By Partha Banerjee
During the past few weeks’ India-Pakistan drama started with the tragic, terrorist killing of 45 Indian soldiers in Kashmir (which we all condemned in the strongest possible language, and then asked questions as to how such a catastrophic security lapse happened, and was it deliberate), followed by Indian government’s bombing inside Pakistan (flouting international laws, and flaunting fake numbers of terrorists killed), followed by one brave pilot’s capture and release by the Pak government led by a famous cricket player turned big politician Imran Khan.
Since the new drama unfolded, both real life and social media have become like war zones. Fanatics and fascists have unleashed their terror across India, calling anybody opposing the politics of hate, war, and racism a “traitor,” “unpatriotic,” and “anti-Indian.” They have attacked people on the street, threatened women with rape, and raided houses of those who showed courage to voice their opposition against the politically expedient war a few months before India’s national elections. Fascist student organizations have forced a dissident college professor to kneel down in front of his students, and apologize. Another college has kicked out a professor for expressing dissent on Facebook. Other such instances occurred.
I have never seen such rampant hooliganism in my life. And I have seen a lot. The only parallel that comes to my mind is the time after 9/11, when fanatics and fascists here in the U.S. unleashed similar terror against Muslims, Arabs, and Sikhs — for no crimes they committed. At that time, social media was not nearly as popular as today, and Facebook or Twitter was not even born. Our experiences were mostly real-life, and some of us took to the street to protest against anti-immigrant violence, deportation, and finally, hundreds of thousands of Americans (and some of us) rallied here in New York and across America against a barbaric war and genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Along with the violence we see today in real life, we also see violence on social media. I have received negative comments on my anti-war, anti-terror, anti-fascism posts from people near and far. Some of them were sarcastic or disrespectful, which I am quite used to. But some others were full of hate, filth, and dangerous. A few called for my lynching, or elimination of my body parts. I have reported a few to Facebook, but some others I could not even report: there was no reporting option. But honestly, they were few and far between. Yet, even one scary comment is one too many, just like it doesn’t take more than one murderer to kill in real life. Gandhi was killed by only one hateful man, who had actually belonged to these fascist and fanatic groups. You can read about it on my blog at humanitycollege.org.
These people have decided that just like in real life you can discourage a lot of friends from a civil discussion by hurling insults and profanity, you can do the same on social media. Throw garbage at your doorsteps, and those open-minded friends who want to come into your home most likely won’t. Human nature is that most people — otherwise sane and intelligent — would avoid dirt and filth, and avoid obnoxious conversations. Who wins this game? It’s the dangerous, hateful, violent coyotes. They are very small in number, but very cruel and reckless. They can kill you on the street, and they can destroy your sleep and sanity on social media.
And irony is, even many of those who have known you, and your lifelong dedication for truth and objective teaching and learning, would want to stay a safe distance away from you. It’s always safe to stay safe.
Trump has thrived in this climate. Hitler thrived in this climate. And now Indian fascists and fanatics are thriving in this climate. And it is all being done in the name of democracy and free speech. That is, fascists and fanatics are taking advantage of democracy and free speech, to destroy them once and for all.
Partha Banerjee – Brooklyn, New York
Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partha_Banerjee