Terrorism, the Popular Perception
Is Terrorism synonymous with overt violence and biological liquidation? So would it seem to millions, nay billions, of people around the globe fed on the Newspapers and the News Channels that invariably splash scenes of gory destruction, bodies blown into pieces and strewn around much like the debris of the structures razed by the IEDs. The grisly media- count of the dead and the wounded leaving one in no difficulty whatsoever in visualizing scenes of indiscriminate bomb-throwing by a handful of outlaws in the very heart of buzzing cities. Why, it is still fresh in mind the half a dozen suicide-bombers blowing up in as many places in Paris causing over a hundred and a quarter deaths and another three to four hundred injured! Ghastly, gory, and barbaric! Not just the President of France, but statesman after statesman, around the world, vowed to coordinate their efforts in a bid to fight the war against terrorism! No wonder, then, that belligerence is viscerally associated with terrorism and is perceived to be its constitutional trait.
Terrorism then is an indiscriminate act of warfare, sudden and fleeting but nevertheless recurring. The battle field keeps changing but the authorship is claimed by but a few outfits. 9/11 was claimed by the Al Qaeda and the 11/13 by the ISIS. But amid all the rants of war-mongering, there are a few shrill voices that came up with a cause and effect exegesis. Our own Azam Khan and Mani Shankar Aiyar described ISIS action in Paris as ‘retaliatory’ and faced the flak for it. Even if one dismisses the former as a natural Islamic defender, Mani Shankar Aiyar is a known career diplomat and hence, his views cannot be so lightly be set aside. This apart, eminent panelists discussing on ‘How Safe India is from the ISIS Threat’ anchored by none other than the strategic expert, Maroof Raza, on Times Now TV (Latitude, dated 21-11-2015) felt that the causes of terrorism may also include immigrants’ mal-integration into Western societies and wondered if the West itself could not be held responsible for terrorist precipitations.
Should one buy Retaliation theory at least for terrorist acts perpetrated on the Western targets? Or should we attribute terrorism to a completely deranged mind-set? Accepting the later theory would mean tens of thousands of people who congregate, organize themselves in groups, meticulously plan and execute their actions are nothing but bands of aimless and mindless trigger-happy gun-men/women. This evidently is a contradiction in terms. It belies the seriousness of terrorist preparations. It underrates finical choice of targets. It dismisses as nothing the effect intended in deploying colossal efforts to execute specific actions at chosen sites. In short, it disregards there exists at all a serious purpose behind their actions.
Yet, there exists an ideology and goals & actions undertaken in its light. The terrorist ideology may not be so much about the kind of racial superiority pursued by the Nazis of Europe. Many hues of extreme action come vested with religious legitimacies, if only to exploit cohesiveness secured by the age-old ritual practices. Such actions profess restoration of pristine and primordial values that their faith seems to be losing as a result of some external, yet systematic, attack. Such an attack is often perceived to be so subtle and concealed that it renders impossible an overt settlement of the dispute. In addition, when the onslaught tends to acquires a universal and eternal dimension denying people their fundamental rights or dignified living and virtually turning them into so much of a human material used for a specific purpose and for the benefit of the other, inherent in such conditions of enslavement is a purpose aiming at alleviation and to that extent, restoration of values believed to uphold human quality in a primordial sense. Terrorism cannot thus be born ex nihilo. And the action, however much it is abhorred for the ghastly violence innate to it, cannot be devoid of a purpose. The deranged mindset theory therefore appears to be an alibi and a cloak contrived to obfuscate despicable provocative action launched by the offending clique.
If the terrorist violence is gory and devastating and mindless as it appears to be killing and maiming innocents, the question arises how strong and compulsive should be the factors that drive people to such fatal and diabolic enterprises. If among such factors is mal-integration into Western societies, such a process should surely contain exactions ruthlessly insensitive to civilized values and human dignity. For, unless integration is seen to be a completely one-sided process of assimilation into the foreign society to the point of compulsive indoctrination of hostility towards one’s native society, and of constrained inculcation of disdain for one’s own native values, there is no way that such a process would breed antagonism and revenge in a systematic and unfailing manner. But why does this happen in the Western societies that are considered highly civilized and cultured entities? The answer lies in an understanding of the West’s mindset, its virtual policy objectives and its politico-social action vis-à-vis non-Western people, their cultural values and belief systems.
