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Arundhati Roy meets Edward Snowden

 
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Interesting and thought-provoking encounter:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/28/conversation-edward-snowden-arundhati-roy-john-cusack-interview
 
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I would be interested in understanding what you found so interesting and thought provoking.
 
chris webster
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Well, Snowden's actions helped reveal many layers of state surveillance that were supposedly justified by the need to fight terrorism. Right now in the UK we are debating how to fight terrorism militarily and investing more money in expanding state surveillance, while France struggles to find a way to counter terrorism at home. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is trying to garner votes with ever more blood-curdling threats to American Muslims, in response to the Paris attacks, although political violence from the right wing seems to be at least as big a threat to Americans at home. At the same time, the gulf between rich and poor seems to be getting wider, which seems to be deliberate economic policy here in the UK, leading to ever greater alienation of many sectors of the population from the state or the greater good. So I think it's worth thinking about how these factors interact, as governments act to curtail liberties at home and confront extremists abroad, while creating fertile ground for more extremists both domestically and overseas. This article touched on a number of these issues, so I found it thought-provoking.

YMMV, of course.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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Thanks Chris.I thought you meant Arundhati. She is quite a notorious and shady anti national character in India.
 
chris webster
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Maneesh Godbole wrote:Thanks Chris.I thought you meant Arundhati. She is quite a notorious and shady anti national character in India.


That's interesting too. Arundhati Roy seems to be regarded fairly positively here as a campaigner for social justice in India:

http://www.theguardian.com/profile/arundhati-roy

 
Maneesh Godbole
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regarded fairly positively here as a campaigner for social justice in India:


Wow! Some examples of her brand of 'social justice'

Supports Kashmiri separatism
My country was sliced in two in 1947. We dont want to lose more part of our land again. Thus her support to separatists is seen as seditions to Indians.

Opposes India's nuclear weaponisation
So for her it is OK for my nations enemies to be nuclear armed, but not India.
Mind you, I am not a proponent of nuclear weapons. Hell I am not a proponent of war. Because of the winds, radioactive crap thrown up by nuclear explosions in one place can travel to another part of the globe very easily. This was seen in action after the Karakota explosion in 1883. I strongly recommend Down to the sunless sea written around this concept. Scary.
My point is, the correct approach to this is preaching peace on a global level. If you are going to preach disarming only my countries army, I am not going to accept it. Sorry.

Criticism of Israel
This is something pseudo intellectuals do because I think it is fashionable. My country has paid a very heavy price because of appeasement to Muslims (Oh we are minority so it is our right to demand freebies and special consideration, else we will get offended) Sorry does not work anymore. The modern India knows only one people. Indians. Fuck religion, caste, creed, color. Enough is enough.
PS. My views on the geopolitical background of Israel is heavily influenced by The Haj by Leon Uris. I understand this is one side of the story. I have yet to come across any book which reflects the other side. Any recommendations welcome.

Petitioned for Mohammad Afzal
Mohammad Afzal was one of the bastards who attacked my countries Parliament. In a democracy, that is the holiest of the holy. And this feminine canine petitions for this pig not to be hanged!!! Another reason why she is widely looked upon as a seditious traitor

2008 Mumbai attacks
Pakistani terrorists attacked the Taj (among others) in Mumbai on 26/11, held hostage and ended up killing innocents. This punk claimed the root cause was 'economic injustice against Muslims in India'
Are you fucking kidding me?
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, was the President of India. Numerous polls have shown he was the most beloved President ever. Religion: Islam
Shahrukh Khan. Salman Khan. Amir Khan. Top 3 film stars. Stinking rich. Tremendous fan following. Religion: Islam
Shahid Parvez. Bismilla Khan. Zakir Hussein. Parveen Sultana. Just a few of the top Indian Classical Musical artists. Religion: Islam
And many many more

Seditions speeches
Actively makes speeches, with false claims that Kashmir was never a part of India. Another attempt to further slice my country.

In a nutshell she is looked upon as the Kim Philby of India. Campaigner of social justice! My foot! (strongly on her derrière)
 
chris webster
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Wow, Maneesh, that's quite a vehement response.

