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‘Worst of All Worlds’ as Neoliberal BJP Wins India Elections in Landslide May 17, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in India, Religion, Right Wing.
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Roger’s note: I had no sooner posted an article about neo-Nazism in Europe, where I commented that the phenomenon is world wide, than I came across this analysis of the results of the Indian election.  Apart from virulent and racist Hinduism represented by the BJP, there is the lesson of what elections really stand for in capitalist democracy.  Indian voters had the choice between the endemically corrupt Nehru/Ghandi Congress Party dynasty versus the racist BJP, both parties sold out to the corporate elite.  Makes one think about Democrats and Republicans, doesn’t it?

Critics say victory of Hindu nationalist party and asendancy of Narendra Modi put nation on perilous course

– Jon Queally, staff writer

The BJP’s Narendra Modi will be India’s next Prime Minister which critics say puts India on a perilous path of neoliberal economics and nationalist politics. (Photo: Hindustan Times)In national elections in India, the rightwing Hindu nationalist party, called the Bharatiya Janata Party (or BJP), has won a landslide victory for the country’s parliament and their leader, businessman Narendra Modi from Gujurat, is now set to become the nation’s next Prime Minister.

According to Reuters:

With more than six times the seats of its closest rival, Modi’s is the most decisive mandate for any leader since the 1984 assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi propelled her son to office. Since 1989, India has been governed by coalitions.

The BJP was winning in 278 seats of the 543-seat parliament, counting trends showed. An alliance led by the party was ahead in 337 seats, TV channel NDTV said.

Though many are framing the BJP’s victory as the result of widespread disgust with the current government, led by the Congress Party, and a win for those calling for an end to systematic corruption in the world’s most populous democratic state—critics of the neoliberal BJP say its ascendency puts India on a perilous path.

For progressive-minded Indians, says Vijay Prashad, a historian and professor at American University of Beirut, the BJP victory “is the worst of all worlds.”

In statements ahead of the elections, activist and author Arundhati Roy said that India’s election were not about serving the interests of the nation’s poor and disenfranchised, but about “which corporation would come to power.”

Referring directly to the now victorious Modi, Roy stated, “This time, [the elections were] corporate war and he is a corporate candidate.” She indicated that all the major parties continue to ignore the pervasive poverty, including mass malnutrition which plague vast sections of the country.  Despite India having the third-fastest growing economy in the world, Roy said, its democracy is being steadily destroyed by “unequally distributed wealth” and a political elite that pays only lip service to the nation’s farmers, marginalized youth, and  underclass.

To de-mystify Modi’s victory and put his party in context, Prashad explains:

“BJP never ran against the roots of inequality or deprivation, but only what it deemed to be its symptom – corruption. This was a clever strategy. It both rode the anti-Congress wave, which had been produced by anger at the inequalities in the country, and it mollified the corporate community, which would not have been interested in any criticism of the policies of neoliberalism.”The BJP’s record in governance is not any different from that of the Congress – with inequality and corruption being the order of the day in its bastion of Gujarat, for instance. To take one indicator as illustrative, in Gujarat the mal-nutrition rate is so low that it is worse than the average level of malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa (where the rates of mal-nutrition remain very disturbing). Gujarat’s ‘development model’ also favored the privileged businessmen of the ruling party, the BJP, and its chief minister, Narendra Modi. Family firms such as the Adani group earned substantial gifts from the BJP government, which enhanced their profits, and helped Gujarat increase its own profile as “open for business.”

Modi was able to dodge questions of the “Gujarat Model.” He was quickly anointed by the BJP as its Prime Ministerial candidate and hastily favored by the media with far more coverage than any other politician. Modi ran as the development candidate with a carefully calibrated argument – he suggested that it was not neo-liberalism that created inequality, but its symptom, namely corruption, which the BJP tied to the mast of the Congress. In other words, the BJP never ran against the roots of inequality or deprivation, but only what it deemed to be its symptom – corruption. This was a clever strategy. It both rode the anti-Congress wave, which had been produced by anger at the inequalities in the country, and it mollified the corporate community, which would not have been interested in any criticism of the policies of neoliberalism.

