Curbing Cyber Terrorism

By Raffique Shah
January 15, 2011

Raffique ShahNOBEL Laureate Paul Krugman (Economics, 2008) referred to it as the “Climate of Hate”. In his New York Times column last week, he pointed to “incitement” coming from politicians and media commentators on the far right in America that factored in the murderous carnage in Arizona. Democrat Representative Gabrielle Giffords and Judge John Roll were victims of a wild shooting spree by a mentally disturbed 22-year-old man, which claimed five lives.

Krugman noted that Giffords and Roll were targeted by “purveyors of hate” prior to the incident. Reports allege that Republican presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, on her website, placed a sniper’s crosshairs on Giffords’s district, among others held by the Democrats. Empty-headed Palin has since “scrubbed” the crosshairs, but stoutly defends her vitriol against the Democrats, among them President Barack Obama. Krugman and other commentators and analysts also pointed fingers at a cross-section of radio and television talk shows’ hosts, whose forte, hence ratings, thrive on spewing hate and damnation from their electronic pulpits.

America will have to deal with the monsters it created. Interestingly, extremist Muslims, Hindus and Christians engage in similar hate mongering. They casually call on the gullible among their flocks to annihilate those who do not hold similar beliefs to theirs. Mullahs call for “jihads”. The blind and dumb among their jamaats follow through with suicide bombings and other indiscriminate attacks, killing many innocent people—in the name of Allah, I suppose.

Many people may not know that fanatical Hindus in India have instigated and executed numerous death-dealing attacks against mainly Muslim minorities in their communities.

They also target Christians and low caste Hindus in their bid to cleanse India of non-Hindus, to carve out Hindutva. As for Christians who believe theirs is the only way to heaven, we saw the atrocities they are capable of committing during the Bosnia and Kosovo conflict that targeted Muslims. That mindset is also prevalent among many in the US military who are fighting futile wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The reason I raise these unacceptable levels of intolerance, which can easily descend into an abyss of violence, is I see signs of it in our country. Go to any of the “ethnic blogs” or websites run by irresponsible individuals or groups, and you would understand where I am coming from. While freedom of expression is a fundamental right most among us would never dream of tampering with, the responsibility that goes with it is as important as the right.

The Internet is a useful modern tool that has become a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of the wicked and the nasty. The level of vitriol peddled through this medium is frightening. The administrators of these “blogs” must shoulder blame for the racism, religious and political intolerance, character assassination and sheer ignorance that are peddled on their sites. Lest readers think this level of discourse emanates from the ignorant or uninformed, think again. Last week, I read a vicious attack on some of my colleagues by a character who purports to be an intellectual. I shall not be surprised if this seedless-raisin comes after me when he reads this. He knows, though, that he can do that only from a distance—never within reach of my fist!

Politicians are pilloried as a matter of course. When Patrick Manning was prime minister and the PNM in government, several ministers were viciously attacked, abused and libelled. Now, with the People’s Partnership in office, PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her colleagues face a similar fare. Of course, we columnists tear into politicians as we see fit. But we cannot cross the thin line that distinguishes criticism from abuse, or worse, call for ignorant people to verbally or physically attack those who hold public office.

Besides the laws of libel that demark our boundaries, basic intelligence, staying informed, and having class define the good columnist. If we fall short, the editors and managers of media houses will boot us out in short order. They have the responsibility to ensure their newspapers maintain standards. In my 30-odd years as a columnist, there were but few occasions on which editors spoke with me about the contents of my columns. Not once did they try to muzzle me.

The Internet is an untamed jungle in which feral beasts are free to roam, to prey on victims, to use the most abusive language. Worst of all, most of them remain faceless and nameless, which adds to the danger they pose. In Palin’s case, she is the recognisable face of the far right, of those who purport to represent “real America”. They arrogate unto themselves the right to use any means possible to rid their country of liberal whites, all blacks and immigrants of any hue.

Much like ignorant talk show hosts, blind pastors and Fox News, they know well that their caustic calls to arms can lead to crackpots carrying out acts like the one in Arizona.

Are they any different to the Mullahs of Kandahar? Or the fire-and-brimstone pastors who preach pure venom? People like Palin are dangerous not just to America, but to the world. Can you imagine America under President Palin? That’s a frightening prospect.

While we leave America to clean up its mess, we need to deal with such elements who peddle their poison via the Internet right here in our not-so-perfect country. They pose a danger to our stability, our tolerance, our joie de vivre, the best things we have going for us.

7 thoughts on “Curbing Cyber Terrorism”

  1. Everyone in US politics took a break from the language of hate for a couple of days, then Ms. Palin said “don’t retreat, reload”, while trying, she said, to calm the waters. She has since used the tern “blood libel” which I had never heard before, but which apparently belongs in the era when Jews were routinely suspected of killing Christian babies for some kind of blood sacrifice.