I'm neither a fan nor a critic of Arundhati Roy, and I don't follow her campaigns too closely, and I have very little interest in Indian politics. But I have a strong suspicion of arguments based on ethnic nationalism or indeed on attempts to shut down debate by accusing people of "sedition". I can see that many of the issues Roy campaigns about are clearly contentious with strong feelings on both sides, and I would not necessarily agree with Roy on all or even any of these if I were Indian. But I don't see anything intrinsically unreasonable about making a case for one's views in a democracy, and certainly nothing to merit the title "feminine canine" or "punk".

For example:

On Kashmir: I don't know what the solution is here, but we Brits spent centuries trying to force people to accept our rule and in the end we learned that you can't do it, except by brute force. If Kashmiris really don't want to be ruled by India, then it really is no longer "your country", and your best bet is to find a compromise of some kind. We fought the Irish for 800 years, planting our own colonies in Ireland specifically to prevent a nationalist majority, but in the end we and the Irish had to find a compromise that we hope will defuse the tensions and prevent more suffering on both sides.

It only took us 100 years to learn that we couldn't expect to rule India if Indians didn't want us there, so maybe we're slowly learning!

India's nukes: There are plenty of perfectly reasonable and responsible people who are arguing in the UK right now over whether the UK should retain its independent nuclear deterrent. You and I might not agree with one side or the other, but there is nothing wrong - or "seditious" - about making a case here. It's a complex issue, both strategically and morally, but I'd assume Indian democracy would be strong enough to tolerate differing viewpoints here.

Mohammad Afzal: I don't know enough about this one to argue one way or the other, except to point out that most democracies got rid of the death penalty long ago, for good reasons based both on morality and a practical recognition that justice is imperfect. YMMV of course.

Mumbai attacks: We've had our own terrorist attacks in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, committed by "home-grown" Islamic militants inspired by foreign-funded extremist ideologies. This is a tough problem, because we have to figure out why some of our fellow citizens are so alienated from the values of our society that they would go out and kill innocent fellow citizens in the name of a fascist death cult called ISIS. This isn't about trying to find "touchy feely" victim narratives to excuse terrorism, but about finding ways to counter the real forces at work here. Most of our Muslim citizens do not become terrorists, and neither do yours. So it is at least reasonable to ask what is happening with the tiny minority who do set out to kill innocent people.

Corruption: Roy seems to be strongly opposed to corporate corruption in India. I see nothing wrong with that.

Sedition and "anti-national" arguments: This is the kind of accusation that police states use against their citizens, so I'd be very wary of accusing anybody of this simply because I don't like their opinions. We each live in a democracy, after all.

Israel: This is one topic I do know something about, but it's also way too complex to go into here. Like you, I used to be a firm supporter of Israel, having grown up with accounts of the Holocaust and being generally inspired by the "plucky little Israel" mythology. Then I started talking to Palestinians, reading more about the real history of Israel-Palestine, including Britain's shameful role in creating the whole mess, and I visited the Occupied Territories to see some of the realities of the Israeli occupation for myself. Since then, I have been firmly opposed to Israel's illegal occupation, its relentless efforts to drive Palestinians off their lands to justify the deceitful myth that Israel was founded on "a land without people for a people without land". So as far as I'm concerned, opposing the Israeli occupation is not only perfectly reasonable, it is in my view a moral and arguably a legal duty, because that occupation is illegal under international law and many of Israel's actions in the OTs constitute war crimes under the 4th Geneva Convention. Ethnic cleansing is wrong, no matter who is doing it. Racist persecution is wrong, no matter who is doing it. Apartheid is wrong, no matter who is doing it. Attacking unarmed civilians is wrong, no matter who is doing it.

