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Let me just say, from the get-go, I have no stance. Both sides have their merits, and both sides have their faults. Historically, I’ve been more pro-Israel, but it’s less clear now. In light of the recent attacks on Gaza, I’m tempted to side with the Palestinians. But again, it’s all very unclear, to me at least.
I’m not going to present any argument here. All arguments I have looked at seem to be right in their own way. The textual assertion that Zion should not be in existence at this stage since the Messiah (as defined by the Jewish faith) has not been born, yet if you consider the hardships the Jews endured during the Holocaust and their need for a separate state, that justifies the existence of Israel. Palestinians, meanwhile, have had the land for centuries before it was carved into a Jewish state. Yet the violence with which many have reacted does not lend much credence to their cause: to create a Palestinian state.
The only one argument that I’m definitively against is the need to completely annihilate the Jewish state, which seems to be the stance of hardliners in the Arab world. There has to be a way that they can coexist without bombing each other into oblivion. I don’t think that’s being terribly idealistic.
I want to hear your thoughts. I want to be convinced of one side or another. I want the arguments to stay away from stepping on the toes of another faith, because many of the arguments I have read for one side or another seem to rely on that, and that doesn’t achieve anything except to make the arguer appear close-minded. I want them to be well-thought out arguments that consider both sides, but ultimately settle on one for whatever, well-defined set of reasons.
I’m looking forward to your responses.
These were the words spoken by one of the captured terrorists implicated in the carnage that rocked Mumbai the last few days. His name is Azam Amir Kasab, a 21-year old from Pakistan. More importantly, he’s a 21-year old. What was I doing at 21? Studying, hanging out with friends, enjoying Ithaca, and planning my future, among other things. Kasab, at 21, had planned to die as he killed hundreds of people. Kasab narrated the whole story, with almost chilling nonchalance, according to an article by the Daily Mail.
“I was told to kill to my last breath,” he says, upon being asked about the details leading up to the massacre. Someone instructed him to take lives, as many lives as possible (the original goal was 5,000 in total), and take those lives until you have no life to live yourself. Someone, who presumably Kasab got to know pretty well if he and his fellow terrorists were “highly trained in marine assault,” something that requires presumably, a lot of time to do. That someone told him and the others to kill. That in itself is despicable. Yet to be told to kill to your last breath takes it to a whole new level. That someone knew these people were totally vested in the cause, and knew they would lay down their lives if need be. These people also happen to be young men, barely into their twenties, men who had barely started to live their own lives before being told to lay them down. That someone could see these men gleefully and passionately take lives as their own life left their lungs. That someone, or someones, are the real monsters here, not the ones who were cast out to kill and die. They are killers, but they are also victims.
It is so sad, how young people are being so readily recruited to kill in the name of some vague, greater good. It’s so sad how the angst and uncertainty of young adulthood is being exploited to turn them into killing machines. Blame, again, can’t be placed on Pakistan or on Muslims as a whole. For those of you who are placing the blame on their shoulders, you don’t really understand the issue. Yes, it seems that Pakistani Muslims were behind the attacks, but this is more the actions of a few, disillusioned fundamentalists, not the whole population. Unfortunately, fundamentalists get more air-time than the more moderate majority, and the media carries unbelievable influence. This is true not just for Muslims, but Hindus, and other groups.
Maybe it’s easier for me to say “lets just all be friends,” when many of my closest friends are Muslim and/or Pakistani. I have been to Eid services, and I have bowed my head as Arabic prayers were recited. They have attended pujas and bowed their heads when Sanskrit prayers were recited. We confide in each other, laugh together, cry together, dance together, sing together, and pretty much do everything together. Maybe it is easier because we are one generation removed from the conflicts of the motherland. Yet, even in spite of these attacks, have come together and become closer, united against senseless violence. We are people first, our allegiances should never make us forget that.
Rather than war against those who have hurt us, perhaps it is time to improve relations between India and Pakistan. Maybe then, kids on either side would be less likely to take up arms against their supposed enemies, especially if their supposed enemies were now their friends.
Granted I just woke up and I just checked the news briefly, thankfully I haven’t seen anything of the sort. I just worry, given the trend with the other terrorist attacks that have occurred in India. The train bombings in Gujarat, the bombing in Delhi, all the attacks that have happened in Mumbai in years prior. All were followed swiftly either by Hindu fundamentalist attacks, or attack by some other group (depending on which group was the offending group). Last I checked, all religions were founded on some premise of peace, and forgiveness. While it takes some conviction to raise the sword against your tormentor, it takes even greater conviction to forgive him for what he has done.
I’m of the opinion that the eye-for-an-eye approach never works, so why do people have to react to tragedy by bringing more tragedy? It’s an unfortunate quirk in our collective thinking. I hope it ends here.
To anyone who made life difficult for people because they are different,
Ten years ago, I stood behind my middle school, waiting for my mother to pick me up. As I was waiting, two girls from the same middle school who were maybe two years older than I was came up to me, each with an idily burning cigarette in hand. I didn’t know them. One of them sneered at me, her teeth already tobacco-stained, and smiled a cruel smile. “Smile,” she ordered, “smile you fucking Hindu bitch.” Laughing, she and her friend walked away. Ten years ago, I continued to stand there long after they left, confused and hurt. Ten years ago, for me, racism was but a theory that quickly became a stark reality.
