Muslims, was the "PC" Card

J.B. Sharma JSHARMA at Hermes.GC.PeachNet.EDU
Sun Dec 10 21:00:32 UTC 1995

Gary Tartakov wrote :
Mr. Sharma's catalogue of real horrors should not be ignored.  I won't
ignore it.  The comparison of Indian national development over the past
half century is here shown to be superior to that in Pakistan in regard
to its treatment of its citizens.  We must all be happy about this
difference in India and appaled at the situation in Pakistan and

But what is the point here?  To laud the healthy development of Indian
polity or to suggest that it is now time to get even and sink into the
sewer of communalism that has characterized some of its neighbors?  

Defence of minority interests are as important to a democracy as rule of
the majority.  As important.  And reciting Muslim horror stories when
defence of Muslim interests is advocated seems to attack that principle.
If our Muslim cousins need as much training in pluralism as our
Brahmanical and Christian cousins, we should further the task, not
separate them out for special treatment as the creators of horors shared
by many.

 The point is... to map out the communal sewer completely ... and to 
keep it from constantly spilling into the drinking trough of civil 
life on the subcontinent. Really, it is not a matter of a comparative 
analysis of India and Pakistan, but to point to the organic graft of 
the polity, history and culture of the subcontinent. Is it any wonder 
that communal happenings in one country inevitably lead to mirroring 
in the others ? To disarm the virulence of communalism is the panacea 
for the well being of all humans who live in this region, no matter 
which 'undifferentiated' label their psyches are tattooed with. 
Academic consensus of exact history of medevial India has 
the power to divest the basis for communal movements based on false 
premesis.  This is not going to happen if the historical baggage is 
not comletely clear and accepted by all who live in the region.
The heros of one group remain the villians for the other. 

 How can a common vision of a future be created if there is a 
schizophrenic vision of the past ? Most Muslim leaders in the sub-
continent will flatly deny the frenzy of temple destruction that took 
place in India saying that the tolerence of Islam disallows it. They 
say that the scribes who report all of this activity were plain
wrong. I fail to understand the imposition of this interpretation if 
we have no more than the words of the witnesses to go by. Maybe 
Heinrich Zimmer was a Hindu fundamentalist in observing that no 
example of (pre-Islamic) Hindu architecture stands today in North 
India. And so was Will Durant in observing that the Turkish invasion 
of India is the most destructive event in history. The popular 
culture of Muslims in the sub-continent see this as a time of great 
glory, and the popular Hindu culture has a amnesia of these times. 
This is fertile ground for demagouges of every variety possible.

 Some see the perpetuation of this amnesia necessary for the 
protection of Muslims in India. I fear that this outlook is horribly 
flawed in that it is certain to have the opposite effect, much to the 
detriment of all. Suppression breeds uncontrollable demons. If both 
communities cannot have a rational discourse to arrive at a common 
vision of the past, there is not a basis for shaking hands, and 
looking towards a common future of peace and prosperity for both.  
There has been a lot of suffering by all in the region. 

 I disagree with Gary Tartakov that in defence of the Muslim minority 
in India we (Hindus and Christians) should train the Muslims in 
pluralism and doing otherwise we mark them as targets. This embodies a 
patronising attitude on the Muslims the likes of which I would 
hesitate to impose on any group. The reform must come with the Muslim 
community itself, and goodness only knows, there is enough native
intellectual and spiritual capital there to make it happen. There 
have been may voices of reason and reconciliation from the Muslim 
community, but are always drowned out by those who vocally insist that 
reform in a perfected system is an anathema and expressly verboten. 
Any suggestions to get around this bottleneck ? 

  So where do we go from here ? If indeed the past millenia was not a 
time of hapless disenfranchisement of Hindus from the driving seat of 
their political and societal destiny, then the reasons for their 
resentment are completely invalid, and they indeed are a vile folk. 
Then this subject is unworthy of discussion. In the meanwhile the sub-
continent hurtles towards a senseless nuclear confrontation propelled 
by reasons unclear to most people who live there. An analysis of the 
situation continues to be riddled by the same old cliches and 
semantic static. Some academics will keep wondering, 'what is the 
point', and keep insisting that medevial Indian history has no bearing 
on the current situation in the region ... Until we all wake up one 
morning to horror, and then we can wonder 'why?'.
J.B. Sharma


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