FWIW, my experience is that it's certainly not "fashionable" among "pseudo-intellectuals" to criticise Israel's occupation, as it's often a fairly uncomfortable and depressing position to be in as a peace-loving liberal Westerner: everybody who speaks up against Israeli racism and illegal occupation ends up being called an "anti-semite" or a Nazi sympathiser sooner or later, and Jewish opponents of Israeli colonialism get accused of being "self-hating Jews", as if their opinions are determined by their own ethnic/religious identity rather than their personal moral compass. And because much of this history is ignored by the largely pro-Israel Western media and political classes, anybody arguing about Israel-Palestine has to start from zero every time in arguing against the occupation. It's like every argument about slavery had to start by justifying the idea that Africans are human beings too.

YMMV of course, but if you want to be a cheerleader for one side in this miserable and apparently interminable conflict, I'd say you at least have a duty to find out a bit more about the other side of the debate. You could start by reading Edward Said, Avi Shlaim, Tom Segev, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, for example. But if you just want one concise summary of why this desperate conflict continues, I recommend this short piece from 2003 by Avram Burg, the former speaker of the Israeli Knesset: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/sep/15/comment

Anyway, I reckon that's enough from me.

Cheers
Chris
 
chris webster
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You might be interested in this take on tolerance in Indian politics from an Indian reporter on the BBC website.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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1) My country's constitution gives me exactly the same right to freedom of expression, under which Roy expresses her opinion. Thinking of and saying I think she is seditions is exercising that right.

2) India IS the largest democracy in the world. Excluding the 21 months in 1975–77, when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency, threw all opposition into jail and throttled the media, India has always had a democratically elected government. There is no police state or intolerance. The fact that people like Roy are able to exercise their freedom of expression itself is proof of it. Nobody is shutting down debates here. Everyone (including Roy) are able to express their point of view, just like I am.

3) I suspect the west is not fully informed of the Kashmir issue. It IS a documented fact that Raja Hari Singh chose Kashmir to be a part of India. It IS a documented fact that Pakistan launched covert guerilla operations by introducing armed tribals. It IS a documented fact that Kashmiri Hindus were killed, tortured and terrorised to leave their home state and still live as refugees in their own country even today. Kashmir IS and will always be a part of my country.

4) Like I had mentioned in my original reply I am no fan of warfare. But asking only my country to reduce its strength to defend itself, is akin to suicide. I have no wish to live as a slave to some foreign invader. For thousands of years my people have suffered and paid a heavy price to invasions. Mughals, British, French, Portugese. Sorry. Never happening again.

5) Capital punishment in democratic countries can be argued till death on both sides. US has not fully abolished it. Singapore hangs drug traffickers. India has capital punishment and like I mentioned earlier, it IS the biggest democracy in the world.

6) Your response to Afzal Guru and Mumbai attack does not reflect on Roy's behavior. What I understood was you were pondering on the root cause of terrorism (which has got nothing to do with Roy)

7) I think I did not communicate effectively on Israel. Pseudo Intellectuals like Roy (Yup. I am exercising my FoE again, just like Roy) oppose Israel because they want to cozy up to Muslims. One must understand the difference between Anti Israel and Pro Muslims. If you come across any article where she comes out on the side of Hindus butchered and driven out of Muslim dominated Kashmir or persecution faced by Chrisian minorities in Muslim dominated Pakistan, please do share it with me. Till then my opinions on this issue (Roy v/s Israel) remain unchanged.

8) I am no cheerleader like you think. I have always been of the opinion, one should have informed opinions. If you read my original reply, you will notice I am open for more information.

Maneesh Godbole wrote:PS. My views on the geopolitical background of Israel is heavily influenced by The Haj by Leon Uris. I understand this is one side of the story. I have yet to come across any book which reflects the other side. Any recommendations welcome.


Thank you for the authors and the link. I will definitely ensure I expand my knowledge base.

9) I find it interesting you feel "opposing Israel occupation is perfectly reasonable" but you feel me opposing Pakistan occupying my Kashmir is not. In fact you go as far as to suggest I might as well accept it is "no longer my country" Shouldn't the same logic apply in both places? Why don't you feel Palestinian people might as well accept it is no longer their country? Why always the pro Muslim bias in different scenarios irrespective of Muslims having the upper hand or on the losing side? Is this religious/racial tolerance which you advocated in your reply?

