So the other day, Arnab Goswami, in a riveting segment on Republic Bharat, used some particularly harsh language against Sonia Gandhi. Since then, social media has been on the boil about this. Congress supporters have been running from pillar to post trying to file FIRs. The larger secular ecosystem has been ringing with condemnation, each intellectual competing with the other in showing off their outrage and their loyalty to the Crown.
To borrow an expression from a famous person, liberals on social media have been jumping around like spooked ….
At the heart of this mass hysteria is astonishment. How could someone have spoken so harshly about Madam Sonia Gandhi? How could they dare?
Indeed, in her ten years of power and six years out of power, I have never seen an article in the Indian media criticizing Sonia Gandhi. For the “free” Indian media, it was like an invisible electric fence. While Congress has been criticized, Rahul Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh have been criticized, never Sonia Gandhi. When things went far too badly, we would hear that Sonia ji is “unhappy.” The media never blamed her for anything. In Orwellian terms, Indian media seemed capable of stopping automatically at the threshold of such a thought.
And then Arnab Goswami comes along and walks across the red line as if he just doesn’t care.
The secular ecosystem of the Congress needs to realize that they and their leaders aren’t special. They have a sense of entitlement from six decades of rule. And the fact that half of the landmarks in Delhi are named after them.
They need to get over this sense of entitlement. Indian politics is not a polite tea party. Perhaps this episode will make the secular ecosystem aware of their own use of harsh language. Expressions like “Nazi” and “fascist” are used in an almost routine manner for India’s elected Prime Minister. Jibes at his personal life, his humble background as a tea seller, etc are also routine. The RSS is routinely labelled as “terrorist” and what not. Despite the UP CM making a conscious decision long ago to give up his birth name when he became a yogi, liberals routinely refer to him as “Ajay Singh Bisht,” thus invoking his caste origin. The list of harsh insults used against Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are too numerous to list here.
This is highly regrettable, but for better or for worse, it is the normal. The Congress and its apex leadership are not special in any way.
Since using such harsh language, Arnab Goswami has not only faced calls for arrest, but actual physical attacks, for which he believes that “Congress goons” are responsible.
I cannot say who was responsible, but Arnab is certainly within his moral rights to make that accusation. After all, the BJP and Prime Minister Modi have often been held personally accountable by the secular ecosystem for random acts of violence. It could even be a matter of people fighting over seats in a train or some thief who stole Rs 8000 from a Christian school.
Liberals are extremely good at defending the free speech rights of those that they perceive to be on their side, no matter how malevolent. This includes Sharjeel Imam, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Arund**ti Roy and so many others. Free speech has been offered as the defense for everything from slogans of “Bharat tere tukde honge” to speeches that laid out actual strategies for cutting off the North East from India. I don’t even want to write out the rest of the liberal slogan “Afzal hum sharminda hain…”
Of course, what Arnab said is nowhere near as offensive as the examples of ‘liberalism’ just mentioned. Nevertheless, his words were harsh and this can be a great test case of whether liberals can actually take the heat they love to turn up on others. So far, they have failed spectacularly.
Most of all, you might have noticed that no journalist or intellectual has even come forward to condemn the attack on Arnab Goswami. As much as his intellectual detractors may dislike (and/or be scared of) his journalism, they cannot walk away from the fact that he faced an attack on press freedom. If I may add, in a state where the Congress is part of the ruling formation.
This is how the left wing elite normalizes and intellectualizes violence against those they don’t like. Mostly, this violence is directed against the Hindu right, but it could just as well be any agency of the Indian state. This is why the extreme violence against the Hindu right in say Bengal or Kerala, passes by without comment. Or the countless attacks by left wing militia against innocent people in states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh or Odisha. Of late, we have seen the secular cartel extend its intellectual cover to those attacking police in urban centers during the anti-CAA riots. Even more recently, some eminent liberals have gone so far as to talk of attacks on sanitation workers by members of one community as acts of “resistance.”
Meanwhile, in a development that will surely make Arnab’s detractors more angry, his newly launched Hindi language channel Republic Bharat has broken into the top five in terms of TV ratings.