By far the most revealing thing about the recent uproar about Rahul Gandhi's statements is the reaction from the BJP and its stable-mates.
To begin with, Uma Bharti and others say it was an "irresponsible" statement for RG to make. Why? Is it irresponsible to have opinions? (In the end, what else was what RG said but an opinion?) Is it irresponsible to have opinions that differ from theirs? Is it irresponsible to merely open your eyes?
I'm hardly interested in comparing atrocities: to me, 26/11 was every bit as egregious and horrific a crime as, let's say, the massacres of 2002. I mean, I mourn the 200 Indians killed in that November of 2008 just as much as I mourn the 3000 killed in November 1984, or the 250 killed in July 2006, or the 2000 killed in February-March 2002, or the 260 killed in March 1993, or the 1000 killed three months before, or the 58 killed in December 1997 …
As ever, I could go on: This is by no means an exhaustive list. Some people look at it and conclude that extremist scum coming across the border, professing Islam, are the greatest threat to India. Fine with me. That's their opinion, after all. But in exactly the same way, why should other people not look at it and conclude that extremist scum lodged very much inside this country, professing Hinduism, are the greatest threat to India?
Why is this second automatically an "irresponsible" opinion?
And if the BJP tells us that RG's statement only "dilutes" our fight against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, what's the message that party is giving us? It goes something like this: please don't look at the terrorism fomented, great crimes committed, by Indians within India, because we want to divert your attention to the terrorists from outside. We don't want you to pay attention to homegrown terrorists.
What's more irresponsible than to suggest that we actually ignore some, but only some, great crimes?
And then we have Narendra Modi telling us that after hearing RG, he knows where the US got its pro-Pakistan policies from. Consider the issues this raises:
* the presumption that a country will base its foreign policy on unrelated stuff a greenhorn politician in another country says. ("Hey Dick," I have to imagine George Bush saying in the Oval Office, "that guy Rahul says Hindu extremists are a greater threat to India than the LeT. How about we tilt towards Pakistan?")
* the presumption that a US tilt towards Pakistan, something we have accused the US of maintaining for the better part of 63 years, has its roots in what that greenhorn politician said in 2007, three years ago.
I think Rahul Gandhi has a point. Not that I'm interested in what is or isn't the "greatest" threat to India -- that's a matter of opinion and your mileage may vary.
No, I think he has a point for this reason: too many of us are unwilling to face the reality that's in our midst. That's worth thinking about.