By now, everyone knows what happened with the book Delhi Riots 2020: The Untold Story. The book was about to be published … and then it wasn’t. Some powerful liberals objected; the Orwellian machine of global liberalism began to turn. And Bloomsbury appeared to buckle under pressure. This being the internet age, the book went on to gain amazing publicity and vitalized a smaller Indian publisher. It will now be published by Garuda Prakashan, which will reap both the goodwill and the profits from this now sure-shot bestseller.
It doesn’t matter, the liberals argue. They argue that the book has been denied the “prestige” of a publisher like Bloomsbury. And that’s all they care about. They are happy.
The Hindu right also has something to celebrate. The “banned” book has now attained cult status. Its reach will now be wider than anyone could have imagined.
In some sense, there is no better way to understand the feudal mentality of the modern liberal. The liberal is more concerned with protecting the sanctity of their cocktail circuit than touching base with the masses. They are convinced that nothing outside their little circuit matters. Because it doesn’t have “prestige.” According to them, who cares if the potential readership of the book has just expanded by a factor of ten? As long as nobody they know reads the book, it doesn’t exist.
Contrary to the popular myth, ostriches do not actually bury their heads in sand. But liberals surely do.
By now, a lot of outrage has appeared on social media and Hindu right wing platforms on the issue of this book. The dangers of cancel culture and the threat to freedom of expression have been mentioned repeatedly. I want to make a slightly different point, which I found to be most chilling.
The liberal outrage around the book was focused on Kapil Mishra. Why? Did Kapil Mishra write the book?
Now Bloomsbury did not give a detailed official explanation for their action and so we can’t be absolutely certain. So we will have to opt for a reasonable guess. Now, it is almost always bad when you are trying to get a book removed. But there are levels of intolerance and this one appears to be the worst (and most frightening).
(1) It is bad if you demand that a book be unpublished because you don’t like its contents. Or its cover, or title. But that does not seem to have happened here. The liberal outrage mob clearly hadn’t read the book.
(2) It is even worse if you demand that a book be unpublished because you don’t like the author. But in all that the outrage mob was saying, I found hardly any criticism of the authors themselves.
(3) If not the content of the book, if not even the author, who were the liberals outraging against? They were criticizing Kapil Mishra! It is absolutely worst of all if you demand that a book be unpublished because of who the author happened to meet (or planned to meet!)
That is a whole new level of intolerance. It’s not even ad hominem: the classic fallacy where you attack a person instead of their argument. It’s worse than that. It is attacking an argument based on your view of other people that this person happens to know! This is so bad that there isn’t even a term for this fallacy.
The consequences are absolutely frightening. If you appear with someone on a public platform and powerful people don’t like those you appeared with, they are going to ban your books? Seriously?
One of the authors of the book was an advocate at the Supreme Court. The other two were professors at Delhi University. One legal mind and two academic ones. But their book was unpublished because others don’t like who the authors were meeting with? Again, seriously?
They talk about slippery slope, but we are already in the abyss here.
So what is the correct level of “purity” to maintain? Big Liberal won’t answer this question and deliberately so. Acts like these are as much a message to their own minions as to their ideological opponents. They want to keep the standards vague. They want to keep their minions in perpetual state of fear, always stopping reflexively at the threshold of any dangerous thought. Orwell called it “crimestop” : the mind shuts down before it thoughtcrime happens.
If you tell them exactly where the lines are, they will start playing around freely within the lines. If you don’t tell them where the line is, the minions will be absolutely terrified all the time. They will only move in dense packs, crowd towards the center and never experiment. Not even slightly.
Because Big Liberal is watching you.
The good news is that Big Liberal is totally blind to the weakness in their own system. Nobody on their cocktail circuit dares to point it out. And they don’t think anyone else matters. So they don’t know.
Here’s the thing about liberals who are gloating about the denial of “prestige” to the book. They have forgotten where their prestige comes from. That left liberal privilege in those circles was a crumb tossed before them from the table of Nehruvian power. They have fooled themselves into buying their own propaganda about left wing intellectual superiority.
Their “prestige” came from the people. People voted for a certain political party for generations. And that party patronized them and made them “prestigious.” Without that power source, they are nothing.
Well, the people of India have changed their political preferences. The people have turned off the power source. With the political power changing hands, the “prestige” will change hands too. Matter of time.
The ostrich is not dumb enough to bury its head in sand. But liberals surely are.