“I will always stand up for the national anthem and speak in favor of the Indian Army. Does that make me a Sanghi?” A visibly perturbed Arnab Goswami had asked this question while addressing a crowd at the FICCI FLO event in Chennai on 21 February. The speech came a day before the Ramjas protests rocked the national capital.
Goswami, who is all set to launch his new TV channel Republic, appeared disappointed, with a tinge of anger in his voice. He couldn’t quite fathom why the country’s “pseudo liberals” rake up the intolerance debate only at selected events, only at selected time frames.
“Why are the tolerant intolerant and can we tolerate it any longer in this Republic,” he asked, before proceeding to explain his counter-view on a debate that has been propelled into an average Indian’s living room now.
The Hypocrisy of ‘Tolerance‘
At a time when everybody’s talking about how limits on freedom of speech and expression are fraught with problems, Goswami asked the extent to which we can “tolerate the tolerance”. In the context of Leslee Udwin’s documentary on the Nirbhaya rape case, the journalist said:
“The irony was that the self-proclaimed tolerant and liberal media brigade in Lutyens Delhi were willing to give a prime-time slot to the rapist on national and global television.”
Raking up the JNU row, Goswami said all those who had raised slogans in the university in February last year did not speak up when 19 soldiers were killed in the Uri attack.
“There was no candlelight vigil. There was no petition. JNU was quiet. Kanhaiya disappeared, he was nowhere to be seen. There was no championing of causes. The hypocrisy is this that the same lobby that pretends in their own convenient way of cause to be the torchbearers of our national interest did not protest when Uri happened.”
Making his stance quite clear, Arnab asked: “Should there be tolerance in this Republic for those who run down our country?”
The Selective Outrage of ‘Liberals’
Offering his critique about everybody who chooses not to stand for the national anthem, Goswami asserted there’s a pattern to it.
Countering the argument that it’s tolerance that allows people to question the killing of a terror convict, Goswami asked: “Why then is it intolerant to call Maoists out of their violence? Or why then is it intolerant to question the selected hypocrisy of those returning their awards? And why is it not liberal to question someone who refuses to stand for the national anthem?”
Goswami also cleared his stand on the tolerance debate.
“The point this evening is of duplicity and bowing down to duplicity. The point this evening is of our combined intolerance towards hypocrisy. The point, therefore, as Sudha rightly pointed out, is about perpetually and dangerously being tolerant living in a perpetual state of gray.”
Bringing up the issue of Jallikattu and how the liberal faction raised their voices against the inhuman tradition, Goswami asked why the same faction is often silent about other environmental issues.
“Why ladies and gentleman, was there a muteness by those who position themselves as tolerant and liberal. And all those people who spoke about it (Jallikattu), not one of them said Green Peace was breaking the rules. These are the same people who opposed Jallikatu. I see a motive there.”
The nationalism debate in the country got revisited during the recent Ramjas protests, exactly a year after the JNU incident rocked the capital city. In the context of fractured ideas and divided ideologies, which side are you on?