For all the high profile image that the West manages to project of itself, notwithstanding its urbane behavioral etiquette and its cultivated polite encounters that seem to bend backwards to accommodate the other, its basic anthropological trait lies in seeking to dominate others. The Analytical mindset within which such attitudes are implanted makes it amoral. After all, the Analytic/Holistic distinction is essentially based on self-centered and other-centered values, making one amoral and the other moral. Further, innate Analytical qualities of rigor and tangibility imbue perception with myriad details of the local and the immediate enabling determination of its best possible utility to further subject’s interests. This makes for unity of purpose and action across the group/people and social strata. An unwavering collective mentality could thus be discerned as an ingrained ethnic quality binding the community.
Thus, if world-domination is the unstated state policy, it is shared across all the sectors of the society. The analytical rigor expounds countless forms in which domination manifests as well as the infinite ways which contribute to its achievement. Yet, maintaining a civilized image is inescapable. For one thing, the world sees itself to be a civilized or at the least civilizing entity. For the other and for that reason, a civilized face makes it a lot easier to ensure imposition of supremacy, both cultural and otherwise. After all, in the absence of a civilized mask a community tends to be proscribed (as is done with the terrorist groups). That is the reason why West’s approach is not one of the open and classical state-to-state warfare. Low-intensity war-fares, provoking regional conflicts retarding development and enhancing dependence, sector-wise dominations like subordinated enmeshing of developing economies, cultural campaigns and opinion making under the cover of rights and freedom, demolition of religious and cultural personality through various types of conversions and in the name of modernism… are some of the ways in which the Western societies operate.
Such proxy war-fares, motivated and meticulously planned, it is true, is difficult to characterize as acts of terrorism even though all of them are tactics geared to ensure world domination. For, there is no brutal and total divestment of one’s rights or freedom though circumstances can be maneuvered to pressurize the outcome. And the West seldom acts without alibis that shield its real (and ulterior) motives. Yet, what stands out in this Western enterprise is the collective and arrogant ways it employs, defiantly outraging human dignity, to convert human beings – often citizens of the developing world – into so much of human material marshaled to sub-serve the Western cause. It is here that Western action finds its parallels with what is generally understood as terrorism, albeit devoid of overt violence.
Confronted with such relentless and sustained humiliatory raids – not just for years and decades but for centuries together (as it is logical for such things to take the turn for the worse in the Colonial hey-days) –, challenging one’s self-respect, both personal and socio-cultural, and on that count, crystallizing this sense of indignity and dishonor, implants it into one’s persona calling, in those with a deep sense of dignity of self, for assertive action. As the amoral and remarkably substantial army of Western-converts, wielding discretionary and allied abuses of power as weapons, is ever so vigilant to suppress any such possibility, assertive action is driven to look for other propitious avenues. It is no wonder then that impulsive nature is drawn towards extreme action while belief in human resilience commits some to edificatory path. Let us try to illustrate this character sketch of the West with real-life examples of West-nonWest encounters.
Assimilation as Coercive Mobilization
As Western societies are marked by extreme behavioral sophistication, it requires a high quotient of diligence to separate the chaff from the grain. Add to it the favorable image that naturally accrues to it owing to its technological achievements, economic robustness, as locus of new ideas and ideological developments… etc. A determined cultural policy and seemingly philanthropic approach to international affairs also enhance West’s positive image especially in the eyes of developing world. The testimonies of the ‘assimilated’ populations constitute the last straw wherever the testifier may live. This apart, inherent to the holistic vision is the tendency towards universalized perception. Thus, whether a feature is extraneous or belongs to object’s qualitative inner core, holism interprets them both in universal terms. It has no concept of vesting both substantial and strategic values within the same object/action. A West-sponsored organization for human rights or for disease-eradication is just that for a holistic perception. But it could have for their sponsors additional – and no less important – values such as image-building or, at times, even as an instrument of diplomacy determining power equations.
These powerful and multi-faceted impressions have a great and almost indelible impact on common-place perception of Western image. The real face could thus be unveiled only when this multi-layered common-place perception is undone. Such a condition obtains when the West is placed in direct relation with the non-Western individual, especially in the former’s own habitat. For then, it would be possible to observe the plight of non-assimilators at the hands of the West. After all, the whole concept of secularism, in its general and extended application, would just mean respecting the other, the other values, the other religion, the other culture, the other practices…etc. even when one is in a position of strength. Thus, if our hypothesis of West’s tendency of amoral dominance is right, that should reflect in the West engaging in various forms of misuse of power to coerce, in various ways, unilateral assimilation. To be sure, what obtains in the West is collective and sustained operations at this in which both state and non-state actors (that include across professional groups of various hues down to the man and woman in the street) collaborate. Such operations may last not just months and years but may extend to decades and more in proportion to the tenacious resistance put forth by the prospective “assimilator”. Notice that whatever be the mode of coercion employed in pursuance of this inhuman act – bomb blasts, excommunication, socio-professional elimination… – it is constitutive of the same basic human attitude of terrorizing the other into submission. A few examples are in order.
