Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mumbai Attacks & Wikipedia

I have been extremely committed to documenting this specific global event on Wikipedia. The information is coming forth day-by-day, and all of it has great implications for world peace.

Beyond what I have been able to document on Wikipedia, because of its rules about Neutral Point of View (NPOV), and other firm and fair guidelines, I have been writing more editorial and personal observation on the Global Understanding Institute’s blog.
  • False Flag Claims for Responsibility for the Mumbai Attack - the concern I had here mostly was the lack of tolerance of the mention of the false flag allegations against the Israeli Mossad. It was expunged repeatedly and swiftly in the name of preserving the world from misinformation, as per WP:FRINGE. Yet such kneejerk removals, I felt, were ignoring the fact that there were and are false flag assertions circulating about Israel. We can pretend they do not exist, but that does not mean that others are not disseminating such information. Nor does it mean that conspiracy theorists would not buy into such thoughts. In fact, speedy deletion only raises the spectre of “proof” of conspiracy via censorship. In any regard, the caveat I wrote was itself censored, citing ugliness.

  • Responsibility for the November 2008 Mumbai attack - This article has gone through a few renamings. Originally it was called "Deccan Mujahideen," as per the name given to the alleged organization that claimed responsibility for the attacks. Then it was changed to “Responsibility for the November 2008 Mumbai attack.” Now, it was renamed “Attribution of...” rather than apparently assign responsibility. Which is fair enough. Yet what is interesting is how others have maintained how any group named “Deccan Mujahideen” cannot exist. At all! It seems reasonable to me: a splinter cell of LeT, trained specially for this attack, and not wanting to be connected to LeT, ISI, or Al Qaeda, would select a separate name to specifically disassociate themselves from their well-known associates. Perhaps this rogue group had a particular goal in mind, and came up with this name as a “working title” for their project? Does it mean they do not have historical ties to other organizations? Absolutely not. We all come from somewhere. But what really sticks in my mind is the virulent denials and adamant demands. “It cannot be!” “It must be!” The certainty of various “experts” and pundits based on prior experience, partial knowledge, schematically-rigid psychological paradigms, not to mention their apparent and implicit desires and, of course, a good dash of hidden agendas. Even I myself have certain resistances to some considerations, and all-too-willingnesses to buy other lines of reasoning. Yet I do try to double- and triple-check my sources and keep an open mind. As far as I am concerned, though there are a lot of leads pointing in certain directions, the case is still open.

  • The Mumbai Attacks - This was the first article I wrote as soon as I got done with my Thanksgiving celebrations. I felt that I was on to something vital when I wrote about comparative means to achieve social justice — contrasting the (mostly) peaceful protests in Thailand, which toppled a government, to the deeds of a few violent non-state actors in Mumbai. I also felt it was vital to talk about the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, and its principles of Understanding, Wisdom and Knowledge. I felt it was vital, in response to the definitely inflammatory and terrorist activities, to call for sober reflection, and to seek a deeper sense of justice than what immediate demands for vengeance might wreak.
Last night, Harshi and I strategized about a possible person-on-the-street interview/poll project. He is planning to go back to Mumbai and his hometown of Nagpur, Maharashtra, in central India.

I wish I could say I understand precisely why I am so engaged in this particular terrorist activity. For me, it is even more compelling to deal with than 9/11. Perhaps in a way, 9/11 was too close to my heart. As a native New Yorker, it was too painful for me to consider. There was too much grief, and too many voices pouring in on the topic. People on the ground had a better grasp of the situation.

Yet I feel the opposite for this event. Perhaps there is something in emotional distance—the ability to not take the attacks too directly to heart—that is spurring me. It is an event I can intellectually analyze without bursting out in pain and tears.

During Thanksgiving, I must admit I argued with a close friend over the impact of global events. It caused a terrible rift in my personal relationship. Yes, it was utterly ironic for me, trying to found an organization to deal with conflicts and crisis management, to get into a personal crisis and interpersonal conflict.

Even before this incident, I have had a deep conviction events around the world have and still could truly devastate what is going on here at home in the United States. The argument I had centered around this: my friend didn’t want to hear about it. Any of this. I felt my friend was trying to be too sheltered. Insular. Ignorant of the world.

I will agree with her insofar as we should all be responsible for what is here right in our own lives. Yet I also feel as if sometimes events of far greater import than our own parochial visions must take precedence and demand attention. Sometimes we are not even aware of how close a “distant” crisis is to us, unless we raise the matter to our attention for consideration.

Do I get preachy? Lecturing? Pedantic? Yep. I do. Not always. Usually, the more resistent a person is being, ingnorant and unconsidering the wider world, and the more important I consider that person’s opinion, the more I may press. Quite ungraceful of me. A bad habit. Yes, I’be been warned and chided about it plenty. Yet, I keep feeling there’s a reason I need to speak about such seemingly remote crises. Somewhat how Fiver in Watership Down needed to tell the other rabbits about dangers he foresaw, or sensed.

I am just three degrees of separation away from the event, via Harshi. As soon as he told me about it, I knew that things were going to be bad. Very bad. In Harshi’s own circle of friends, he knows two people who lost someone in the Mumbai attacks: one who lost a relative and another a former roommate.

The ties between India, Mumbai in specific, Pakistan, and Silicon Valley are very deep. The present situation here reminds me of the New York immigrant communities and their still-vital ties to Ireland, Italy, China, Greece or Russia.

I am not sure exactly where this personal quest and investigation is leading yet. In a way, I feel my hand is on the rudder of human events. My personal contribution to Wikipedia regarding the attribution of the 2008 Mumbai attacks may not be the same as a lead story in Time Magazine or front page of the Wall Street Journal, but it feels electrically powerful. What I have written helps shapes global understanding of the event. At times, I almost panic at the prospect. At other times, I am humbled or proud or simply staggered.

Aside my own personal role, my hope is that the truth comes out, and that the situation is dealt with efficiently and calmly by all properly-authorized parties. Whoever was responsible should face the rule of law. And a long-needed, frank, open, therapeutic discussion between India and Pakistan needs to begin at last. Both nations must also be able to look internally to their own failures and faults. Extreme nationalistic Saffronization in India. Extreme Islamic militancy in Pakistan. Corruption in both nations.

I’ve been concerned ever since the Kargil War that these two neighbors might get pushed by their own zealots and internal factions, egged on by external powers, into confrontation. A conflict between them could, theoretically, lead to nuclear exchange if everything went horribly. My inner voice speaks to me to document this event so any actors who were responsible are logically identified and exposed, so that the world can back down from the larger-scale worse outcomes, and begin to forge a vision for a better and more secure south Asia.

This is an event that can potentially shape a great deal of world history for the 21st Century. It is not going to be “over” any time soon. Matters are just now beginning to be discussed and investigated which took years or decades prior to the present crisis to evolve, and which will continue to evolve and have impacts on global politics and economics for years and decades to come.

Because of my recent opining, I was accused of having a “grandiose” sense of myself or of life in general. I will admit to a penchant for the forms and impact of epic poetry and drama. Yet I am merely an observer and documenter of events. And these are vital times to pay heed to, to document, and to speak out about. It is my assertion it is vital for each of us to consider and reify our own roles in unfolding global political and social situations. Am I right? Am I wrong? In a way, the decision is out of my hands. What I do feel surity about is this:

I intrinsically, instinctually feel compelled to be involved, concerned, and active in the world. Right now.

What are your thoughts?


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