Writing in the Guardian on Friday, Indian author and writer Pankaj Mishra argues that with Modi at the helm, India is facing “its most sinister period since independence.” Providing context for both Modi’s rise within the BJP and the rightwing fanaticism of the party now set to control India, Mishra writes:

Modi is a lifelong member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a paramilitary Hindu nationalist organisation inspired by the fascist movements of Europe, whose founder’s belief that Nazi Germany had manifested “race pride at its highest” by purging the Jews is by no means unexceptional among the votaries of Hindutva, or “Hinduness”. In 1948, a former member of the RSS murdered Gandhi for being too soft on Muslims. The outfit, traditionally dominated by upper-caste Hindus, has led many vicious assaults on minorities. A notorious executioner of dozens of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 crowed that he had slashed open with his sword the womb of a heavily pregnant woman and extracted her foetus. Modi himself described the relief camps housing tens of thousands of displaced Muslims as “child-breeding centres”.

“Modi is never less convincing than when he presents himself as a humble tea-vendor, the son-of-the-soil challenger to the Congress’s haughty dynasts. His record as chief minister is predominantly distinguished by the transfer – through privatisation or outright gifts – of national resources to the country’s biggest corporations. His closest allies – India’s biggest businessmen – have accordingly enlisted their mainstream media outlets into the cult of Modi as decisive administrator; dissenting journalists have been removed or silenced.”.

Such rhetoric has helped Modi sweep one election after another in Gujarat. A senior American diplomat described him, in cables disclosed by WikiLeaks, as an “insular, distrustful person” who “reigns by fear and intimidation”; his neo-Hindu devotees on Facebook and Twitter continue to render the air mephitic with hate and malice, populating the paranoid world of both have-nots and haves with fresh enemies – “terrorists”, “jihadis”, “Pakistani agents”, “pseudo-secularists”, “sickulars”, “socialists” and “commies”. Modi’s own electoral strategy as prime ministerial candidate, however, has been more polished, despite his appeals, both dog-whistled and overt, to Hindu solidarity against menacing aliens and outsiders, such as the Italian-born leader of the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, Bangladeshi “infiltrators” and those who eat the holy cow.

Modi exhorts his largely young supporters – more than two-thirds of India’s population is under the age of 35 – to join a revolution that will destroy the corrupt old political order and uproot its moral and ideological foundations while buttressing the essential framework, the market economy, of a glorious New India. In an apparently ungovernable country, where many revere the author of Mein Kampf for his tremendous will to power and organisation, he has shrewdly deployed the idioms of management, national security and civilisational glory.

Boasting of his 56-inch chest, Modi has replaced Mahatma Gandhi, the icon of non-violence, with Vivekananda, the 19th-century Hindu revivalist who was obsessed with making Indians a “manly” nation. Vivekananda’s garlanded statue or portrait is as ubiquitous in Modi’s public appearances as his dandyish pastel waistcoats. But Modi is never less convincing than when he presents himself as a humble tea-vendor, the son-of-the-soil challenger to the Congress’s haughty dynasts. His record as chief minister is predominantly distinguished by the transfer – through privatisation or outright gifts – of national resources to the country’s biggest corporations. His closest allies – India’s biggest businessmen – have accordingly enlisted their mainstream media outlets into the cult of Modi as decisive administrator; dissenting journalists have been removed or silenced.

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Fear Inc: Funding the Haters August 30, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Racism, Religion, Right Wing.
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08.29.11 – 12:31 PM, Abby Zimet

An in-depth report from the Center for American Progress shows that over $42 million from seven right-wing foundations has helped fan the flames of anti-Muslim hate in America. More here and here.

