally, Hindu kings who did they same. The secular education at its best. Surprising, that despite psec education, one can’t come up with a single name (hence the use of parenthesis as though tyrannical Hindu Kings were plenty and tyrannical Muslim king is one rare example).

    But the larger point is bogus too – as long as we are secular and not interfere in their affairs, they will leave us alone!! Now where did we hear that before?

  20. I don’t fear that some lunatics will one day enforce Sharia law all over India. Hasn’t worked in the Middle Ages. Will not work now

    Sure, a lunatic tried to impose Aryan Supremacy over Europe, and then the entire world. Did not work then, unlikely to work now. The world paid a huge price, though.

    How many lives would India pay in the asymptotic game between Islam and the “idolators” that is being played since the sixth century CE?

  21. Hello Biligiri,

    >>Btw, I normally say I “believe” because these are just opinions in the end, however much I back them up

    Sure. There’s informed opinion and there’s dogmatic belief. I believe 😉 that educated people like you should come forward to offer the following; not faith-based statements that you cannot defend with fact.

    >>Say let’s assume they decide to spread Islamic rule. And they start by killing random civilians all over the world? How will that help their cause?

    Put that fantastic question to the killers, Comrade Chorakoot. Maybe you could reason with them. Maybe they would listen to somebody who shares something in common with them: belief in belief. 😉 And then, after an enlightened discussion with you, bingo, they’d realize they aren’t going to spread Islamic rule by killing off people!

    And maybe, Comrade Chorakoot, even you’d realize that you aren’t going to win anyone to your cause by spreading the communist line! 😉

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