    There has to be some place where haters like Palin learn these terms. I am a fairly erudite person, I think, and I had not heard it before Her Mindlessness used it. Who is feeding her that stuff? Who are the real purveyors of hate?

    Let me put it this way. I am a weapons manufacturer. I do not like peace, it’s bad for business. I tell you that so and so just bought a nine-millimeter and a clip holding 15 rounds, and he says he’s coming to get you. Some may call the police, some may reinforce their homes and be more watchful, but many would ask What can I do? Then the gun-runner sells them a Glock that can hold a clip with thirty rounds. When both lie dead somewhere, the gun-runner has both their money in his bank account. It is so also with large groups, and countries that border each other. People keep egging them on, and they get angrier and angrier.Guns do not protect, nor do bodyguards. Both Indira Ghandi and the governor of a Pakistani province were murdered by one of their bodyguards. When the shooting clears in Tunis, in Abijan, in Kandahar, there will be bullet riddled bodies on both sides, and sad mothers left with no sons to care for them in their old age.
    Sometimes, I think that there are evil people in Trinidad and Tobago, who, with hate festering quietly all these years, would welcome a blood letting.They should understand that no one wins a war but the supplier of weapons, and that all over the world, the poor of one group are pitted against the poor of another group, while the wealthy who egg them on, party together, and make more money.

    At the top, they all drink and laugh together, while spilling hate to keep their supporters happy.
    In the Amglican Communion, we were always reminded as children, to be careful about the things on which your mind and spirit feed. It is possible NOT to go to those hate-filled websites. It takes discipline, a concern for humanity and the belief that either God or your mother is watching over your shoulder.

    Deranged people go to hate sites to feed their appetite for the things that got them unhinged in the first place.Its like the little fat boy in “The Chocolate Factory”. He fell into the pond of melted chocolate but still did not have enough.
    Unless eeryone cools the inective, checks the facts first, and delivers them in an unemotional reasonable tone, we are in danger of getting to real fisticuffs as has happened in the Indian Parliament, a shoot-out as happened in Nepal, or the UN peacekeping force surrounding a hotel where the official government is holed up, as in Cote D’Iviore. In desperation, our government may flee, seeking assylum somewhere else. THAT IS WHEN I WOULD CEASE TO CAll MYSELF A TRINBAGONIAN.

  2. “The blind and dumb among their jamaats follow through with suicide bombings and other indiscriminate attacks, killing many innocent people—in the name of Allah, I suppose.”

    If “Allah” wanted he could kill all non-muslims all by himself he does not need muslims to do the dirty deed. And if he is so angry with non-muslims then why does he bother creating them in the first place. I mean it is ironic that he would allow people to come on this earth that he does not like. If I had the power to wipe out all life then why would I ask anyone else to do it??? Nations are building all kinds of weapons system and arming themselves to the “teeth” so that they can have the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. My guess is if they can destroy their enemies they will do it….not ask someone else to do it for them. But such is religion, do but don’t question or seek a reasonable answer.

  3. We crave democracy and the dreams that it has as its ideals. Democracy has been fed to us as the happy ending. For me a benign dictator is a much better option.
    The closer one gets to, what is considered to be, true democracy the closer one gets to anarchy. Where does my rights stop and your begin?? When do I give way to a better idea?? Who decides what is a better idea??
    The western alliance uses democracy as the tool to define for the rest of the world. On a smaller scale political bullies define democracy as winning elections. In the west, the keepers of democracy, what could be defined by the rest of the world as anarchy is democratic forces exerting their rights. this will continue ad infinitum.
    Here in Trinidad and Tobago the thinkers would like to see something better ahead. Anarchy should not be the final goal of democracy. Then the questions is – Do we want democracy??

  4. We must not look at western models of democracy. Democracy as practiced in Athens, belonged to the educated and the informed. Today we ry to carry Democracy to Afghanistan, to Iran . Look at pictures of peole on the streets of those places during unrest-mostly men. The exception was Iran where that young woman got killed in the streets.

    True democracy means educating women, and involving them in the political process. Angela Merkel of Germany, may come the closest. The vote is not yet in on the new PM’s in Australia and TnT- both women also.

  5. Well again what does one see as democracy. And why democracy. Ancient civilization have prospered without democracy. The civilizations along the Nile have been inclusive but they were hardly democratic. The ancient Tutsi Kingdom that encompassed all of East Africa was majestic but hardly democratic. They were inclusive though. If we are looking for female leaders they were among those civilizations.
    Democracy demands an educated population with disposable income. So lets educate all to at least the secondary level and become productive again.

  6. Here is the story, the liberal media finally got the chance to bury Ms Palin in the political graveyard with Bas and
    Manning. Mr Shah you don’t know jack about yankee politics, the same type like you there want to ensure anyone that stand up for America first have something against all others. There is no room for free loaders in any civilization…you figure that one out sir. Conservatism is on its way back into mainstream American politics and Sara P is a threat to the mental disorder known as liberlism.

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