People are amazing. Not positively every time, though. Social media nowadays has dedicated pages for certain movements, and there is an ‘attempt’ at bringing change in the society. Opinions are interchanged via social media discussions, and more often than not, the either side carries its own opinion back home. To think of it, there is no room for discussion, and effectively, propaganda-peddling takes place in the name of discussion. To discredit their ‘opponents’ , people use extreme analogies, consequently closing the discussion.
Reducing the world to binaries of good and bad doesn’t help anyone’s cause. Virtue-signalling has become a norm, especially on the left-leaning social media handles. According to them, if you don’t agree with them, you ARE wrong. I maintain a safe distance from the social media debates while being a silent observer, but honestly, I’ve had enough of seeing people draw mind-boggling equivalences. So, in this article, the focus would be on debunking some of these equivalences.
Muslims of India are not the ‘Blacks’ of America : It is said that our thinking is influenced by the content we consume. India has a smart lot of teens/Young Adults, who have grown up watching American TV shows/cinema. Consequently, they see events in India by comparing them with what happens in America. People are fascinated with the idea of comparing ‘American Blacks’ to ‘Indian Muslims’. Fellas, are you even serious? I’m appalled by the fact that people even try to correlate the American history with India’s .
America was discovered after 1492, following which the European settlers came there, killed the native people, and then revolted against their own mother country to form an independent country. The Blacks were forcibly brought to America as slaves, and were systematically oppressed. They had no option back then, but to serve their masters. They did not get their own country there in America, and by the way, they did not rule the country/go about converting people into blacks(that’s ridiculous even to think of). Consequently, the ‘White Guilt’ makes sense, and the Whites owe the Black Americans reparations for all the damages that they have inflicted upon them.
I won’t pass judgements here, but just put on your thinking caps, and answer if any of these conditions apply in the Indian context. The comparison would still make sense if it was made with Dalits, but Muslims? Really? I’ll leave it to your wisdom. Again, this does not discredit the fact that Muslims might be facing police brutality in some places, but their comparison with the American blacks is too far-fetched.
Reductio ad Hitlerum : This is my personal favourite, and I am amused how this is thrown around so naively. So, India is a fascist and authoritarian state. So authoritarian, that you can go out in the open, shout ‘ F**k Hindutva, F**k Modi, F**k BJP’ and still roam around freely. Wow ! While I would not deny that media censorship and control takes place to a certain extent in the present-day India, and it is concerning, drawing comparisons to Hitler’s Nazi Germany is extreme, and downplays the sufferings of the Holocaust victims.
Godwin’s law states, “ As a discussion on the Internet grows longer, the likelihood of a comparison of a person’s being compared to Hitler or another Nazi reference, increases.” The invocation of the law is usually done by an individual losing the argument.
There you have it. So, the next time someone calls you a ‘fascist’ for siding with the BJP, retort with “Okay, KGB agent”. That’ll ensure that both of you are on the same page (of absurdity).
Comparing CAA-NRC protests to Freedom-struggle movements : Let’s try to make sense of how a ‘representative democracy’ works. The political parties put out a manifesto containing the promises they seek to fulfil once elected. If they win and implement their manifesto points, that should not be a problem, right ? Except that it is being projected as one. CAA and NRC were clearly mentioned in BJP’s manifesto. BJP won with a resounding majority. It’s implementing its manifesto point. So far, so good. Suddenly, people cry foul over communalism. The same people, who now say that saying #AllLivesMatter instead of #BlackLivesMatter does nothing to improve the lives of the Blacks, cried foul over protecting only the persecuted minorities in the neighbouring Islamic states (Bangladesh isn’t, on paper, but we know the reality).
Now, even if you find a legislation passed by the Parliament ‘unconstitutional’, remember, you are not the Supreme Court. Go, file a case there , and wait for the Supreme Court to see if it violates the Constitution and strike it down. The mass hysteria created by the CAA-NRC movement led to subsequent communal polarisation and eventually riots , more than the actual bill/act did.
Not to forget, how NRC has been projected as draconian, even when its terms and conditions have not been declared. The Assam NRC (which , by the way, is in accordance with the Assam Accord of 1985) has been mindlessly extrapolated to the whole of India to create a ‘darr ka mahaul’ (environment of fear).