Posted by lord_buckley
Aug 29 2011 – 2:47pm

Somewhere, some person in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Lybia is staring at the ruins of the house they used to live in and thinking, “everything I know about the USA I learned today…”

Writers Cited in Breivik Manifesto Have Spoken at US Military Colleges as Anti-Terrorism Experts July 31, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Racism, Religion, Right Wing, War on Terror.
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Sunday 31 July 2011
by: Chris Rodda, Truthout                 | Op-Ed

In February 2009, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) received some very good news. A woman named Brigitte Gabriel had been disinvited from speaking at the United States Air Force Academy, due to MRFF’s year-long battle to stop the US military from allowing Islamophobic fear-mongers to speak at our military’s colleges and service academies under the guise of anti-terrorism training.

Just about a year earlier, in February 2008, the Air Force Academy had invited a group called the “3 ex-Terrorists” to speak at its 50th Annual Academy Assembly on the topic “Dismantling Terrorism: Developing Actionable Solutions for Today’s Plague of Violence.” One member of this trio of self-proclaimed ex-terrorists turned evangelical Christians was Walid Shoebat.

After repeated demands for equal time to counter the anti-Muslim preaching of these so-called terrorism experts, the Air Force Academy eventually allowed MRFF founder and president, and Academy graduate, Mikey Weinstein, MRFF Advisory Board member and Islam scholar Reza Aslan, and MRFF Board member and former Ambassador Joe Wilson to speak to the cadets.

If the name Walid Shoebat sounds familiar, it’s because CNN just did an exposé on him a few weeks ago (article, video: part 1, part 2). As CNN reported, Shoebat is still being hired to speak to Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies, despite the fact that he has repeatedly been exposed as a fraud by both journalists and academics. Shoebat’s mission is clear — to spread a fear of Muslims and rail against all that liberal political correctness that’s causing so many Americans to treat Muslims just like everyone else.

The message of Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! for America and author of Because They Hate is the same as Shoebat’s. In June 2007, Gabriel, who has also been brought in as a terrorism expert by several government agencies, delivered a lecture at the US military’s Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) as part of the JFSC’s Islam elective for American military and national security personnel.

During the Q & A part of this lecture, a JFSC student asked Gabriel, “Should we resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation?” This was Gabriel’s answer:

“Absolutely. If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”

Gabriel then proceeded to give the following reason for a Muslim’s oath of office being meaningless:

“A Muslim is allowed to lie under any situation to make Islam, or for the benefit of Islam in the long run. A Muslim sworn to office can lay his hand on the Koran and say ‘I swear that I’m telling the truth and nothing but the truth,’ fully knowing that he is lying because the same Koran that he is swearing on justifies his lying in order to advance the cause of Islam. What is worrisome about that is when we are faced with war and a Muslim political official in office has to make a decision either in the interest of the United States, which is considered infidel according to the teachings of Islam, and our Constitution is uncompatible [sic] with Islam — not compatible — that Muslim in office will always have his loyalty to Islam.”

Gabriel also expressed her views on immigration:

“Those Al Qaeda members and Hezbollah members who are coming into the United States, they are immediately going from the Mexican border into the major cities where there is large Islamic concentration in the United States, such as ‘Dearbornistan’ Michigan…”

So, what does all this have to do with Norwegian Christian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik? Well, Walid Shoebat and Brigitte Gabriel are two of the anti-Muslim activists who show up in his manifesto. Shoebat is quoted about fifteen times throughout the manifesto, and a link to a 45-minute Brigitte Gabriel video is provided for further information on one of the sections.

But the most frequently cited author in the manifesto is Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. Spencer is quoted by Breivik over three dozen times, in several places at great length, and Breivik wrote, “About Islam I recommend essentially everything written by Robert Spencer.” Breivik even used a take-off on Spencer’s book title for a section of his manifesto, which he titled “A politically incorrect guide to the lynching of multiculturalist traitors.”

MRFF is quite familiar with Robert Spencer’s book, having received numerous complaints over the past few years from service members who want it removed from the military’s PXs and BXs, where it is usually displayed right next to the military Bibles.

