I recently finished reading American thinker Ben Shapiro’s book “ Bullies- How the Left’s culture of fear and intimidation silences America”. In this book the author has demonstrated with case after case how the unholy nexus of NGOs, media and the socialist government is usurping the fundamental rights of its own citizens in the name of political correctness and inclusiveness.
I have not studied in depth on the subject and I am not going to form my opinion based on a single book although Mr. Shapiro makes a compelling case. But what worries me is how similar the tactics used by Left liberals in India are to the ones employed (albeit on a larger scale and with much better results) by their ideological doppelgangers in the USA.
Since we are in a different development cycle than the United States, perhaps the tactics employed by the left are not as aggressive and not as commonplace but the early signs are there for sure. Knowing your opponent is the first step of putting up a defence and hence in the paragraphs to follow I will attempt to point out the logical fallacies, philosophical inconsistencies and general lack of common sense in a typical left liberal’s thought process.
Before I start I must congratulate the liberals on two things
- They have spent more time thinking about this as a group than we have. The Left thinks as an institution (thanks Ben Shapiro) and the Right thinks as an individual.
- Since they are aware of the inconsistencies in their argument they have built the argument in a circular way so that the irrational side of each argument is removed (the old smoke and mirror tactic) from the immediate vicinity of the argument itself.
Therefore, in order to expose them, we must look at different parts of their arguments on different issues and show how they are at odds with each other. For example their thoughts on free speech might be contradicted with their own thoughts about majoritarianism. So they are clever enough never to put both arguments together.
The patriotism and dissent folly
After Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014, there was such a large spurt in intellectuals trashing patriotism as a virtue that it could not have been anything but pre-planned.
The Left argues that patriotism is an often overrated and misused virtue. Patriotism strips people of their right to dissent and often patriots are crude and violent people. Before the cricket world cup this summer, sociologist Ashish Nandy said, “I don’t want either India or Pakistan to win. The Indian public is suffering from too much nationalism right now and a WC win will only reinforce it”. I suppose the desire not to see your own countrymen feel proud about your own country makes sense to someone, it does not make sense to me at least.
And then the liberals trot out the late Samuel Johnson’s quote “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels”. And since this is such an oft used quote it deserves an examination on its own.
Scottish Biographer James Boswell claims that Mr. Johnson made this remark on the evening of 7 April 1775 but refuses to provide any further context to this. That alone makes the probability of Mr. Johnson being quoted out of context fairly strong. Even assuming no mistaking the context, all these words really mean is a scoundrel can hide behind patriotism if all else fails him. But then using the same logic courts are the last refuge of a murderer or a rapist.
Trashing patriotism for allowing refuge to scoundrel is the same as trashing criminal justice system for promising “fair and vigorous representation to the accused.”
Please remember Mr. Johnson said “last refuge” not “defining characteristic”.
Even more incredulous is the fact that not one liberal while quoting Mr. Johnson also mentions what the man had to say about dissent and love for the country. Direct quotes:
A patriot is he whose publick conduct is regulated by one single motive, the love of his country; who, as an agent in parliament, has, for himself, neither hope nor fear, neither kindness nor resentment, but refers everything to the common interest.”
Patriotism is not necessarily included in rebellion. A man may hate his king, yet not love his country.”
Doesn’t sound like Mr. Johnson would have been too big a fan of someone who roots for his country to lose in a sports event.
What is worse is that the above omissions are not the worst part of the liberal’s hypocritical argument on patriotism. Because for a group that places such a premium on the right to dissent, it turns out they are not such a big fan of dissent when it is directed at them.
But of course, they don’t wish to be called out so what do they do? They hide their persecution of those who disagree with them under the name of “majoritarianism”. Recently when Aamir Khan said his wife asked him if they should leave the country due to growing intolerance, he was slammed on social media for fear mongering and playing politics.
It turns out, people like you and me protesting against what we perceived as a slur against us was not covered under dissent, it was an infringement on Aamir’s right of free speech. Not only that, it turned out that the fact that so many people expressed their disagreement with Aamir’s opinion of our country was actual proof that his accusations were right. This is a little like saying that an accused engaging a defence lawyer is proof that he is guilty of the crimes.
Now if you put Kavita Krishnan’s numerous rants against the country (or the left’s cowardly defence of those who refuse the common decency to stand when the national anthem is played in movie halls) as dissent and then juxtapose Aamir’s opponents as bullies denying him free speech together it does not make any sense, does it? Dissent against country is good, but dissent against an individual is bad?
