Pratap Bhanu Mehta is a very intelligent man. He writes with great insight and thoughtfulness. He probably considers himself a “liberal” too (maybe in the Yogendra Yadav mould) but like most Fiberals he is pretty clever in dumping important ailments to look at the “larger” picture. That is what he does in his article “Silencing of liberal India” (IE February 12) over the withdrawal of a book by someone called Wendy Doniger by her publishers. Here’s one of his opening paragraphs:
“Liberal India is being silenced because its joy at exposing hypocrisy is far greater than its commitment to defending freedom. Every time a book is under assault, the same tiresome argument breaks out. “Oh, you did not speak when so and so was banned. You did not speak when Taslima Nasreen was the target, or when Jitender Bhargava was ordered to withdraw his book on Air India.” Or there is the partisan division: you did not object to what the Congress did to Salman Rushdie, or the CPM in West Bengal”.
PBM finds the argument over hypocrisy tiresome not because it is misplaced but because he could be one of the criminals who remained silent. Remember, PBM earlier wrote an article “While we were silent” when what he meant was “I was silent”. Imagine, this same MSM was silent when Jitendra Bhargava’s book “Descent of Air India” was withdrawn just recently. So when they want to outrage, they will tell you “Oh let’s not bring past issues... this is different and this is terrorism” (As Dalyrmple wails). But unfortunately for PBM, it isn’t free speech but the hypocrisy that is the problem. You can write all the crap you want about Hinduism or Hindus but please don’t offend Muslims or Christians, they are touchy secular people. Never forget what a grand Fiberal like Shashi Tharoor said (in a debate with Christopher Hitchens):
1. In the first instance Tharoor narrates a story carried in a Bangalore newspaper about a boy called Mohammad, an “idiot-boy” (No reference or connection to the Prophet as Tharoor confirms) This seemed to have angered muslims who attacked the office and the editor of the newspaper. The editor had to later apologise. Tharoor mentions that even if the article was never intended to refer to Prophet Mohammad, the editor should have been careful enough to avoid misinterpretation and should have been aware that this would cause trouble. Sure, the victim of the violent attacks was wrong and should be the one to apologise. That is freedom of speech according to Tharoor.
2. In the second instance with reference to the Danish cartoons issue, Tharoor continues the same argument. That the Danish paper/cartoonist would have known well the publication of the cartoon would cause a worldwide backlash and should have resisted going ahead with it and exercised restraint. Tharoor strongly maintains that free speech/expression should not be used to hurt anyone. I suppose nobody told this scholar that “consensus” does not require a freedom of speech law.
3. It’s the third issue that is striking. The discussion moves to the M.F. Hussain paintings. Here’s where our happy-tongue minister reveals his true self. He argues strongly that it was Hussain’s freedom of expression for which he should not have faced a backlash. Well, obviously Hussain was so blissfully ignorant that his controversial paintings would cause friction or offend a whole community.
There is nothing wrong in what PBM has written in his article but he follows the same hypocrisy that is epitomised by Shashi Tharoor. This is the same hypocrisy that flows through our MSM. What upsets all these Fiberals is that the Doniger book-withdrawal didn’t happen with riots or violence but through a legal process. I haven’t read her book but from a few excerpts here and there I am certain she broke Indian laws of respecting religious beliefs and values. The MSM talks a lot about free-speech but what they mean is they want it only for themselves and not for others. If that wasn’t the case they would have protested all the bogus laws in India that restricts free speech.
This is a country that has banned pornography and even Adult toys; you think people will tolerate abuse of religion? It is just that some Hindu group, instead of agitating, rioting and burning shops, resorted to a democratic, legal process that has upset the Fiberals. They would have been happier if there was violence so they could sing their song of “saffron extremists” and “evil Hindutva”. Swapan Dasgupta calls it rightly when he states that the media and some Fiberals were desperately trying to link the Doniger issue to the rise of Modi or the rise of Hindutva. You know, like the case has some direct link to Modi’s campaign. The Commie Fiberals have a particular problem with anything remotely critical of Islam and that is why the Hindus have started retaliating to Hinduism-abuse. The Hindus have long tolerated nonsensical writings like those of Doniger and are now reacting using the same laws that are actually being used to suppress any criticism of Islam. This is simply the root of the problem otherwise who cares what trash Doniger or someone else writes. Oh wait! I’m wrong there, someone does care. It is usually the “White-Christian” Doniger types who write trash and are given awards by the likes of Indian Express or some other organisation.
