Salon on the mumbai attacks and government response

Very well written story at Salon about the similarity between the Bush and Indian response to terrorism.

Any decent, civilized person watching scenes in Mumbai of extremists shooting indiscriminate machine gun fire and launching grenades into civilians crowds – deliberately slaughtering innocent people by the dozens – is going to feel disgust, fury, and a desire for vengeance against the perpetrators, regardless of what precipitated it. The temptation is great even among the most rational to empower authority to do anything and everything – without limits – to punish those responsible and prevent repeat occurrences. That’s a natural, even understandable, response. And it’s the response that the attackers hope to provoke.

It’s that temptation to which most Americans – and our leading media institutions – succumbed in the wake of 911, and it’s exactly the reaction that’s most self-destructive.

As Salon quotes Dilip Padgaonkar from a Washington Post article:

the Indian Government – in response to prior terrorist attacks – has been employing tactics all-too-familiar to Americans: “terrorism suspects have been picked up at random and denied legal rights”; “allegations of torture by police are routine”; “suspects have been held for years as their court cases have dragged on. Convictions have been few and far between”;

Muslims and Hindus are subjected to vastly disparate treatment; and much of the most consequential actions take place in secrecy, shielded from public view, debate or accountability. As Padgaonkar details, many of these measures, particularly in the wake of new terrorist attacks, are emotionally satisfying, yet they do little other than exacerbate the problem, spawn further extremism and resentment, and massively increase the likelihood of further and more reckless attacks – thereby fueling this cycle endlessly – all while degrading the very institutions and values that are ostensibly being defended.

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