Sunday, December 15, 2019

Bigotry 101 - Mad Dogs and Demons

Do note and be warned. This is how the game is played.

The post below was originally shared by quite a few of my Facebook friends so I couldn’t resist discussing how perfectly the post set about achieving its ‘objectives’. The thought bubble and the crude red annotations on an already very crude post is my addition.

Let’s start by accepting that violence is simply unacceptable and that mob ‘justice’ is no justice at all. The leering happy Muslim faces that you would see on these clips are inevitable in a mob situation where the nastiest instincts of humanity are revealed. That’s the reason why boring words like rule of law, due process and human rights matter – they are exactly what differentiate a civilized nation from the mob.

If you still think revenge for their ‘fellow’ murdered Hindus on Sabarmati Express was the agenda of the mobs in the riots post Godhra 2002, you are severely mistaken. It was rape, murder and petty theft from brand showrooms. There was no ‘justice’ delivered in ‘the lesson taught’ to the nearest available absolutely unrelated Muslim and indeed no equal and opposite reaction. It was fulfillment of personal agendas and cashing-in of political dividends. Every act of mob violence always is (including the one above) and that is why mob violence is, by its very nature, wrong.

This picture, nonetheless, is the perfect example of how the merchants of mayhem work your mind. 

1. Tricking you into thinking of all of ‘them’ as ‘one’. They want you to sweat in terror at the ‘fact’ that your Muslim colleague or classmate is no different from the ISIS beheader you saw on ShankhNaad. Don’t you need protection from their madness? Who will you turn to [Wink wink]? Note the ‘30%’ smoothly slipped in there… as if all of Bengal’s Muslim population can be seen on this clip - Indian/Bangladeshi/who cares as long as it is a ‘violent Muslim’ who fits the narrative. “Look at what THEY are doing at 30%. Imagine them in majority… shiver me timbers!”, they squeak.

2. They also want to remind you that it is ‘these’ people who have hounded minorities in their Muslim majority homelands, quietly, surreptitiously pushing the same fake message that they DON’T BELONG HERE. Never mind the fact that the people seen here had zero involvement in the atrocities perpetrated in Muslim majority countries. Once more, it’s the same “All Muslims are the same [Read terrifying]. It’s just their NATURE” narrative. Though they’ll shout from the rooftops “Why are Indian Muslims protesting CAB?”, they’ll also whisper “You see? These people are naturally violent, ALL OF THEM. Isn’t the law that is flagrantly discriminatory against THEIR religion a masterstroke? [Wink wink]”

At this point of time, the reader may be wondering as to why speak only about the Hindu merchants of mayhem and not the others?

It’s because all of these ideas of these merchants of mayhem are that fucking unoriginal. 

Selecting bits of incendiary information, encouraging blanket hatred against the ‘other’ – that is the bread and butter of every carbon copy Islamic terror outfit (Kafirs must die on earth so that I can live a Kafir lifestyle in heaven), white supremacist (we started everything so enough of this sharing with these ungrateful inferior non-whites) and Maoists (them rich people must be executed and their wealth distributed). 

Not only is such stupidity unproductive and dangerous, it rapidly comes to grief with maximum trauma and negative benefits. If history (not the WhatsApp edition) is a long bus trip, religious fundamentalism, white supremacy, Maoism are the co-passengers from hell – too much baggage, full of ignorant opinion and filled with an uncontrollable urge to be the bus driver.

But… but… but then why don’t we hear voices from the other side criticizing their own? 

To that question, this answer is as fucking original as it gets… this being my very raw personal experience.

It was nearly the last day of my long tenure in the USA when I was called a terrorist. Right to my face. Aloud and in the middle of a crowd. By someone who couldn’t possibly have been more than 6 years old. Even as the kid’s smug white parents looked on, ‘pride’ shining in their eyes. In the heart of New York City, a surge of rage rose taller than the Empire State Building within me and almost as rapidly subsided. 

