Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Arundhati Roy is one of my heroes but...

"Children who ought to be in school, run wild".

I must confess that I haven't read much further than this in the article I linked to in the previous post. Something about that assertion stuck in my craw. I have never lived in a country where there was open warfare, nor where children were participants in that warfare so I will concede that my white-bread/bred suburban American upbringing gives me a different perspective than that of Roy who has witnessed poverty and suffering first hand...BUT.

"School?" Is school a better alternative because the children are safe from gunfire and marauding government troops and improvised explosive devices? Because they are safe from death?

But school is the beginning of death. Is not school a form of the very prison against which the Maoists are fighting? Wouldn't putting their children in schools (which I assume for the present to be administered by the government who is shelling and killing and raping and pillaging the Maoists) be a form of acquiescence? A tacit recognition of the Indian government's authority? I am going to wage war on you but allow you to care for my children while I do it?

Is it possible that these children are in fact safer in the jungle with their warrior parents at their side? Maybe the answer to this apparent lack of understanding will come later in Roy's article but I can't help but think that she does not understand what it means to wage a full scale war against an occupation force.

There is a scene in a Viet Nam war movie in which a U.S. Special Forces officer recounts the moment when he knew that the war was unwinnable for the U.S.. As he recounts it the U.S. Army vaccinated the children of a village controlled by the Viet Cong (the "bad guys") against some childhood disease. Feeling good about their benevolence they returned to the village a few weeks later to check on the progress. The VC had hacked the arm off of every child in the village who had received the vaccination. By his calculation some of the children had their arms cut off by their own parents.

That is what total war is, so when Roy asserts that the young warriors in Kashmir should be sitting in some mind control factory administered by their enemies instead of engaging in the productive work of killing them perhaps she should think carefully about her position.

A school is an institution of violence. It is a tool of a culture to perpetuate itself. A school does not feel, have compassion, have mercy, or intuition as a parent does. If it were me in Kashmir, my children would be with me in the jungle fighting. They would learn the ways of the world in a way that a school could never teach them. Just as the Indian government soldiers seek to kill the free with bullets and bombs so too their schools, like Chinese schools, U.S. schools, and Israeli schools seek death for those who will not conform.

The mind control factory teaches you that there are predetermined paths to security and success. Deviance from those paths is not tolerated. You will wake early in the morning every day with the ringing of a bell. When other bells ring you will speak on the phone, or move from room to room, or fasten your seat belt. You will sit in a moving box on a road and drive by depressing box and coffin like architecture on your way to the box within a box that you will occupy for 9 or 10 hours. Other Pavlovian conditioning stimuli will tell you when it is time to check your e-mail or voicemail, a honking horn will tell you to go at a green light. Other members of your culture who have been similarly conditioned by schools, television, movies, and advertising will reinforce societal norms of dress, speech, behavior and thought.

You are free to choose between this form of death or the exile you will experience if you choose to defy the norms of your culture. Live in a box of the culture's choosing or live in a cardboard box on the street. School teaches you to choose how you will die from one of these two options.

At least the 10 year old with the AK-47 is free to choose for herself.

I choose life. I stand with the Maoists and look forward to their inevitable victory.

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