Pissing in the wind against the Notinmyname campaign

Source : SIFY
By : Ashley Tellis
Last Updated: Wed, Jun 28, 2017 15:39 hrs

Shivam Vij's contradictory and mindlessly provocative piece against the Not In My Name campaign is symptomatic of a certain Pavlovian response from the liberal journalist who has nothing to say but must say something.

He contradicts himself right off the bat by pointing to the rise of attacks on Muslims since the BJP came to power and then spends the rest of the article telling us that we should not use the word Muslim at all as that is rising to the click-baiting of the BJP. He teaches us that we must give up the words ‘cows, meat and Muslims’ and replace them with ‘Dalit, farmer, small trader.’ It is the stupidest piece of advice ever given by a journalist to anyone. But then, journalists like Vij tend to be the stupidest people around. So perhaps he should take this advice himself and not write articles about protests that according to him have nothing to do with Dalits, farmers and small traders.

Never mind that most cattle traders count as small traders and some may be farmers. Never mind that most of the Muslims killed are lower caste, many Dalit. These kinds of complexities are beyond the ken of hacks like Vij who trade in clichés like calling left-liberals romanticisers from the JNU of the 80s. Someone needs to remind him that India is not Delhi and several protests are being organised in several parts of the country that have nothing to do with Delhi and that hundreds of protests at even Jantar Mantar today will not be from JNU. This sort of capital arrogance can only come from a capital grub-street grouch.

Lynchings may have ceased to shock him (does anything shock him?) but they have not ceased to shock us and this is why we are protesting. This is not rising to click-baiting. This is murder. It is not just the ‘New India’ that is anti-Muslim in feral ways. India was always anti-Muslim. It is just that now under the current dispensation, it has become justified. Instead of examining what that says about the body politic and the social, Vij proceeds to give us lame gyaan about Left Liberals and then advice about what we should do.

It is not clear which deluded bubble he lives in when he asserts that Mandal defeated Hindutva (it actually only consolidated it) or that rural distress defeated it again. Or how fighting for Dalits, farmers and small traders is not still fighting the BJP on its own turf. But logic and coherence is not the domain of the hack. Ludicrous assertion and tired binaries like head vs. heart rule the roost.

Perhaps we need to remind him that we, deluded Left-liberals, have been protesting with farmers, Dalits and small traders before and right through (and will be after) the Modi regime, that we do not believe in tired binaries of emotion vs. intellect and respond to every crisis with both and that pitting constituencies against each other (don’t march for Muslims, march for farmers) is not just lousy advice but politically callous and insensitive and mistakes bigotry for political strategy.

It is quite clear that Vij, like other hacks like himself, are so divorced from any social and political realities on the ground that the advice they offer from their lofty south Delhi perches makes them the laughing stock. Left-liberals also from South Delhi, like film-maker Nakul Sawhney, actually spend most of their time in West and East Uttar Pradesh looking at the complications of caste and class and agriculture and gender and produce texts that help us fight the good fight.

Real journalists like Neha Dixit actually go to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and Assam and Gujarat, at great risk to their own lives, and produce documents that enable social and political change. Nityanand Jayaraman and his Vettiver Collective in Chennai actually go out and find out what is happening to the Tamil coastline and build campaigns. Leo Saldanha and Environmental Study Group (ESG) in Bangalore actually go out and do work in Karnataka, playing watchdog to the state. Vaishnavi Jayakumar sits at home in Chennai and produces the most astounding collations of data that challenge the state’s neglect of disabled people whether on UID or tax returns.

These are the Left-liberals Vij finds it so easy to mock and dole out advice to. Perhaps Vij might start by taking his own advice and organising that farmer protest in Ramlila Maidan. It might do a tad lot less harm than his churning out the bilge he usually does.

Journalistic commentary has become the emptiest profession in this country. These journalists would do best to join Modi and bloat his rhetorical sails rather than pretend to piss down from a high place (one wonders where they perch, above us lowly Left-liberals and lowly BJP cadres) because the wind is blowing that piss right back into their faces.

More columns by Ashley Tellis:

What Justice Karnan case reveals about the Judiciary

Shah Bano to Shayara Bano: Religious laws fail women

Should 'gruesome' images be shared? Yes.

The great infection: No reason to celebrate Kanhaiya's release

Why our culture did not allow Rohith to live

Juvenile Bill: We want punishment, but no solutions

Chennai and the politics of shit

Ashley Tellis is a freelance academic and writer