A case in a point is that of Khobragade, the ex-vice consul of the Indian diplomatic mission in New York. While the case against her has been one of underpaying her domestic help, the treatment received at the hands of US police is despicable and one reserved for lowest level of criminals committing heinous crimes. At the end of the day, the US did not close the case. While it recognized the vice consul’s diplomatic immunity, it kept the case alive to try her if ever she re-visits the US. In other words, she has virtually been banished from the US without the tribunal ever pronouncing her guilty! And those who know that her family, husband and children, are US settled, would understand the diabolic calculation of the US authorities to cripple her family life for years to come. A graceful way of dealing with the case is one of consultations both with the vice-consul and the Government of India. Instead, the US police enticed the vice consul’s domestic help with a promise of permanent US citizenship to her and her family to turn her into a complainant! Though such a maneuver provided the much needed alibi to unleash state power, the US prosecution failed to sustain its case apparently because such an eventuality would entail public revelation of its motives and maneuvers thereby grievously damaging US and the Free Western World’s image as civilized societies. That would explain why they bought the idea of diplomatic immunity to suspend the case and allow the vice consul to return to her country but kept the case itself alive, thereby paving the way for cynically and quasi-permanently crippling her family life. The real issue behind the cause – fought in the name of domestic help’s rights – seems to be one of turning the vice consul into an American mole within Indian diplomatic mission/service. Faced with Ms. Khobrade’s steadfast integrity, the US authorities had to resort to all sorts of despicable pressure tactics noticeably incompatible with their stature.
Coercion conjured up by foisting contrived cases, crippling permanently or quasi-permanently the recalcitrant are defining features of the Western action. As early as February 2015, Beaverton (Oregon) authorities have taken full advantage of an accidental fall of a 3 year old boy, who was diagnosed a hairline fracture, to foist a case of parental cruelty against his Indian parents, imprisoned the father, confiscated the child for state custody and subjected mother to grueling counseling sessions and called her “mentally sick” at the end (apparently because they could not elicit from her what they wanted). It is not as if accidents do not occur with American children, only the relevant authority’s (the Child Abuse Assessment Specialist) ruling is tilted in view of larger goals. Notice that the couple’s family life is already profoundly disrupted and a legal case, especially when accompanied with a conviction, is apt to severely cripple the man’s (father’s) professional career. And, it does not even appear easy that the couple could manage to leave the US along with their child!! The sketchy and controlled news filtering from the US (The Hindu 05 Aug., 2015 and the TimesofAP.com, 01 Aug., 2015) does not allow for information about further developments or the final outcome. But the diabolic extortionist maneuver is already clear and totally divests the foreign resident of any freedom of action whatsoever.
The Time of AP also reports a similar case of Mr. and Mrs. Saha who’s 11 month old child had a fall from the bed and the child suffered subdural hematoma and retinal bleeding (August 09, 2012). The child was promptly confiscated by the state and the parents were allowed just two hours of supervised visitation per week. Similarly, there is this case of Anurup and Sagarika, in Norway, whose two young children were confiscated by the Norwegian government on the issue of the couple’s parenting abilities. Anurup was compelled to brand his wife “physically abusive” and express intention to separate, in all likelihood to retrieve his children from state custody. It is perhaps not difficult to recall the case of Chandrasekhars (Mr. Chandrasekhar was a TCS employee), taken up by the Indian media, of cruelty to children, filed curiously by the school teacher of his son. Curiously, the Government (or the Justice department) found it appropriate to admit the case without so much of examining the child in question, who in fact was left behind in India, by its returning parents! It was being speculated at that time that Mr. Chandrasekhar would be sentenced to 18 months imprisonment while his wife, 3 months less – periods corresponding exactly to their stay in Norway before they left for their Indian recess! But then there apparently was no Indian media follow-up.
