What can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence. This is how Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein summarized his magnum opus, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Our political masters believe in the opposite: What can be said at all should be said obliquely, and what we cannot talk about too we must say in an oblique manner. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh'sremark that he could not sleep because of the anxiety suffered by the family of UK terror plot suspects proves that few in the political arena follow the anti-Wittgenstein dictum with equal finesse.
The remark also proves that Dr Singh is every inch a politician, notwithstanding the carefully cultivated image of him being a non-politician, of a good man who has accidentally entered the Prime Minister'sOffice. He has exhibited considerable dexterity in getting across politically expedient messages without sounding brazen.
He claims that he was distressed by the images of the family members of those implicated in the UK terror plots and their apparent helplessness. ?If some Indians are terrorists, that does not mean all Indians are terrorists. So let'snot target communities,? he said. To label ?either Indians or Pakistanis or anyone a terrorist by their nationality? was something he did not approve of.
The Prime Minister is wrong on many counts. First, even the most anti-immigration politician in the UK or the US does not say that Indians are terrorists. Yes, they have serious reservations about Muslims; and, unlike the mendacious liberals in our country, they express their reservations in no uncertain terms. Authors like Victor Davis Hanson, Ann Coulter, and Charles Krauthammer not only denounce the jehadis but they are also critical of Muslims and Islam. But they hardly ever make any adverse comment on the Hindus who are in sizeable number in Western countries. In short, it is unfair to bracket the Hindus with Muslims.
Second, Dr Singh has not done any great service to his countrymen by bracketing them with the Pakistanis. In today'sworld, Pakistan and Pakistanis mean ISI, support to al-Qaeda and Taliban, export of terror, arms proliferation, trafficking in nuclear and missile materials, help to the rogue nations like North Korea. But neither India nor the Indians are accused of spreading terror or indulging in activities inimical to world peace. So why is he worried about labelling?
The answer lies in the chicanery and subterfuge of liberals. These champions of political correctness, in India as in the West, adroitly confuse various issues; they portray religious differences as racial conflicts. For instance, in the summer of 2001 there were violent conflicts between the Muslims and the Brits over the cantankerousness of the former. The liberals glossed over the jehadists? role in it and presented the skirmishes as the result of ?White racism.? There were discussions over the fights between Whites and South Asians, not between the jehadists and patriotic Britons.
By making such statements, Dr Singh is trying to convey to our intellectuals that he is on their side, that he would do his best to keep their multicultural fictions alive, that he is committed to their shibboleths, that he is secular. The message was also meant for the Gordon Brown, Britain'snew Prime Minister. Apparently, Dr Singh wants the UK also to be a soft state like India where, in order to gain Muslim votes, terrorists are treated with kid gloves. Last year, he had instructed in a roundabout way his own government and law-enforcement agencies to go soft on terror.
Addressing the chief ministers? conclave on September 24, he lambasted the investigations regarding the July 11 blasts in Mumbai, in which many Muslims were rounded up. Both the Prime Minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked the chief ministers to ensure that the campaign against terror did not alienate Muslims, pushing them further towards a radical fringe. They called police to be cautious.
?I think it reflects a great weakness of the law-enforcing mechanism when it lines up the population of a locality for questioning,? Dr Singh had said. He and Mrs Sonia Gandhi asked the chief ministers to ensure that the campaign against terror did not alienate Muslims. The remarks were the product and function of the sharp criticism of Mumbai police investigations by, among others, Muslim clerics and Left MPs.
The police, rarely a picture of efficiency, got the hint: the result is that the investigations came to a grinding halt; and, as a result, the perpetrators of the massacre on Mumbai tracks walk free.
The Prime Minister'slosing-sleep comments must also have delighted She-who-must-be-obeyed. Once again, her ?chosen one? has displayed consummate skills in passing of Muslim appeasement as policy statement. The man who was considered a novice in politics has shown impressive ingenuity in the art of alluding.
(The author works with The Political and Business Daily.)