June 19, 2006

Lowest common something

(While I try not to turn comments into posts, this is an exception because I don't want to address just the commenter in question).


In this comment, confused tells me he's disappointed because I've "lowered my argument" to the "lowest common denominator" in this wrangle over Vande Mataram. Why? Because I "have taken a position that singing Vande Mataram is being touted as a test of patriotism."

Fair criticism, and it's hardly the first time I've disappointed people. So let's see if I can make amends. Or something.

First, singing Vande Mataram is clearly being held up as a test of patriotism. Such a slogan as "Is desh mein rehna hoga to Vande Mataram gaana hoga" ("If you want to live in this country you will have to sing Vande Mataram") could hardly be more explicit in its intent.

Want more? Confused himself calls his post on the subject "Why we must sing Vande Mataram" (my emphasis). (Yes, after some discussion, he has an update that qualifies that "we", so I wonder why the title does not). Elsewhere on that page, you will find: "the people who followed the fatwa ... would not hesitate in siding with the forces of Islam, against the state of India", and "The reason it is not being sung is on an inherently unpatriotic premise."

Elsewhere on the Web, referring to the people who don't sing Vande Mataram, you'll find: "a nation and a culture which they disown", and "we cannot allow people especially minority groups who exhibit ‘anti-national’ tendencies", and "repeated attempts at separatism".

You get the idea. "Lowest common denominator"?

Second, tests of patriotism are repellent, and that's a kind word.

Third, I see nothing wrong with people choosing not to sing a song. Period.

Fourth, fatwas are repellent too, and that's still a kind word. To me, "It you want to live in this country you will have to sing Vande Mataram" is a far more offensive fatwa than "clerics" saying "Don't sing Vande Mataram". I choose my battles.

Fifth, so if those so-called "clerics" have issued a fatwa against singing the song, how can I claim that people are "choosing" not to sing it? Good question. Thing is, I know there are Muslims to whom those "clerics" mean nothing, who choose to sing the song anyway. I also know there are Muslims to whom those "clerics" also mean nothing, who choose not to sing the song anyway.

Which means, it's a profound mistake to assume that when some "clerics" speak, all Muslims listen and toe their line. After all, some Hindu leaders pronounced that if you were not offended by a mosque in Ayodhya, you were not a real Hindu. Did we assume that all Hindus followed this logic? Did we assume that Hindus who were offended felt so only because of what those leaders said? Did we believe that Hindus who were not offended are not real Hindus?

On every count, hardly.

Sixth, confused also indicates that the "rise of the Hindu right" must be "blamed" on "progressives and liberals", and that he would be disappointed, again, if I "chose to side with such folks". I've heard this often, and this is one of the -- how do I put this kindly -- laziest and saddest arguments out there. Because it tells me, some of those who support the Hindu right have no convictions of their own. That they secretly believe there's something shameful about the "rise of the Hindu right" and therefore it should be blamed on those other guys, those "progressives."

Here's something to chew on: I welcome the rise of the Hindu right. I think it was and is necessary as a counterbalance to the left. This doesn't mean I like the Hindu right, but that I understand that a democracy, by definition, needs such balance. Absent it, democracy will dissolve into tyranny, and we've seen that in this country.

So let's have a strong, principled right wing. And please, let's have supporters of the Hindu right who have the gumption to say: "I believe in this ideology and I want it to succeed politically." Enough of the lily-livered whine that "you guys, you know, you pushed me into this."

Seventh, a personal note about that "chose to side with such folks." I don't write to "side with" anybody, nor to avoid siding with anybody. I just have my opinions, and write about them, on my own. Nobody but I should be held responsible for what I say. Equally, I claim no responsibility for what others say. Judge me, damn me, fine: not for the "folks" you might think I "side" with, but for my own efforts and writing.

And I hope that's the last I will post on a subject I'm somewhat sick of.


barbarindian said...

And I hope that's the last I will post on a subject I'm somewhat sick of.

We are not so sure, if you have exactly one broken record, what else can you play?

Anonymous said...


A few points and then we shall move on.

First, you are wondering why I don't clarify the we in the title. The few people who read my blog regularly know my views on religion and individual rights. I do not feel any need to clarify positions which are so infantile that I don't even consider them arguments;that is the kind of arguments Shiv Sena makes. I refuse to lower my arguments to the level they are making.

Second, the debate currently on was not the result of Shiv Sena arguing that ''jis desh mein rahna hoga'', it was the result of the fatwa. So you are choosing the wrong battle so as to say. Except for a perfunctory ''fatwa are repellant'', you seem remarkably unaware of their effect.

Third, your argument about Muslims not listening to fatwa compared to Hindu leaders is quite wrong.

a) Hindu leaders cannot be compared to Muslims clerics, they can only be compared to Muslim leaders. A fine distinction but a very important one.

b) A fatwa is a religious edict and when it comes qualified with terms like ''anyone who does sing VM is not a good Muslim'', it is dangerous and wrong.

c)So next time Shiv Sena makes a stupid argument or RSS says somethig asinine,you will not oppose it because there are Hindus(a majority of them) who would choose to ignore what they say anyway.

I am not sure what kind of argument are you making there. I really do not.

Fourth, so you are acknowledging that Leftists are Muslim-right since apparently Hindu right has risen to counter them.

Dilip, why do you need to make an argument for argument's sake? We do not require the rise of Hindu right or any right for that matter just to satisfy your balaning act bit. Instead of acknowledging that the rise of Hindu right is dangerous and is to some extent to be blamed on our progressives and liberals, you turn the argumeent around.and make it desirable! What next? Supporting a riot in one state to counter riots in another? I know that is not what you mean, but I would request you to examine your arguments a little more deeply. Oh! I completely agree that a lot of people are not able to make judgements of their own and support something to counter what they see elsewhere and allow themselves to be led by other people.

This is not a lazy argument, its just that you refuse to see any argument which runs counter to your position. I am sorry, if you cannot see how cases like Shah Bano case has resulted in the rise of BJP, but then you find it desirable. Great!

What next?

Anyway, I am sick of this argument too, lets move on.

ankan said...

"I choose my battles."

That is correct. You do choose your battles, rather predictably.

Anonymous said...

Dileep, pay attention to Barbariandian!! He's talking about "one broken record". He knows a lot about that.

Anonymous said...

Couple years ago, Dilip on Rediff 'questioned' about patriotism with respect to getting some foreign nations to invade India and put us all out of misery of the NDA rule. His comparsion was - was Staffenberg (spelling?) patriot in (attempting) to assasinate Nazi Hitler? No guess, the then PM, ABV ("our worst PM per Dilip)" must have been Hitler in Dilip's mind. Or you surely meant it differently, didn't you Dilip?

Thousands of emails poured in and one premier Indian defence site discussed this for over 100 pages. Dilip never once bothered to respond (I'd be glad to post it here if you need a refresher Dilip)

Yep, little miracle: the broken record from past is playing again... hallelujaha.