Alleged Hindu terrorism: “truth by repeated assertion”
July 26, 2010
A version of this appeared in Daily News & Analysis on 27th July at http://www.dnaindia.com/opinion/main-article_hindu-terrorism-doesn-t-exist-but-do-we-want-one_1415107 and the pdf for the same is at http://epaper.dnaindia.com/epaperpdf%5C27072010%5C26main%20edition-pg14-0.pdf
Truth by repeated assertion
Rajeev Srinivasan on the motivated campaign about alleged ‘Hindu terrorism’
Joseph Goebbels pithily described propaganda thus:If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
By this measure, there appears to be a conspiracy in India to propagate a certain set of views, and in Noam Chomsky’s words, to “manufacture consent”. Like the military-industrial complex in the US which allegedly controls what its citizens think, there is a media-State nexus in India, whereby the mass media unquestioningly regurgitates the State’s perspective.
A recent example is the fuss about a new Indian ‘laptop’ for $35. It is virtually impossible to get a large portable display for less than $50, and with the electronics and packaging, even if the software is free, there is no way the bill of materials can be less than $100. Yet the media swallows this story whole.
This is far from the most egregious example. Bafflingly, the media repeats the government’s anodyne, statements that inflation will subside “in the next six months”. This is ludicrous and has no rationale, yet mandarins mouth it regularly. But it is never challenged by the media; meanwhile, food inflation is galloping at over 20%.
But the cravenness of the media is most evident when it comes to that pet project of the State, known as ‘secularism’. The actual meaning of the term, which emerged in the context of the continuous interference of the Catholic Church in the affairs of the State in medieval Europe, is that the State is fully indifferent to religion.
However, in India, so-called ‘secularism’ means precisely the opposite – the State looks upon every individual primarily based on his religion. For instance, the Prime Minister made the statement in December 2006 that Muslims should have first rights to the resources of the country. This violates the Constitution, but it has become part of the accepted ethos through repeated assertion.
The most blatant example of this propaganda is the current feeding frenzy about ‘Hindu terror’. The fact is that there is practically no history of Hindu terror. Religious terrorism has traditionally been the monopoly of the Abrahamic traditions, including Communism. Monotheists by definition divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and demonize the Other, probably a necessary condition for terror.
Communist terrorists regularly massacre people in Central India, West Bengal and Kerala. There was Jewish terrorism – the Stern gang in Palestine, which had as a member Yitzhak Shamir, later Prime Minister of Israel, comes to mind. There are many historical examples of Christian religious terrorism, going back to the liquidation of the Albigensians and other heretics around 345 CE, the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition (and especially the version in Goa), all the way to assassinations by radical anti-abortionists in the US.
The National Liberation Movement of Tripura is an explicitly Christian terrorist group, forcibly converting people. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland has unleashed terrorism in its pursuit of “Nagalim for Christ”. The assassination of Swami Lakshmananda in Orissa, when his major ‘sin’ was that he was defending Hindu tribals against the depradations of Christian missionaries, is another example.
But clearly Islamic terrorism is the biggest example of religion-based terrorism today. Suicide bombings, the fatwas on Salman Rushdie and others, 9/11 and 26/11, the periodic bombings in many parts of India, college professor T J Joseph’s hand getting sliced off as retaliation for alleged blasphemy, all these are instances of Islamic religious terrorism. The terrorists themselves take pains to point out that their acts have religious sanction.
Compared to all this, there is no evidence whatsoever that there is Hindu terrorism. The so-called Malegaon blast case and other alleged instances of Hindu terrorism languish because of lack of evidence, although, those accused such as Sadhvi Prajna are also rotting away in jail. If there are incidents of Hindu violence, these are almost inevitably reactions to terrorism imposed on them.
The moral equivalence drawn between the Abrahmics’ inherent tendency to violent terrorism and the non-existent Hindu or Indic terrorism is abhorrent.
There is the Panchatantra story about the man with the goat and the three rogues. The rogues convince the gullible man, via the ruse of repeatedly telling him that he is carrying a dog, to abandon the goat, which of course was their original intent. The rogues in the media and the State are, through repeated assertion, convincing people of the ‘fact’ of Hindu terrorism. Do we want to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy?
820 words, 25th Jul 2010