Ideological difference as proof of moral deficiency
It is the Left’s contention that if you don’t agree with their views on things, it is basically because you are morally deficient (paraphrasing Ben Shapiro), repulsive human beings. On the gay marriage debate in USA, talk show host Bill Maher said “recently 53 % of Americans voted that they are ok with gay marriages. It means 47 % of Americans are a**holes.” No Bill, it only means 47 % of Americans hold a world view different from yours.
Our local Aakar Ahmed Patel quotes in one of his numerous rants against Hindus “It is depressing that to be seen as balanced in India, one must be neutral towards the poison of Hindutva.” What Aakar meant is you cannot be balanced if you are neutral towards Hindutva (and don’t treat it as poison).
Now if you read their love for dissent in context of this, it makes even less sense doens’t it? If you combine all three arguments above it runs something like this “we dissent against our own country because dissent is patriotic. But if you dissent against us it is a sign of you depriving us of our right of free speech because as any balanced person can see anyone opposing us is basically a morally deficient, repugnant human being”.
“Whataboutery” and root cause theory
If you are a BJP supporter, you are sure to have heard this term in recent times. The “Whataboutery” argument goes something like this: a liberal will ask you for an explanation of some excess (moral or otherwise) committed by the BJP, you will point out that a similar excess was also committed during one of the previous Congress regimes. They will shake their head and murmur “whataboutery” meaning just because Congress did something does not make it right for the BJP to do the same. Sound logical doesn’t it?
But then what about the root cause theory? A favourite of most liberals, the root cause theory tries to explain why people in the central part of India get this urge to pick up AK47 rifles and mow down our lawmen doing their job? Or why India’s growing ties with Israel might have been responsible for 26/11, or how the atrocities of 1992 Masjid demolition riots might have paved the path for the Mumbai blasts of 1993.
In which case, isn’t explaining the rationale behind violent actions of others nothing but another form of whataboutery?
Using the Dystopian present to create fear for a non- existent dystopian future
This underlines the threat of the liberals because they do not rest on their laurels after winning grounds. They are constantly pushing, trying to find how much more they can get away with.
In Bullies, Ben Shapiro echoes this sentiment quoting “For every inch we’ve given to the left, they’ve sought to bully us into handing over a mile.
In marketing there is a concept of “zone of price indifference “ (if an item costs say 200 bucks, there is a range of a few rupees over 200 where even if the seller raises the price the buying decision will not be affected by the rise in price) and a good seller is constantly trying to find how much more he can get on the same item.
Lefties are like that.
So it all started with the “terror has no religion” narrative that prohibited people from making any statements against religion even if the crimes were being committed in its name, by a distressingly large number of people belonging to the same religion. It was a successful tactic.
After each atrocity committed by Islamic terrorist organizations, there was literally a rush of people defending the religion of Islam and warning the victims against not blaming the religion for the acts of its followers.
Slowly the opposition was bullied into silence. But that was not enough for liberals. So when terrorists mowed down 132 kids in Peshawar last year, the liberals began an exploration of how much more they could get away with in the zone of indifference.
Bachchi Kakaria tweeted “Don’t use Peshawar as an excuse to target Muslims, Use it as a caution against Hindu Talibanization”. Yes, because Islamic terrorists killing children in Pakistan is the early warning that RSS members are about the replace their lathis with AK 47s and start shooting children.
This is what in slang is referred as “twofer” or two for one. Not only are you not allowing examination where examination is due, but you are using it as a probable cause to start investigation in exactly the opposite direction.
Hard on accused, soft on convicts: the Great Indian criminal justice quagmire
Section 498A, the domestic violence section of Indian penal law is dreaded by urban men like no other. For many years a demand to make the section gender neutral (currently only women can file a complaint under this) or at least make it bailable is going on since even the SC has referred to misuse of this section as “Judicial Terrorism (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Misuse-of-dowry-provisions-is-legal-terrorism-Court/articleshow/7615680.cms) and yet if you ask a women’s right activist if they are willing to make this change, a change that only reinforces “the innocent until proven guilty” principle of criminal justice system, they would scream “patriarchy” till they are blue in face.
Similarly , I recall a lot of criticism of the defence lawyer against Suzette Jordan, the brave Park Street Rape Survivor for asking her questions again and again (and showing her underwear in court, with the court’s permission) till she broke down.
As cynical as it sounds it was the man’s job to provide the best defence possible to his clients. The fact is, if we ever stand as accused in a case where a life sentence might be at stake, we would want our lawyer to bare fangs and get nasty from time to time.
