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Author Pankaj Mishra makes it seem in an article that appeared in the New York Times of November 28th, 2009, that, in mainstream India, outside the excitable and--according to him--right-wing news media, there has been little resonance with the commemoration of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. Mishra says said media have been attempting, without much success, to resort to an analogy with the attacks on America on September 11, 2001, in order to whip up an exaggeraged mass emotional hysteria directed against Pakistan, where he says the attacks were "partly" planned and financed. He notes that these right-wingers remain enraged and frustrated because Pakistan has boxed India into a corner where there are no aggressive options for the latter. The reason 26/11 has not resonated with mainstream India, says Mishra, is that Indians are too fatalistic and preoccupied with various ongoing crises. Mishra registers his disapproval of America's response to the September 11 attacks, and expresses his relief that, mainstream India's indifference to 26/11 would prevent India from responding to assured future major attacks from Pakistan in America's manner, that is to say, driven by arrogance and hubris.
The full article is here.
Going by Mishra's article, the only way to understand Indian emotions flowing from the attacks is to see the emotions as a phony product of a vast conspiracy of rich right-wing urban twits. In sharp, Sarah Palinesque contradistinction to this group, Mishra sets up the real India, which is (of course) fatalistic, lives in villages, and doesn't give a damn about the attacks on Mumbai. He doesn't mention them, but presumably the left wing, of the rich and twitty as well as the other kind, is also a part of this real India. Does this mean that Indians espousing left-wing politics are barred from expressing honest grief and outrage at the attacks on their country? Mishra doesn't say.
About the only support Mishra presents for his assertions regarding his putative real Indians' feelings about the attacks on their country is his use of the "fatalism" codeword, an implicit allusion to a vast and persistent body of Orientalistic writings and prejudice about the passive and fatalistic Indian. Certainly logic and internal consistency are not Mishra's friends here: Rural Indians could well have chosen to ignore the attacks (assuming that this is demonstrably the case) or even cheer the attack, but their choice would not necessarily be an account of their fatalism, which is doubtful in point of fact. As Mishra himself says in the article, many of those Indians are busy coping with their personal crises or engaging in Maoist insurgencies or even suicide--none of these behaviours is fatalistic or passive, suicide least of all.
Mishra's message is that this questionable Indian fatalism has prevailed over an overwrought right wing to save India from the latter's hankering to emulate America's response to 9/11, which Mishra labels with the twin epithets of arrogance and hubris. These are two terms that hearken more to timeworn anti-American liturgy than imagination, let alone fact. Mishra, aside from the Pakistani leadership, the Taliban, and understandably Afghan civilians, is likely one of the few who thinks America and NATO's UN-approved 2001 effort to dethrone the odious Taliban in Afghanistan was morally wrong. The Taliban did, demonstrably, have a major role in the 9/11 slaughter in Manhattan, Washington and in the skies over Pennsylvania. The 2003 attack on Iraq was, of course, the universally-deplored war, and also hardly controversial, but in an opposite sense. The two are not to be conflated, as Mishra does.
The deeper, moral problem here is that in Mishra's world, a country responding to an attack to the limits of its ability is arrogant and hubristic, whereas, the country launching the attack deserves the benefit of every doubt, real or made up. Thus, to Mishra, the Mumbai attacks were "partly planned and financed" in Pakistan, with the remainder of the planners and financiers no doubt ensconsed in the land of perennial mystery that also harbours the real assassins of John F. Kennedy. (While we are at it, why not also magnanimously concede that the British were "partly responsible" for Jalianwala Bagh?) And, while he doesn't say it outright in the flagship newspaper of the city that is about to re-experience its 9/11 trauma with the upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Pakistani architect of the 9//11 attacks, Mishra's exclusive focus on the orchestrated aspects of the 26/11 commemoration, their alleged "right-wing" associations, and the efforts to link the attacks to America's 9/11 experience, suggests that that America's response to 9/11, including the mass emotional outpouring of its people, was somehow phony and disreputable. Certainly, Mishra's cheap if unoriginal gibe at the erstwhile War on Terror as a "war ... on abstract noun[s]" telegraphs his withering contempt for the American people's heartfelt outrage and their government's robust if ruthless steps that have kept Americans from experiencing any further direct attacks since 2001.
Mishra himself recognizes that Indians, by contrast, are virtually guaranteed to be the victims of further major attacks from a Pakistan. Now that is a country which remains unrepentant and determined to harm India in relentless pursuit of what its thought-leaders see as the righteous cause of supremacism. In view of this, Mishra's own determination to tag India, rather than Pakistan, with arrogance and hubris represents a perverse inversion.
Zachary M. Seward in Nieman Journalism Lab:
If The New York Times ever strikes you as an abstruse glut of antediluvian perorations, if the newspaper’s profligacy of neologisms and shibboleths ever set off apoplectic paroxysms in you, if it all seems a bit recondite, here’s a reason to be sanguine: The Times has great data on the words that send readers in search of a dictionary.
As you may know, highlighting a word or passage on the Times website calls up a question mark that users can click for a definition and other reference material. (Though the feature was recently improved, it remains a mild annoyance for myself and many others who nervously click and highlight text on webpages.) Anyway, it turns out the Times tracks usage of that feature, and yesterday, deputy news editor Philip Corbett, who oversees the Times style manual, offered reporters a fascinating glimpse into the 50 most frequently looked-up words on nytimes.com in 2009. We obtained the memo and accompanying chart, which offer a nice lesson in how news sites can improve their journalism by studying user behavior.
Read on here