Three other authors quoted or recommended by Breivik — Serge Trifkovic, Bat Ye’or, and Abdullah Al Araby — all appeared in the same Islamophbic pseudo-documentary with Shoebat and Spencer, “Islam: What the West Needs to Know.”

In 2008, when the politically useful anti-Muslim film Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the Westwas being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers, MRFF discovered that this same film, which featured both Shoebat and Gabriel, was being used by the US military. MRFF was able to stop some of the screenings of this film, but many others did take place. The packaging of the “campaign” version even carried the endorsement of a professor from the Naval War College, lending the credibility of the US military to this piece of Islamophobic propaganda.

In short, all of the popular anti-Muslim writers and speakers cited in Breivik’s manifesto have essentially the same message — Muslims are taking over the “Christian” world and must be stopped. And these same writers and speakers all have multiple connections to each other. They appear in the same films, link to each other’s websites, promote each other’s books and videos, are listed by the same speakers bureaus, serve in various capacities in each other’s organizations, etc.

Because I work for MRFF, my focus needs to be on stopping the tide of Islamophobia within the military, but, after reading Breivik’s manifesto, it would be impossible for me not to be thinking about the other dangers posed by these Islamophobic fear-mongers, who are feeding countless Americans — some of whom might be unstable enough to carry out a “mission” like that of Breivik — a steady diet of justification for their twisted religious or political ideologies.

While it is clear from Breivik’s manifesto that he began to formulate his ideas several years before the post 9-11 “popularization” of Islamophobia, I think it’s completely legitimate to ask the question: Just how much did the constant validation of these ideas by the likes of Gabriel, Shoebat, and Spencer play a role in Breivik’s ultimate decision to actually carry out his terrorist attacks?

Editor’s Note: MRFF President Mikey Weinstein is a member of Truthout’s board of advisers.

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Chris RoddaChris Rodda is the senior research director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and the author of “Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History.”

The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of “Terrorism” July 23, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in War on Terror.
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Roger’s note: the twisted logic described below — that anti-muslim terrorism is really muslim terrorism — reminds me of the same kind of logic used to justify the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII; i.e. the fact that not one single act of Japanese American espionage was ever detected just went to prove how sneaky and effective they were.

Saturday, Jul 23, 2011 07:24 ET

By Glenn Greenwald

AP
An injured woman is assisted from a damaged building in Oslo, Friday, after an explosion rocked the city.

(updated below – Update II)

For much of the day yesterday, the featured headline on The New York Times online front page strongly suggested that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Oslo; that led to definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits.  The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin wrote a whole column based on the assertion that Muslims were responsible, one that, as James Fallows notes, remains at the Post with no corrections or updates.  The morning statement issued by President Obama — “It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring” and “we have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks” — appeared to assume, though (to its credit) did not overtly state, that the perpetrator was an international terrorist group.

But now it turns out that the alleged perpetrator wasn’t from an international Muslim extremist group at all, but was rather a right-wing Norwegian nationalist with a history of anti-Muslim commentary and an affection for Muslim-hating blogs such as Pam Geller’s Atlas Shrugged, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch.  Despite that, The New York Times is still working hard to pin some form of blame, even ultimate blame, on Muslim radicals (h/t sysprog):

Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking Al Qaeda’s brutality and multiple attacks.

“If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from Al Qaeda,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.

 

Al Qaeda is always to blame, even when it isn’t, even when it’s allegedly the work of a Nordic, Muslim-hating, right-wing European nationalist.  Of course, before Al Qaeda, nobody ever thought to detonate bombs in government buildings or go on indiscriminate, politically motivated shooting rampages.  The NYT speculates that amonium nitrate fertilizer may have been used to make the bomb because the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, owned a farming-related business and thus could have access to that material; of course nobody would have ever thought of using that substance to make a massive bomb had it not been for Al Qaeda.  So all this proves once again what a menacing threat radical Islam is.

Then there’s this extraordinarily revealing passage from the NYT — first noticed by Richard Silverstein — explaining why the paper originally reported what it did:

Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.

There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible.

