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dna edit: Sowing the seeds of terror

Monday, 22 April 2013 - 9:00am IST | Agency: dna

The Boston bombings and the blasts in India and elsewhere bring into focus the new face of terror: The educated man or a regular teenager we encounter on our way to work, at the workplace, in an eatery or a theatre.

But, why would a man with a rational mind give in to the doctrine of hate? The answer lies in the approach the so-called forward nations have adopted towards other cultures and sensibilities that do not conform to their notions of civilisation and justice.

Driven by the idea of a superior civilisation, best articulated by Samuel Huntington’s 1998 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, the US and its allies have perpetrated massacres in the name of restoring order in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

And, worst of all, it has painted the entire Muslim world with the same brush. Tortured to silence, people have resorted to blasts to make themselves heard. 

If the West wants to counter terror, it can begin by encouraging other voices. Voices that speak reason and articulate the frustrations of oppressed peoples. Voices that will work as counter-point to the West’s ‘infallible logic of aggrandizement’.

As Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has argued in his critique of Huntington, ‘humanity cannot be classified into distinct and discrete civilizations’. The man behind the act of terror is a victim of that foggy notion.

By choosing to overlook his many identities, and focussing only on his religion or ethnicity, the West has managed to alienate itself from the common concerns of humanity.

In India too, we have fallen into this trap that has widened the cracks between communities after every blast. We view the ‘other’ with suspicion, our vision blinded by prejudice and hatred.   

Terror is only a desperate tool for those who believe that it can lead to empowerment. It is a message to the Goliath of a US that it is breeding Davids in its backyard.

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