Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bombings in India

Something really bad has just happened in India - at least seven bombings of commuter trains.

There is a really probability of massive attacks on Muslim populations in India if these turn out to be Jihadist related. I fact I predict such conflicts unless some miracle happens - India needs a political leader now as at no other time.

This is a new development in terrorism - the deliberate effort to create mass communal conflict by a small group. In Northern Ireland the IRA never attacked Protestant religious institutions (only British/Government ones) and the Protestant UVF and the Orange Order never attacked a Catholic Church.

It's a mistake to think that terrorism is always the same. In the early days or terrorism (think of groups like the Irgun Zvi Leumi and its Arab equivalents) they used to think of legitimate targets and and aimed to induce terror among the living not death as an end ititself. [IZL tried to scare Arabs out of Eretz Yisrael/Palestine, the Arabs did the same thing.]

History always contextualizes terrorism. Catholics and Protestants in Ireland fought over history, but they did not systematically seek to deny the history of the others. In both the Balkans and Israel, by contrast there has been for almost a hundred years now an efforst to write opponents out of history.

Neither Greek nor Israeli tour guides, for example, ever credit 500 years of Ottoman history. Israel and the Turkish government do, to their credit, preserve the monuments of of all the cultures that have flourished in their territories, although they mount official "stories" which leave much out. In Israel, Masada is spectacular (and a symbol of Jewish resistance), but Sepphoris, where the Jews gave in to Roman forces, survived, and went on to create Talmudic Judaism, is almost never shown to tourists. Because its lesson - Jews often flourished by submitting to greater military might - but the managed to create incredible learning and literature, does not fit with Israel's guiding myth.

Outside Israel and Turkey, both of which have very responsible archeological ministries, it has become common in the eastern Mediterranean to destroy the evidence of "opposing cultures." [In the Irish context this would be as if the Republic of Ireland had systematically destroyed all the great cathedrals of Ireland, which belong to the (Anglican) Church of Ireland rather to than the Roman Catholic majority. [However badly you might thing of Dev (De Valera), it's impossible to imagine him ever even thinking of such a thing.]

In Serbia, EVERY mosque is destroyed, In Kosovo, priceless centers of Serbian history have been either destroyed or saved only with massive effort. In Athens, all mosques have had their minarets cut off (who says Freudianism is wrong?), and in Salonica, which did not have a Christian majority until the Nazis killed the Jews, only one mosque with a minaret survives. Going there today, you would scarcely know, as you visit the "Aristotle University" that you are in fact walking on one of the largest Sephardic Jewish cemeteries ever known, nor that the MAIN language of the city until the 1940s was Judeo-Spanish (Ladino or Judezmo.)

Every terrorism is culture based.

The question is, how can we cure deviant cultures.

Is that politically incorrect? To talk of "deviant cultures"? Here I take my stand with St. Thomas Aquinas. He argued that if a culture arose in which, for example, rape and infanticide were norms, the entire culture must be considered deviant. There are certainly varieties of allowed human cultural norms. But, the great saint insisted there are natural laws that no agreement between members of a culture can abrogate.

In effect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (thanks to the efforts of that great Lesbian Eleanor Roosevelt) is an attempt to encode St. Thomas' insight into international law.

And this is how we do it - we must all agree that, even if it takes decades, any promoter, doer, cooperator, in mass death, genocide, or torture will NEVER be able to rest in peace.

That certainly includes current Islamic terrorists. But others need to know the law will never give up on them. Pinochet was brought to trial; we need to bring more and more such men/women to trial so that every killing bastard knows that the world will never give up going after them.

And that includes any American official who has betrayed his/her country's most siesmic claim - "all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights". They too must face the Court of Humanity. And gaol if necessary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an (ex) medieval (but still gay) historian in Manchester,who really loves and appreciates your Source Books and your other work, and was so shocked by the way you have been treated, I just want to say how glad I am to see you back.