10) You mentioned UK-Ireland, Indo-Pak, Israel Palestine. Why no mention of Falkland conflict? I am sure the western scale of tolerance, democracy can be applied in that context too. Did Kenneth Clarke and Jeremy Corbyn (among others), who were critical of the UK invasion, enjoy the same Freedom of expression right under democracy, which I claim today, to be critical of Roy? Would you call them intolerant as well?

Having said all this, I suspect the Media of today is more responsible for spreading selective biases than the politicians. At the end of the day, almost all of us form our opinions based on what the media chooses to let us know. Long gone are the days where NEWS meant unbiased reporting from the North East West South. Today we have journalists and analystis and pundits and what not.

I suspect the role model of of media today is Elssworth M Toohey from the Fountainhead. Media has direct access to our brains and have the ability to mould their thoughts as per their liking. We live in dangerous times people. Wake up, open your eyes and smell the coffee.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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Here is a joke about Freedom Of Expression in democracy (communism too) to help create a lighter moment.

Contact by Carl Sagan
Dr. Arroway: Do you know in my country I had a right to oppose my country's involvement in Vietnam.
Dr. Vaygay: In my country I had a right to oppose your country's involvement in Vietnam as well!

(Written from memory. Definitely not verbatim and I suspect I got 'Vaygay' wrong.)

PS. For those who havent read this awesome book. Dr. Arroway is US and Dr. Vaygay is Russian.

 
Maneesh Godbole
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Wow! I was not that off. Here is the original.

Once, during a vigorous discussion on the relative merits of the two political systems, Ellie had boasted that she had been free to march in front of the White House protesting American involvement in the Vietnam War. Vaygay replied that in the same period he had been equally free to march in front of the Kremlin protesting American involvement in the Vietnam War.

 
chris webster
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Hi Maneesh

Maybe I need to clarify a bit. I'm not taking sides here (apart from on the Israel-Palestine thing, where I still think both sides have reasonable arguments to make) as most of these issues are relatively unfamiliar to me. Neither am I necessarily defending the content of Roy's various arguments, but I do defend her right to make those arguments. Equally, you obviously have the right to make your own arguments in response, as you have done.

What I would resist is the idea that because somebody says something I disagree with, I can then accuse them of being "seditious", "anti-national" or indeed of being a "female canine" or "punk". If my arguments are worth making, I can make them as robustly as I like, but I don't have to resort to name-calling, especially in terms that clearly imply that somebody I disagree with is not just wrong but a traitor or enemy of the "nation". Maybe debating traditions are different in India, but many other countries have seen too many cases where oppressive governments accused their political critics of being "enemies of the people", "traitors", "volksfeindlich", "un-American" and so on. Such accusations are potentially dangerous but also cowardly, because if I call somebody a "traitor" for saying X, I am really just trying to avoid explaining why I think X is wrong.

So I don't think your arguments are unreasonable, even if I might disagree, but I would question whether it is helpful to your own case to call people "anti-national", "seditious" and so on. But you may feel otherwise - it's a free country, after all!

Cheers
Chris

 
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@Maneesh, the posts that you made above convey a lot of passion. I don't think in current climate you will see any arguments against the points you've raised from Indians. But may I suggest you to go through the list of fallacies so nicely collected here: http://www.javaranch.com/fallacy.jsp ?
I realize that you may have gone through it a number times over the years but then propaganda is a very very effective tool. You might try it once more and then go through your posts

I have said too much already
 
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I know that I come late to this discussion, but ...

Let me first say that Chris Weber has done an awesome job in his clarifications and remarks, and they mostly echo my own thoughts, only much better written. I must also say that I know almost nothing about Indian politics (shoot, I next to nothing about US politics beyond the fact it is corrupt and no longer about the people), and I had no idea who Arundhati was before this discussion. And my response is due mainly to your comments regarding her positions.

