There used to be a time that people with irrational phobias were recommended psychiatric help, but in this new, upside-down world of left-liberal orthodoxy, my irrational fear is legitimate excuse to strip you of your lawful rights
From the time Chicago mayor Richard Daly called Richard Nixon "Hitler type" for demanding a recount in the Kennedy-Nixon 1960 presidential poll, American left-liberals have honed the art of framing an opposing view point as a result of either moral turpitude or ignorance.
For a group that has given so much lip service to diversity, left-liberals have no place in their discourse to the one diversity that truly matters — ideological diversity.
From demanding that climate change "deniers" (read: those who wish to see evidence for their hysterical claims) should be jailed to throwing academics out for holding the highly controversial view that (gasp!) college kids should not worry overtly about what costumes people wear on Halloween, the left-liberal orthodoxy has long believed in punishing heresy with excommunication or worse.
Therefore, in the light of the ideological group to which American journalist Annie Gowen belongs, her recent outburst against Indian counterpart Swati Goel Sharma, would perhaps come as no surprise.
"I haven't done an exhaustive study of the data but stumbled across this" said every troll, ever 🐲🍄 https://t.co/1i44Hkmj9f— Annie Gowen (@anniegowen) November 2, 2018
Briefly, Gowen co-authored a highly inflammatory article that essentially portrayed Indian Hindus as bloodthirsty barbarians and Muslims as their victims. When Swarajya senior editor Goel Sharma pointed out the factual inaccuracies and wilful omissions to the data, Gowen responded with a snarky tweet, dismissing Goel Sharma as a "troll".
Hey @anniegowen, since ur story is based on @IndiaSpend data, what's your opinion on this: It makes no mention of arguably d most brutal case of cow violence in 2018 - 3 sadhus tied to cots, tongues slit, killed by cow smugglers for their opposition to illegal cow slaughter in UP— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) November 1, 2018
Goel Sharma is hardly your regular social media warrior constantly looking out for an outlet for her anger. She had been a journalist with the Hindustan Times and The Times of India, before joining Swarajya where she has done valuable work, reporting from the ground on issues ranging from cow smuggling to Uttar Pradesh government's response to the encephalitis epidemic.
She pointed out errors in Gowen's data and the fact that cow smugglers had among them ruthless murderers who slit the throat of sadhus as they slept inside a temple and that makes her a "troll" in the eyes of Gowen. While this conversation was taking place, a Hindu priest in Telangana was murdered by the imam of a masjid for playing bhajans in his temple, but for the rabid partisans of The Washington Post, any news that denies their "Hindus as murderers" narrative is no news.
The data used in the article itself have several problems, not the least of which is the highly suspect credentials of the site called Indiaspend, which had gathered the data. This site, purportedly the first data journalism site has, to paraphrase Greil Marcus, transcended data to the point of dispensing with it altogether.
As this article shows, in one of their stories on hate crimes against the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in India, this site first claimed that the crimes went up by 746% and later revised the figure to 25% (which was still based on dubious methodology). In case of the scheduled tribes, an initial figure of 1160% increase was changed to 8% decrease! What kind of credibility would you attach to a mountaineering magazine that first mentions the height of Mount Everest as 8,65,000 feet before correcting it to 29,000 feet? Or to a cricket magazine that reports the number of hundreds scored by Sachin Tendulkar in his career as 2,984 before correcting it to 100?
In fact, Dunkin Jalki and Sufiya Pathan of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, in a study published in 2017, have identified a clear tendency on the part of media and NGOs to cherry pick data and make exaggerated claims of rise in violence. For instance, in the report in which Indiaspend mentioned that crimes against the scheduled castes went up by 25%, they failed to mention that crime against Indians overall went up by 45%.
The playing fast and loose with numbers apart, Gowen's political bias comes across plainly throughout the article. For example, about PM Narendra Modi, the article has this to say: "Modi's career has been shadowed by allegations of religious intolerance since 2002, when he, as the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, was accused of failing to do enough to stop Hindu-Muslim riots that killed more than 1,000. For this, he was denied a visa to visit the United States on religious-freedom grounds, making the trip only after he became prime minister in 2014."
A truly conscientious writer mentioning allegations against Modi with respect to the 2002 riots would have been constrained to also mention that a Supreme Court appointed special investigation team examined the evidence at length and exonerated Modi from all charges made against him. By the way, this had happened when the BJP's opposition, the Congress, was ruling at the Centre.
Equally problematic is Gowen mentioning the visa-denial episode. Essentially, she brandishes a political decision as if it were proof of Modi's guilt. The subtext is all too clear for everyone to read: "We are America. If we didn't let this guy in, then he must have been guilty." If this isn't an example of Western supremacy, then I don't know what is.
Gowen's hatred towards Hindus is nothing new to those who follow her on Twitter. In the recent past, she had demanded Twitter delete all the accounts of Hindus if they use an image of Lord Hanuman as their display picture.
This is a typical cry-bully tactic (another word we have learnt thanks to the left-liberal orthodoxy), whereby she claimed that people having the picture of Lord Hanuman made her "feel unsafe". There used to be a time that people with irrational phobias were recommended psychiatric help, but in this new, upside-down world of left-liberal orthodoxy, my irrational fear is legitimate excuse to strip you of your lawful rights.
However, the trend deeply embedded in the above examples is deeply worrisome for a democracy like India. The 2016 US presidential election was a watershed event in that it mainstreamed the "international conspiracy" angle in democratic elections.
Recently, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg assured that his company won't interfere in the Indian general elections. The fact that an American business-owner needs to give this assurance should make us all aware of the degree of interference that even business houses with vested interests do in democratic processes. Combine that with India's history of racial persecution by the white people and the particularly nasty version of American exceptionalism that the left-liberal orthodoxy believes in, and Gowen's writing an article with highly questionable research and her subsequent attempt to muzzle dissent by way of mockery (remember Saul Alinsky's rule for radicals no 5: ridicule is a man's most potent weapon!) takes sinister overtones.
Stephen King in his book On Writing talks about literary critics who are "liberal in their politics but crustaceans in their chosen fields". In many ways, the left-liberals dealing with people of non-white skin out of the US demonstrate a similar paradox. Both The Washington Post and Gowen would identify themselves as liberals and be all too aware of the so called "white privilege" while dealing with American politics and yet the moment she steps out of her own country, the idea that an Indian woman arguing civilly with you needs to be treated with the respect one should accord to a fellow journalist is completely alien to her.
I believe an inherent feeling of superiority, either based on racism or American exceptionalism, might be at the root of it. Irrespective of the root cause, the journalist of a powerful media conglomerate using her position of power and influence to stifle dissent when questioned on data, speaks very poorly about the objectivism of the journalist as well as her publication, and incidents like this would only add to the public perception of biased, religion-baiter international media.
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Last Updated Nov 4, 2018, 2:10 PM IST