I stand here to formulate an angst that many citizens and I feel.
Weighing in on the controversy of increasing intolerance in India around Aamir Khan’s claims, his significant heft throws . The angst derives in the fact Mehta, Princeton and an Oxford trained political scientist with unimpeachable credentials, broadly touted as the leading public intellectual in India, should make this kind of illiberal and disingenuous debate.
Just. Free expression is the core liberal worth at play here. And as Khan gets the right to state his worries about growing intolerance, his critics possess the right to express themselves they consider he’s incorrect.
With all due respect, it is Mehta himself who is not innocent with this. Nothing.
In this same amazing paragraph, Mehta, a trained social scientist, blithely ignores data analysis as “bogus scienticism”. To put it differently, to point to the info, as I Have argued previously, which does not support the claim that there is a growing tendency in communal events (the only proxy we’ve in the data for presumed intolerance) in Modi’s India, is blown off as “yesterday’s narrative”. From a scholar who himself often uses data — which has to be previously or from yesterday — your brain really boggles. Is he implying that it is valid if it supports one side of the argument but not another, to make use of data?
Do not get me wrong. Data in India is far from perfect and episodes of communal violence could be badly reported. But it is a far cry from saying we should enhance our data collection and evaluation to nihilistically blowing off all such investigation as unhelpful or deceptive. Consider an alternative example. In several western states, there is a perception that a critical security risk would be posed by large scale migration of Muslim refugees, for example fleeing the Syria clash. Of course such declarations could be hiding bigotry but let us take them at face value for the sake of argument.
Mehta’s second move would be to claim that a “coded kind of intolerance is patriotism”. To put it differently, he is saying that his patriotism is being implicitly challenged by Aamir Khan’s critics. It could apply to others while this definitely does not apply to all of his critics, some of whom are just filing their disagreement with him.
He does this by berating Khan’s critics as unpatriotic because, basically, they aren’t competent to declare they are embarrassed of their nation in some respects, whereas self respecting and virtuous people like Mehta are capable to acknowledge they are embarrassed of their nation on some events.
Mehta claims: “Patriotism invoked as a close, instead of a starting point, is the worst sort of chicanery.” Here I am scared of what is going on, Mehta’s description tantrums Mehta’s own piece than those he is striving to criticise.