Muslims, was the "PC" Card

Mark F. Tritsch tritsch at MZDMZA.ZDV.UNI-MAINZ.DE
Mon Dec 11 13:32:39 UTC 1995

On 9th December Dan Lusthaus wrote:

> Mark F. Tritsch wants to know what the real problems are. It was hard for me to
> tell whether his characterization of what was supposed to be the typical Hindu
> man/woman in the street to the growing disproportion in the Indian population,
> or Indian Muslims cheering for Pakistan, was somewhat ironic or heartfelt.

I was reporting the facts - no irony, no prejudice, no condescension. 
These opinions are held by very large numbers of Hindus in India, and 
are readily expressed by them. Probably we all know that. I think the 
Hindu/Muslim conflict displays the same interplay between current 
genuine concerns and historical context that can be found in many 
cases of ethnic strife. Muslims DO have a much higher mean birth rate 
and Pakistan IS a threat and some Indian Muslims DO put their own 
loyalty in doubt. It is a reasonable question whether the historical 
context would be so important if these current concrete concerns were 
not present.

> Those typical concerns, as characterized by Mr. Tritsch seem somewhat
> dismissive, as if they are just being silly bigots, while the *real* problems
> are Muslim poverty, etc. What about Hindu poverty?

Whose being dismissive? Certainly not I! Perhaps these 
concerns appear so unmentionably primitive, that one can only talk 
about them in dismissive terms. Well, I don't think so. And isn't 
that tit-for-tat argumentation (Muslim poverty / Hindu poverty)?

> Let's take the example of Hindus feeling some discomfort because their
> co-nationals are rooting for a rival country. That is not analogous to, for
> instance, American-Irish rooting for an Irish team playing a U.S. team. Though
> many Americans take their sports seriously (as do Indians), they would find
> that attitude both understandable and maybe even amusing. But the U.S. has
> never been at war with Ireland, nor does Ireland pose any sort of threat to
> U.S. security at present, nor are Americans concerned that that one or several
> states will secede and join Ireland anytime in the foreseeable future. Where
> any of those conditions present, rooting for an Irish team against a U.S. team
> might be dangerous.
> I suppose Czechs in the late 30s were merely crass bigots for being concerned
> that there were many Germans inside their border, for whom Hitler had a
>  protective affinity?  It seems to me that situation is more analogous to the
> Indian one, rather than, let's say, neonazi skinheads attacking Turkish and
> other minorities in Germany in the 80s and 90s.

The Czech case is interesting - currently there is a commission of 
historians sponsored by both the Czech and the German governments 
charged with the task of writing a definitive record of who did what 
to whom. It seems a laudable task, and maybe it resembles what JB 
Sharma was writing about. I don't see any possibility of doing 
anything like that with Indian Muslim historians - if there are any. 
So let's be realistic - if the kind of catastrophe that Sharma 
foresees is going to be avoided, another way has to be found.
> The population disparities and the questionable loyalties speak to
> the issue of how much longer certain parts of India will remain Indian, and at
> what cost? In a fantasy world we might be able to dream of Tamils leaving Sri
> Lanka to the Sinhalese Buddhists, and Muslims who feel India is not really
> their government leaving India to the Hindus (and Ambedkar Buddhists, etc.),
> but the real world is messier than that -- and where would the Sikhs go? Most
> of us neither foresee nor particularly desire an India that is homogenous and
> uni-ethnic (the very idea boggles the mind).

Quite so. It wouldn't even be Hindu as we know it! 
Hinduism is diversity itself. A power capable of removing Muslims 
and others from India would be a totalitarian one which could not 
tolerate this kind of diversity. Most likely India would break apart. 
> I cannot agree with Mr. Tritsch that one can afford to ignore or overlook
> history. As Santayana's (by now tired) cliche states: Those who don't learn
> from history are condemned to repeat it. Clearly both the Hindus and the
> Muslims have a strong sense of their history, and events within the lifetimes
> of contemporary Indians more than suggest that that history can decisively and
> irrevocably diminish India (at a minimum, territorily).

I don't agree with Mr. Tritsch either, IF that is what he said. 
Obviously history, even medieval history, is important for how 
political elites act and how they sell their ideas to their 
constituencies. WHETHER they can sell their ideas depends a lot on 
the current concrete concerns of their constituencies. Ask any 
politician, he'll tell you. There is an interplay - the history can 
often provide a framework of rationalisation for already present 
concerns. In particular, the history provides a guideline on WHO TO 
TRUST. That is a very important matter in any social entity, because 
it is central to the natural human idea of justice. At the moment, 
unfortunately, history is interpreted, rightly or wrongly,as telling 
the Hindu not to trust the Muslim.

Mark Tritsch

DR. MARK F. TRITSCH      (Tel/Fax: +49 611 691497)

Institut fuer Zoologie III
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet
55099 Mainz

Schnappschuss internationale Forschungsnachrichten
Breslauer Strasse 14 b
65203 Wiesbaden


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