Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Journalism zeroes in on Truth

And after a glorious siege, offers her a job as a cocktail waitress

Well, the original article was "Pakistan zeroes in on zealots" in the Christian Science Monitor published this day 09 July 2007 (http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0709/p08s01-comv.html?page=1); snipped and commented upon, below.

> The standoff at the Red Mosque represents the rise of moderate
> Muslims against violent, vigilante Islam.

Possibly; however, it is noteworthy that both sides in this conflict carry automatic weapons and are prepared, and trained, to kill. Whether one is "right", or "wrong", or "justified" depends upon one's point of view.

> When the violent strand of Islam eventually collapses of
> its inherent contradiction, that day may have been foreseen
> in the siege at Pakistan's Red Mosque.

What inherent contradiction? That it is a religion of peace and still is involved in murders the world over? Well, it's not the first, and such a trifling thing as a logical discrepancy is not adequate to stop someone who "believes" rather than "thinks". This is true not just of terrorists, but of the major part of mankind.

> If the military uses wise tactics to end the siege well,
> civilization will be the victor.

This is, firstly, pompous. The word "civilization" does not, yet, refer exclusively to Japanese society, or the ancient Greek city state, or Canadian democracy. After any conflict, the victor will (eventually) be deemed to be, or even have been, civilized.

Secondly, what if the military uses "unwise tactics" to end the siege "well"? Or "wise tactics" to end the siege "unwell"? Who shall decree what is wise, and what is well, and for whom?

> Pakistani society, which prefers democracy over sharia
> vigilantism, was fed up.

Indeed? One wonders how the writer pretends to know this? Interesting that a people should "prefer" democracy, but have years of military dictatorship.

> And one of their leaders, senior cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz,
> tried to sneak out of the compound in women's clothing,
> covered in a burqa and wearing high heels.
> For all of his past sermonizing on keeping the sexes
> separate, his attempted escape in drag revealed the
> underlying farce of Islamic holy war.

This is quite an amusing picture. However, I don't quite think that a single person's attempt to survive an armed conflict wearing clothes ordinarily worn by members of the opposite gender, or indeed clothes no longer in fashion, or not suited to the weather, or indeed no clothes at all, may be used to pass judgement upon an entire social phenomenon. This is not very different from using a hypothetical schoolchild's murder of his classmates to blame the whole of western Christianity, or to condemn its values of freedom, tolerance and personal privacy.

> If Mr. Musharraf succeeds in ending the standoff
> with little bloodshed, the victory will send a strong
> message to anyone trying to turn Pakistan into "Talistan."

It's actually General Musharraf, not Mr. Musharraf, as that country's head of state keeps too his military rank.
What message will it send? That military force can solve any crisis? This is not a bank robbery in progress; brute force is usually not at its most effective in suppressing ideas.

> The nation's problem is compounded by the bungled attempts
> of Musharraf, who is both president and chief of the army,
> to restore a full democracy in Pakistan after his eight
> years in power.

Ah, now it's just "Musharraf"!

What, I wonder, is a "full democracy"? Where every single member participates in the state's decisions? Such a system of government - and it is only one of many systems of government - does not exist in any society, nor has it ever existed.

Systems of government are the means, leading to an end: a life of dignity, justice and freedom, perhaps.

How curious that the means, democracy, is now hailed as the end.

> He has the quiet support of much of Pakistan's political
> opposition.

Quiet support? So they really want him to stay, but are going to keep it secret? Not usually the nature of a politician, is it?

> This crisis also represents, in a microcosm, an attempt
> by the world's 1 billion, mainly moderate Muslims to stand
> up to zealots. Al Qaeda and other such groups have lost
> their "war" to create a united Muslim state because of
> their violent, antidemocratic tactics. It only takes a
> civilized response to reveal their lack of appeal.

This appears premature. I believe the clash continues; as evinced by the situation in Iraq, Pakistan, the south of Thailand, England, Afghanistan, Palestine etc.. In fact, the evidence is so strongly in support of the "war" not having ended, that one wonders what the brief of the writer is; it does not appear to be objective.

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