I know I said no politics on this blog but it’s late and my resistance is weak.
Point is, I want to support Bill Keller’s latest initiative to reduce his organization’s carbon footprint. Here’s some superfluous language I suggest they might cut out of tomorrow’s paper—actually this whole story:
Taliban Exploit Class Rifts to Gain Ground in Pakistan
The Taliban have advanced deeper into Pakistan by engineering a class revolt that exploits profound fissures between a small group of wealthy landlords and their landless tenants, according to government officials and analysts here.
The strategy cleared a path to power for the Taliban in the Swat Valley, where the government allowed Islamic law to be imposed this week, and it carries broad dangers for the rest of Pakistan, particularly the militants’ main goal, the populous heartland of Punjab Province.
Uh, so they’re going to side with the corrupt landlords! You have to admire their commitment to demonstrating their position in nearly every word of the lede. If this were neutral, it could have been titled something like “Taliban Seen as Engineering Revolt in Remote Area of Pakistan” or “Taliban’s Dictum Appeals to Pakistan’s Rural Working Poor” or something (these are their words). But no, we have “exploit” (how dare they?) and “class rifts” (my favorite) right there in the title. Class rifts? Talking about “class” instead of “poverty” makes it seem like the difference is part of the natural order. “Rifts” reinforces that. To my ear, “rifts” connects with the “fissures” below, like it’s a geologic rock formation.
Now of course I’m not a fan of any religious extremists, nor of bloody uprisings, but what’s the story here? It’s that there is a society of people (poor Pakistanis living in a remote northern corner of the country 100 miles north of Peshawar) who have been enduring an untenable hardship for a long time, and that they joined a cause that promised to improve their lives. At the expense of “about four dozen landlords” [aka oligarchs]. The story goes on to say just that only a few paragraphs down.
But in the Times’s language, it sounds like these criminals are subverting the very laws of nature to “advance” their vast armies in a linear fashion toward the dreaded soft target of Punjab.
Taliban don’t give the poor people money, they offer “economic spoils.” I suppose they have to because listen to the heartbreaking plight of the exiled oligarchs:
A landlord who fled with his family last year said he received a chilling message last week. His tenants called him in Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province, which includes Swat, to tell him his huge house was being demolished, he said in an interview here.
The most crushing news was about his finances. He had sold his fruit crop in advance, though at a quarter of last year’s price. But even that smaller yield would not be his, his tenants said, relaying the Taliban message. The buyer had been ordered to give the money to the Taliban instead.
The story ends on that. Chilling indeed.