Culture of hate: The Tribune India
The hijab controversy in educational institutions in Karnataka and last week’s attack on Asaduddin Owaisi during an election campaign in Uttar Pradesh cannot be considered unrelated incidents. Both represent the result of rabid community messaging patronage that seems to celebrate bigotry, while taking a boisterous leap from subtleties to brashness. If the political class still chooses to be blind to the consequences of normalizing a culture of hate and othering, the country will have to bear the brunt of it, and at a terrible cost. A narrative of manufactured insecurities that wants the conversation to center on “us” versus “them” is allowed to seep into the delicate social fabric. The free race for the militant transformation of prejudices constitutes a serious threat.
The general condemnation of violence and vitriol in all its forms can best be interpreted as a symbolic gesture in the absence of any substantial and visible action that shows the intention to suppress radicalization. Owaisi’s speech at the Lok Sabha, a day after he escaped unscathed when his car was attacked in Hapur, is a reminder of how minds are polluted, with no counter-efforts to come. The four-time MP’s rejection of Category Z security blanket may be seen as political positioning, but offering a group of security personnel ignores the larger issue. The discourse of two Indies, one based on love and the other created on hatred, is no longer a fictional construction.
Polarization did not rear its ugly head for the first time in the UP election, but the campaign’s crude communalization efforts are calling for the urgent attention of the Election Commission. How and why all kinds of boundaries have been crossed is extremely disturbing and requires answers. Not acting is not an option. What is at stake is not only the credibility of the institution, but everything that the Constitution represents.