I could see in that microsecond what made the kid think that way – brown guy, reasonably dishevelled from walking around that great city for the umpteenth time, holding camera in hand and ‘scouting’ for locations to bomb. All the ticks, all the filters that the kid’s monumentally stupid, hate-filled environment had trained him to pick were fulfilled. I was, as Stephen Colbert put it, “Mus-lish” enough.

I really felt no need to explain that everything he had known about brown people was wrong. That there were a lot of brown people who were not involved in bringing down the World Trade Centre, including Muslims and non-Muslims like me. That if he talked to us, he wouldn’t find us that very different from ‘his’ people, whatever that allegiance might be. 

Most importantly, I felt (for a very brief while) how every Muslim around the world must feel when asked to take responsibility for ISIS or about why he ‘didn’t protest the atrocities’ of his ‘co-religionists’. I realized the load that someone else’s bigotry and ignorance put on my sanity. I didn’t owe any explanation to anyone and I couldn’t be responsible for what someone ‘thought’ I was, where I came from, or what my ‘intentions’ were. If I am the demon from someone’s nightmare just by existing, the fault is definitely not mine.

But… but… but my bigotry is well researched and personally experienced, the reader may claim. Why would a community be hated ‘around the world’ if there weren’t cause for it?

The answer to that, I am afraid, is once again fucking unoriginal and I must fall back on the Internet proven Godwin’s Law. Looking beyond WhatsApp screenshots for history might be critical to the argument.

There once was a time (and still is, in the pockets where Nazis are heroes) when in countries ‘around the world’, the root cause of all evil was a Jew. They were ‘everywhere’… taking over, destroying ‘us’, proliferating ‘theirs’. It took a Hitler supported by his trial-less murder of 10 million non-combatants, a World War and two atomic bombs to realize that there was a slight problem with that sweeping generalization. The problem was that the assumption was overwhelmingly and gut-wrenchingly wrong. Evil. Unacceptable.

The markers of extremist movements are all the same. 

1. We were the best before ‘they’ came in and perfect as we are, we do not need to absorb anything from anyone else (don’t you dare reveal that what we have is a wonderful composite of ALL the cultures that call our country home).

2. We had everything before everyone else (and even if we didn’t, we’ll shame our wise ancients by treating our myths as science and history, completely ignoring the invaluable philosophy embedded in them). 

3. We are the nice guys who are being taken advantage of. Haven’t we been appeasing ‘them’? ‘They’ are so lucky to be here instead of ‘there’ (hence we must pro-actively ‘unite’ to get us our historical dues).

4. It takes a Great Leader to restore a Great Nation by his sheer unquestionable genius (if you disagree like all those ‘fake’ intellectuals who have been letting us down, there’s always a neighbouring country we could send you to). Giant statues, falsified history, inappropriate appropriation of national heroes and the all-important Facebook soldiers, all vie for second position in that great mission of national upliftment.

5. It doesn’t matter if our country is going through an economic, social and moral crisis, what’s important is national pride based on hatred of the ‘other’ and putting ‘them’ in their place (because filling stomachs is not as easy as ripping them open).

6. Last and most important, ‘they’ are hardly human, not worth our thought and attention, evil reproductory robots who are hell-bent on finishing us. We tried so hard to reach across the aisle but look at what we got. We must get rid of ‘them’ for our survival.

You get the drift. The end results of all such movements, likewise, sooner rather than later rain faeces on their collectively angry faces and on much of the landscape around.

Yet the ease offered by these simplistic narratives must be acknowledged. There are terrible things in the world – poverty, hunger, want. What better than a readymade bogeyman to blame it on and a mob mission to lynch him with! It frees the individual from the pain of thinking complicated things through and though a mental slave, imagine himself to be a fighter of ‘evil’ in his inner life. He has no clue of how ugly the reality that he is fostering is.

For these are people who claim that they are all for the ‘right’ type of Muslim but even a lifelong student and doctorate of Sanskrit is unsuitable to respect as a teacher just because his name is Feroze Khan. Yes, they are those who think that candle light protests are more dangerous for the structure of the country than a terrorism under trial being appointed to the nation’s defence committee

I can only hope that they will realize in time that bringing in the slavering mad dogs from the margins into the central hall doesn’t make them any less mad, it makes them more so.