I had a little Thanksgiving hiatus, went to NYC to see family. Stayed away from computers except for a brief check of email on my son's computer (it's an Apple laptop of course. The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree). I am thankful for my children and how well they've turned out. Nothing and no one else in my life has been as joyful and important to me.
So I finally get to a place where I can watch TV (no reception up here in the hills) and what do I get to see?
Massacre in Mumbai.
Why Mumbai? It's India's financial hub, like New York is America's. These religious/political extremists are learning to follow the money. Unfortunately for terrorists, Mumbai doesn't have anything as iconic as the Twin Towers, so they had to diversify—hotels, restaurants, train stations—and of course the obligatory strike against the Jews (i.e. Israel). How pathetic. It appears at this time that the attackers were Pakistani, or at least sympathetic to Moslem Pakistan rather than Hindu India, but really, why bring the Jews into this? If you hit too many different targets it just dilutes your message.
Riveting news reports and tragic.
When are people going to learn that violence isn't the answer?
When I was watching and hearing of the stuggles in northern Ireland, way back there in the last Millennium, it seemed to me that whatever the original impulse for violence, whether fighting against oppression, or fear of the insurrection, whether one was an Irish Protestant or an Irish Catholic, whether one supported the British rule in the North or didn't—whatever might have been idealism or self-protection in that mess—the end result was to eventually bring into the movement the most criminal and murderous of the human dregs. Throwing bombs into a tavern? That's a stroke against the oppressors? Or is that a response from one set of victims to another?
There was a lot of that kind of thing for a while. And of course the British gov't didn't help that situation much. The orders given the soldiers were not any more moral than the orders the leaders of whichever faction gave to their followers.
This rising to the top of the criminal element can be seen in other struggles, like most lately, the attacks in Mumbai.
When some charismatic personality (growing out of an oppressive political situation) has the power and inclination to motivate people for change, s/he has a choice: violence or non-violence.
Gandhi and Martin Luther King understood that gains were better achieved through non-violence—that is, non-violence on the part of their followers. Those who choose violence, think Osama bin Laden, condemn their movement and ideology to the annals of pathology instead of politics. Eventually they will attract people who are more interested in death (mostly of others) than idealism. Those people will say they are there for the idealism (free Northern Ireland, create a Basque republic, etc), but they will really be there because they like to kill.
It doesn't help the cause, whatever that may be. No, after a while all that's left are the persons who are psychologically attuned t0 the idea of hurting others. It's just nice for them that they get some political idea or movement to be in where they could exercise their tendencies without being treated by their companions as the criminals they are.
The real soldiers of most countries are trained to kill, but they are, in theory at least, supposed to try to avoid civilians. In the US there have been trials of soldiers who were less discriminating in their choice of targets. Our system isn't perfect, and certainly many escape the net, but we do have a system, at least, and it does work sometime.
What would a Taliban soldier be penalized for? Perhaps carrying an ipod loaded with music. But killing non-combatants? Eh.
I swear one of those criminals was shown wearing a Versace t-shirt. I don't have time to dig thru all the levels of irony in that.