In view of such cases explanations were floated in terms of cultural clash or differing parental styles. Such attempts would sure elevate these inhuman incidents to academic and intellectual decency and to that extent, confer on the host countries a level of respectability as they expunge any trace of human motivation. But it would be naïve to pretend either that the Western overseers are ignorant of the importance attached to family ties in India or the repercussions that court cases, especially ones of which sentences are pronounced, can have on professional careers. It is obvious that the cases of child abuse or parental cruelty present these two features and can be deftly exploited to generate horrendous pressure on the recalcitrant assimilators. Notice also that state-confiscation of children works as an effective strategy to prevent the victims from fleeing the country. That is, catching the hapless victims, as the British Colonel Dyer did, in a Jallianwala Baag like predicament. That a husband was constrained to brand his wife as “physically abusive”, inducing though a measure of uncertainty, speaks volumes about the monstrous pressure mounted on the couple that is desperately seeking to get their children released from the state control. And, without meaning disrespect to the much beleaguered couple, it may be mentioned, to highlight the horrific nature of the working of Western mind, the gloss that those societies would decode from such a statement: ‘My wife is ready to be physically (ab)used’. How different is this from the treatment that terrorist organization like ISIS hands down to its prisoners and captives except in terms of sophistication and collectivization of the act’s execution? How civilized are these countries that disdainfully brush aside values such as human dignity upholding of which entails at least that these societies respect their own secular values such as equality and freedom?
This author himself was victim of a prolonged spell of gang-stalking or the collective psycho-verbal disorientation campaign in France. This meant administering what can be called verbal intoxication in order to make a metaphorical meaning appear as real as the literal meaning. This is achieved through reiteration of certain words, by working out differing stress and intonation patterns and infusing this global format of communication, into the talk by whosoever may come in contact with the targeted person. You are thus able to speak with two or more meanings at the same time and thereby create an impression of spurious talk. That is, this allows the French to keep up the fiction of talking without really interacting in any serious manner. Not only would this disorient you by denying information you seek (if only because it may look non-serious) but it also isolates you from the people around you (for there is no real interaction) and erects a verbal wall around you to place you in what can be described as social incarceration.
Notice that such a strategy is indicative of extremely strong and extensive cohesive relations among people. In other words, people share some sort of a priori understanding of how to deal with a foreign resident. This is invoked as and when a need arises what with the communicational polyvalence that is in place in Western countries like France. That the French kept this campaign up for 2 ½ years, striking at the very roots of my doctoral work, and at the same time constantly goading you towards liberal sex (coupled with the open display of readiness by the opposite sex), it is clear that the campaign is designed to achieve a twin objective: Coercing one to internalizing Western ethos (including indiscriminate sex practices), and failing which, Sabotaging his doctoral work! That members of an entire society had no qualms whatsoever in deploying all their energies to act so persistently and so monstrously to change one’s personal values, imbibed from another equally respectable culture, is a clear testimony that these people have no respect whatsoever for their own values like secularism but that what they really work for is a sort of anthropological conversion that transforms the foreign resident into so much of a human material to be placed at the service of Western interests.
This is not all. As the campaign failed in both its objectives, the French academicians resorted to conferring a dual-valued doctoral degree. Whereas a thesis that propounded a new discourse theory merited vetting by two celebrated specialists in the field, as provided by the University statute, my research supervisors constituted a viva-voce jury with a single, non-specialist external rapporteur but awarded it with High Honors. That is, they worked for preventing an open acknowledgement of the innovative theory by the professional community while passing a code to their Indian and International colleagues to suspend any collateral recognition of the work (hence the appointment of a single, non-specialist expert on the jury). Again, they held the permanent doctoral degree certificate as a coercive instrument for 22 long years to finally issue a Bogus Certificate in its place! That is, a blatant Act of Intellectual Piracy! That the University staff, not to speak of its academicians, the Ambassadorial staff at New Delhi, and lo! the officials of the French External Affairs Ministry in Paris… all are involved in this as if they were petty fraudsters oblivious of the responsibilities begotten by Bilateral Cultural Cooperation Agreements, speaks volumes about their double-speak and double-act and the extent to which they had already subjugated developing countries like India.
Yet, the ramifications of the Western action are neither transitory nor limited to the West. Thus while it is wholly logical to expect international professional organizations based in Europe and the West to find alibis to bypass my work, their Indian counterparts reserving the same kind of treatment to a highly innovative Indian work is something that is totally at odds with their professional and national responsibilities. As it happened, none of the Indian specialists in my field found it necessary to pronounce on my work one way or the other save an anonymous referee who advised me, while rejecting my paper, to subordinate my work to the reigning Oxford conception on Discourse! It did not occur to him that I take discourse processing from premises fundamentally opposed to the British theory. Worse, Indian academic institutions found a way to maneuver me out of academic positions. Judiciary was given into appeasing the French interests, and thereby paving the way for intellectual piracy, as it refused to see the transnational manipulations hemming the case. Worse, even translation companies refused to provide me with freelance jobs thereby impeding my efforts to earn a decent living. Repeated appeals to the CJI, National Human Rights Commission, the University Grants Commission (the co-administrator of the linguistic part of the Cultural Cooperation Program) were of no help. Those in high places were simply unwilling to seriously consider a case that appealed against the Western instances!
