9/11 was responded with an invasion of Afghanistan by the Bush administration to hound Osama Bin Laden since he was not handed over by the Taliban. The Taliban demanded sufficient evidence of Bin Laden’s involvement in WTC attacks but the US invaded Afghanistan without providing such evidence. The imperialist ravagery only killed innocent Afghan citizens but could not arrest Bin Laden. By contrast, David Headley, an ‘American citizen’, guilty of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in a US court is not handed over to Indian authorities! For ‘non-American terrorists’ the US has torture cells of Guantanamo Bay but for ‘American terrorists’, it deals the case within the air-conditioned atmosphere of US courts! Welcome to the age of new racism, hypocrisy and double standards of US, evidently making discrimination between two different terrorists: Bin Laden and Headley. It is atrocious to see how the US is treating the two terrorists differently. While Afghanistan was invaded for the cause of punishing Bin Laden who was identified as the mastermind behind 9/11 attacks, David Headley is treated with care and safety in US courts. If Headley is proved guilty of a terror attack on Indian soil then justice demands that he should be handed over to India as soon as possible to prosecute under the Indian penal code. There are legitimate concerns that he would get an easy way out in US even if he was associated with a gross crime of terror attack that took hundreds of innocent lives on Indian soil.
Our Prime Minister thinks that Mr. Bush is a very good friend of India and gone on record that Indian people ‘loves him’. His friendliness to Mr. Bush was evident from the American President’s visit in India in 2006 followed by welcoming the Indo-US nuclear deal and strategic partnership between the two governments. Now, going by his friend’s legacy of invading Afghanistan to catch Osama, does the Indian Prime Minister also thinking of attacking the US since David Headley is not handed over to India. Surely, this is not the case. We cannot think of such dangerous ideas of war and invasion. After all, we are a peace loving nation guided by our non-aggressive foreign policy. Moreover, the Prime Minister has to think of ‘friendship’ as well. How can a friend attack another friend? After all, Americans are not our enemies and we have to certainly maintain our ‘friendly relationship’ with the US as our Prime Minister, Home Minister and Foreign Minister would probably argue. Our Prime Minister might also think that Americans are not ‘terrorists’ because the dominant American stereotype only believes in the existence of Afro-Asian Muslim citizens as ‘terrorists’. Now, where are those yuppies who took out protest march out of frustration and anger in the aftermath of 26/11? Where are those urban middle class voices thoroughly critical of politicians in mishandling and mismanaging the security of our country? Why are we not listening anymore to the reactionary statements of ‘not paying taxes to the Indian state because it cannot provide security to its citizens’? Probably, the media which was more concerned with the Taj attack than crying for the killings of common innocent people at Mumbai Central rail station (CST) is perplexed to ask: how can an ‘American citizen’ be a ‘terrorist’? For the media has always been an opinion maker, it needs to ask its conscience, whether it is playing its due role in this case of David Headley. But why are we not witnessing such rabid criticisms of United States in Indian media and among the urban middle classes, who are the vocal, virtuosos and articulate representations in the media. This is precisely because if our Prime Minister thinks that America is our good friend, the media and a significant section of India’s urban middle class thinks that the US is our master and we are its subjects. It is this imperialist hegemony over the subjugated mindset of the yuppies and the glitzy corporate media that it has not yet taken a firm resolution to extradite David Headley.
This awful capitulationism of Indian government and its genuflection to the US is the symptom of imperialist hegemony. This imperialist hegemony sustains itself by coercion: like war and invasion, making collaborators or junior partners like India’s relationship with US, depoliticisation of masses so that a vibrant political movement is not launched against it as expressed in the reaction of urban yuppies, fragmentation of its opponents to avoid any united people’s resistance to imperialism like dividing regional blocks or manipulating Shia-Sunni divide in contemporary Iraq, accommodating/absorbing some dissenting voice like paid activism in NGOs, persuasion/manufacturing of consent like media propaganda and relegating/ignoring some dissenting voice as redundant eg. ignoring critical theorists like Chomsky, as if such dissenting voices do not exist, as if such critical voice should not be taken seriously. Thus even if some dissenting voice continuously pose sharp criticisms to the empire, the empire does not care and it certainly does not respond to such criticisms making many critical positions redundant. This imperialist hegemony also creates a society of ‘sanctioned violence’, where the task of the master would be celebrated, hailed and modeled as the ‘ideal’ and the act of the slave/servant would be designated as ‘bad’, ‘corrupt’, ‘evil’ etc.
Now, ‘sanctioned violence’ is a form of violence that is implicit within the very power structure of society. It is located behind the veil of modern structures of power like propaganda, media campaign, advertisements, publicity, imaging/image building mechanisms via image industry etc. Sanctioned Violence essentially produces discrimination between two similar works or persons committing/performing the same acts. This ‘sanctioned violence’ is a form of omission/exclusion/silence due to abstraction for generalisation that at the end of the day is (un)conscious suppression while shaping a discourse. For example: Huge protests were witnessed against Iraq war but we kept silent during the judicial mockery of Saddam Hussein that led him to gallows although both Iraq war and judicial mockery of Saddam by victor’s justice followed by almost public hanging due to circulation of media images were ‘imperialist acts’. Imperialism manipulates the psyche of individuals as well as collectives by imposing a ‘sanctioned violence’ on the people who are opposed to imperialist hegemony so that, at the end of the day, differences and distinctions are made between various acts of imperialism on the one hand, and discrimination is produced between myriad responses against imperialism on the other. Sanctioned violence can be theoretically defined where consent of one agent produces a sub-space as Marx pointed out ‘how human consent can sometimes stand over against itself and brings forth effects in it turning over against him leaving little room for his further consent’ like the worker entering the exploitative system of wage contract by his own consent and thus sanctions his own exploitation (Chaudhury, Das, Chakrabarti: 2000, p. 92). This system of ‘sanctioned violence’ is constructed in such a manner of complex power relationship that the society seems to accept such an order of discrimination and inequality as natural. In this regard, the discrimination is produced between treating Bin Laden and David Headley very differently and still there is not much protest in the media and the streets about why such discrimination is going on. This discrimination and biasness can be also seen in the field of art and culture as well. For example, The Hurt Locker is an imperialist film justifying the American occupation in Iraq, contrary to say Avatar, which is a critique to US imperialism. Now, giving Oscar to The Hurt Locker instead of Avatar only follows the ridiculous tradition of giving Nobel peace prize to war criminals like Henry Kissinger and Jimmy Carter. This is how empire works. Today, the empire is naked and ridiculous, but who wants to speak up like the innocent child against it that ‘the emperor is naked’!
Ajit Chaudhury, Dipankar Das and Anjan Chakrabarti, Margin of Margin: Profile of an Unrepentant Postcolonial Collaborator (Calcutta: Anustup, 2000).