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Cartoon on the Ujjain case by TOI’s Sandeep Adhwaryu is a textbook case of Hitler-esque Hinduphobia: How ‘art’ is often propaganda

“There is way no out from this predicament and humiliation for the Muslims in India unless they respond to the call of jihad against these cowardly cow-worshipping Hindu filths", ISIS had said in its latest magazine. They should perhaps thank Sandeep Adhwaryu and those like him for making their job easier.

‘Conspiracy theories’, it is said, often have a grain, or a sack full of it, truth to them. There is enough idiomatic proof to it – ‘there is no smoke without fire’, for example. However, one of the ‘conspiracy theories’ that turned out to be true was that the CIA was using American Abstract Expressionist painting as a tool for propaganda, covertly, during the Cold War.

One must read this excellent report on The Independent to understand the details of it. The CIA used American modern art – including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as weapons in the Cold War at a time when American society abhorred the very idea of modern art itself. The Russian art at that time was crude – rife with communist messages and propaganda – right in the faces of people. The CIA instead chose subtle messages through modern art – to give the impression that the USA was a free society, of intellectualism and culture. The ‘Long Leash’ program to use modern art as CIA propaganda essentially aimed at diminishing the romantic allure of communism – which, realities aside – spoke of love, justice, equality and more.

CIA agent Donald Jameson had said, “Regarding Abstract Expressionism, I’d love to be able to say that the CIA invented it just to see what happens in New York and downtown SoHo tomorrow!” he joked. “But I think that what we did really was to recognise the difference. It was recognised that Abstract Expressionism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylised and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions. In a way, our understanding was helped because Moscow in those days was very vicious in its denunciation of any kind of non-conformity to its own very rigid patterns. And so one could quite adequately and accurately reason that anything they criticised that much and that heavy-handedly was worth support one way or another.”

Jameson had also explained how the CIA would never be seen too close to the artists that they were promoting, in fact, if the artist was seen closer to Moscow or its ideology, it would bode better for the Long Leash program. What it led to was the formation of the Congress for Cultural Freedom – a vast network of artists, intellectuals etc. – who worked – some of them without their knowledge – for the CIA. The organisation was controlled by the CIA (it was a front), and the museums where the art was displayed were also controlled by the CIA – but nobody would really know about it until much later.

Art has always been considered a reflection of society at large, however, unrevealed to many, art often is the representation of religious, political and ideological propaganda that has to be furthered by those who commission or support the art. Italy, which is considered rightfully as the home of Renaissance art, also represented its religious and political aspirations and realities through commissioned art.

Propaganda is not necessarily a bad word and representing religion and politics through art isn’t either. However, the subtle influence that art is meant to bear on the mind of the impressionable cannot be underscored, especially when that art is used to demonise and victimise the already victimised. For example, art, cartoons and artistic posters were used extensively during the reign of Hitler to psychologically manipulate the masses to accept the stereotyping and victimisation of Jews.

“Is propaganda, as we understand it, not also a form of art?” asked Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Propaganda Minister, in June 1935. Using art for propaganda is a classic Communist/Socialist strategy and the Nazis had adapted to it greatly. Through films, art, exhibitions, cartoons, posters and more, Nazi Germany influenced their people to accept their vision of Nazi Germany – one without the ‘terrible Jews’.

Goebbels wrote in his diary, “No one can say your propaganda is too rough, too mean – these are not criteria by which it may be characterized. It ought not be decent nor ought it be gentle or soft or humble – it ought to lead to success.” Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that to achieve its purpose, propaganda must “be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away.”

Indian propagandists, perhaps instinctively so or by training, have learnt from Nazi Germany rather effectively. Chief cartoonist of Times of India, Sandeep Adhwaryu, posted this cartoon today. He claimed later that the cartoon was not for Times of India but he had used the logo ‘by mistake’. He deleted the one with the TOI logo and apologised for it – not for the Hinduphobic cartoon – but for adding the logo of the organisation that could potentially sue his pants off.

Times of India cartoon on the Ujjain case

The cartoon was representing a horrific case that emerged from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. A little 12-year-old girl was raped and bleeding, roaming from house to house on the roads asking for help. The video of this horrific incident went viral on social media, leading to a rightful public outcry. ‘Why did nobody help the little girl’, was a question that everyone was asking.

The cartoon by Sandeep Adhwaryu is meant to represent that grim reality – of a little girl being brutalised and the society at large refusing to help.

But does it? Does it represent only that?

In the cartoon, what Sandeep essentially represented was not the angst of the girl or the apathy of the society – he represented how Hindus were busy worshipping a cow they consider their mother, while their daughter – a Hindu girl – roamed bleeding, brutalised and helpless.

What Sandeep did not consider was that while everyone looked away, it was indeed a cow-worshipping priest who put clothes on the girl and took her to the hospital. The little girl walked 8 km in the city before she reached Dandi Ashram on the Badnagar road in the city, where Rahul Sharma offered her clothes and called for emergency medical service. He informed the police, who recovered the girl and took her to the hospital. Rahul Sharma said, “I gave her my clothes. She was bleeding. She could not speak. Her eyes were swollen. I called 100. When I could not reach the cops over the helpline, I contacted the Mahakal police station and informed them about the situation. Police reached the ashram in about 20 minutes.” Sharma said that at around 9:30 AM on Monday, while he was leaving the ashram, he saw the girl near the gates, who was partially naked and clearly injured with blood running down both of her legs.

