Singing Cumbya is no way to fight terrorism. But you canâ€™t tell that to Sonia Gandhi.
While recognising terrorism as the worst form of conflict propelled in the name of religion and ethnicity, Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has said the civilised world could by no means lower its yardsticks in combating the menace.
Delivering the inaugural Mahatma Gandhi Lecture Series at Cape Town University on the continuing relevance of Gandhian philosophy earlier this week, Sonia Gandhi delineated the risk posed by terrorism, saying that it had inflicted “untold suffering on innocent women, men and children”.
She, however, cautioned against attempting extra-legal measures. “If democracies are going to wage a war against terrorism, the measures that are adopted should be consistent with and not contrary to the values of democracy,” she said. She pointed out that the essence of the Gandhian value-system lay in the coherence of ends and means.
“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for, but no causes that I am prepared to kill for,” she quoted the Mahatma as having said.
Too bad the Muslims in India, who he defended, took him at his word. A Muslim, after Gandhi had performed the ultimate appeasement by giving Muslims their own country â€“ Pakistan â€“ assassinated him and his appeasement to Muslims ushered in a long, slow abandonment of secular law â€“ which Gandhi held at such high esteem – in Pakistan.
If you look at the history of Pakistan you will see that when it broke off from India, India went on to become a prosperous nation of the 21st century while Pakistan followed a slow downward spiral lead by fundamentalist Islam and Islamic law.
One could say the Mahatma Gandhi is the quintessential role model of the common liberal. His way of dealing with oppression was to dialogue and peacefully protest. Our own protÃ©gÃ©e of Gandhi was martin Luther King who used many of Gandhiâ€™s tactics to bring attention to and bring about the results of the civil rights movement.
To say that the tactics of Gandhi and King were successful is an understatement. One confronted an Empire and made it conform to his ideals. The other confronted a long held bigotry and made its institutions conform to his will. Both freed their people. Liberals and Progressives forever hold these two men and the means they used in high esteem and claim that dialogue with opponents, peaceful protest and the very power of their ideals will always win over brute force, hatred and aggression.
But there is a flaw in this thinking.
Both men struggled with a fundamentally moral opponent. Their protests were not met with firing squads and their dialogue did not condemn them to concentration camps. They worked their magic of change in an environment ruled by Anglo-Saxon culture that above all recognized the value of life and the procedure of law.
The flaw in Gandhiâ€™s thinking became quite evident during WW II when he was asked how he would respond to Hitler and the Nazi persecution of the Jews. David Lewis Schaefer in â€œWhat Would Gandhi Do?â€
Gandhi offered only one avenue for the Jews to resist their persecution while preserving their â€œself-respect.â€ Were he a German Jew, Gandhi pronounced, he would challenge the Germans to shoot or imprison him rather than â€œsubmit to discriminating treatment.â€ Such â€œvoluntaryâ€ suffering, practiced by all the Jews of Germany, would bring them, he promised, immeasurable â€œinner strength and joy.â€ Indeed, â€œif the Jewish mind could be preparedâ€ for such suffering, even a massacre of all German Jews â€œcould be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy,â€ since â€œto the God-fearing, death has no terror.â€
Unknown to Gandhi at the time, the Jews did enjoy his â€œvoluntary sufferingâ€. It was called the Holocaust.
The pacifist ignores reality and substitutes it with his or her beliefs. Gandhi said of Hitler just a month before the fall of France, â€œI do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing and seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed.â€
As for his response to Muslim demands for a separate nation â€“ Pakistan â€“ once India received its independence from Britain, Sudaram writes in â€œGandhi, the Moulana of Muslim Appeasementâ€:
Dr B R Ambedkar paid his tribute to the Muslim Appeasement Bible of Moulana Mahatma Gandhi in these brilliant words: ‘Gandhi has never called the Muslims to account even when they have been guilty of gross crimes against Hindus. It is a notorious fact that many prominent Hindus who had offended the religious susceptibilities of the Muslims either by their writings or by their part in the Shudhi Movement have been murdered by some fanatic Musalmans. The leading Muslims never condemned these criminals. On the contrary, they were hailed as religious martyrs…. This attitude of the Muslims is understandable. What is not understandable is the attitude of Mr Gandhi.’
Dr Ambedkar was not talking through his hat about the anti-Hindu and pro-Muslim attitude of Mahatma Gandhi. When thousands of women were raped and many of them killed by the Moplah Muslims during the Moplah rebellion in 1921, the brutalised women of Malabar led by the senior Rani of Nilambur gave a heart-rending petition to Lady Reading, the wife of the then Viceroy of India. The atrocities committed by the Moplah rebels were widely reported in the English and vernacular newspapers of the day throughout India and the British Empire. Mahatma Gandhi was fully aware of every development in Malabar during this time. But his overweening egoism blinded his eyes to such an extent that he was unable to see the realities on the ground.
Gandhi was a great leader but also an appeaser showing many of the traits of appeasers and apologist over the ages – especially the need to see their oppressors as â€˜human beingsâ€™ so as to continue the fantasy that they hold the same basic ideals of humanity and that they can be reasoned with.
Mahatma Gandhi at that time gave a great finding to the effect that every Muslim is a bully and every Hindu a coward. On the one hand he called every Hindu a coward and on the other hand he exhorted all the Hindus to remain calm and non-violent even when they went all out to defend themselves against the attacking Moplah Muslims. The truth is Mahatma Gandhi displayed all his courage only to suppress the Hindus. In so far as the Muslims were concerned, he was a typical Hindu coward. He was mortally scared of them. So was Jawaharlal Nehru. Therefore Gandhi had no moral sanction to talk about the cowardice of the Hindus. And here is the callous, sadistic and barbarous message he gave to the Hindu victims of Moplah rebellion in Young India of 29 September, 1921: ‘The ending of the Moplah revolt is a matter not only of urgency, but of simple humanity. The Hindus must have the courage and the faith to feel that they can protect their religion in spite of such fanatical eruptions. … Be the Moplahs be ever so bad, they deserve to be treated as human beings.’
Sonia Gandhi should learn from the lesson of Gandhi. He was murdered by the very same â€˜human beingsâ€™ he held in high esteem.
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