Saturday, May 17, 2008

I really don't know what to make of this troubling article

So, I should be studying for cataloging or working on my Happiness Pathfinder for school, but I found myself reading my email instead.

One of the messages I got from the South Asian Sisters listserv gave the link to this article, with the one-word comment, "Disgusting."

"Indian village proud after double "honor killing" was the title of the article that the link took me to... Disgusting indeed.

I am so troubled. Troubled at this horrible deed. Troubled that there is no shame about it, that rather vindication and pride are the emotions felt instead. Yes, the wincing pain of a father who is happy to see his daughter killed to save his "honor," such as it is (or isn't), this I feel deeply. But troubled too, that it is stories like these that make the headlines, that westerners of every stripe will read with relish and shaking of the head, troubled that this is the sort of news that, on some subconscious level is desired from India and from other nations like India. If this type of news doesn't come from that part of the world now and then, how else will the West top up its IV bottle of self-esteem. And then I fall back into being troubled by my own cynical reaction. After all, foremost isn't it what happened to this girl and her boyfriend the thing that matters? The fact that life was taken away with no regard or respect? Never mind where they were. Troubled that we live in a world where have to take in the news only after enshrouding ourselves with layer upon layer of self-protection.


Anonymous said...

Why, I'm a Westerner and, believe me, I do not relish learning about these heinous crimes. I fear you underestimate the vast majority of us.

You are right. . .it's the violation of basic human rights that matters. No one deserves to be summarily executed like this couple was.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Anonymous said...

The STOP HONORCIDE! campaign was launched on Mother's Day 2008. The goal of the campaign is to prosecute honorcides to the fullest extent of the law. We want honorcide to be classified as a hate crime and we advocate for every existing hate crime legislation to be amended to include honorcide.

Pranav said...

What a horrible story. Poor Jasjit and Sunita.

In terms of your question about the media and how these stories are reported and seen, though, I think it's important to be precise about why the medium can change and shape the message. Who cares about this, and why?

Usually, Western media about such things focuses on the horrific event itself in a way that indicts the entire country and culture. "Look how backward they are" is the basic intention. And it's blind about context: for instance, how the processes of colonialism and poverty have brought about the conditions in which such injustices and beliefs thrive.

And then you have other wrinkles. The "Muslims Against Sharia" blogger who commented here, for instance, seems pretty clearly linked to the David Horowitz-language of "Islamofascism." Their task is to identify "good Muslims" who toe the line of US policy and "bad Muslims" who do not. Their rhetoric tries to bring in feminists, pacifists, and others to all sorts of right-wing projects (but they have little to say, for instance, about the human rights of Palestinians.)

After reading your post, I went to look for how Indian newspapers cover "honor killings." Here's one article from "The Hindu": Notice how Geeta--whose husband was killed--not only shows her opposition, but does so at an Indian conference organized against such acts.

All of a sudden, we're out of the narrative of backward Indians, victims, etc., and into a living, breathing and familiar world in which misogyny and oppression can be faced with organizing and resistance.

Anonymous said...

Pranav, if you weren’t such a degenerate ideologue and actually read our blog, you would have found that we often criticize U.S. policy and have a lot to say about human rights of the Palestinians.