Sharma added that although the girl was terrified of everyone, she was able to trust him to some extent. “Whenever someone else approached her, she tried to hide behind me. Then police came and took her with them,” he said.

But none of it really matters to Sandeep. As Hitler as his witness, he stuck to the winning strategy – keep the propaganda limited to a few points and harp on it till the public understands what you want them to understand. Sandeep understood what Hitler meant when he said that the message would piddle away if you focused on too many sides.

You see, but that is how truth is. Truth has many sides, varying contexts and facts that often need to come together to paint the entire picture. Hitler-esque propaganda has no space for many sides, many contexts and many truths – not if you don’t want your insidious impact to be pittered away.

The Hitler-esque propaganda against Hindus has hinged on three legs in the recent past – Islamophobia, Cow Worship and Caste. The messaging has to be simple – facts don’t matter – stick to the basic slogans – keep repeating – measure the propaganda by how effective it is – not by whether it is soft, humble, honest – the Nazi strategy was. Sandeep stuck to the magic potion – the facts did not matter to him, he kept the messaging simple – he stuck to the ISIS-prescribed trope of ‘cow worshipping Hindus’ being evil – and ensured that it was effective because it was deployed when the nation was emotionally vulnerable after seeing a little girl roaming the streets brutalised and helpless.

Showing Hindus as those barbarians who care about their cow worshipping more than actual human lives is not a new phenomenon. It is a simple recipe to use the faith of Hindus and use it to dehumanise them, blaming them for dehumanising others in pursuit of only their ritualistic faith. Further, the aim is also to show Hindus as a regressive, barbarous and hypocritical lot – those who care about an animal because they think of her as a mother, but either rape women or refuse to help raped Hindu girls when she comes knocking on the door.

Facts don’t matter – Hitler said. And of course, they don’t. Sandeep did not care that nobody really knew the religion of those who refused to help the little girl. There is no evidence to show that the little girl was helped or not helped because of her religion or the religion of the people living in the neighbourhood. In fact, the most obvious (and heartbreaking, might I add) reason for average people not to help even a little girl in such immense distress is that they fear a semi-functioning law enforcement system will persecute them for helping this girl – they might be questioned, suspected, harassed or worse.

But imagine the amount of hate it takes for cow-worship to be the first thought when the Ujjain news surfaced. So Sandeep read that a little girl was brutally raped and bleeding, she walked the streets of Ujjain with nobody helping her. He then read that a cow-worshipping pujari called Rahul helped her and finally called the emergency services. He then read the tweets and responses of those angered by people not helping this girl sooner. Immediately, Sandeep thought that this news was worthy of an editorial cartoon – I don’t fault him for that – it is literally his job.

He then proceeded to sit at his desk (I am presuming he has a working desk but then, who works from his bed – but who knows with these unbathed communists) and start ideating – “what could the cartoon be”, he must have thought. “How do I accurately capture the angst that people feel and that this little girl felt in that moment”.

The obvious answer – an obvious answer to Hitler’s disciples at least – is that ‘here is a tragedy and the perfect opportunity to emotionally and psychologically manipulate people with art’. He then picked up his pen and proceeded to disregard the last bit he had read – about the priest helping the little girl – and took refuge in the oft-repeated trope used to dehumanise Hindus – cow worship – a trope that ISIS uses often.

What this does is precisely what the aim (successful) of Nazi Germany was – dehumanising the subject so much by manipulating the emotions and insecurities of the society – that even their genocide does not shake their conscience.

For the liberal media and their coolies, the privilege of being seen as cherubic saints is only reserved for hardened criminals who work against the interest of India, murder Hindus, and for Jihadis who actively work towards ‘teaching Kafirs a lesson’. The eternal villains are Hindus – when they commit a crime (even if it’s non-religious) and even when a Hindu is victimised. They tug on the heartstrings, play on the society’s vulnerabilities and manipulate the collective conscience of the nation to ensure that pious Hindus – those who do not succumb to their liberals and/or Jihadi rules of the game – are demonised to such an extent, that the recipients of this propaganda rejoice when they are ultimately killed by the very Jihadis who they deem as cherubic saints – and all of this is achieved by a potent tool – art. Who would suspect that a cartoonist – the fuzzy, loveable creature who just wields the pen to send out messages of love and brotherhood to the nation – is secretly a Hinduphobe aiding an impending genocide of Hindus? Secretly working to dehumanise millions of people? Secretly disseminating the message of ISIS – Cow-worshippers are evil.

Sandeep Adhwaryu is a Hinduphobe. Sandeep Adhwaryu is a genocide enabler. Sandeep Adhwaryu is a liar. Sandeep Adhwaryu is a willing or unwitting ally of ISIS and by dehumanising “cow-worshippers”, he is only enabling those who wish to annihilate them – much like it was done to the Jews.

“There is way no out from this predicament and humiliation for the Muslims in India unless they respond to the call of jihad against these cowardly cow-worshipping Hindu filths”, ISIS had said in its latest magazine. They should perhaps thank Sandeep Adhwaryu and those like him for making their job easier.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Nupur J Sharma
Nupur J Sharma
Editor-in-Chief, OpIndia.

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