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Are stories of bigot babies ‘safe’ option for media which failed to assess public mood?

So, who knows? Is it possible that liberals might be taking the ‘safe’ option of reporting not on the mood of babies instead of grown up voters?

Once upon a time, it used to be ‘Ankit from IIT.’ Then, there was always a friendly taxi driver, always willing to go the extra mile in customer service and tell their passenger exactly what they want to hear about the prevailing political situation. At various times, other humble folks, such as the milkman and the paper delivery boy have pitched in with helpful opinions when our liberals couldn’t be bothered to step out of their homes. And let us not forget the maid, who is generally the official ambassador for the masses in liberal homes. Sort of emblematic of the servant-master kind of relationship that they would like to see between the masses and the classes.

These and other ‘sources’ have played an invaluable role in keeping us informed about what is going on in our country. Since time immemorial.

But now, there is a new alarm across this unquiet land of ours. Day in and day out, babies are suddenly turning bigots all over the place. Liberal goes to a birthday party. Promptly, a five-year-old tells his Muslim friend to get out of the country. Possibly, the five-year-old also threatens her with dire consequences once the NRC is implemented. Liberal pulls out her phone and lets the world know. The tweet goes viral. Articles and commentaries appear, asking Hindus to be even more ashamed of themselves than they already are.

It’s the same template: a writer for a leftist news portal is travelling in a taxi. She puts her head out of the window and notices a small procession of folks wearing Hanuman shirts. It kickstarts her creativity. And the fantasy of the ‘Angry Hanuman’ as a symbol of intolerance catches on. Before you know it, the Washington Post is reporting on the Hanuman as the new face of ‘militant Hinduism’!


OMG! Somebody save the babies, at least!

There are even books out there now, with guidance on how to protect babies from communal rhetoric spewed by other babies.

Presumably, these accounts of bigot babies are meant to be believed. Without evidence, of course. Based on the inherent trustworthiness of our liberals. You are supposed to take them at their word. Because who wouldn’t?

Now, using unverified accounts is nothing new for our media. But the ‘bigot baby’ stories take it to another level altogether. Because now, both the account and the conclusion are not only unverified but unverifiable.

Think of a journalist who claims to see some kind of electoral hawa in favour of one party based on (claimed to be) real interactions with people on the ground. Election comes. The journalist proves disastrously wrong. Naturally, they become the target of much ridicule and their professional competence is called into question. Other, even less charitable folks, start attributing all sorts of motives to them.

So, who knows? Is it possible that liberals might be taking the ‘safe’ option of reporting not on the mood of babies instead of grown up voters?

After all, kids who are old enough to talk won’t be voting for anywhere between 10-15 years. And their mentality may change completely by the time they turn 18. If you claim you are speaking to voters and the election is two months away, you could be proven wrong and get ridiculed in two months. But there is no way to know exactly what kids, in general, are thinking. So claim anything you want. Nobody can prove you wrong.

The bigot baby stories have therefore crossed the bridge between the ‘unverified’ and the ‘unverifiable.’ You can’t even call it fake news, because it is not even lying. It transcends the distinction between truth and lies altogether. We need a new term.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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