Wednesday, December 01, 2004

saffron sikh

Tavleen Singh, who has become more and more up front in her blind allegiance to the Sangh Parivar (oh, wait, now she's saying they don't exist, or they're highly exaggerated) in recent columns, finally got her comeuppance when she decided to butt heads with Javed Anand and Teesta Setalvad, co-editors of Communalism Combat.

In an Indian Express article titled "The Communalism Divide" Singh backs Zaheera Sheikh's claims that Anand and Setalvad exploited her for money. The saffron Sikh accuses the editors of receiving funding from dubious sources to support an alleged campaign against Hindu fundamentalism--all while ignoring the actions of Muslim fanatics. Singh's readiness to believe that the Hindu right is dead is not surprising. She has been an apologist for the saffron brigade for many columns running. But it bears pointing out that in this article she tacitly endorses the logical fallacy that Zaheera's recanting of her testimony (or "turning hostile") in the Gujarat riots case means that she was lying before and is now telling the truth. When someone changes her story before the court, only one thing is certain: either she was lying the first time, or she's lying the second time, and she has erased any credibility she might have had. Only through other evidence -- and not through the "logic" of the propagandist -- can the truth be discovered.

Here, for instance, it is likely that Zaheera was discouraged from testifying at first by threats of violence from those she eventually accused, decided to come forward after she was promised protection, and recanted when those she'd accused changed tactics and offered her money to drop her accusations. It's just as plausible that she hadn't seen anything, was encouraged to testify with promises of money, and recanted when those promises turned out to be empty ones. We can speculate all we like about which scenario is more compelling, but certainly won't come up with anything "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Worse, though, than Singh's leaps of fallacy, are her slanders. Which Anand and Setalvad ruthlessly catalogue in their response, also in the Indian Express. It's hard to imagine how Singh could have gone so far wrong as to accuse Communalism Combat of being an anti-national friend of Muslim fundamentalism and part of an imaginary conspiracy of the Left to malign Hindu nationalism, at least given the catalogue of forty-odd articles by the magazine which castigate fundamentalist Islam, Bangladesh and Pakistan that its editors provide. And it's beautiful to see the Express being brave enough to hang its own columnist out to dry with no less than a 3/4 page spread.


Anonymous said...

And it's beautiful to see the Express being brave enough to hang its own columnist out to dry with no less than a 3/4 page spread. Or, perhaps, the paper has no choice? Could its beautiful posture of boldness be, as Christopher Hitchens would say of Michael Moore's flick, a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery?

Shekhar Gupta and gang did not merely report news on Best Bakery trial. They made it. They are in it neck deep along with Setalvad and party. The Gujarat High Court said of the paper that it sought to reopen the trial. Express succeeded, triumphing over the High Court.

Zahira's latest volte-face puts a question mark on that success, just as CBI's discovery that Pandey's murder was a case of robbery brought to fore the paper's appetite for manipulative glory-mongering. Should Zahira's allegations turn out true, guess who all will end up with massive loads of egg on their face?

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit, it is said. I'm surprised that Setalvad's fans are not embarrassed by her shrill rhetoric. Do they really think those asking uncomfortable questions of her can be shouted down into submissive silence in this manner?


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