We have all seen the pictures. Men of ISIS who behead American journalists while speaking in British and American accents. These are British & American converts who moved to Syria-Iraq to fight for ISIS. We don’t know what drives them to so intensely hate the culture & civilization they were born in. Was it their inability to succeed in their native land? Was it hate of a society, a culture, that didn’t recognize them? Was it the lure of a simpler “rational” philosophy that appeals to their simplistic sense of order & morality?
We don’t know what motivates them but we see their hate in front of our eyes – the intense, irrational hate, that seems so rational to them. We can see them and appreciate the smarts of their masters, the leaders of ISIS, who had the brains to motivate, recruit, and use these men against their own society & culture. This is superb intellectual warfare and we have to respect the masters who demonstrate this tradecraft.
These are the thoughts that came to us when we read the rant in the New York Times by Pankaj Mishra about his country & culture of birth. The first sense you get is of inchoate intense hate that resides inside Pankaj Mishra, hate that drives him to lash out against the culture & society of his birth & youth.
If you read his earlier writing in the New York Times, you will see the same desire for simplistic order & contempt for intellectual diversity:
- “There is no dignity, no taste, no form,” he complained in a letter home. Recoiling from Hindu India, Forster was relieved to enter the relatively rational world of Islam.”
- “Forster, who later used his appalled fascination with India’s polytheistic muddle to superb effect in his novel “A Passage to India,” was only one in a long line of Britons who felt their notions of order and morality challenged by Indian religious and cultural practices.”
Pankaj Mishra was not merely writing about Forster in his NYT article, he was unmasking his own feelings. He genuinely prefers & embraces the “relatively rational world of Islam” and cherishes those simplitsic “notions of order and morality“.
This is exactly what we see in the rants of American & British converts to ISIS – a rational world with simplistic notions of order & morality that provide an outlet for their rage against the society & culture that didn’t recognize them. Like western converts to ISIS, Pankaj Mishra utters with total conviction laughably false crap like, “the first British scholars of India went so far as to invent what we now call “Hinduism“.
The fact that the philosophical & religious texts of Indian Dharma were developed long before Buddha, Christ & Mohammed, long before writing was invented, seems completely immaterial to Pankaj Mishra. In his mind, British scholars invented “Hinduism” and that’s all he utters.
He is not alone. We have heard from some Muslims that much of today’s Christianity was copied from Islam during the days of Islamic glory. No fact or debate moves those who believe that. Muslims in the Indian Subcontinent fervently believe that Alexander of Macedon was really a Muslim conqueror from Iran named Sikandar. This is what India’s own Bollywood preaches in their movies. Facts such as Alexander lived 300 years before Christ who lived 600 years or so before Mohammed mean nothing to the truly converted believers. They dismiss facts blithely as Pankaj Mishra does in his rant in the New York Times:
- “Mr. Modi doesn’t seem to know that India’s reputation as a “golden bird” flourished during the long centuries when it was allegedly enslaved by Muslims. A range of esteemed scholars — from Sheldon Pollock to Jonardon Ganeri — have demonstrated beyond doubt that this period before British rule witnessed some of the greatest achievements in Indian philosophy, literature, music, painting and architecture.”
The history of the Golden Age of India in the 300-700 CE period, the widespread global reach of Sanskrut that began anew in 300 CE, the Mathematics & Astronomy of Bhaskar-Acharya, Varah-Mihir, Pingal, Hemachandra that has been documented by today’s Mathematicians, the literature of Kalidas, Rajsekhar, Bhavbhuti, Dandin that has been praised & commented on by many scholars including Sheldon Pollock means nothing to him. The history of the great Mauryan period that began after the disastrous defeat of Alexander, that has been documented by Greek ambassadors like Megasthenes means nothing to Pankaj Mishra. The monuments of Ashok that are found through out Asia mean nothing to him. The many architectural wonders of the 1st millennium CE through out India, Ajanta-Verul, Sarnath, Somnath, Dilwara, mean nothing to him.
