Robert Mackey at the New York Times tells a troubling story about what he calls India's Wall of Death.
Well, sort of. Actually he tells a rambling tale that starts with Indian women who have joined the Border Security Force. Since most of us have never heard of the BSF, he helpfully sends us to a recruiting film they've posted on You-Tube, while smirking about its resemblance to Bollywood films. I assume such a film fits into a context its intended Indian audience recognize, and which the rest of us don't, so perhaps the smirk is unwarranted. The article then wanders on to tell how violent the BSF is - even their own website says so - and then it brings various people who tell that the violence is unjustified and wanton. Since they say so it must be true, apparently, because Mackey wastes no time on any attempt to figure out what's really going on. You might be interested to hear that while he cites a statistic from the BSF website about 4,814 people they've killed in 19 years, and sets this up so we think they were mostly innocent villagers, he fails to cite the number from the same webpage whereby 1,375 BSF men have also died. I guess the innocent villagers were armed and shot back. Or perhaps sometimes shot first. It's hard to know if you parachute into the story from the stratosphere and immedately begin pontificating.
The BSF link, by the way, is here. Mackey forgot to add it.
Having introduced us to an organization we'd never heard of, poked fun at its self image by choosing one item divorced from any context, convinced us it's an outfit of bloodthirsty gunslingers which routinely kills villagers, he then embeds a British Channel 4 film to prove the whole thing. If there are pictures in a film, it must be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Finally, having convinced us this is an ugly story, he informs us the Indian fence was inspired by Israel, and he helpfully recommends we read what he calls a "fascinating article" published by an Indian we know nothing about in a UAE newspaper. UAE, in case you don't know and he doesn't tell, is United Arab Emirates. Just the place to learn about Israel. So I read the fascinating article. The author knows about India, though I have no way of telling how acceptable his analysis is; he certainly knows nothing about Israel beyond a clischee here and there.
Parting shot: If Israel hadn't inspired the Indians, none of this would be happening, we're led to understand. Of course, the fact that lots of people are dying along the Indian fence, while the Israeli one has played a demonstrable role in saving thousands of lives goes unmentioned. (Yes, over the years four or five people have also died along it, but they weren't villagers tending their fields). The source for this nasty allegation? Jonathan Rugman, at Channel 4. Except that even as he makes this unsubstantiated claim, he also demonstrates how false it is, by noting that the Indians began constructing their fence in 2000. The Israelis began constructing theirs, I remind you, in 2002. Perhaps they were inspired by the Indians?
Top notch journalism, 2009.