Corporate Media Complicity in the Mumbai Massacre
- Editorial indifference to nonviolent movements exacts a terrible toll

By W. David Kubiak

Amid all the angry finger pointing in the wake of the latest Mumbai attacks, citizens with a sense of history might wish to aim an
accusatory digit or two at the global corporate press. Had the world’s
media dared do its job in some of the subcontinent’s most grievous
hotspots like the blood drenched Kashmir valley since 1989, there
would be far less mystery surrounding or tinder beneath ghastly
explosions like Mumbai.

While there are never moral excuses for indiscriminate slaughter,
there are often pretty rational explanations of assailant motivations
that can be grasped and heeded to forestall horrific harm. Mediagenic
mayhem like Mumbai’s suicidal spectacle generally carries a simple
message: God damn it, people, heed our pain - pain we will die to
redress or avenge, and we don’t intend to die alone.

Whatever group is finally singled out for condemnation and reprisal,
there now seems little doubt there will be some kind of Kashmir link,
either in training turf, solidarity or sympathetic rage. Kashmir as
the public should know but doesn’t - largely thanks to media neglect -
is one of the longest bloodiest stand-offs in the post-colonial world.

Shortly after the Indo-Pak partition in 1947, Lord Mountbatten,
caretaker of the British withdrawal, assured Kashmir a plebiscite on
its future. The Crown’s poll rules of the day offered each state the
option to join India or Pakistan or choose independent statehood of
its own. Pakistan incursions and an Indian “protective force” soon
divided the state, however, and Kashmir’s misery quickly devolved in
the eyes of the world from a righteous self-determination struggle to
a tawdry little real estate brawl between the hostile newborn states.
That sibling squabble, as it was frequently termed, spawned three
merciless wars, hundreds of thousands of casualties and still today,
the planet’s densest military occupation. Over 600,000 Indian troops
now “secure” the Indian side, i.e., approximately one soldier for
every family in the Kashmir vale. This unprecedented security blanket
has certainly shielded the region from scrutiny but actually proved
quite lethal on its own. During the last 20 years alone over 60,000
Kashmiris have been killed, thousands more forcibly disappeared, and
tens of thousands more tortured, maimed and raped.

Since few “Islamic extremists” have much use for the Book of
Revelations it’s probably a mere coincidence that the Mumbai attacks
occurred sixty years, six months and six days after the first UN
Security Council Resolution demanded the Kashmiri plebiscite be held,
a resolution followed by dozens more for a vote still unachieved.
Whether the 666 timing was coincidental or not, it’s still a great
educative media hook in highly Christian lands for journalists who
care about history or pretend to give a damn.

As a geopolitical public education tool, the US corporate press has
been reliably erroneous, shallow or suborned, but its appalling
performance re Kashmir in the last year amounts to criminal
negligence. For six long months Kashmir has been awash in
unprecedented Gandhian protests that have drawn hundreds of thousands
into the streets demanding Azadi (freedom) and self-determination. The
dogged refusal of our media to even cover these immense demonstrations
(or the scores of innocent victims gunned down), let alone recount the
history or atrocities that provoked them, amounts to obstruction of
justice in virtually every sense of the words. It also implicates them
in the subsequent bloody acts of those who cite this disregard as
blatant proof that nonviolence is now a fruitless and anachronistic
strategy.

When hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters marching through
Srinagar yield less than half a column inch in the American corporate
press, it becomes far harder to refute the gun-toting/bomb-throwing
jihad recruiter claims that Gandhi’s time has come and gone.

Do not take these words on faith. Check Google News for “Mumbai
attacks” and you will get approximately 12,000 stories. Google
Kashmir, hundreds of thousands, and protests, and you will get about
90 or so - and only a few in publications whose names you’ve ever
heard.

Most prominent is a brief November 22nd CNN website report stating,
“Violence in the past four months has left nearly four dozen dead and
hundreds wounded in Kashmir, which has been in the throes of a bloody
separatist campaign… Hundreds of thousands of people have attended
four previous marches organized by separatists, who favor independence
from India.”

