I Don’t Get It.

November 28, 2008 at 1:01 am (Uncategorized)

More crying in the kitchen this morning, this time reading the newspaper coverage of the attacks in Mumbai. I actually had to put it down – what’s to be gained reading about it? It doesn’t give me any insight into how people can do this sort of thing, it doesn’t help me understand their point of view, it only offers up account after account of something I already know: innocent people have been killed and injured. Further to Pete’s comment on yesterday’s post, and his own post on Couchtrip, there’s a really disturbing photograph in The Australian today. It’s p. 2, and it’s of two bodies lying by the pool at the Taj. A beer bottle lies right by the man’s body; beside the woman, her handbag. So many things about this image disturb me: that someone could stand there and take this photo in the first place, for starters. If it was safe enough to do that, couldn’t the photographer give them some dignity? Better yet, some privacy?? They’ve been photographed where they fell – but do we really need to see this to understand the horror of how they died? I don’t think so. I feel like I have insulted them, borderline assaulted them, by looking at this photo, and I am once again sorry I bought the paper to try to find out what the hell happened, and is still happening, because they’ve filled it with this sort of gratuitous imagery.

I should have known better – after all, we’ve seen this feast before. And yes, I am disturbed by the fact that I’ve been in that very spot myself (we spent a lot of time poolside at the Taj). Even just glancing at the photo, I knew precisely where they were – I remember this part of the Taj vividly, and being gunned down over a glass of wine is about the last thing you’d ever imagine happening while you’re there. It’s surreal. And we were on our honeymoon, starting a life together (our honeymoon in India coincided with the Boxing Day tsunami, so by the time we returned to the Taj for our last couple of nights in India, we were already well aware of how lucky we were to be there, together and in one piece), and I have no doubt other honeymooners were in the hotel this week. Just ordinary people, living their lives, seeing the world, taking part, celebrating life and love.

What do perpetrators of this kind of violence see when they look upon these images? What do they feel? Because I just don’t understand what they want. What is it that they really, really want? What’s the prize? What’s all this in aid of? I understand poverty and a lack of education make people desperate and vulnerable, a terrible combination these terrorist types prey upon. I can see that. So they enlist these young men, they train them up, they brainwash them, they arm them, and they send them out into the world to do their vile bidding. But to what end? This is what I don’t get. I mean, the West isn’t going anywhere. Democracy isn’t packing up the card table and going home anytime soon. We’re not actually going to collectively step aside and say, oh, yes, all right then, off you go, take over the world, that’s the way. So what’s the point of all this madness? Doesn’t it strike you as totally pointless? There doesn’t seem to be any kind of clear objective. If you take all the emotion and distress out of it, all the disappointment at the way we treat each other, all the sadness at the state of humanity (but similarly all the pride in all the people who always step up at these moments and risk their lives for others), and look at it from a purely… I don’t know, strategic perspective, what’s the strategy? What’s the point? What, pray tell, is their ultimate objective? The end game? Because I think it’s the futility that really makes me angry. All these awful slayings, one after the other, and in each case, it’s finally nothing more than an act of supreme futility. What a shocking waste.



  1. Pete said,

    Di, I’ve been thinking about violence the last while and I keep coming back to Adam Phillips’s comment that “violence feeds the ego”. Reading your post I got some idea of that these guys wanted. They wanted the Western media to go crazy about this and give them lots of publicity. Because it plays into what the media wants too – sensationalism, people buying and consuming media. I know that’s a generalisation about the media but gratuitous images of violence, as you say, are just so disrespectful to the victims. Perhaps the terrorists wanted to create a war between India and Pakistan. Much as al-Qaeda seems to feed off hatred between the US and Islam. Thanks for a thought-provoking post on this. I think it does become more understandable when you talk about it.

  2. doctordi said,

    Yeah, I tend to think a lot of modern media is absolutely about sensationalism, Pete. It turns a tidy profit, and we tend to forget that first and foremost these outlets aren’t objective information providers, they’re businesses, answerable to shareholders. Sick shit sells (there you go, that’s my ‘Greed is good’ equivalent for the new millennium).

    And if it does create a war between India and Pakistan (something we REALLY do not want to see), what then? What then?

  3. On Violence (and the silly season) « Couch trip said,

    […] Violence (and the silly season) Reading DoctorDi’s blog posttoday on the terror attacks in Mumbai, I was thinking about our general incomprehension in the face […]

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