Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cowardice, again and again and again....

As expected, some leaders have condemned the serial blasts at Bangalore as a cowardly act.

Why ‘cowardly” of all expressions? Are the leaders trying to snigger at the terrorists and make them realize the folly of their assumption that they are brave fighters for a cause? Or, do their speech writers simply dip into a template that has been unaltered for decades?

I had tried, in an earlier post, to find the answers. I found this passage linked to, in an article written by Paul Krugman.

“In truth, notions of "cowardice" and "bravery" are entirely irrelevant when we contemplate the horrors of terrorism.To call a terrorist “cowardly” is to substitute testosterone for morality. Somehow it isn’t enough to abhor an act of terrorism or even to promise to make the terrorist pay dearly. The rules demand that the terrorist be branded a sissy. This is not only a childish reflex, but one that weakens the moral force of the condemnation and thereby dishonors terrorism’s victims. After all, we don’t want brave people to slaughter innocent people any more than we want cowardly people to do so. Still, the public seems to demand that our presidents call terrorists cowards, and our presidents are too–well, cowardly–to deny them.”

Is it any better if a murderer of innocent people is a “brave murderer” instead of a “cowardly murderer”?


Anonymous said...

It's a template that people like to hear. That's what consoles the masses or atleast that's what they think. They dont solve the problem, they play politics with it.

Dilip Muralidaran said...

Co-Incidentally, we are on the same page.


Anonymous said...

While its agreeable that its a common template, I consider those terrorist acts as "Cowardly". Because their fight is not against those innocent people. Their fight is against the Government . and they kill these innocent people who have no self defense , to bring themselves into the limelight.


Dilip Muralidaran said...

Dear Anonymous,

It takes balls to go and bomb hundreds of innocent civilians. Terrorists are not cowards. A Coward does not dare to die for his cause. Terrorists are real problems we need to tackle. By calling them cowards we are solely undermining the situation and sympathizing with our inability to do something about it. Innocent people are what form a government, goats don't form a government. What do you expect? Terrorists to go on a war with the army? That's already happening in the border, i thought?

Raj said...

maduraiveeran, by now, the public must have become immune to the cliches.

dileep, not the entire page.

Anon Ramesh, if the terrorists attacked only the Govt buildings and killed only the Govt employees, will it make them brave? Branding them as cowards can achieve nothing, even if they are.

Vinod_Sharma said...

I think they call it a cowardly act because the terrorists do the 'act' and we are 'cowardly' because we don't react!

Banter aside, that is actually the manner in which India has responded to the terrorism that has afflicted it for over two decades.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeing that 'cowardly' is used to imply that the those who died were 'brave', in the sense that they were martyrs of some sort. A small means of consoling the grieving by offering the idea that the death wasn't entirely meaningless. Or something on those lines.

Anonymous said...


any attack against a defenseless person is what i referred to as a cowardly act. a proper definition for a bravery act of terrorists would be to launch an attack against the government's military. Not the govt's employees who are defenseless.


Raj said...

vinod, thanks. My question is why is the same line dished out?

varali, you may have a point. Again, to call the victims as martyrs, would be wrong semantics.

Anon Ramesh, even if that is right, should cowardice be the main and first point to bring out, in a statement issued by the President of India after the incident? For instance, the President can call the terrorists 'unhygienic". And it may be true also. But, that is not the main plank on which you build your argument or condemnation against them.