Today, the scene is much the same. There is a strong constituent that prides itself on fear-mongering, on the cavalier tossing around of racist slurs, on justifying reasons to hate or ridicule another group of people because they are different. There are still those that believe, intuitively, that someone who is different is somehow inferior. I’m so sorry you all still think that.
Differences have always been present in society, that’s a fact, today though they’re being embraced more strongly…perhaps to the chagrin of many. Ethnic identity is a badge of honor rather than a mark of shame. Other sexual lifestyles are being viewed less as woefully deviant and more as beautifully different. You see this as a sign of the end of days, a change for the worse. You have been fiercely vocal in certain pockets. In the light of the current political climate, with an African American poised to (potentially) clinch this election, you have been especially vocal. You cannot see change such as this as good.
It is different, therefore, it is bad. It must be suppressed, and we must stick to the status quo. Islam is bad. Hinduism is bad. Anything anti-Christian is somehow odd, and perverted. Anything culturally alien is base, is backwards, and needs to be stamped out, if not somehow changed to meet your ideals. Have you considered perhaps learning about the cultures that are slowly melding with with American culture? Have you considered learning about the people, their backgrounds, their faith (or lack thereof), perhaps their rationale for seeing the world the way they do? Have you considered any of it? There is beauty in diversity, and I’m sorry you don’t see it.
You do not reflect America as a whole, thankfully, but unfortunately America’s image is slowly being colored by your clamoring few. America, as a whole, has started to extend its arms to new change, to new differences, and to new views. Yet there are some that are still scared, fiercely so, and you turn instead to put-downs and wild allegations about the people who are possibly bringing new perspectives and new possibilities to a country that right now, is sorely in need of a different direction.
I’m sorry to say, I did listen to that girl. I smiled then, and I smile now. I smile not because I was conquered. I smile because I will never be conquered by fear. I smile because I will work through all the remarks, all the jeers, all the comments. I smile because I see your racist remarks, I see your xenophobic attitude, I see your fear and I raise you…and ultimately I win. Ultimately, we all win. White, black, Asian, Latino, homosexual, heterosexual, religious, atheist, and any and all combination of groups, we all win. Once we accept the changes our country is undergoing–the increased diversity on so many levels and its slow spread into all eschelons–we all win. Then, maybe then, we’ll all have a reason to smile.
As many of you know, Colin Powell recently endorsed Barack Obama for President.
Indeed Colin Powell is in a very unique situation. He is a Republican, a decorated general, and Bush 43′s former Secretary of State. He had previously supported John McCain during his 2000 bid for the presidency, and even now considers him a good friend. Yet now he has thrown his support behind Barack Obama, the candidate of the opposing political party. It’s almost reminiscent of Ted Kennedy’s endorsement way back in May, despite a long-standing political and personal relationship with the Clintons. So again the question must be raised, why Obama, Mr. Powell?
His response was possibly the most eloquent piece of speaking I have heard from him, and brought together a series of well-thought out reasons for supporting Obama. Ultimately, he cited the direction in which the Republican party was headed as a primary reason for his choosing Obama. Between the smear campaigns against Obama and the ever-present insinuation that, somehow, being Muslim was still equated with something malignant and unwanted, Colin Powell saw the Republican party he knew drift into increasingly unfamiliar and undesirable territory. Now the Republicans are increasingly claiming that race, not politics, played a primary role in Colin Powell’s decision. Rush Limbaugh, the noted conservative radio host, went so far as to reiterate that point several times on his program.
Ok, in all actuality, one can’t deny that at least to a slight degree, race played a role. Powell admitted it himself. Yet he also said that the role race played was very minimal, ultimately the issues trumped race in the end. He had been undecided even as late as last month, if race was really the reason, then there would have been no doubts.
For me, what really drew me in was his argument about the whole “Muslim” issue that had become increasingly prevalent in McCain’s rallies. Muslim is the new “red” with all of the connotations and the fear associated with it. McCarthyism resurrected, now “McCainism.” Even when he attempted to quell rumors that Obama was an Arab, as suggested by a woman at one of his rallies, his response was “no, he’s a decent man…” as if being Muslim was somehow indecent. So to paraphrase Colin Powell, “so what if he is [a Muslim]?” I have many Muslim friends, all of whom are brilliant, witty, and driven individuals. So what if they run for the White House? Should they be blacklisted because of their faith? The answer (should be): a resounding NO. Heck, if I run for the presidency, what with me and my supposedly “pagan” Hindu faith, should I be blacklisted? I sure hope not. Let the record show there is a Muslim senator, Keith Ellison from Minnesota, and as far as I know, he’s doing a fine job.
So Colin Powell’s remarks did not serve the original intention, that is to make the Republican party turn its eyes back on itself and scrutinize its current path carefully. Instead, it spawned a series of unnecessary insinuations and tantrums that, somehow, race was the only factor that played into his decision. This is the state of the Republican party today, sorry to say. Let’s hope that some among their ranks will start the soul-searching, and maybe help lift the party out of the mire into which it has willingly fallen.