Terror in times of political correctness

It has long been my view that political correctness is dangerous and usually harms those people and ideas it seeks in a muddled liberal fashion to protect. But, even as someone who holds this view, I was astounded at the insane political correctness we saw in the response of the political class and most of the media to last week's ghastly bombings in Mumbai.

The issue is terrorism. Right? The issue is the terrible, needless deaths of 200 people and the awful tragedy of those who will forever be scarred by the murderous act of a handful of evil men. Right? The issue is the failure of our intelligence agencies and our criminal justice system and the inability of our government to understand that terrorism is undeclared war. Right? The issue is India's security in which both Hindus and Muslims have an equal stake. Right?

Yet, if you watched television coverage of the carnage on Mumbai's trains, read your newspapers or listened to the speeches of our political leaders, you would think that the only issue was to not hurt Muslim feelings. There were no communal riots after the 1993 Mumbai bombings or after the attacks on temples in Ahmedabad, Ayodhya and Varanasi but there was more talk of communal harmony than terrorism. Hardly anybody mentioned the words 'jehad' or 'jehadi' or that Islamist terrorist organisations openly talk of their 'jehad' against Hindu India. Some journalists dared to mention that Pakistan was almost certainly behind the attack but our political leaders only did this after the Pakistani Foreign Minister was insensitive and shameless enough to say that terrorism would continue until there was a solution in Kashmir. Then, there was a sort of reaction from our External Affairs Ministry.

This wishy-washy, uncertain, irresolute response to a horrific event was inspired, it appears, to protect Muslim sentiments and calm Hindu anger but by doing this what was achieved was the impression that all Muslims are supporters of radical Islam. And, even more dangerously, the impression that all Indian Muslims in their heart support Pakistan against India. What was also achieved was licence for sectarian political leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav to come out in open support of SIMI, which is not just a rabidly jehadi outfit but has direct links to jehadi groups in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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