You see the same contemptuous certainty among the converts to ISIS – that absolute mental conviction that only Islamic history is real & the rest is made up. You see that in Muslims in India who claim with fervent reverence that Chingiz Khan (Genghis Khan) was a Muslim. They explode in rage, hateful rage, when confronted with facts because they think you are questioning their deep conviction about what they “know” to be true.
This is the central rage, the intense hateful rage, you witness in Pankaj Mishra’s writings about India whether in this article or in previous articles. The rage which the New York Times welcomes & publishes in its newspaper.
2. Kudos to New York Times & New Yorker
Remember the real tradecraft, the real skill, is of the ISIS masters who persuaded these misguided western converts to meet their tactical objectives. The masters are the one who provide the belief system & the platform for these converted men to vent their rage against their society & culture.
This is the tradecraft that has been used in India for centuries. Today it is being used by Western media like New York Times, New Yorker, Guardian & others. Like British “scholars” of yore, Macaulay-Mills-Kipling, they believe that Indians need to be rescued from that horrible yoke of “Hindu” stuff and brought into White European Christian thought if not religion.
They have put large resources to work to this end via their NGOs, Universities, think-tanks and publishers. They have given literary awards to writers who write the way they want and arranged financing for academic centers & professors who write & teach to educate Indians away from “Hindu” stuff. This is why the New York Times published articles by an Indian Christian who called Hinduism “obsolete” and an interview by “scholar” Ganeri who declared that “the essence of Hinduism is that there is no essence“.
This anti-Hindu stuff has proved of limited use. So now the drive is on to destroy respect for Indian history & culture rather than attacking religion. Of course, this is exactly what the British did after going through the 1857 war fanned by their attacks on religion. The British spent the next 90 years in attacking Indian history & culture via textbooks they imposed and via the use of British-trained Indian writers to do their bidding.
Pankaj Mishra is the modern version of those British-colonized Indian writers. He is the star product of the New York Times, New Yorker cohort. They have built him up from scratch. You have to hand it to their machine – their publishers published his books, the reviewers at New Yorker, New York Times, Guardian, published reviews that glorified Mishra. Having built him, now the New York Times can invite him to express his “independent” opinions as a revered author which are really their own opinions which they cannot write themselves.
The machine may be ISIS-like. But Pankaj Mishra is not anything like the poor western souls who behead their ex-countrymen at the order of their ISIS masters. No indeed. Pankaj Mishra is a brilliant man. He has created the perfect product to fit the needs of the powerful & rich neo-lib media. We consider him to be a great entrepreneur who saw the market, created a perfect product for that market, and sold it to rich powerful media clients like the New York Times, New Yorker, and Guardian. Kudos to Pankaj Mishra. He may hate American capitalism but he embodies it.
Frankly, we don’t know if Mishra’s anti-Indian rage is real or simply invented as a perfect persona for his perfect product. He knows that he is history as soon as he deviates from his script. That is why this smart man writes stuff like “ India’s recent economic travails and diminished international standing have frustrated these rising Indians’ sense of entitlement … “.
Yes, he wrote it this week on October 24, 2014. Does he not know that the Indian stock market is up 27% this year, that the world is enthusiastic about India’s economic future under Prime Minister Modi? Doesn’t he see the procession of world leaders that have visited India or invited PM Modi to their countries? Is this “diminished international standing“?
He doesn’t care. That is not his job. He is a paid screamer. His job is to scream in hate about India, its success, its culture & its history. That is why he has been created and nurtured. If he modified his message to fit facts, he would be thrown out just as ISIS would throw out their converted recruits who don’t do their bidding.
Our message is simple to those angered by Mishra’s rant. Don’t fight the hired hand, don’t fight the recruit. You need to fight the masters who use him. While you waste your time fighting one recruit like Mishra, his masters will develop other recruits.
Remember, Pankaj Mishra seems important only because the New York Times publishes his articles. He would fade into obscurity if the New York Times, New Yorker et al stop publishing his product.
So where should you direct your fire? At the masters who unleash the forces of hateful darkness. That is if you believe in the spirit of Diwali – the victory of good over evil, the victory of forces of light over forces of darkness.
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