 

In other words, now that we know the alleged perpetrator is not Muslim, we know — by definition — that Terrorists are not responsible; conversely, when we thought Muslims were responsible, that meant — also by definition — that it was an act of Terrorism.  As Silverstein put it:

How’s that again? Are the only terrorists in the world Muslim? If so, what do we call a right-wing nationalist capable of planting major bombs and mowing down scores of people for the sake of the greater glory of his cause? If even a liberal newspaper like the Times can’t call this guy a terrorist, what does that say about the mindset of the western world?

 

What it says is what we’ve seen repeatedly: that Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target.  Indeed, in many (though not all) media circles, discussion of the Oslo attack quickly morphed from this is Terrorism (when it was believed Muslims did it) to no, this isn’t Terrorism, just extremism (once it became likely that Muslims didn’t).  As Maz Hussain — whose lengthy Twitter commentary on this event yesterday was superb and well worth reading — put it:

 

That Terrorism means nothing more than violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes has been proven repeatedly.  When an airplane was flown into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, it was immediately proclaimed to be Terrorism, until it was revealed that the attacker was a white, non-Muslim, American anti-tax advocate with a series of domestic political grievances.  The U.S. and its allies can, by definition, never commit Terrorism even when it is beyond question that the purpose of their violence is to terrorize civilian populations into submission.  Conversely, Muslims who attack purely military targets  — even if the target is an invading army in their own countries — are, by definition, Terrorists.  That is why, as NYU’s Remi Brulin has extensively documented, Terrorism is the most meaningless, and therefore the most manipulated, word in the English language.  Yesterday provided yet another sterling example.

One last question: if, as preliminary evidence suggests, it turns out that Breivik was “inspired” by the extremist hatemongering rantings of Geller, Pipes and friends, will their groups be deemed Terrorist organizations such that any involvement with them could constitute the criminal offense of material support to Terrorism?  Will those extremist polemicists inspiring Terrorist violence receive the Anwar Awlaki treatment of being put on an assassination hit list without due process?  Will tall, blond, Nordic-looking males now receive extra scrutiny at airports and other locales, and will those having any involvement with those right-wing, Muslim-hating groups be secretly placed on no-fly lists?  Or are those oppressive, extremist, lawless measures — like the word Terrorism — also reserved exclusively for Muslims?

 

UPDATE:  The original version of the NYT article was even worse in this regard.  As several people noted, here is what the article originally said (papers that carry NYT articles still have the original version):

Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking al-Qaida’s signature brutality and multiple attacks.

“If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from al-Qaida,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.

 

Thus: if it turns out that the perpetrators weren’t Muslim (but rather “someone with more political motivations” — whatever that means: it presumably rests on the inane notion that Islamic radicals are motivated by religion, not political grievances), then it means that Terrorism, by definition, would be “ruled out” (one might think that the more politically-motivated an act of violence is, the more deserving it is of the Terrorism label, but this just proves that the defining feature of the word Terrorism is Muslim violence).  The final version of the NYT article inserted the word “Islamic” before “terrorism” (“even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause”), but — as demonstrated above — still preserved the necessary inference that only Muslims can be Terrorists.  Meanwhile, in the world of reality, of 294 Terrorist attacks attempted or executed on European soil in 2009 as counted by the EU, a grand total of one — 1 out of 294 — was perpetrated by “Islamists.”


UPDATE IIThis article expertly traces and sets forth exactly how the “Muslims-did-it” myth was manufactured and then disseminated yesterday to the worldwide media, which predictably repeated it with little skepticism.  What makes the article so valuable is that it names names: it points to the incestuous, self-regarding network of self-proclaimed U.S. Terrorism and foreign policy “experts” — what the article accurately describes as “almost always white men and very often with military or government backgrounds,” in this instance driven by “a case of an elite fanboy wanting to be the first to pass on leaked gadget specs” — who so often shape these media stories and are uncritically presented as experts, even though they’re drowning in bias, nationalism, ignorance, and shallow credentialism.