Thursday, December 4, 2008


Pop quiz: Terrorism is another word for Islam. All Muslims want to kill all non-Muslims. To defeat terrorism all Muslims must be killed or converted. Black and white. End of discussion. True or false?

I am going to begin by saying that I am not a fan of Deepak Chopra. And I can already hear you saying, "What the heck does Deepak Chopra have to do with terrorism?" We'll get to that in a moment. First, why the heck aren't I a fan of Chopra? I've read two of his gazillion books (hey, he likes to write and the extra income helps pay for golf - what's not to like), one a self-help book, possibly Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine, but I can't swear to it, the other being Golf for Enlightenment: The Seven Lessons for the Game of Life which I CAN swear to having read for obvious reasons. I found both books to be uninspiring and I thought Chopra to be out-of-touch somehow. But that's probably just me. Let's get back to terrorism...

Apparently Mr. Chopra had the unmitigated gall (I love that phrase, but will agree it is overused) to suggest that certain actions of the United States of America have not only not decreased terrorism but may have increased terrorism. God forbid.

A certain Dorothy Rabinowitz then had the unmitigated gall (see - I told you) to characterize Mr. Chopra's comments as "blaming America" for the recent Mumbai terror assault. (See "Deepak Blames America") What did Deepak actually say? Something to this effect: "What happened in Mumbai", he told the interviewer, "was a product of the U.S. war on terrorism, that our policies, our foreign policies had alienated the Muslim population, that we had gone after the wrong people and inflamed moderates. And that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay."

Now I'm not so sure I agree with all of this statement, but Deepak certainly cannot be faulted for suggesting that the terrorism issue may be more complex than most people think.

Or, not.

At least not according to D. Rabinowitz.

Ms. Rabinowitz makes a valid point when she writes:

Nowhere in this citation of the root causes of Muslim terrorism was there any mention of Islamic fundamentalism -- the religious fanaticism that has sent fevered mobs rioting, burning and killing over alleged slights to the Quran or the prophet. Not to mention the countless others enlisted to blow themselves and others up in the name of God.

On the other hand, while never saying it, Ms. Rabinowitz certainly implies that IT AIN'T OUR FUCKING FAULT. WE ARE BLAMELESS. OUR GOD IS BETTER THAN YOUR GOD. NAH, NAH, NAH POO POO.

Mr. Chopra responds in A Fuller and More Personal Response to Dorothy Rabinowitz's Attack on Me in the Wall Street Journal:

When I first read Ms. Rabinowitz personal attacks on me as the lead article on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal, I have to confess that my first reaction was that she was an ethnocentric racist and prejudiced bigot. After some reflection, I realized that she was probably more ignorant than bigoted.

A fine point, indeed. Not a "prejudiced bigot", but probably still "an ethnocentric racist"? Oh, and don't forget - "ignorant".

Later Chopra explains that he and others:

are attempting to create a critical mass of awareness to address the deeper causes of global instability including war and terrorism, climate change, social injustice, and radical poverty.

Why does this just resonate while Rabinowitz just fizzles? Care for more? How about this:

We live in a world were 50 percent of its population lives on less than two dollars a day and 20 percent lives on less than one dollar a day. We can't dismiss these as trivial facts if we want to understand the deeper causes of instability and violence in the world.

NIMBY! Well, okay, if The Great Bailout of 2008 does not work and The Great Recession (NOT Depression) lasts for ten years instead of ten weeks - maybe. But for now - well, if they had any sense those darn Muslims would have been born in America and been white and Christian and go to church three times a week although you'd never know it by their actions kind of folks.

Finally, again from Mr. Chopra:

Ms. Rabinowitz ought to realize that you can kill a terrorist, but that doesn't kill his ideology. And as long as that ideology has power and life, it will continue to regenerate new terrorists no matter how many terrorists you kill. The ideology of Islamic terrorism is barbaric, savage, brutal and primitive, yet still it is born in a context. That context is historical, cultural, religious, economic, and political. Refusing to understand that context, dooms us to an endless failed anti-terrorist policy.

An ideology can only be overcome through the creation of a new more appealing ideology. In order to accomplish that we need the participation and help of moderate Muslims throughout the world. There are between 1.6 to 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, and by far, most of them are the moderates we need to enlist in our efforts. We can't solve this global problem by branding almost 25% of the world's population as terrorists. I would hope Ms. Rabinowitz could recognize that this issue is far too serious of a problem for her to exploit it for her personal petty agenda. The Mumbai tragedy obviously gathered extensive international attention. Instead of channeling this global focus toward productive insight and solutions, Ms. Rabinowitz chose instead to direct the attention of this tragedy into a personal attack that can only further fan the flames of hatred and exacerbate the situation instead of helping it.

Well said, Mr. Chopra.

Deepak Chopra's son, Gotham, also takes up the defense in his article, My Response to Dorothy Rabinowitz and the WSJ. Gotham lays out just a few of the actions taken by the US which could explain a lot about why we're in the pickle we're in. His article may in fact be better than his father's. If you're short on time (who isn't) just read Gotham's piece.

I have more respect for Deepak and his family knowing a little bit more about what they have experienced. Would that the people running our "war on terror" could learn a little bit from them too. And Ms. Rabinowitz might get her head out of her the sand...

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