By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
The charlatanism of India’s fake “secular” elites who pretend they are for free speech must be questioned.
The celebrated Indian writer Arundhati Roy has returned some award to join other intellectuals in India. Ostensibly this group of writers and others have some common view. They are described “writers, filmakers and academics” who are protesting on behalf of minorities, the killing of “rationalists” and for free speech.”
All very good. But when one looks deeper at the real story what we find is that it has little to do with “free speech” or “rationalism” or even minorities. It is about the right kind of minorities, the right kind of rationalism and the right kind of free speech. Which minorities do they care about? If you are a member of a minority that supports religious marriage that denies women rights in divorce, and if being a woman in that minority group makes one truly a minority of a minority, those “liberals” don’t support you of course.
They support the suppression of free speech by some minorities, but not by others. Rationalism means they didn’t stand up against the years of abuse by India’s government against Sikhs or against Tamils or the years of “emergency” or the “forced sterilization”…no, no, those were the good old days of “rational” Congress party rule, which was tantamount to fascism at some points.
The real bluff is when it comes to supporting free speech and secularism and minorities across South Asia, then they are woefully absent. Where are they when secular bloggers and publishers are killed almost weekly in Bangladesh? When Faisal Abedin was killed and Ahmed Rahim Tutul attacked on October 31, along with two other writers, where were they to protest? In India secular people can do as they please, except with rare exceptions, but in their sister states next door, one by one they are murdered. No solidarity with their fellow academics and intellectuals. Secularism for India, religious totalitarianism in Pakistan is also fine. When rights activist Sabeen Mehmud was murdered in Pakistan where were these “liberals” to show solidarity. Suppression and slaughter of minorities abroad, love of minorities at home.
These “intellectuals” are basically just Congress party supporters, they always were. Whatever their critiques of the old party that ran India, theirs is an unabashed support for one view of India and its history. And that’s fine. But don’t pretend they are liberals necessarily or whatever…they have one view…and that worldview doesn’t apply to any other country or even across India often. It’s just for a little elite from the old days who wants power again…the deep state…
When you hear about the supposed supporters of free speech and liberalism, probe their views, see if it applies truly to other cases or is only for one case. When they say “we want secularism only in our state”, that isn’t liberalism, that’s nationalism for one state, but no freedom for other peoples. When they claim that only one group must be liberal, but the other group can be a totalitarian religious fascist group and deny basic rights to its members, that isn’t “liberal” it’s just ethno-centric and posits that “we are better” and “they are savages.” It is important not to accept things at face value, and that includes not accepting only one view of what is “good” in India at face value.