It’s funny to note how people cite “pre-Independence freedom protests” as a justification for sometimes resorting to violent protests. They say, “But bro, even Bhagat Singh took up arms against the government. What if he had become okay with the system”?
Wait a minute ! Bhagat Singh was protesting against an imperial power, which had annexed India as its colony. He did not get to vote to throw them off power. You are protesting against a democratically elected government, which can be voted out of power.
Get the difference ? This does not mean that protesting is wrong, but it needs to done within the ambit of law. By disrupting the traffic of a mega-city like Delhi for 2 months, you are actually treading upon other people’s rights.
Traditional/Modern conflict : India is such a lovely place, where tradition and modernity co-exist. Which means that you can support both. While there are practices which are inherently dehumanizing, there are some which fall in the gray area. In some cases, it’s better to let things be, if they are not harming anyone. Around a month ago, we had an in-class discussion on the Sabarimala issue. It can serve as an interesting case study on Traditionalism v/s Marxist/Radical Feminism.
For the uninitiated, Sabarimala temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, who manifests there in the form of a ‘Naishtika Brahmachari’ (eternal celibate). In Hinduism, a temple is believed to be the home of a deity, and the deity in this case has vowed to stay away from women (as per the traditions), which is his choice. Not going into the details of the matter, the point here is that women in their reproductive ages (10–50 years) are not allowed there, and there are many other temples of Lord Ayyappa where his manifestation is not that of a celibate, and where women are allowed. Not going to one particular temple does not ‘curtail’ a woman’s liberty. Just for the record, there are innumerable temples where only women are allowed. Consider it like school systems — Boys’ schools, Girls’ Schools, Co-ed Schools. Schools are meant to be liberal-modern institutions, while temples are expected to be traditional. If modern institutions can have segregation , why not the temples ? Why does this have to viewed necessarily as a conflict between males and females, and not as a practice celebrating diversity ? You can be a feminist, and still support the Sabarimala tradition. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Interestingly enough, the rebuttal given in this case is — If Sabarimala is a matter of faith, so is Triple Talaq. So, why revoke it ? This is another false equivalence . Triple Talaq affects a woman’s right to life. She is rendered homeless in just 3 words. In that case, her right to dignified life is violated, and the practice dehumanizes women. Not being allowed in 1 temple out of 1000s is NOT equivalent to Triple Talaq. Same goes for Sati, which was inhumane and hence, was done away with. Just because a traditional/social practice was wrong, doesn’t make every other tradition equivalent to that.
The Bottom Line : The world does not exist in a binary state. There are levels of right/wrong. Just because someone does not agree to your definition of right does not make him/her wrong. The internet should be a room for fruitful, meaningful discussions. The left-liberals, who assume intellectual high-ground, should see to it if they themselves are being tolerant to others’ views while ranting about intolerance. Be open to discussion, and don’t demonize the other person if he/she says something ‘politically incorrect’. Our generation has already earned the dubious tag of ‘snowflake generation’ because of the offence we take. Every time you raise an issue belonging to the gray area, see if you have a better, sustainable alternative (sustainable is the key; don’t say ‘revolution’ just because it sounds fascinating). If not, try for reformation, not revolution. Don’t cry wolf, as that dilutes the real cause.
We should understand that there are issues, the real ones. Women are oppressed, and the oppression is normalized. If you have not faced that as a woman, don’t try to make it about yourself by bringing up something unnecessary. Playing victim card all the time, makes it difficult for the actually oppressed to voice their grievances. Every time a girl misuses sexual assault laws, the hundreds of girls actually suffering from it are denied justice. Every time a newly-wed falsely frames her in-laws for dowry, the poor girl suffering from this harassment loses out. Feminism has come to be viewed as a pejorative in the present times. Who is to be blamed for it ? Well, blame it on the radicals, who make an issue out of nothing. Try to root for those who need a voice for them, rather than being a crybaby all the time. That will bring the real change in the society, at the grass-root level.
I missed one important point :
Criticizing the left and calling out its hypocrisy doesn’t make someone a ‘bhakt’. No binaries, remember ?
So, I’ll be back with another article on the same issue, featuring the right. Yeah, I know , no binaries, but we are talking about extremism at the two ends of the spectra, so I guess that’ll pass.