". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai (What's Up in Thailand)

A/K/A the perfect day to be home snug and working! Larder well-stocked, etc. Valiant V. out to his office despite the wind and rain.

I miss Thanksgiving, that moment of light and civilization and joy with friends, bracketed by the horrible events of Mumbai (and elsewhere, everywhere, in the world).

These grim events are so frequent we now have formulaic, ritual responses, like this one, in Friday's NY Times. Just swap out the place names for the ones in Manhattan, and you have a hundred of those very same pieces written within days of 9/11. Somehow, this sort of response seems from where I sit pathetically inadequate and irrelevant as a counter to the desire of these religious dominationists of whatever brand they wear.

This ritual response is a big reveal of the economic divide that plays such a role in the rise of these events (the chimp telling us to go shopping as our Brave Action of Sacrifice Spitting in the Face of the Enemy Who Took Out the Two Towers), that the author doesn't comprehend -- the people who make these moves of death and destruction across the global board merely inadequately hate people (like us) who make money and live very comfortable lives, without any legitimate provocation. It is onlybase envy of their betters and superiors. And, oh yes, they are cowards too, since they are willing to die themselves to make their point of view hit the world's news cycles.

Here is a piece from from Suketu Mejta, a writer out of that same class membership:

[ There isn't a place that I frequent when I go back home that hasn't been hit by the 10 attacks that began late Wednesday at India's commercial capital that targeted premier landmark establishments of the city I grew up in and the city I long to go back to. ]

However, another writer, Anant Goenka, also in journalism, but a student, demonstrates an understanding of the perpetrators' purpose for these events:

[ And as my mother calls me shaken and afraid with sights of victims, hostages and blood on the road between my home and the Oberoi and as friends and family call to share their stores; how they escaped or how they are concerned for their loved ones who haven't, a small part of me is happy that the rich are no longer isolated from the realities of India. On December 12, when I land back in Mumbai, I hope to see a change, a renewed sense involvement and empathy for the vast majority of the country that live in the fear and horror of terrorism. Not only have these attacks caught the attention of the flagbearers of the nation but they have involved and consumed them. The carelessness and disinterest with the rest of the population's concerns that often went disguised as the city's brave spirit will no longer hold. People say we will come out stronger and more resilient. This time, when I go back home, I hope we grow weaker. Because that's what it will take for the city's affluent to unite with the rest of the city. Maybe now India's millions of voiceless victims will be heard. ]

He is a student, who affluently flies home to Mumbai for 4 months out of the year:

[ Anant Goenka is a Dean's Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communications, University of Southern California pursuing a Master's degree in Print Journalism. He is an international student from Mumbai with an undergraduate degree in Business Administration and an emphasis in Brand Management from the USC Marshall School of Business.

Anant Goenka is the grandson of Ramnath Goenka, a freedom fighter and founder of The Indian Express, India's most respected national newspaper group.

Goenka has lived in Los Angeles since 2004 and spends 4 months of the year back home in Mumbai. He eagerly awaits returning to Mumbai to work in the business side of The Indian Express Group. He has interned briefly at Indian news channel NDTV 24x7, Business India Magazine and at The Indian Express newspapers in Mumbai. ]

So is it merely the youth of the writer that allows him to be resilient enough to recognize what is at least one of the primary driving forces for what creates such meticulously planned terrible events?

Writing as though one is demonstrating such great courage and resilience by going back to the way things are, as the first writer does -- safe in his Ivory Tower of the NYU Journalism dept. -- reveals nothing except the willful, blind selfishness that everything is really just what it used to be.

Nothing is as it used to be, other than the very wealthy still believe all is well enough in the world that they may continue to pillage and rampage over the rest of the world, devouring the earth, the water and the air as they please, and in personal peace. But that's the point of these acts. They are not senseless acts of violence. They are proving that not even the very wealthy and priviliged are safe or immune.

As the reports of the irreversibility of global warming within a couple of centuries become more numerous, how much longer is it going to take for us to learn these lessons? Where is our Darwinian sense that resilience means change, means we, the species, changes? Where is our species' survival instinct?


Foxessa said...

This has been a terrible weekend in Iraq and Baghdad as well.

Included among the bombings in Baghdad was an assassination attempt on an NPR crew today. Their car blew up in front of their eyes. They were detained from entering it by their Iraqi guards.

And what's up with Thailand, with all those people in the streets?

Frank Partisan said...

The accusations against Pakistan, diverts from India's lack of security. India is doing everything to keep the discussion away from focusing on their security problem. In addition India treats people in Kashmir, much worse than Chinese treat Tibetans.

You know how hard it's to occupy an airport. In Thailand it is possible, if you are pro dictatorship.

K. said...

1. Anant Goenka writes empathetically of the desperate plight of Mumbai's poor and hopes that awareness of them might be a positive outcome of this tragedy. -->

2. Anant is a scholar at the Annenberg School, originally endowed by Walter Annenberg. -->

3. This is the same Walter Annenberg who supported the Chicago foundation whose board included Barack Obama and WIlliam Ayers. -->

4. Barack Obama is a Muslim. -->

5. Therefore, it's possible that Obama and Ayers planned the Mumbai massacres, and they certainly sympathize with the terrorists. -->

6. If this is true, it's equally possible that Obama is a member of Al Qaeda. -->

7. This means that Obama's candidacy was part of a plot by Osama bin Laden to get a member of Al Qaeda elected president. -->

8. Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden are the same person.

What do you bet I could post this on a right-wing blog and have it taken seriously?

Foxessa said...

As the resigned head of Mumbai security admitted, the beach where landed the boat carryin the ten men who spread murder and chaos throughout the most opulent and privileged area of Mumbai for three days was a slum beach, i.e. used by poor people. So his forces didn't bother to patrol or guard it ....

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

The photographer who followed the two terrorists who started their mission at the train station begged the train station guards, who were numerous and armed to shoot the killers. "They're sitting ducks." But the guards did nothing. Why?

Having recently watched Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy (1986), where each episode had at least three long viewing of passenger train cars and / or buses filled with dead, hacked bodies, as well as at least 3 long scenes of Muslims or Hindus or Sikhs or Others committing brutal murder and mutilation upon their neighbors, I can all too easily conjure up the images of this last week.

It was a bloody one through the middle east.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

K -- Certainly at many a Thanksgiving feast this very explanation of everything was blown out by the resident know-it-all blowhard. At least according to various people reporting in on their Thanksgiving with their families in which they are the only 'libwhacks'.

Love, c.

K. said...

Is that the one with Nichol Williamson as Mountbatten?

Foxessa said...

That's the one.

I also recently read Alex Von Tunzelmann's Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire. (2007). Henry Holt & Co., NY. A well-researched and well-written account of the events leading up to the dvd series. I had wanted to find out how much of what was in the series was true about the Mountbattans and Nehru and Jinna and Gandhi. The series is more like sketching than real drama, which leaves someone like me who didn't grow up with this as her history rather lost. For instance, was he really this great stategic leader in Burma? (Why, no, he wasn't.)

But then, I've been trying, fairly systematically, to fill in this great big black hole of history in my own education over the last 3 years or so.

The one thing I thought I knew before beginning this was that I didn't like Gandhi much. This was based on reading his Autobiography and so on in a seminar back as an undergrad. I loathed how he treated his wife. These days, the more I learn about him, I like him even less. But Edwina Mountbatten and Gandhi had an affinity from the beginning, just as she and Nehru did.

Indian Summer is going to be a film, maybe, even though it is history, not fiction. At least there was talk about it earlier. Haven't seen any mention of this lately, however.

Love, C.