Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Aarti Sethi - A Solicitous Enquiry after the Mental Health of Arnab Goswami

Hate has no object. Its object is its own self-perpetuation.

I am wondering if all has been going well with you. I saw your show on television the other night and you were shouting at a young man who has now been accused of sedition because of a meeting he attended on his college campus. In this show you shouted this young man down, did not let him speak, turned off his mike while he struggled to make himself heard. You called him a terrorist. You said people like him are dangerous elements and wondered who was funding him. You told him he should be grateful for things that India has apparently given him and others like him. You even had a tweet for the purpose.. 
We will not go into the extraordinary idiocy you displayed in your own version of what you are pleased to call an ‘argument’. It seems in the world you inhabit, and people like you inhabit, the nation is a god-given entity before the idea of which we must all lie prostrate in quaking terrified adulation. But leave all this aside for now, you are not a very intelligent man and your stupidity, dangerous though it is, is not my concern here. What concerns me though is your style: you are a bully and a brute.  It may seem a strange thing to say, that it is how you say things more than the things you say that seem to bother me. Let me try and explain why and hopefully once I am done you will see that the things you say are not separate from how you say them. So, a few questions:

Did you even see the young man, Umar Khalid, in front of you? What did you see Arnab? Because you certainly didn’t see what I saw.

So again, since you love repeating questions, did you see him Arnab? As you screamed and yelled and hectored him? Can you think yourself back to when you were his age? Is it possible for you to achieve an empathetic identification with any one else, even an earlier version of your own self? Can you even begin to imagine being this young man? I think not. I think you only see images of yourself projected out into the engulfing darkness of the pulpit from which you preach every night. And all that ever returns to you are the sounds of a million amens to your sermons.

You didn’t see, for instance, what I saw. I saw a very young man, not even 25, ganged up on by 5 people baying for his blood. I saw a young man caught in a terrible situation being accused and flayed as though he was not even there. I saw a woman screaming at him in rage, telling him there is no place for people like him in India as you encouraged her to shout him down. I saw you speaking to Sushil Pandit about anti-India elements, what must be done to them, what must be done  with them. I saw all this and more and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Perhaps you think this young man’s views, whatever they may be, stupid. Perhaps you think them ill-judged. Perhaps, since you claim to be an ardent nationalist, you even think them ill-intentioned. But for this he must be made to pay with a jail sentence? Really? Do you honestly believe that it is not the right of every citizen to express their opinions on a court judgement that took a man’s life? So let me say here, publicly and openly, I condemn the hanging of Afzal Guru unequivocally. I condemn it as a cowardly blood sport where a man was sacrificed to appease the blood-lust of a country whose appetite for slaughter seems only on the rise.

But you don’t actually care about any of this do you Arnab? This is not about love for India, or patriotism, or the country. This has nothing to do with love of anything at all. This is simply the infantile vengeful response of a child lashing out at thwarted desire. So what is it that you want Arnab? What will fulfill you?

For a long time I was confounded by your energy. I wondered how it was that night after night you managed to produce such extremities of emotion and rage, seemingly without care for person or situation. And here I have to tender a confession, for on occasion I have enjoyed your bullying. Enjoyed watching your nightly conniption fit when it is directed at people I don’t particularly like. I particularly enjoyed your episode with Jasleen for instance as you eviscerated a bunch of misogynists for going after a young woman. But it made me think what about it so delighted me for it was a question of style not substance. And I realized you were playing to the worst instincts in me – you were stoking the pleasure one feels at watching mean nastiness directed at someone one doesn’t more: 

Keshava Guha: If you care about press freedom, perhaps it’s time to boycott Arnab Goswami?