30 November, 2008

November 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks

A distinct uneasiness came over me when my 24 hr. news-consuming self first learned of the attacks (thankfully, a dear friend over there is ok). The fact that they were extended over a few days was even more unsettling. There was a report of policemen hiding from the gunmen. Some accuse the government of already proving itself a failure in terms of dealing with outbursts of violence like this. The Indian security chief has already resigned. 200+ people died at the hands of 10 murderers. But now it's time to move forward.

This nytimes op-ed is insightful, contextualizing the attacks with a little history, along with personal reflection. But what I appreciate about it most is that it echoes a sentiment that I remember feeling living in ny during 9/11: to move on precisely by taking what the situation has given you, and somehow using it for the better:

What They Hate About Mumbai (<--btw, the article's title should not be read in the whiny and mockable "why do they hate our freedom?" way, rather, more like a "let me tell you about Mumbai" way. Just read it.)

P.S.S. - I came across this story in the BBC:

The age of 'celebrity terrorism'

Something about it bothers me. I don't necessarily buy Paul Cornish's argument that the gunmen's "deeds" lacked the "propaganda" in a way different from any other terror-inducing attack - which is the entire basis for titling the article "The Age of Celebrity Terrorism." I don't know about the whole "celebrity terror" thing, nor ushering in an entire age of it. Celebrity is just the wrong word to ascribe to these acts. Yes, the attackers were relatively young and wore Western clothes. That doesn't mean they want to be famous. Ever since ancient public assassinations, terror was meant to instill fear in the observers - the more, the better. In this regard, Mumbai was not new. It just so happens that instead of communicating by smoke signals or secret parchments, the attackers used Blackberries and Bluetooth; and instead of happening in the agora, with news of it spreading by word of mouth, it happened in bustling economic spaces, with news of it being spread simultaneously to millions of people around the world. In short, the change is not in the terrorists doing. In fact, I think we have to be careful, because I believe "Celebrity terrorism" is just a failed attempt at sandwiching two separate and distinct, revenue-generating buzz words together, and ultimately, they're only as "celebrity" as we make them.