I know that the Kashmiri region has been in dispute for several decades, with attacks launched and responded too by both (all three) sides. As a man of peace, which you claim to be, and which I most definitely am, perhaps Kashmiri independence is a good thing. Has anyone asked the Kashmiri people how they feel about this whole thing, or does that not matter? If the region became an independent state, would that not remove the contention over who owns the area? And would that not help resolve the conflict? In an independent state, no one loses, but also no one wins and there is no longer need to be a winner.

I also agree with nuclear disarmament. To be honest, if the people of this fragile blue ball we live on don't wish to become extinct, then total disarmament is the only answer. As a US Navy vet, I can say with certainty that the US nuclear submarine fleet carries enough nuclear payload to burn our entire to cinders, several times over. The George Washington (the first and oldest ballistic missile boat) carried enough war heads in one missile to obliterate every city of over 50,000 people in Europe. Europe, not Russia, but the entire continent. One missile from one boat. Betting our survival as a species on MAD (mutually assured destruction) is indeed mad.

I won't get into the pros and cons of the death penalty. As a minister of the United Church of Christ, I find the death penalty morally reprehensible. I find it to be a cruel and heinous thing, no matter the method, and in my mind is no different than murder. The only difference is that one is state sanctioned and the other is not. It also removes the possibility of reform and forgiveness. (I know, there is an argument looking for a place to happen). Lastly, I would think spending the remaining years of a life in a 2meter x 3meter box to be far worse that the quick release of death.

Just some thoughts that I felt I needed to voice. If I have offended in any way, I sincerely apologise. It was not my intention.

Regards,
Robert
 
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Maneesh Godbole wrote:
PS. My views on the geopolitical background of Israel is heavily influenced by The Haj



With all due respect, forming an opinion about a very complex geopolitical conflict based on a work of fiction is probably not the cleverest thing to do.
 
Ahmed Bin S
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Maneesh Godbole wrote:
Having said all this, I suspect the Media of today is more responsible for spreading selective biases than the politicians. At the end of the day, almost all of us form our opinions based on what the media chooses to let us know. Long gone are the days where NEWS meant unbiased reporting from the North East West South. Today we have journalists and analystis and pundits and what not.

I suspect the role model of of media today is Elssworth M Toohey from the Fountainhead. Media has direct access to our brains and have the ability to mould their thoughts as per their liking. We live in dangerous times people. Wake up, open your eyes and smell the coffee.



I have absolutely no idea why you think that the media used to be better in the past than it is now - the mainstream media has never been objective, not yesterday, nor today.

As Hunter S Thompson said:
“So much for Objective Journalism. Don't bother to look for it here--not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”
 
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Ahmed Bin S wrote:
I have absolutely no idea why you think that the media used to be better in the past than it is now - the mainstream media has never been objective, not yesterday, nor today.



It doesn't take much to prove that the media is at the mercy of politics, government, and business. Just take a look at the latest U.S. presidential debates. The moderators don't ask direct questions, don't challenge the answers, and apologizes when the candidates complain.

It makes sense too. Without a good relationship, they don't get access. Without access, they don't get anything to report, Without any reports, there can be no ratings. And without ratings, well, they fail.


On the other hand, I disagree regarding the media of the past. In the past, they did take chances, and challenge the government. As an example, look at Edward R Murrow in challenging the "Red Scare".

Henry
 
Ahmed Bin S
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I agree wholeheartedly about the "access" point you raised - this is extremely unhealthy for a democracy but unfortunately it seems to be very prevalent.

It may well be the case that in the past journalists were more inclined to challenge the government and State institutions than they are now, TBH I am not an expert on the media, however, with all due respect to the poster, I do not believe the disparity between then and now is anything close to what he suggested in his post, and is more to do with romanticism than reality.
 
Maneesh Godbole
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Ahmed Bin S wrote:

Maneesh Godbole wrote:
PS. My views on the geopolitical background of Israel is heavily influenced by The Haj



With all due respect, forming an opinion about a very complex geopolitical conflict based on a work of fiction is probably not the cleverest thing to do.



I wish you had also read my comment in full before forming an opinion

I also wrote:I understand this is one side of the story. I have yet to come across any book which reflects the other side. Any recommendations welcome.

 
Consider Paul's rocket mass heater.
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