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Old 02-08-2006, 07:33 PM   #16
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Originally posted by Judah
My comments were to point out that if (generally speaking) the Moslem countries are to have any success in finding a common ground, they must first have credibility with their own people, and that's hard to attain when every facet of your society/government/institutions (i speak just of Pakistan here, as an example) is beset by hypocracy and corruption.
Well, no disagreements with you on that count. I am teaching a seminar on Muslim politics in South Asia right now, and it is always food for thought to see how the South Asian Muslim students (there are always a few in that class) respond to this competing perceptions dilemma. On the one hand, they are often (rightly) defensive, in a protective sort of way, about the very real kinds of integrity and civic-mindedness which *are* to be found in their communities, however unrecognizable these may seem to Westerners at first blush. On the other hand, they are often scathing in their condemnation of the hypocrisy, corruption and kowtowing to "traditional" chauvinisms that goes on in their native political environs (the Indians and Bangladeshis as well as the Pakistanis), and despair about whether there is sufficient collective will to tackle these problems. I can empathize somewhat, because as a Jewish American I often feel similarly caught between when the topic of Israel comes up. Sometimes I worry that we expend far too much mental and emotional energy on micromanaging these how-shalt-we-label-them debates to have enough left over for the more important task of mapping out a doable way forward.

In your opinion, does the net effect of always having a global media spotlight trained on it all help or hurt? On the one hand, it can force reflection on things we'd otherwise prefer to look the other way about; on the other hand, it can provoke a dissent-choking storm of self-righteous defensiveness. I go back and forth with myself about this constantly...

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