Among many other horrible acts of violence, two events stood out in December, 2012.
In Delhi, India, A 23-year-old woman was gang raped in a moving bus in broad daylight. She and her male companion were also brutally beaten, and almost died.
There is incredible outrage in Delhi and all across India — places where such brutality has now become commonplace. Street protests and candle light vigils have exploded. Now the people in power are using tear gas, water cannon, baton beating, closing down of public transportation and other such familiar acts to control the enormous public uprising — because according to them, the protests are “getting violent.” There is demand for death penalty, mob lynching and other such punishments for the criminals.
Here in the U.S., in a small suburb called Newtown in the state of Connecticut, a killer crashed through the windows of an elementary school one Friday morning, and using his guns and other assault weapons, mass murdered twenty children and six adults before committing suicide.
There is incredible outrage in Connecticut, nearby New York and all across USA — places where such gun terror has now become commonplace. Street protests and candle light vigils have exploded — although compared to India, they are much more subdued — we never see India-like crowds swarming the American streets. Or, if we remember Egypt and the Arab Spring, Times Square never becomes Tahrir Square.
Therefore, here in the U.S., the people in power are not using tear gas, water cannon, baton beating, closing down of public transportation and other such familiar acts to control the enormous public uprising — because there is no visible enormous public uprising.
Of course, there is always demand for death penalty for the criminals. In this tragic event, however, there is no demand for capital punishment for the gun terrorist, because the criminal did not survive.
Even though it may seem like the two events — however violent and tragic — are different in nature or degree, if we look carefully, we can find a lot of similarities across them. I’d like to think about how we can connect the dots. It would help us understand the underlying reasons behind such acts.
Both are terrorist acts, if you take my simple, working definition of terror as an act that intends to kill or hurt innocent civilians in a public place.
Both terrorist acts were committed by people who thought that (1) in India, gang raping an innocent girl is a way to show your power over the powerless — and because you are powerful with your ability to torture, beat and rape an innocent, powerless girl, you are entitled to do it, and that you are above the law; (or (2) in the U.S., killing dozens of innocent people including small children inside their school is a way to show your power over the powerless — and because you are powerful with your ability to shoot and kill the vulnerable children and powerless adults, you are entitled to do it, and you can go above the law by killing yourself. Both acts are pre-planned acts of terror — unleashed on innocent people — however short-term or suicidal the plan is. Terrorists often use such suicidal plans.
In Delhi, a group of violent men raped a young woman and almost killed her and her male friend — on a moving public transportation vehicle. They could have killed them, but for some reason, didn’t. They threw their naked bodies off the bus, thinking that the victims would be dead, and that nobody could catch the crime. Very luckily, the surviving young man identified both the bus and the criminals; the rape victim is also slowly seeing the light of life — a miracle in itself.
In Newtown, Connecticut, the small first grade children and their teachers did not have such luck. The gunman, who got deadly, horrible weapons of assault and training on how to use them from his mother — a so-called “gun enthusiast” — took advantage of America’s pathetically primitive social permissiveness about guns and political leaders who are sold out to gun lobbies and National Rifle Association-type far right-wing, violent groups — and killed the helpless children and adults inside the school building, ten days before Christmas Eve.
Even though the exploding street protests in India and massive but silent protests in America against these two acts of barbaric violence seem to be about punishing the criminals in India and controlling the gun menace in the U.S., they are actually ordinary peoples’ anger about and rejection of the elite one percent people in power who failed to protect innocent lives and dignity and did not care about how the ordinary men, women and children live their daily lives — always under anxiety, stress, fear and uncertainties. The protests are truly about venting ordinary peoples’ lifelong frustration with the power and the status quo.
The enormous protests — expressed or silent in these two so-called big democracies — are actually about demanding to bring back safety, rights and dignity — pillars of democracy the elite, corrupt and dishonest people in power stole from them.
In both cases, media is trying to take on the violence, punishment and control aspects of it — without ever discussing WHY the violence is happening. They are not interested to talk about the power and abuse of power aspects underlying the violence — both in the U.S. and India. In both countries, some elite people in the seat of power are shedding tears for the victims, without really having shown any plans of action to prevent such tragedies — before or after. These terrors have now become all to common. The ordinary, innocent people live under such threats of terror on a daily basis. There is no recourse. There is no respite.
There is no accountability in India: its elite one percent doesn’t care how the ordinary people live, how women are brutalized on a daily basis by street thugs and underworld mafia, how children are always under severe pressure and trauma, and how average Indians live in a constant state of anxiety, stress and fear. This is on top of the extreme economic uncertainties and horrible corruption. I also hold the pro-U.S. Indian media accountable for supporting and sustaining this brand of politics and economy. They have all failed India.
Similarly, there is no accountability in USA: I could really say the same thing — that its elite one percent doesn’t care how the ordinary people live, how women are taken advantage of, how especially poor children are always under-educated and with little opportunity for social mobility, and how average Americans live in a constant state of anxiety, stress and fear — gun violence or drug-related violence. This is on top of the extreme economic uncertainties and horrible corruption at the top. Big banks and financial institutions have ship-wrecked the U.S. economy. The U.S. media is a part of this devastating trickle-down system for supporting and sustaining this brand of politics and economy. They have all failed the common American people.
Of course, there must be protests against these particular episodes of violence.
In India, the gang rapists must be brought to justice and more such tragedies must be prevented. Women must be able to walk free of fear.
In the U.S., future gun terrors must be prevented, and gun laws must be changed. Innocent lives must be saved.
True. Yet, it is not just that. In fact, the mass protests are well beyond that.
Gang rape or gun rampage, we the ordinary people who are victims of all forms of violence and hurt are NOT demanding punishment (India) or control (USA) only. We are asking for a system change. We have caught you the elite rulers cheating us. You can’t do it no more. Media must report that true story.
That is where the dots connect. That is where the discussion should be.
Anything else falls short. Anything else is Manufacturing Consent.
Brooklyn, New York