If you are anti-Hindu you will find more space in the MSM. Those who cry for free-speech over the Doniger issue are lying hypocrites. Jitender Bhargava’s book had nothing to do with religion. The publisher withdrew the book just because one man (Praful Patel) was offended and threatened them legally and the media didn’t even bother to find out which parts offended him. The book dealt with the scams and misdeeds of Air India. Yet, our Fiberals didn’t bat an eye-lid because the “victim” was their darling Praful Patel. Some media houses in particular would like the book burned because they were the beneficiaries of scams in Air India. Consider the fact that Doniger’s book offended a whole community and also broke the law and the evidence is out in the open. Bhargava’s book offended only ONE man and there is no evidence the book said anything illegal or defamatory. Did the media examine this? Here’s what the emotional bimbo tweeted:
When convenient she brings in Ma Saraswati and such nonsense for a bogus argument. Like I said in the tweet, the book was not withdrawn to respect Hindu sentiments. The book was withdrawn because Penguin knew their case was weak and they had broken Indian laws and knew the price they would have to pay. Are our laws stupid? It is these same laws that were used in the famous “Calcutta Petition” to prove that the Quran instigated violence and hatred and should, therefore, be banned. The petition was dismissed not because the contention was wrong but that the book was religious and there was a time-bar. These same Fiberals were thrilled when Wharton cancelled an interaction by Narendra Modi. These same Fiberals cheered when Harvard cancelled courses of Subramaniam Swamy after he wrote a provocative article. On the same topic of Swamy’s article here’s what was transacted by a MoronRatna called Dipankar Gupta on the predominantly anti-Hindu channel CNN-IBN and Rajdeep Sardesai watched like a fool:
So Dipankar Gupta’s argument against Swamy’s article was that summer-school teaching isn’t “top of the tops”, implying Swamy was a “faaltu” teacher. What has that got to do with his freedom of speech? Ha! But a personal attack passes for an argument. And he makes an even more absurd statement “Swamy has the right to his opinion but NOT the right to be published”. So according to this Commie Fiberal only those opinions should be published which are acceptable to morons like him. And these are the guys who will sermonise on what should be published and what should not. Dipankar Gupta, the intolerant, is a frequent flyer on CNN-IBN and other channels. That should tell you what these idiots really think of free speech: “We should have it but you Hindus don’t deserve it”. It took a long time for SwapanD but he finally acknowledged that our media only uses these incidents to heap more abuse on Hindus and Hinduism even as both remain the most tolerant among all religions of the world:
What upsets these Fiberals is that the Hindus aren’t suffering this nonsense anymore. Because the Islamic extremists take to the streets and protest everything that hurts them the Hindus have started retaliating. Remember the Danish cartoons and bounty offered by an SP MLA? Remember Azad Maidan? Remember extreme pseudo-atheist Javed Akhtar wanting a female cop jailed just because she wrote a poem? Now, by the standards of NDTV, CNN-IBN, Barkha Dutt, Dalrymple, Rajdeep and all… Javed Akhtar is a secular free-speech lover. As long as the hypocrites exist in our society free speech will not flower. People like PBM wail like injured hyenas in cases like the Doniger issue but refuse to speak up against other incidents and draconian laws like 66A. If you don’t protest and seek the removal of bogus laws it will invariably come to be smartly used against you. Next time, they should save this Fiberal farce and look inward and see how much they actually hate free speech. And yes, of all people, even Barkha Dutt continues to claim she respects free speech. The Fiberals missed the irony somewhere.