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How Indian ‘liberals’ supporting Article 370 are like the racists in 50s and 60s America

Indian liberals, like that Alabama Governor, can “stand in the door” all they want, supporting Article 370 and crying for “states’ rights.” But history will not be kind to them.

Yesterday, the Government of India scrapped Article 370, making every Indian an equal citizen, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. It sent Indian liberals into a tizzy.

All through the day, the government faced all sorts of absurd questions. How can a Constitutional change be made so quickly, they asked, completely forgetting that Article 35A was sneaked into the Constitution through a Presidential decree in 1954, like a thief in the night. Completely forgetting that Article 370 was supposed to be a temporary provision. There were the typical allegations of the government resorting to majoritarian rule. As if democracy is anything else. One liberal went so far as to suggest that this decision of the Govt of India, which makes everyone an equal citizen, is comparable to untouchability or the lynching of black people in the US back in the 50s and 60s!

And people wonder why it is so hard to take liberal “intellectuals” seriously.

I would have laughed away the ridiculous comparison, except that the person in question happened to be a much-decorated “Professor” of all kinds of made-up stuff. His words are usually taken seriously and often quoted in newspapers and on television.

So it really got me thinking about the history of racial injustice, segregation and how it was countered. That’s when you realize just how frightening and regressive the Indian liberal stance on Article 370 really is.

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This is a famous 1963 photograph of Alabama Governor George Wallace standing in protest at the door of the University of Alabama. His mission? To prevent black students from entering the all-white university.

But because of an order from a federal judge, the governor of the state can do nothing. He must allow black students at the university.

The governor insists that the federal government has no right to interfere at the state university and let black students in. He does so in the name of “states rights.”

Sound familiar?

How different is this from those who speak of the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir and say that Indian citizens from all other states must stay out? How far are Indian liberals from “standing at the door” like Governor George Wallace, demanding that India must enforce segregation?

When you go further into details, you see that the arguments being bandied around by liberals in support of Article 370 are uncannily similar to those of racial segregationists in the United States.

You see, until around 1965, a bunch of American states used to enforce what were called “Jim Crow laws.” These laws mandated segregation between white people and black people in all public spaces. Separate schools, separate clubs, separate bathrooms and the like. And black people would have to sit in a separate section at the back of the bus.

Then, in the 1950s, a period of reformation began. In 1954, the US Supreme Court famously ruled (Brown v Board of Education) that states could no longer segregate schools by race.

What was the excuse of those who wanted to keep the schools segregated? States’ rights!

Then, in 1964, the Federal Government passed the Civil Rights Act which said no government could discriminate on the basis of race.

How did the racists fight back? You guessed it: States’ rights!

In 1965, the Federal Government passed the Voting Rights Act, which imposed special rules on states and districts with a reputation for preventing black people from voting by various means.

How did the racists fight back? You guessed it: States’ rights!

And today, how are liberals trying to stop the Govt of India from making everyone an equal citizen? States’ rights! The autonomy of J&K, they say.

In 1973, the US Supreme Court handed down another landmark judgement in the case of Roe v Wade, giving women everywhere the right to decide whether to have an abortion.

How did the opponents fight back against the liberation of women? They said it was interfering with states’ rights.

Today when the abolition of Article 370 has finally given equal property rights to Kashmiri women, how are liberals fighting back? They say it is against the autonomy of J&K!

Why was homosexuality still a crime in J&K despite the SC judgement last year? Because of Article 370. Now that gay people have rights in J&K, how are liberals trying to block them?

By using the excuse of states’ rights!

So that’s Indian liberalism for you. Supporting segregation by race. Against property rights for women. Supporting the criminalization of homosexuality. By using the same argument that racial segregationists used to employ in the US in the 1950s and 1960s.

Oh and before we forget: why did the Civil War happen in the United States? Because the Southern states wanted to keep slavery. They argued that the Federal Government abolishing slavery was against the autonomy of states.

So Indian liberals, like that Alabama Governor, can “stand in the door” all they want, supporting Article 370 and crying for “states’ rights.” But history will not be kind to them.

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Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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