The well-known journalist, Seymour Hersh, has published an
article in the German newspaper Die Welt refuting President Trump's
assertions blaming the Syrians for the chemical incident at Khan Shaykhun on
April 4th. Worse, it accuses him of ignoring the intelligence that supported
the Syrian and Russian version of events. Mr. Hersh says his source is senior U.S.
The subsequent bombing of Syria (after informing them and the Russians of the
target) was mostly theatrical although lauded at home. In the eyes of many, it
made Trump president -- political gain trumps truth.
The episode reprises his cynicism and an ability to ride a wave, as in the
notorious 'birther movement' contesting President Barack Obama's birthplace.
And the same character flaw was apparent in the election as Mr. Trump
shamelessly exploited a fear of the other to secure victory. The result has
been a climate of hate and an exponential increase in hate crimes.
So it was that the meeting this week with Prime Minister Modi of India became a
meeting of like minds, for Mr. Modi's party, the Bharataya Janata Party (BJP),
has profited greatly from demonizing the other. While not much happened during
the brief visit, other than the signing of previously agreed arms contracts,
the peripatetic Mr. Modi got his photo-ops for the audience back home before
flying off to the Netherlands next day.
Perhaps it was the missiles to Syria with dessert for the Chinese leader;
perhaps it was Mr. Trump's one-upmanship in keeping Mr. Xi Jinping and his wife
waiting. Of course, the arms sales to India and the obvious partnering against
China could not have helped. Whatever the reason, Mr. Modi returned home to a
Chinese military attack in India's Sikkim province. Two border posts were
destroyed by the Chinese.
Meanwhile, the epidemic of lynching and beatings of minorities and lower caste
Hindus like Dalits continues to expand faster after the cattle slaughter
restrictions imposed by the Modi government. The cow considered holy is not
eaten by observant upper caste Hindus and the rules are part of an effort to
impose these cultural values on Christian, Muslim and Sikh minorities also
known as the Hindutva movement.
The attack on four young brothers on a train as they returned to Madhura from
Delhi, after a holiday shopping trip before the Eid festival, has struck a
chord and numerous protest demonstrations have been organized. Taunted as beef
eaters and beaten mercilessly, the brothers got no help from any of the other
passengers. Junaid, just 16 years old, died of stab wounds. The photo of the
young teen lying blood-soaked on the pavement, head pillowed in his brother's
lap, as life ebbs away has gone viral.
Mr. Modi finally decided to deliver a speech (last Wednesday) against the
violence and the cow vigilantes but the genie is already out of the bottle.
Barely 12 hours later on Thursday, paying no heed to Mr. Modi, cow vigilantes
lynched a man in the village of Bajratar in Jharkhand. Alimuddin Ansari was a
meat trader. He was attacked by a mob, dragged out of his van and killed, and
his van torched. Worth noting that on Tuesday two days earlier a dairy farmer
accused of killing a cow was also lynched in Jharkhand.
Needless to say, the new rules are jeopardizing the $10 billion meat industry,
rendering more people jobless and worsening poverty. These cattle sale
restrictions are also hurting farmers, already suffering through globalization
and climate conditions, because when necessary they could sell old draft
animals for slaughter through middlemen, a practice now prohibited. Their situation
is so dire that more than 300,000, or over 12,000 each year, have committed
suicide since agrarian 'reforms' in 1991.
Images of poverty, dirt and hatred broadcast across the world have dulled the
gloss on Mr. Modi's carefully crafted picture. That and Mr. Trump's habitual
falsehoods keep reminding us of how democracies falter when the demos fails to
participate with careful deliberation.
Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)