Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Domino Effect in Southwest Asia

In Kerala, a professor of (presumably) English was pulled from his car, forced into a van, and his right arm was severed, ostensibly for having offended Muslims by a test question he’d given his students.

This story is difficult to parse, because of a horrible translation by the usually good and very interesting Asia News (the Times is better, but still. Most US papers are awful by comparison).

It seems a Prof. TJ Joseph was suspended from Newman’s College for asking students to … well, see for yourself. From the News:

The authorities of Newman College, told AsiaNews that in the test, Prof. Joseph tells the story of a fishmonger who, despite hard work, becomes increasingly poor. The monger’s name is Mohammad In his desperation, he spoke to God and also asked his brother why his fortunes were dwindling. His brother told Mohammed:”Why are you calling God, God, God….” Students were asked to specify the punctuation of the narrative.

One might ask the students to specify the punctuation in the preceding paragraph, just one of many in that article, but that’s not on the test. It is, however, part of the problem. Case in point: the fourth paragraph, which reads as follows:

Joseph, Kerala, a professor at Newman’s College, Thodupuzha, is free on bail. Last March he had prepared a questionnaire for examinations in the private college and according to the Muslims had included questions offensive to Muhammad.

“Free on bail?” This man was apparently suspended (one imagines, pending investigation) from his teaching position as a result of student protest of his test question. Do they actually arrest people for that in Kerala? If they do, perhaps random extremists severing the arms of accused persons is not their first problem.

But my favorite part — and it should be yours too — is this:

Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of India (Gcoi), condemned the “barbaric act” and demands that “the attackers are brought to justice soon. I hope that – as usually happens – the complaint will not disappear in police records because of threats from Islamic militants in Kerala.”

So India’s Bill Donohue notes that injustice “usually happens” in Kerala when Muslim screwballs attack non-Muslims. But where’s the political will to do something about it? Christians have been dropping like flies in Orissa for months at the scimitars of Muslims. Doesn’t that get a little tiring for even the Hindi?

India was once known as “Hindustan” because that’s their religion. I used to have a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita myself, but seem to have lost it. Maybe the Muslims aren’t attacking people who wear a turban or vermilion bindi just yet, but there’s the echo of Pastor Martin Niemöller, who labored seven years in Sachsenhausen and Dachau: “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist …”

Actually, the most fascinating quote by the Protestant minister (who supported Hitler initially), came by witness of his former cellmate Leo Stein. This appeared in the National Jewish Monthly in 1941:

I find myself wondering about that too. I wonder about it as much as I regret it. Still, it is true that Hitler betrayed me. I had an audience with him, as a representative of the Protestant Church, shortly before he became Chancellor, in 1932. Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews, assuring me as follows: “There will be restrictions against the Jews, but there will be no ghettos, no pogroms, in Germany.”

I really believed, given the widespread anti-Semitism in Germany, at that time—that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler’s assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while.

I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me.

Stick that in your hookah and smoke it, citizens of India. You’re the bulwark against your crazy neighbors. Think about it: do you really want to lose Aishwarya Rai to them?

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