Social media has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives. There is not even a single day where we don’t get up in the morning and shout and scream digitally about something or the other. Outrage has become an integral part of lives. Where there is news, there is outrage.
Personally, I don’t think outraging is all that bad. I believe that it has shed light over a lot of important issues that plague our society. But while we go on outraging from one topic to the other do we ever sit back, relax, and observe whether our outrage is intellectually and morally consistent?
The so-called liberal establishment in India has woefully failed in this test, if you ask me. The left has gone so far off the trails that they can’t even see this anymore. The left will use some random incident that has happened and will blow it out of proportion via mental gymnastics and start comparing a particular set of people (usually the so-called Right Wing of India) to Hitler, Nazis, Fascists, etc. It is as if their minds are completely parasitised by some virus that makes them look at only a particular type of pain/suffering.
The left has created a hierarchy of victims, and whichever group that does not fit in that hierarchy can die a slow and poisonous death, and they could care less about them. We can look at one instance after the other where we have people who have been attacked physically and verbally for disagreeing with the left on issues without any condemnation from their side.
Take the case of Tarek Fatah, here is a man who claims to be a Marxist/Leftist himself. But that’s not sufficient for the leftists. He has to be a particular kind of leftist. He has to make sure that he toes the line of the left establishment on every single issue under the sun. Recently at the Urdu Festival Jashn-e-Rekhta held in the National Capital, Mr. Fatah was physically manhandled by a group of young men, who objected to his presence at the venue where the festival was being held.
One would think that something as atrocious like this incident would get a full-blown condemnation from the left. But what has happened is the complete opposite. There was one particular tweet by and NDTV journalist that sums up the parasitised mindset of the left:
— Gargi Rawat (@GargiRawat) February 20, 2017
Instead of condemnation and standing up for Mr Fatah’s right to express himself the leftists are accusing him of milking this controversy. Shame on such people. And then there is some Congress guy who is calling him an ISI agent and shouting as loud as he can in a TV studio trying to silence him. If Mr Fatah is an ISI agent, I have to admit that he is doing a pretty poor job because his statements don’t help the ISI in any way.
The leftist strategy is using false equivalences & extreme hyperbole. Yes, India has problems. And in that long list of problems the ones that are being raised by Tarek Fatah are critical. If the left claims to stand for freedom of expression and gender equality, why would they oppose a man like Tarek Fatah? Is it because he is fighting for the rights of Muslim men and women? Is this because he is trying to show a mirror to the Muslim society as a whole?
Any sensible person would condemn the acts of those goons at Jashn-e-Rekhta and support Tarek Fatah. But that is the problem with the left in India. Their moral fibre is so damaged, and their minds are so parasitised, that they are simply incapable of maintaining any moral and intellectual consistency.
There is no scope for nuanced views. Everything has to be black and white. I have never gotten a convincing answer to this question: Why can’t I dislike Islam and like Muslims at the same time?
Why is this question so hard for people to wrap their heads around? The moment you are follower of a minority religion in a land, the majority has to like the religion and the followers of that religion unconditionally. But, the minority religions followers can dislike the majority religion & like/dislike its followers. They have that privilege, but the other side doesn’t.
For the records, I have a problem with aspects of many things in all religions. But, this particular privilege that exists for minorities thanks to the left needs to be discussed openly. It has now become a tool to suppress legitimate discussion in our communities. By shouting Islamophobia, all discussion on Islamism is being dismissed. Is this fair? Is the left being morally and intellectually consistent?
This virus of moral and intellectual inconsistency is spreading like wildfire and slowly and steadily the so-called right wing of India is also getting entangled in its web.
I have spent almost six years on social media as an active user, and in the last three years, I see a trend where the right wing has also become extremely selective in its outrage. No, I’m not using the term “right wing” to refer to only those sets of people whom the mainstream media paints “right wing”, but those who were considered mostly right-libertarian.
Now it is almost as if there is a competition on who wins the world cup of inconsistency and selective outrage online. The answer to the left’s moral and intellectual inconsistency cannot be a carbon copy from the right wingers.
Take the latest case of an event being called off because of the protests by the ABVP at Delhi University’s Ramjas College. The reaction to the incident on the so-called Right Wing of India was not of unequivocal condemnation of the actions of the group of people who made sure the seminar got cancelled, but, it was of celebration and support for such behaviour.
You had reactions like “they deserved this” or “Anti-nationals don’t have to be given any platform”. This line of thinking is very dangerous. Now before someone starts getting “triggered”, I want to clarify that I do not support any ‘bharat tere tukde honge’ activism. In fact, I am firmly opposed to the JNU type leftists. But was censoring her the most efficient way of solving this problem?
Yes, what I am saying may not be very popular. But if in the process of trying to correct a malady, we become a mirror image of that how far we have succeeded? Is the solution to the left’s attempt at suppressing free speech making sure that there is real free speech in India or should the right wing in India also jump on the bandwagon of suppressing free speech? Are bad ideas going to be defeated by silencing them? Or are bad ideas going to be defeated by countering them with good ideas?
The most important thing to watch out for when online is not to entangle yourself in an ideological echo-chamber. This whole idea of “I am part of this so-called group of people, and I need to stand with them no matter what they say” is what leads to the demise of societies.
India’s greatest strength has been its ability to handle differences for centuries. Our ancestors had somehow managed to learn the art of listening to varying opinions without getting worked up. That is a very significant achievement.
The strength of the Indian Dharmic side was the ability to handle a difference of views because they were morally and intellectually consistent. I hope we don’t lose that trait in this online championship of Oppression Olympics and Victimology Poker.