This short sketch of my experience with various Indian instances is meant to show how, the Western ethos, once internalized, would remain etched in one’s character. Overshadowing considerations such as professional integrity, dignity of self and National interests, it constrains one to spinelessly subserve Western cause. The fact of the matter is a human being, even according to Christian theology, is seen as ‘half-angel, half-animal’. That is a self-refining a self-elevating trait is innate to human condition. This means an unrestrained abandon to a life of facile indulgence does not constitute basic human nature. The pristine human quality is therefore one that checks itself at every step, moderates itself and strives to elevate the being. It is from such an endeavor that our concepts of civilizedness take shape. It is for this reason, and whether one takes to it spontaneously or through dastardly coercion, that the Western practice of unbridled sex and cynical debasement to the status of manipulatable human material would generate a sense of stigma and culpability. The feeling of culpability and the sense of reification of self are enhanced in proportion to the intensity and ruthlessness of coercion. Inevitably, and as we all like to pretend to be civilized human beings living in civilized societies, we develop a dual personality. The outer shell serves to explain away our coerced behavioral practices in terms of other lofty, yet expedient, values. This, then, is the Anthropological conversion or reduction into human material that not only aims at constantly justifying one’s dual-self but also rationalizing the anthropological process behind such conversions.
Comparing Annihilationism with Terrorism
It is now easy to compare the overt acts of Terrorism with the covert maneuvers of Annihilationism. For, a naked perception of Western psyché would show that it is as callous of human persona as that of avowed Terrorists. Only, the West prefers to operate from within the tantalizing façade of civilized living. And to that extent, the thick wade of positive image would both be deceptively misguiding as well as serves as an efficient camouflage for annihilatory actions. It is this painstakingly constructed outer structural formation that we call sophistication for it takes quite an intellectual effort to identify what lies behind.
|Nature & Aim|
|3.||Random killing||Demarcated annihilations|
|4.||Often retaliatory||Exclusively premeditated|
|5.||Overt violence||Covert violence|
|6.||Aim: Socio-cultural protection||Aim: Subjugation of the other|
|8.||Visible destruction||Invisible crippling|
|9.||Destruction: material||Destroying honor and self-respect|
|10.||Carried out by isolated groups||Entire societies participate|
|12.||Biological liquidations||Socio-professional exterminations|
|13.||Action defended overtly||Action camouflaged; Blamed on victim|
|14.||Proscribed for its violence||Shielded for fear of reprisals|
A Comparative and Contrastive Table of Terrorist and Kernel Western Action
In the light of examples discussed above and the table presenting respective approaches vis-à-vis human relations, it must have been clear that the core Western attitudes do not differ greatly from those of perceived terrorist mind-sets. It is obvious that a wider range of instances and a fuller and systematic coverage would have made the demonstration nearly incontrovertible. But this is the difference between the countries like India and the Free West. The media there knows how to modulate news to image-requirements. Even local/city news papers/channels do not carry such lynching incidents. Whereas in India, viewing it solely from the prism of internal political struggle, an incident as minor as counseling a foreigner is blown-up as a serious instance of intolerance!
Nor is the analysis intended to be spiteful, for, venting anger in such cases is plain ludicrous. What is required is that the government and civil society make common cause to prevent such kind of human poaching and humiliating assaults on human dignity turning one into usable human commodity. True such a step would entail untold socio-economic consequences. But then, doesn’t the country fight cross-border terrorism in J&K or Maoist menace internally despite heavy costs involved both in terms of men and material? It just requires unwavering commitment to country’s sovereignty and the realization that this latter reflects in the dignity with which its law-abiding citizens are treated by the world. It is just of no help if only high profile cases like those of Ms. Khobragade are attended to. The Italian efforts to save its murder-accused marines from the clutches of Indian law show what it is, for the State, to protect one’s citizens.
In uncovering the real face of the West, it is hoped, the analysis has succeeded in revealing that terrorism need not always be associated with overt violence and that there are more insidious ways to turn a human being into a ‘living-dead’ and prevent his services from being in any way useful to his native country. The difference between the two is one between an IED and a SMART BOMB. This latter is dubbed a ‘clean bomb’ as it only kills human beings while leaving the material habitat intact. It should also be understood that as the kind of mindset delineated above is rooted in the very anthropological origins of the West, it cannot ever be changed for better. This makes eternal vigilance and sacrifice, the price the developing countries must pay to live with the West while at the same time safeguarding their honor and dignity. And it is surely the inadequacy of such endeavors, at state level, that turns people, especially from the proud Islamic countries, to take to terrorism as the sole form of retaliation against the West.
Dr. Codadu Pratap
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