But this zeal to convict evaporates as soon as the person is convicted of the crime. Liberals are almost as a rule anti-capital punishment and are some of the most zealous crusaders for the rights of the convicts. Remember Kavita Krishnan’s candle light vigil to spare Yakub? Indira Jaising, who fought tooth and nail to remove the “self-protection” defence for men from the Domestic Violence Bill was one of the signatories on the letter written to President Pranab Mukherjee to spare Yakub Memon the killer of hundreds of Mumbaikars in the 1993 blasts.
Why does this discrepancy never gets noticed? Because their persecution of the defendant’s rights is hidden in the garb of women’s rights and fight against patriarchy whereas their efforts to save some of the most heinous criminals are called human rights crusade.
Terror has no religion except when it does
Enough has been written on this subject for me to consider actually not including this liberal inconsistency for the fear of being repetitive.
But the liberal is so creative in targeting Hindus as the next big extremist threat to the world that it is necessary to expose each of their fallacies separately. We have already seen how people like Bachchi worried about Hindus committing mass murder on the back of mass murders committed by Muslims.
Now it is time to bring back Aakar Ahmed Patel in the mix. Patel whose virulent hatred for Hindus is barely masked these days, wrote a piece titled, Most extremists in India are not Muslims , they are Hindus.
Aakar made this ridiculous assertion “As is obvious, most terrorists in India are Hindus, the ones whom we have conveniently labelled “Maoist” instead of “Hindu”. His argument being, since most Mao terrorists are Hindus by birth, Hindus form the largest terror threat in India. He has given the number of deaths due to terrorism as a source.
One, however, need not go into those statistics to see why this argument is fraudulent. Maoism is a term used by communist people who follow Mao’s philosophy broadly. Now one of the basic tenets of this philosophy is known as “iconoclasm “(link here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iconoclasm#Chinese_.22anti-foreignism.22) which in simple terms means destruction of religious symbols including idols for political motives.
So now if we examine Patel’s statement, what he means is people who follow a philosophy which is expressly based on the destruction of religious symbols and idols for political motives actually needs to be categorised on their religion when it comes to their terror acts. This is the old “Drunkard’s bull’s eye” where a man, who is drunk to the point of falling down, shoots first and then paints the target around the bullet mark or as Bill Maher once said “Atheism is a religion the same way as abstinence is a sex position.”
The Free Speech argument
This is a kind of an extension of the dissent argument. When the censor board of India issues cuts to the lengths of the Bond film or when it comes to Shruti Seth getting chastised over her crude remarks about India’s PM, it becomes a woman’s safety issue and demand for police action against the people for expressing their opinion
But journalist Pritish Nandy can say “BJP will sell their own mothers for votes” and nobody demands an action against Nandy. Or journalist Rajyasree Sen can remark, “I had no clue FabIndia made clothes in XXXXXXXXXL size,” when HRD Minister Smriti Irani found a camera hidden in a women’s changing room and none of it offends a woman’s dignity.
In fact if the Twitter timeline of men’s rights activist Deepika Bharadwaj is anything to go by, liberals are harshest on women who oppose their point of view. Ben Shapiro expresses similar sentiment, quoting the left’s repeated assaults on the dignity of conservative leaders like Palin and Bachman because liberals truly believe that some women are more equal than others.
To summarize, the only place where liberals were caught wrong footed was social media. I always feel that the reason liberals and left did not recognize the potential of social media was old fashioned hubris.
Liberals felt that in a country with low literacy and lack of infrastructure like India, social media can never counter the onslaught that electronic and print media poured day and night against the so-called right wing.
A visionary leader called Narendra Modi recognized the anger in the common people and the potential of social media to channelize the anger to build a counter narrative. I would not be exaggerating if I say had there been no social media, NDA would not have seen such a massive support in the 2014 election at least in urban areas.
However, the left may be late but they are not stupid. They have recognized social media as a tool than can take their entrenched corrupt ecosystem down and they are waging a bitter war against it. As always, they are thinking as an institution and trying to take our rights of dissent away from us.
There is a section of people who feel India is unique because we earned our freedom without bloodshed, but one thing is sure: if we do not recognize and highlight the ideological inconsistencies of their narrative and expose the dangers it poses to our society, we will be the first society to lose our freedom without bloodshed.
It would be the kind of coup that will make any liberal proud.
Mayuresh runs a financial advisory business in Pune and is an avid marathon runner and reader. His novel ‘The Dark Road’ is now available on Juggernaut app here: https://www.juggernaut.in/books/657f2054995249e48c8a753040e01fb7