Saturday, May 05, 2007

Nussbaum on brownland   posted by amnestic @ 5/05/2007 06:01:00 PM

I just listened to Martha Nussbaum's discussion of her new book, The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future, on the Carnegie Council Podcast. Given that I know essentially nothing about India's history or politics I would be interested if any of the more informed cats around could critique or corroborate her assessment of the events surrounding the Gujarati riots of 2002. She uses these riots as a counter-example to the 'clash of civilizations' framework for understanding Islam. As Nussbaum paints it, in the riots, far right Hindu folks informed by a British ideal of masculinity killed and did all sorts of other horrible things to Muslims who were otherwise living peacefully side-by-side with other cultures. I'm currently suspicious of attempts to paint Muslims as oppressed (even though this goes against my guilty liberal inclinations) because I read this article in Commentary about how Muslim's in Europe don't really have it so bad off.

Oh, and I also thought it was interesting how she characterized Nehru's disdain for religion as problematic because he (and his party) lost the ability to use deep cultural symbols to connect with the public at large. In the context of the new Atheism and Hitch's new book, this example illustrates an unforeseen danger of strident atheism. If you're not willing to fill that void in your community's life, someone else with more pernicious aims might be willing to do so. Like Mr. Raymond says, "After tonight, don't leave your girl alone with me, true playa for real."