The Right is nasty but liberals are just as bad

BY SEEMA KAMDAR| IN Opinion | 20/09/2017
In today’s polarized atmosphere, liberals opt for shrill rants, cloaked in moral superiority, while caring little for facts, logic or arguments
SEEMA KAMDAR laments their decline

 

 

The other day, a Facebook friend put up a post on how cashless transactions had slipped to pre-demonetisation levels. As he is a finance journalist, I asked him out of curiosity if he could share the data on this. All I said following my request was  “It would be good to know.” He replied that he would (though he did not).

The next thing I faced was a whiplash. The first stinker was from a senior journalist who was so disgusted that I had the audacity to ask for data. The thought that somebody would even want to know (not challenge) any information from a finance expert appalled him. And he was pretty sure the data to be put out by my friend would not impress such “opponents” (that’s who I had become in his mind) because I was controlled by my “puppeteers.”

The next sniggering comment was from an unknown person. He cocked a snook at the “fact” that I was expecting the RBI ex-governor, Raghuram Rajan, to heed my “theory”. Huh? What theory? I scratched my head to understand how Rajan and I were being mentioned in the same sentence, all because of an innocent query.

Stumped, I hurriedly turned my comment inside out, upside down, sideways and angular, to see if there was any way it could be interpreted to mean what it had come to mean to these ballistic gentlemen.

After thorough investigation, poking in the nooks and corners of my comment, I confirmed that my request for information was just that – bare, polite, without frills or sarcasm or even opinion - and it could in no way be misconstrued even under the influence of alcohol or stronger substances.

So I re-read their comments. Sure enough, they referred to a “she” when the only “she’ in the vicinity of the comments thread was me.

Facebook baffles me. It fails me as a human being in that it often offends and hits me when I least expect it. The beauty of social media is that you can take on total strangers with a venom that you cannot unspool on known people for fear of losing face and more. The freedom offered by social media is tempting. It literally unleashes your inner demon without a care.

"Facebook baffles me. It fails me as a human being in that it often offends and hits me when I least expect it"

 

All social media is a rant vehicle. You do little on these inviting screens choking with friends’ posts and tweets except dial-up-a-rant. And if you are a “liberal”, you’re simply all over the place hammering with a vengeance.

It is commonly believed that right wing trolls are vengeful and abusive. They sure are. The “liberals”- I hate calling them that but that’s the only way they will allow themselves to be known and the irony of that insistence is lost on them - do the same thing in a superior and slightly sophisticated way. I have found it easier to condemn Modi than to condemn a liberal. Any liberal.

Try lamenting the Gauri Lankesh murder. In no time, the heavens will open up and public opinion will come barging in through your balcony. Not all are on the same page, or even the same issue, though. If you follow the comments, you’ll find Gauri is the least of their concerns. Most of them are generally letting off steam at everything Modi has done, has not done, may do or may not do.

The narrative meanders into fuel price hikes, bad roads, Doklam, demonetisation, and whatever nails him. It’s a free for all, an unfettered fest of random talk that does not have to make sense so long as it is negative.

So when the BJP’s M. J. Akbar praises his party’s leader as a “Vivekanand bhakt,”  a veteran liberal calls it “fall from grace.” Another liberal calls it “sad.” No explanation is offered or required.

On another front, a battle ensues on dynastic politics with one liberal listing all the possible BJP leaders who have had a family member in politics. That includes Maneka Gandhi, who by some bizarre logic is implied to have been accommodated in the BJP because of her late mother-in-law and husband.

"The troll mantra, even at the liberal end, is bulldoze and bullshit"
 

 

The whole point that one single family is running the Congress for the longest possible time in spite of the availability of capable leaders is successfully eclipsed by the throttle of comments on the disparate accommodation of relatives within the BJP. The troll mantra, even at the liberal end, is bulldoze and bullshit.

When you feel the heat from all that steam, you can wander on to that rare right-winger friend’s post (by the way, you should be careful not to be seen in their company; your very existence as a human being is questioned by your literati ‘friends’ if they so much as see you sniffing in the wrong direction. And mind you, they rule the intellectual superiority space everywhere –media, social media, earth, hell and back. One sniff and you could be tarred for life).

But back to the right winger friend who is on another game - the Defender of Everything Modi Ever Does, and playing it to the hilt. Sure enough, he has no room to breathe as people are busy barking him up on all sides. Verbal missiles are flying all round. He is asking why the Congress never talked of triple talaq and they’re telling him Indians can never have uniform civil code in India. Go figure.

The educated liberals dominate the social media not as much in number as in sheer volume. By that, I mean their decibel level and the tyranny of their high brow. They hold their swaggering presence in such an intimidating way you fear to differ. No rebutting you with structured and logical arguments. They are right. Because they say so. Period.

