Much arrant nonsense on free speech is being solemnly voiced by a so-called Indian intelligentsia, known neither for intellectual originality or integrity, to defend a demoniac, serial abuser of Hindus from Chicago. The ones abroad are basically purchased nautch girls and those still in India importunate to join them in that bastion of human rights, created through genocide and enriched by plantation slavery. And it remains a nation hell bent on inflicting endless violence against the non white lower orders of the world, to which faux Indian liberals have no trouble offering their deplorable services as catamites!
The fountainhead of much of this inane hand-wringing originates at Harvard, inspired by a purportedly celestial personage whom economists revere as a philosopher and vice versa. Neither economists nor philosophers sufficiently impressed to judge him anything other than a modest interloper in their own profession. A high-minded Bertrand Russell or John Maynard Keynes he is not!
One former girlfriend of his at Chicago University, injured indelibly by failure to be appointed at Harvard, has taken to inventing foul canards about Hindus. Her vile Chicago colleague publishes quasi pornography about all things Hindu and their past. All of them haughtily claim association with India’s imported, de facto head of state, who has devastated it on a scale that recalls Tamerlane and Nadir Shah. But they would no doubt be inclined to offer her a professorial chair on Misgovernance and Wealth Acquisition at their illustrious institution now that she faces unceremonious ejection from power. Quite possibly, this Italian finds herself in a position to fund, if need be, a named chair of her own to occupy, with the vast wealth she has purloined! Harvard and Chicago both have sufficient numbers of obnoxious anti-Hindu ideologues to make her feel entirely at home.
The first thing to note about freedom of speech is that it is not an absolute freedom and has never been. It is and has always been constrained by social convention and legal statute. Nobody, however elevated, is permitted to say or depict whatever they please. If they do so, there is every prospect, at minimum, of being ostracised and even more likely, facing sanctions of the criminal statute. So, some of India’s half-educated, pseudo nationalist columnists and editors, who have joined the chorus of freedom, should get off their absurd high horses and stop talking rubbish. It would appear that frequent appearances on Barkha Dutt’s NDTV boudoir have caused a degree of mental atrophy. However, if they are angling for an invitation to an obscure American university they might be more upfront instead of slyly disparaging hapless Hindus as anti-freedom bumpkins though this may be a clever stratagem for the aforesaid purpose.
When one starts pontificating about the right of the likes of Wendy Doniger to purvey pure abuse, what is being effectively posited is that her views are within the parameters of legitimate discourse. This is what defines the boundaries of free speech, the latitude of expression accepted by societal convention, in contrast with what is not supportable as an exercise in freedom of speech. It is would not be acceptable to advocate paedophilia, unless one is a member of the Catholic clergy, or the beating up old ladies for fun. There is, ergo, no absolute freedom of speech. It just so happens there is serious disagreement on where that boundary does or should lie in the context of Wendy’s porn. It is not a deep philosophical debate, per se, about freedom of speech. Of course how it is being portrayed is not-so-subliminally conditioned by the fact that the disagreement is between a white-skinned angel, with the implicit backing of a violent society that happens to rule much of the world and sweaty, dark-skinned Hindus, not always able to muster the correct terminology and grammar. But that circumstance is not adequate criteria for adjudging the legitimacy of the rival views espoused.
An enduring myth is the idea the intelligentsia is to be found on the side of the oppressed. In some rare honourable cases that is indeed true, but they are not, as a rule, on the side of the angels and have never been. Intellectuals are mostly akin to street walkers and perform for money. They possess an especially astute sense of how to keep the powers that be in good humour and invariably strive to do so. Having spent more than half my life in a supposedly leading world class academy I am deeply familiar with the dishonourable complicity of the academic intelligentsia in the affairs of State. Virtually all my thirty five departmental colleagues at the London School of Economics supported the genocidal invasion and eventual destruction of Iraq, which is known to have been rationalised with pure fabrication by Tony Blair and George Bush Jr. Position and favour are disbursed to the compliant academic and they are intelligent enough to know so and sufficiently impecunious to hanker after a professorial chair, for which salaries are negotiated rather than confined to the modest official grade.
An entire academic discipline, anthropology, was spawned as an intelligence venture to reconnoitre native peoples to better subjugate, enslave and exploit them mercilessly. Much of the British ‘academic’ output in colonial India was the work of hard faced administrators and its purpose was to enhance control over the native population. The distinguished writer Max Weinreich has recorded the role of German scholars in supporting the mass murderer, Adolf Hitler, in his book, The Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes Against the Jewish People, published in 1946. The great twentieth century philosopher, Martin Heidegger and lover of the leading Jewish intellectual, Hannah Arendt, was an ardent Nazi sympathiser. Virtually the entire Indian liberal arts and social science academic cohort in the US and Europe sympathises with variants of leftwing fascism and achieve career advancement by denouncing of all things Indian, anti-Hinduism only being the icing on the cake to attract a favourable press!
The likes of Wendy Doniger, M. F. Husain, her counterpart in visual pornography and most of India’s post-independence historians, are enemy combatants, in the latter case traitors serving foreign countries. One of them, who duplicitously made a virtue of refusing honours from her own government, which nevertheless funded her handsomely over a lifetime, did what can only be deemed a naked dance on being awarded an extremely well rewarded position in the US Congressional library, a veritable bastion of human rights, etc. Her ascent was aided by that Harvard Brahmo Samaj, Christian-Islamist, who masquerades as a Hindu, while inciting hatred against them and their past. The fact of the matter is that freedom of speech is usually reserved for people in positions of power, serving their political masters. Joe public, so to peak, rarely gets a look in.
The average person in the street may, in theory, have the freedom to rant and rave, but will go unheard. Freedom of speech, without the right to be actually heard is utterly meaningless. This essential condition for exercising the right of freedom of speech is of paramount importance and its possession is extremely skewed. The powerful only defend freedom of speech, although they deviously ignore the existence of social and legal boundaries to it when convenient, because they also have the means to communicate their thoughts. There is complete asymmetry between them and the hoi polloi and it can only be remedied by other means! The weak and victimised have no recourse to express their views in the Washington Post, The New York Times or indeed the treasonous English language media of India.
On this rare occasion the beleaguered Hindus went to court and prevailed. We should celebrate their magnificent victory against this particular enemy combatant.
Dr. Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for over two decades.