Bengaluru riots, Wikipedia and the impossible staircase of Indian secularism

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Wikipedia refuses to identify the Bengaluru rioters by their religion, calls it 'clashes'

— Consider reading the article Bengaluru riots, Wikipedia and the impossible staircase of Indian secularism on OpIndia website —

Let me start by showing you this famous artwork by MC Escher, titled “Ascending and Descending.” Although he was an artist, MC Escher has a cult following among mathematicians because of the exploration of infinity in his work. So, look closely.

We will come back to what is special about this picture.

The Bengaluru riots of Aug 11, 2020 are still fresh in our memory. But public memory is short. Which is why we have Wikipedia, a website which is now more powerful than any history text book.

Promptly enough, there is now a Wikipedia page for the Bengaluru riots, which begins thus.

“Clashes” “Armed assailants”

Who could these people be? Aliens from Mars? Compare to the Wikipedia article on Delhi riots, which takes a much more direct approach towards identifying people.

“Hindu mobs attacking Muslims”

If you think there is a difference in tone between the two articles, you are not alone. So, is Wikipedia biased? No, not at all. To find out why the tone of the two articles is so different, every Indian must read the “Talk” page on this article.

Somebody asks why the religion of the rioters is not being highlighted properly in the Bengaluru article just like it was in the case of Delhi riots?

The stock reply comes from other editors in the form of a question: Which (media) source clearly mentions the religion of the rioters? Are multiple third party sources stating the religion of the rioters?

No! So, don’t blame Wikipedia. They’re blameless. Go somewhere else with your demand.

But where? Secular media sources have not highlighted the religion of the rioters. Why? Because they are committed to “Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb.” They are noble people with the best of intentions who just want peace and harmony to rule in India. Go somewhere else.

Okay, how about “right wing” media sources then? Like Opindia. They’ve not hidden the religion of the rioters. Justice at last, right?

Oops! Forgot to tell you. Opindia is banned from being used as a source on Wikipedia.

So where do you go? Back to Wikipedia? They’re blameless. It’s not their fault you don’t have a source to support your claim.

So if Wikipedia is not at fault, if secular media is not at fault, whose fault is it? It is you and your memory which is at fault. How dare you remember the religion of the rioters in Bengaluru? You are guilty of thoughtcrime.

Now look again at the artwork by MC Escher. In particular to the stairs at the top of the building. Pick any point and follow one set of those human-like figures facing one way. They just go up and up, always ascending, but somehow ending up at exactly the same point. Now follow the other set of human like figures facing the other way. They just go down and down, always descending the same stairs but somehow ending up exactly at the same point.

That’s secularism.

The truth goes round and round, always appearing to get somewhere. When in reality it is getting nowhere.

The same with all other narratives of Indian secularism. You want to say that Hindus suffered oppression during 800 years of Islamic rule? Go find a reputable historian to support your claim. But wait! Don’t forget that “reputable” historian is defined to mean a historian who rejects your claim.

Good luck proving your claim now. They’ve got all bases covered. You can keep ascending or descending the impossible staircase of Indian secularism. You’ll never reach the top, or the bottom. You can only let go of the truth and accept Big Secularism into your heart.

As George Orwell would have said, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength.

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