Aatish Taseer is the man behind TIME magazine’s now-infamous headline describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “Divider in Chief”. The other day I wrote a piece bitterly criticizing TIME magazine for this, the agenda, the propaganda, the half-truths and the thinly disguised Hinduphobia. I believe I did not even name Taseer in my article, keeping my criticism strictly within the realm of ideas.
Now the internet being the internet, some people dug up the fact that Aatish Taseer’s father was a powerful Pakistani politician and tried to link his criticism of PM Modi to his parentage. Perhaps unfortunate, perhaps not.
What I do know is this: Aatish Taseer does not seem too pleased with people talking about this.
It is only a matter of time before the “victimhood” of Aatish Taseer becomes a full-fledged national tragedy and part of the liberal lore of “intolerance” in Modi’s India. Who knows, it may even become fodder for another article in TIME or NYT or Economist or something like that.
This reminded me of something that Aatish Taseer had written about another person in the New York Times back in 2017. Here is an extract:
First, one aside: If smoking is one of the alleged benefits of liberal values, let me just hope that all of humanity, men and women are forever protected from the scourge of such liberalism.
Can you imagine if the possible smoking, drinking habits and the relationship history of a female politician from a ‘secular’ party had thus been raked up and published in an international newspaper?
Could Aatish Taseer have made a case for “liberal values” (whatever those are) without discussing the personal life of Vasundhara Raje in public? For the sake of those much vaunted “liberal values”, let us at least hope so.
But then, perhaps when you grow up in an atmosphere of Lutyens palace intrigue, gossiping about other people becomes your only way to try and make a point.
At that time in 2017 when this NYTimes piece appeared, I wrote about it, asking Barkha Dutt if she would call Aatish Taseer a “troll”.
This was done in response to something that Barkha had asked the public around that time.
Good point Barkha. Indeed, why does the scrutiny of female public figures involve their marriages, divorces and affairs? I agree with your sentiment. I just wanted to know if you would like to describe Aatish Taseer and the New York Times as “trolls” for discussing Vasundhara Raje’s personal life.
I don’t think Barkha responded to my question.
But now that Aatish is on Barkha’s show, I am guessing her answer is “NO”.
It appears that the current wave of sympathy in Lutyens for Aatish Taseer is yet another attempt to establish a double standard in public life. It would appear that all forms of “ethics” exist only to protect the sentiments of the privileged liberal elite. Should you dare to associate with the party of the cultural subalterns, everything is suddenly fair game.
Except it isn’t. Unless you are willing to speak up for the freedom of expression of those you do not like, you don’t really believe in free speech at all. Unless you are willing to take an ethical stand for the dignity of your political opponents, you don’t believe in ethics at all.
But they wouldn’t understand. They have gone so far down the wrong path that it’s become a way of life for them.