This is how Oxford dictionary defines the term ‘liberal’.
“Liberal: (adj) willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one's own; open to new ideas.”
John Locke, the 17th century English philosopher and political theorist, whose work Two Treatises of Government is generally considered to be the first exposition of liberalism, must be feeling quite despondent these days: Tossing and turning in his decidedly ancient grave. It took the world’s largest and most populous democracy to finally undermine and radically subvert the group of political, social and economic theories that qualify under the blanket term ‘liberalism’ — the pivot on which values of individual liberty, equality, economic freedom and rule of law are based.
Anupam Kher’s Pakistan visa row has again proved, if more confirmation was needed, that in India liberalism is a warped, bogus concept; its self-styled practitioners a bunch of morally decrepit scoundrels who flout all universal ethical standards with impunity. Our liberals claim a permanent seat on the moral high horse yet they do not believe in basic tenets of fair play, equality and justice.
In their nature of emitting blood-curdling collective howls and tearing the prey apart with biased criticism, unsubstantiated allegations and witch-hunt sans morals, logic or legality they resemble more the coyotes of North America.
And like these feared wolves, they also hunt in packs.
Notice how they swooped down in unison on Anupam Kher when the actor claimed that Pakistan had denied him a visa.
Before the arrival of even the first morsel of fact, these so-called liberals first ridiculed Kher’s claim, made him the butt of vicious jokes, tore apart his character, insinuated that his Padma Bhushan was ill-gotten and in a final act of insult, said his words were plain lies: Kher didn’t get a Pakistan visa because he never applied for one.
As if all the other 17 invitees to the Karachi Literature Festival who got their visas — which includes Congress leader Salman Khurshid — did.
At this point, let’s take a look at the facts.
Amid the furore following Kher’s series of tweets that Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had singled him out and red-flagged his name from a list of 17 invitees, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said: “No visa application was submitted to us, this is what the reality is.”
PTI, however, quoted Ameena Syed, the spokesperson for the Karachi Literature Festival, as saying in Karachi that KLF had been “advised by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to tell Kher not to submit a visa application as he would not be issued one.”
"That is all we have been told. They told us that the remaining 17 guests invited from India should be asked to submit applications as they would be issued visas," she said.
Our liberals, however, for reasons best known to them, chose to believe the Pakistan high commissioner’s claim over Kher’s and Syed’s statements.
“How dare the damn Pakistanis not allow a visa to the famous non-resident of Kashmir valley?” quipped one. Another one said “Kher is reducing himself to new lows each day.” Yet another one ridiculed the actor by saying Pakistan’s high court should immediately step in. Their jubilation over the eventuality was hard to be missed.
As if on cue, Congress jumped into the fray.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari on Wednesday morning “advised” Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help Kher out by speaking to his “friend Nawaz”:
If the #posterboyof "tolerant" India is so keen to go to Pak his friend PM Modi can surely talk to his drop by friend Nawaz & facilitate it?
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) February 3, 2016
So who was lying? Kher, or the Pakistan High Commission?
Things became clear when on Wednesday morning Basit called up Kher, expressed regret over denial of visa and promised to take the matter up on a priority basis.
What followed was deathly silence. Our “liberals” have retreated to their caves.
The moral activism that accompanied cancellation of Ghulam Ali’s concert is miraculously absent. The moral indignation that exploded into our collective consciousness post the ink attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni is, not surprisingly, missing. The eminent writers, forever vocal against the ghost of “intolerance” stalking the living daylights out of them since 16 May, 2014, have responded with deafening silence.
The entire ecosystem of our “liberal” brigade, instead of criticising Pakistan, are either busy justifying our neighbour’s intolerant attitude or better still, in a stunning act of moral reversal, have instead blamed Kher for being singled out by Pakistan. As if by protesting against the canard of intolerance, Kher brought this eventuality upon himself.
This crass hypocrisy and jaundiced viewpoint turns inward all notions of natural justice.
This left-liberal secular lobby that still holds an iron grip over the English language narrative in India through various channels nurtured carefully over several decades, has, by their Machiavellian application of ethical standards, given rise to another dangerous trend. This blatant double standard and discrimination, selective application of outrage in matters concerning freedom of speech and expression have, in effect, given rise to what writer Amit Chaudhuri calls “Wahhabi Hinduism”.
If there has been a recent frenzy on social media, a clamour for change, raw anger and abuse against our media’s political and cultural priorities, then these “liberals” who have less integrity than even pimps are to be directly blamed for it.