Perhaps like millions of Indians, you have an opinion. You want to share that opinion on Facebook or on online publications so that people may contribute to the discussion with some points of their own.
However, if your opinion has anything to do with religion or politics then brace yourself for attacks from the saffron brigade.
Yes, that little think piece you wrote after burning the midnight LED lamp, reading books and going mental on Google is going to be attacked by people who have the Indian flag as their DP.
They will abuse your mother while urging you to say “Bharat Mata ki jai”. They will call you a terrorist sympathiser while threatening you with violence.
“Wait, I didn’t do anything!” I hear you say. “I was only sharing my opinion in a civil manner! Why can’t they do the same? And why are these people called the ‘saffron brigade’? Saffron is rare, flavoursome and goes with everything. Shouldn’t they be named after something that is easily available but widely detested? Lauki Brigade? Ladies’ Finger Sena?”
I hear you and you sound like a goddamn anti-national, my friend.
The culture ministry is talking about grading writers on the basis of popularity and if you want to be popular in India then you need to be on good terms with our nationalists.
Unless you want your thoughtful jeremiad to trigger a racist jamboree, I’m going to run you through the most common arguments or criticism you are going to face when sharing your egalitarian beliefs.
Presstitute/ Pseudo-intellectual/ Libtard
The first thing you need to realise is that to the nationalist, your worth as a journalist or contributor or “social justice warrior”, is less than that of a Blackberry phone.
It doesn’t matter whether you are an award-winning writer (who chooses to return said award) or a freelancer who hasn’t seen a paycheck in years, you will be labelled a “presstitute” the moment you say anything even remotely critical of the government.
If you’re not an established writer, you will almost certainly be called a “blogger” (because apparently unlike a presstitute, you don’t even have a body of work to sell) and will be told that “my five-year-old can write better than this rubbish garbage”.
Try to emulate Arnab Goswami and Zee News because if you don’t then you risk being accused of being on America or Saudi Arabia’s payroll.
You may argue about how India’s history is being rewritten to suit Hindutva’s cause or how criticising the government before Modi was not tantamount to sedition, but the nationalist would reply that if you have the freedom of speech to criticise the government then he has the freedom of speech to abuse Muslims.
Do say: “East or West, India is the best”.
Don’t say: “Barkha Dutt is my soul sister”.
If there is one thing that really gets the nationalist’s goat, it’s the cow.
You question how a mob can beat a man to death over meat and they tell you that the meat was beef so the gloves are off.
|“Gai hamari mata hai, humko kuch nahi aata hai.” (Reuters)|
You point out that having beef is technically not illegal and they say: “Koreans like to eat dogs but are not allowed to in America. Also, Christians can’t eat pork in Saudi Arabia”.
Confused, you ask them about the Dalits who are not even eating beef but simply skinning dead cows and they say: “Gai hamari mata hai, humko kuch nahi aata hai.”
Do say: “Washington’s Scientist Lab of Stomach has said that beef is bad for digestion”.
Don’t say: “Can you please take cows off the highways so I can use my car’s cruise control without having a heart attack?”
Any nationalist worth his salt will never grant rights to the minorities because it is antithetical to his son-of-soil argument. Everyone apart from him is an outsider.
Instead of acknowledging the citizenship of people who are born and raised in India, he will give you a clishmaclaver lesson in anthropology.
You see, Muslims and Christians were invaders and colonisers so their religion and lifestyle don’t belong here (even after centuries of integration).
The tribal groups are essentially Indian but are reading too much Arundhati Roy these days. These minorities need to behave themselves because Hindustan is a country for Hindus first.
When you ask why Dalits who practice Hinduism are treated like outsiders and why “mentally not fully Indian” NRIs are treated like insiders, I bet ten rupees that the nationalist in question will ask you to move to Pakistan.
Do say: “Chetan Bhagat was right. Who needs historians?”
Don’t say: “We all have African genes so that Nigerian you are beating up is actually related to you”.
Khangress/ Aaptard/ Commie
As an anti-national it is inevitable that you will come across the whataboutery that Internet Hindus are famous for. Whenever you say something about the government, you will be asked about the records of opposition parties. It doesn’t occur to them that perhaps you could simply be critical of the government for the right reasons and without any political affiliation.
When you ask them why the BJP is curtailing the freedom of speech, they will ask “what about the Emergency?” When you ask them why the government is spending so much on advertising for Yoga Day, they will reply “what about Aam Aadmi Party spending so much money on advertising their achievements?”
When you ask them why the government is arresting and attacking JNU students, they will counter “what about the violence carried on by the Leftists in Bengal?”
You inform them that the public voted for BJP because they want a change from the past and that by constantly bringing up the past and giving excuses they are betraying the public’s faith.
To which they will reply, “what about Aurangzeb betraying the public’s faith?”
Do say: “East or West, BJP is the best.”
Don’t say: “What about Nathuram Godse? What about RSS? What about 2002? What about Vyapam scam?”
Soldiers and patriotism
Whatever your stand on the ongoing violence in Kashmir, many agree that 43 lives could have been saved if the Indian army had controlled the situation better.
However, nationalists are laughing over the loss of lives by calling it “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” and captioning photos of Kashmir’s stone pelters with names of cricketers.
To the Internet Hindu, the life of a single soldier is worth the lives of a thousand Kashmiris. In any country where there is a strong defence budget and a sizeable army, it is inevitable that the sacrifice of the soldier is evoked at every given opportunity.
India is no different and it has become normal for the likes of Arnab Goswami to keep drilling this sacrifice into the heads of civilians until they think that soldiers are beyond reproach.
You may argue with nationalists about AFSPA and the military occupation of Kashmir till the cows come home but we should remember that empathy for our fellow Indians and appreciation of our soldier’s services don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
By constantly pitting the two against each other, our media and politicians are selling us an expired sense of patriotism. They are making it so that Indians only see a polarised India that has the brave soldier on one side and the milquetoast intellectual / student / civilian on the other.
This is what makes the nationalist suddenly turn into a “taxpayer” who wants his taxes to be directed to the defence budget rather than to subsidised education for anti-nationals.
Do say: “Border was my favourite movie”.
Don’t say: “I agree with Bill Hicks when he said that anyone dumb enough to want to be in the military should be allowed in.
That terrorism is inspired by Islam is the cornerstone of all arguments made by nationalists. In India, this has always been the belief but now the Western world too acquiesces in the paranoia of Muslims.
When arguing with an Internet Hindu, you will be reminded time and time again that “all Muslims are terrorists” and that “Islam is a fanatical religion”.
They will point to recent attacks in Europe as a symptom of Islam’s dangers. I find it unfortunate how nationalists (in India, UK, US and Europe) can’t see that these attacks are condemned by the majority of the Muslim population.
The chasm between a Muslim fundamentalist and the average Muslim is as wide as the chasm between a Hindu fundamentalist and I.
We live in a world with complex geopolitical challenges that need to be solved. To write off 1.6 billion people as “terrorists” would be a great disservice to their individuality.
Do say: “Even if all terrorists are Muslim that doesn’t make all Muslims terrorists.”
Don’t say: “All religions, including yours, are stupid. There is only one God and his name is Jimi Hendrix”.