Muslims -- not a "problem"

y.r.rani at y.r.rani at
Mon Dec 11 23:23:42 UTC 1995

There are so many problems in India.  The communal problems just sit on top
of all the other political and economic problems like hot cinders, fanned
by politicians and religious leaders.

At the end of the twentieth century, ethnicity, in its combustible
nationalistic incarnation, has emerged as a powerfully murderous tool.
Ancient ethnic hatreds, that have long divided humankind by "race," faith
and nationality, have acquired a profundity in the power vacuum of the
post-communist, postmodern world.  Mankind has seemingly reverted to tribal
organizational principals at the close of the millennium.  The flare-ups of
these old hatreds are not simply the legacy of the "New World Order,"
replete with its neo-colonial and post-colonial clichés, nor simply the
result of the thawing of Cold War alliances, nor did they automatically
arise from a politicized middle-class with access to mass media.  They are
cloaked in historical context which are superimposed on modern political
and economic competitions, all of which are actively manipulated by elites
vying for dominance.  Ethnic identities need not be based on dynamic and
tangible horizontal relationships, but may indeed arise from the collective
imagination and long suppressed memories of a people.  These ascriptions
may be drawn from tales of mythical deprivations and discriminations, or
ancient conflicts long dormant, that are revived and reshaped by modern
elites who aspire for political power.

It is unfortunate that many of the elites in the BJP espouse hateful ethnic
diatribes.  I say unfortunate, because they could play another card which
would bring out the more moderate elements in society instead of the hate
card which can only cause a conservative Muslim backlash.  The "Sangh
Parivar" claim that they are a reaction to the fundamentalist attitudes of
Indian Muslims and the worldwide rise of Muslim fundamentalism . . .  yet,
as is the usual course of events, they in turn, play the same hate card,
and the murderous game goes on.

This game is perpetuated by the hate mongering styles of such VOI writers
as  Koenraad Elst.  I mentioned in a previous post that "Negationism in
India" by  Koenraad Elst, though fascinating reading, can not help but turn
off the objective reader due to his nasty comments about Muslims.  Though
he and his fellows may indeed have well documented information, replete
with realistic representations of the medieval period, the fact that he
must degrade his scholarship with the use of very hateful asides directed
at Muslim and Islam, is shameful.  Various perspectives of Indian history
can be told without subjecting the reader to insults intended to incite
ancient hatreds.  I have not read all of Mr. Elst's books and in fact,
except for "Negationism in India," most of his books are well footnoted
(there are 163 footnotes in Elst's book "RJB vs Babri Masjid" in 166 pages
of text).  It is not so much his scholarship that is called into question
(of which I am not here making a judgment),  but rather his propagandistic,
hateful style.

The problems of Hindu-Muslim communalism are as deep as any ethnic divide
known to man.  It is amazing and a testimonial to character of Indian
civlization, that there has not been the mass genocide which has occurred
in Bosnia, Rwanda, Liberia, Cambodia and Bangla Desh, just to mention a few
of the places where ethnic cleansings have radically impacted the
populations, turning millions of citizens into refugees and burying the
rest in mass graves.  Hopefully the more moderate elements in the INdian
political discourse will obtain.  Ironically, even if BJP wins a large
percentage of the popular votes, due to the nature of Indian politics, they
will undoubtedly have to form a coalition government, and unless they
distance themselves from the vitriolic comments of the likes of  Koenraad
Elst and Uma Bharati, no one will join in a coalition government with them.
They may win more seats in the Lok Saba, but, they will never head a
coalition government if they keep playing the hate card.

Gary Tartakov wrote:

"The [invaders'] religious beliefs and interests were subordinated to their
interest in power and pleasure."
( . . .)
"I don't see anything different in the European conquest of the Americas.
They killed the natives for their land, they didn't worry more than
perfunctorily about their souls."

What I have understood about both of these "invasions"  is that, though
they were primarily greed driven, they were justified and given a feverish
pitch by the use of religion and the mandate to save the souls of the
pagans.  Perhaps, Mr. Tartakov's comment that the "failure of any serious
success of conversion in the regions around Delhi, where every invader
immediately set up shop" suggests more the resiliency and faith of the
Hindu people than the thwarted goals of the Islamic invaders.

Yvette C. Rosser

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