CNN never quite explains how the “nearly four dozen dead” actually
died in this “bloody separatist campaign,” but stepping back a week we
find the Reuters source story, which CNN sanitized, in the November 14
International Herald Tribune, “Police killed at least 42 people this
year when hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri’s took to the streets
shouting ‘Azadi’ (freedom) against 60 years of Indian rule.”

To reiterate: in a foreign troop-saturated city of a million or less,
nearly a quarter of the citizens defy military authorities and hit the
streets in massive nonviolent independence demonstrations. Marchers
get shot to death, many more are wounded, even more are arrested and
tortured. Yet the citizens don’t relent and repeat this Gandhian
heroism four times in four months and each time peacefully! And this
is all the Western press they get? The Mahatma would throw up.

Often called the Gandhi of Kashmir, Yasin Malik launched the hugely
popular Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front into violent militant action
in 1989, but then renounced the gun and led the JKLF back into
peaceful resistance in 1994. In an interview seven years later he
acidly observed, “I am a media darling. Everyone wants to take my
interview. Why? Because I have been a militant. Wherever I have been,
BBC or CNN want to hear me as a militant, a freedom fighter or a
terrorist… For the same reason, Osama bin Laden is always on CNN. If
he had been in the non-violent struggle, no one would have cared. So,
the biggest hurdle is the media… If you burn a bus, a building or
kill a person, it will be news. If you have 100,000 people with you in
a democratic procession it will not.”

Although the media lost interest in Malik unarmed, local officials did
not. He has been repeatedly beaten and jailed for leading such
processions, and last month was sentenced to two years under the
Public Security Act (India’s Patriot Act) for a litany of nonviolent
disturbances including encouraging secession, engaging in hunger
strikes, and urging Kashmiris not to vote for pro-India candidates in
the current election round. In jail he was denied timely medical care
for a ruptured appendix and now is in a government hospital fighting
for his life. If he dies, Kashmir will once more likely explode in
flames and the media will swoop in briefly for the body count and
lament again Moslems’ apparently congenital penchant for strife.

These days a few enlightened physicians are finally denouncing Big
Pharma painkillers as curses for public health because they let us
silence and ignore cellular cries of dis-ease until they finally lose
their hyphens and require massive care. The corporate media likewise
induce such stupefied anesthesia in the global body politic by
flooding its neural circuits with celebrity gossip, propaganda and
sales. This trivia torrent consumes vital bandwidth and effectively
drowns out backwater suffering no matter how loud the local outcries
or egregious the injustices involved. This malignant neglect can and
will go on for years until an Angelina Jolie flies in or the suicide
bomb squads arrive.

The conglomeration and corporatization of the journalistic enterprise
has degraded its worth as a guide to truth on many fronts of late.
From the obsequious stenography they offer the powerful to their
economic asphyxiation of investigative reports, corporate newsrooms
have become instinctual fixers for an increasingly oligarchic and
authoritarian status quo. This has proved politically toxic for
countries like the US domestically, and extended as a habit of mind it
also dangerously distorts the public’s view and understanding of the
world.

While the media’s corporate interest über alles mindset preordains
disdain for scruffy peasant movements, one can imagine more personal
equations behind their Kashmir aversion as well. Perhaps some execs
fear sympathetic coverage of righteous Muslim plaints and protests
might undermine the dominant “Islamofascist” narrative that ensures
our rattled acquiescence in surrealistic defense expenditures. Or
possibly some are reluctant to offend their Pak and Indian friends who
have poured too much blood and treasure into their respective Kashmir
claims to tolerate the residents’ quixotic “Azadi” dreams. Or
conceivably others subliminally realize the more ignorance they cure
and conflicts they forestall, the less riveting their headlines and
the more their ratings fall.

But whatever their motives or extenuating pleas, when the court of
public opinion sits in judgment on the Mumbai massacres, justice will
not be served until the corporate media is also tried as a
pacifist-thwarting, rage-provoking, and body count-peddling
co-conspirator.

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W. David Kubiak is Project Censored award-winning freelance writer and
event organizer with three decades of experience in the activist
worlds of Japan, India and the US. He is currently working on a how-to
manual for the Magic 10%, the planet’s activist immune system and last
hope for real change. He is contactable (occasionally) at wdk (at)
truthemergency.us