Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ideas and "Angst"

On 31 December 2014,

Dear all,

What a strange title: "KE's angst". I have never felt any "angst" in this affair. I am used to this superficial psychologizing in journalism and don't appreciate this attribution of emotions. Otherwise, the article is OK, except for the claim that my paper was "misplaced" at the India Ideas Conclave. On the contrary, what was really misplaced there were the West-Asian representatives of political Islam, including a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Semite and a pioneer of the view that Islamic Law takes precedence over Human Rights. So those are the "ideas" the organizers propose for "India".

I am entirely satisfied that in giving my speech on the guilt of Islam for Islamic terrorism, I did the right thing. I am confirmed in this by the enthusiastic reactions of the Hindu activists present. They are the ones who brought Narendra Modi the Hindu votes that put him in power and thereby gave all the opportunists and time-servers their chance to profit from the presence of a supposedly pro-Hindu government. The Islamic activists present, and the organizers, were less enthusiastic. From my speech onwards, the organizers gave absolute priority to their high guests from Jordan and from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, who have never done anything for Hinduism, over and against a long-time friend and servant of the Hindu cause. This shows you where exactly they stood.

If there was any untruth in what I said, the Muslims present or the organizers are welcome to state precisely what that was. A number of articles, oral and digital communications have come my way, and none of them makes even the slightest attempt to contradict any of my points. In fact, what I said was simply the ideological rationale for the Ghar Wapasi movement. Islam is worth abandoning, and that is why Muslims are encouraged to actually do so by the Ghar Wapasi workers. Any step taken against me is a step taken against Ghar Wapasi. Headline: "Quarrel inside Sangh Parivar: VHP organizes Ghar Wapasi, India Foundation opposes it".

Immediately after the session I was in, Swapan Dasgupta already apologized to the Muslims who had walked out of the room and to anyone who might feel offended, a position that has been repeated on several occasions since. But what have I said that, mutatis mutandis, Hindus are not forced to hear all the time? There is a lot of commotion about Ghar Wapasi even among BJP opportunists, but what do the Ghar Wapasi workers say, and what have I said, that is not being said against Hinduism all the time by every missionary, by all the Hindu-mocking films from Bollywood, and by the secularist historians (who e.g. justify conversions to Islam as "the only escape left to the lower castes from the prison-house of Hinduism). All the time they say that Hinduism must perish. Before you stab me in the back, go and "stab" them if you dare.

Did I not notice that this was only advertised as an "Ideas Conclave" but that it was actually meant as a diplomatic conference where the organizers merely wanted to show off their VIP contacts? I did, though that did not really justify annulling the paper of which the topic had been assigned to me by the organizers themselves. Still, I did propose an alternative paper, not on Islam, to the moderator, Sadanand Dhume. So, even from the viewpoint of the organizers' self-interest, my conduct was entirely correct and mindful of all sensitivities involved. However, Dhume turned it down and insisted I speak on Islam. Well, that is what I did, and everything I said would stand up among genuine scholars as well as in any Court of Islamic Law. If you disagree (if, for example, you insist that the IS practices of murder, rape and slavery were not part of the Prophet's attested precedent behaviour, or if you insist that Muslims are enjoined by Islamic Law to ignore and condemn the Prophet's words and actions), I propose we have a public debate about it, in the tradition of Yajnavalkya and Shankara.

On Saturday late evening, two boys came to my room warning me about a suit against me and proposing to spirit me away for my own safety. I did not like the idea, and wondered if a BJP government both in Goa and at the centre was not enough to guarantee me safety. Not having any direct information or inside advice at my disposal, and mindful of Sita Ram Goel's warnings against custody in India (he himself absconded several times), I relented and followed their directions. They profusely apologized to me and seemed sincere. Not so sincere were the organizers themselves, who falsely told the other participants that my departure was all according to schedule (though I had agreed to meet a number of people on Sunday or Monday), and even more mendaciously told the Muslim participants and the media that I had been "sent away". I have been disinvited many times under secularist pressure, but this is the first time I was reportedly disinvited by an organization that associates itself with supposedly "fanatically Hindu BJP" and with Narendra Modi's government.

Incidentally, in 2002, when the going was very tough and Modi was pressured from inside the BJP to step down, I co-edited a lone book defending Modi, a position vindicated by all the Court verdicts since. Still, many in the BJP stood with Teesta Setalwad in demanding Modi's resignation. Secularists inside the BJP sucking up to Islamic interests, pulling their hands off a person besieged for his perceived anti-Islamic stand: they were playing their dishonourable game against Modi in 2002-2014, and they are still playing their game now, against me.

I should praise myself lucky for having friends among genuine Hindu activists, and for a particular mundane circumstance: the internet. Indeed, it if wasn't for the newly-created opportunity to communicate directly with the public through my blogs and online articles, the organizers could have gotten away unopposed with the lies they have been selling to the media. They have tried hard to please a secularist establishment which we thought belonged to the past (and which hasn't rewarded their numerous past gestures of surrender anyway), but they overlooked the tendency among genuine Hindu activists to take a stand for undiluted Hinduism against its enemies, which percolated into the choice of topics and speakers, and thus brought me on stage to present a non-"secular" view of Islam.