The funny thing is, liberals decide that they know, and the world better accept it meekly. The right wingers can abuse but are no match for the air of superiority that pervades everything the former say.  They spout better English, are better travelled and better read. That makes them undisputable experts on everything from outer space, tribal culture to agriculture, and certainly politics and governance.

Often, their opinions are informed not by their knowledge but by their emotions. More’s the pity as these are the guys one expects better from, not the other variety.

Recently, a leading analyst wrote a post on Facebook on the resignation of a newspaper editor that he attributed to right wing pressure over a newspaper initiative to map anti-minority crimes.

Some ‘friend’ of this one wrote a comment that the resignation was long in the offing as the editor needed to go abroad. The comment was written tentatively, almost fearfully. Sure enough, he was promptly attacked by the analyst and some others. With some minor changes to protect the privacy of the dramatis personae, this is how it went:

Tentative friend: I think there is some confusion. The resignation was due for two months.

Analyst: NO CONFUSION. YOU ARE CONFUSED.

Analyst’s friend no. 1: No. He tries to confuse others.

Tentative friend: (Some sentences lauding the analyst’s skills.) Use of capital letters is not necessary. All I am saying is that many knew the editor was leaving long before. (Some details to support his contention.) 

Analyst friend no. 2 : He has quit.

Tentative friend: Yes but he did not leave suddenly.

Analyst: Topic is closed.

Over and out.

 

None of the worthies was willing to engage with the tentative friend on his contention that it may have been planned for a while. He may be wrong but there was no attempt to counter him on facts. Worse, they were clear he was working to an agenda. Even worse, they were clear that they themselves were not.

"In the current atmosphere, it is difficult to tell the saffron trolls from the intolerant, vicious and abusive liberals"

 

If you thought liberalism is all about being open, you could not be more mistaken.  If you thought intellectualism shares its moorings with intelligence, you’re clearly naïve. Intellectualism these days is highly volatile, highly unstable with a scorching viscosity. It has a pathological dislike for logical argument.

What it does have is a stubborn conviction that it is not only right,  but also has principles. That’s where the self-ascribed moral halo comes from. The worrisome part is that it is domineering as hell. They can make you feel like a manual scavenger after pushing you to the wall if you so much as murmur any dissent.

On Narendra Modi’s birthday, a liberal journalist says the Prime Minister has moved a year closer to his death. There is no condemnation by liberals of the level to which this insane hatred can stoop. In the current atmosphere, it is difficult to tell the saffron trolls from the intolerant, vicious and abusive liberals. It’s even more difficult to tell who is worse.

To me (and I shudder to think of the outcome of my statement), the dominant narrative often appears to be that of the liberals because of the superior way in which they move in for the kill, all the time self-professedly armed with the moral authority of a Mahatma Gandhi.

With such polarized fragility on social media, neutral news is almost passe. No judgment on merit. No underdog stories unless they can be notionally linked to some government. Any rant is sure to get a hundred kindred comments and a few hundred likes but a lovely rain song or an interesting take on the snow leopard posted by the same person gets about 10-13 lazy likes and maybe two comments over two days.

Non-reactive posts, the liberals shrug. Give them a snow leopard with tangential antecedents to Bal Thackeray’s symbolic tiger and you’re on. While their right counterparts would perhaps take an interest in the snow leopard only if it could be remotely made our national animal.

Thanks to its very character and the nature of political discourse in the country, social media is in an obsessive confrontation all round with each group marking territory and calling dibs on every post. If you are looking for meaningful debate or even sense, you’re in the wrong place. Get out or risk going bipolar.

 

Seema Kamdar is an independent journalist based in Mumbai

 

 

The Hoot is the only not-for-profit initiative in India which does independent media monitoring. Your support is vital for this website. Click here to make a contribution.
Subscribe To The Newsletter

Journalists following up on a story on a secret diary that indicated the bribing and corruption of members of the Tamil Nadu cabinet by industrialist and mining baron Sekhar Reddy found that another diary was quickly doing the rounds, this time with the names of  journalists and alleged payouts to them in what is seen as a clumsy attempt to discredit their work. The News Minute editor-in-chief Dhanya Rajendran who quickly put out a screenshot of the offending page with the watermark 'Made by idiots' tweeted that journalists can make a lot of money if they want to but are here to do a job, with integrity!                    

Ravi Belagere, editor of Kannada tabloid Hi Bangalore, was arrested on Dec 8 on allegations  of hiring a contract killer to murder a fellow journalist, his former employee  Sunil Heggaravanahalli. Police found guns and ammunition in his home.  In June this year he was one of two editors to attract a jail sentence ordered by the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly for breach of privilege following  allegedly defamatory articles against legislators. ( The News Minute)                              

View More