It is a matter of course that the India Foundation is honour-bound to apologize to me. It should also analyze the reasons why it has landed itself into this conundrum. Most importantly, it should apologize to the Hindu workers who all share in the reputation of mendaciousness which their movement has come to acquire through actions like the one at the India Ideas Conclave. That is the small matter still missing before we can leave this little incident behind us.     

Kind regards,

Dr. Koenraad Elst

(This statement was written in reaction to Shashi Shekhar's column "Koenraad Elst's angst and other musings to mark end of 2014", 31 Dec. 2014, Niti Central,


Vraja said...

You can show off the hypocrisy of people being offended by Hindus doing or speaking the same types of things other religionists regularly speak about Hindus, i.e. condemn other religions and their prophets, as Muslims and Christians regularly do to Hindus with no outrage, usually taken as a matter of course, as perfectly normal - but if a Hindu does that to Islam or Christianity, then all hell breaks loose? Why is that?

I think it is something like racism, it's religious bigotry towards Hinduism which is not only tolerated as normal, but actively promoted as good for everyone in order to free the "oppressed."

But of course what is good for the goose is not good for the gander because of cultural and religious bigotry. Sharia law may oppress women and minorities and basically everyone with a secular or independent spirit, but you cannot contest the inherent vice of Islam (sharia and the spirit of oppression) without being called out as a bigot, or an intolerant promoter of hate.

In other words caste discrimination is coming from those who see and speak of Hindus as inherently faulty, inherently wrongheaded, inherently beneath the civilized followers of "monotheism" and the "great religions of the west," but become outraged when what they dish out to Hindus is dished back to them.

The response of Hindus to such bigotry as "the norm" is invariably due to power and prestige. The Muslim dignitaries at the conference were offended, just as Hindus are offended when Muslims or Christians belittle their religion and traditions, and because of the potential for political fall-out for various Hindus, of course it was obvious what would be the result of your words Koenraad.

Vraja said...

As for the rest of the critique by Mr. Shenkar, it was alright, but as much as he claimed that your views of the "right wing" being in reality "centrist" showed more about your own views - the same could be same of him. It is of course well accepted that the concept of centrist has shifted towards the right since the 1980s, that what was once considered rightist is now considered centrist. I think this is because people often don't understand what the concept of right wing necessarily means, often taking it to mean to the right of whatever is the current middle position, rather than an actual stable ideology.

Also, his claim that government and politics should have no role in specifically Hindu concerns - well they already are involved. From the beginning of the nation there has been social engineering based upon religion. That is a matter of fact and an ongoing truth of law, governance, and politics, e.g. "Muslim personal law;" Hindu temples controlled by government; etc.

What is needed is acknowledgment of a double standard, where Hindus are expected to take the lower position as the default because they have been deemed anti-progressive. Yet who is more anti-progressive? The BJP or Islam? Yet we don't see the same people who tag Hindus with the perjorative "nationalist" or "supremacist" denigrate Muslim or Christians in the same way.

The reason is simple to understand. That is because the Muslim, Christians, and anti-Hindu secularists are all in the minority, and they know it. But, they have been in power ever since the nation came into being. Knowing they were the minority, they built in safeguards to their dominance - through government regulations; government mandated social engineering; cronyism in education; and at all levels of power.

Their attitude of denigrating Hinduism and Hindus as a pernicious danger to progressive and modern values, of equating Hindu values with western concepts of medieval modalities, is mostly due to ignorance of just what Hinduism is really all about (not a monolith of caste and repression). Amusingly many of the elites of the vaunted western utopia have during much of the last 50 years developed an avid interest in all things Hindu!

Sometimes you just have to laugh at the craziness of how Hinduism is portrayed in the elite sections of India versus how it is in the elite sections of the modern world. It seems completely backwards. But it makes sense because those outside India haven't been brainwashed against Hinduism - therefore while so many of them reject Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as too outdated, illogical, intolerant and repressive, yet they joyously embrace Hinduism as the panacea for everything! Hinduism is widely seen in the elites of the west as the vanguard of the New Age enlightened man!

Babita Garg said...

Problem with these people is that they do not know real Islam or Christianity. Nobody is for truth. Everybody is for his or her own personal agenda. Sometimes I loose faith in Hindus to defend Sanatan Dharam but then I gather hope in people like you Sir to help Hindus to defend Sanatan Dharam and expose the real face of Islam and Christianity.

Shravan Tanjore said...

totally foolish of Swapan Dasgupta to apologize for anything. You spoke the truth but Swapan apologized?. Speaking truth deserves an apology? what have things come to?.

Similar kind of thing can be seen in the west these days. Muslim terrorists killed cartoonists because the cartoonists had in their own words'insulted' their prophet but there are some in the west who say "no no they murdered the cartoonists because of western nation's foreign policy!"

total nonsense.

jishnu sasankan said...

i hav sent a mail to you got this please sent a mail to my mail.if your id dont work kindly give another.

VirtualPresence said...

Dear Swamin Elst,

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for standing up to your convictions and ideals in the midst of all the hypocrisy and the abhorrent "idea of india" where alternative ideas are met with censorship instead of a debate. I am sure it is unnecessary to say this but I implore you to continue fighting for our cause. Apart from a few on social media there are very few intellectual stalwarts like yourself on our side. These cowards and hypocrites do not deserve to share a stage with one like yourself but such is the cruel ways of the world. As selfish as this request may sound, please continue to contribute to the intellectual foundation on which we will build upon.