For the past few weeks, western media has been running stories on how "Hindus are driving out Christians" in India.
New York Times (never the best of sources, but apprently widely read in that country) recently ran a headline screaming "Hindus Threat to Christians - Convert of Flee." Lets not forget this is a country where the presidential candidate can malign the opposition with the mere suggestion of being Muslim. And when the fury whipped up by the suggestions gets overt, and some voter declares that the opposition candidate cannot be trusted because "he is an Arab," what does the good ole American war hero respond? Not with a lecture about secularism and democracy and human rights of Arabs. McCain came back with how Obama was a "decent family man." As if Arabs cannot be decent family men! And then the clincher - "he's not!"
He's not Arab? He's not Muslim? Why does this matter?
Why am I bringing this up? Well, USA is also the same country that periodically issues reports on the health of "secularism" and "religious freedom" in India! It is also the country that makes a great song and dance about not issuing a visa to Gujarat CM, Narendra Modi, ostensibly for his Hindu Nationalist stance (FYI: the most touted public reason is alleged "genocide" but lets not judge any of the American politicians on that particular basis!).
Now I am not defending Modi in any way but the hypocrisy embodied by the US political discourse is quite breath-taking. Palin's speeches are not that different from Modi except in one crucial aspect: she attacks and names specific political opponents, something even fire-breathing Modi would not get away with. And the responses from her Bible-bashin, good ol' American followers is one that you would n't find even in the most illiterate village in Gujarat: calls for "kill him", "traitor", "off with his head." And all this for the opposing candidate, not some vague, nebulous enemy within! In India, EC would have stamped down on those before the week was out. Lucky for those moose-hunting, democracy lovin' lot that US doesn't HAVE an EC.
Lets put this in perspective - how about Advani whipping up the same frenzy about Sonia Gandhi, with calls for killing her emanating from frenzied BJP supporters? Or how about BSP audience jeering "kill him" for Advani at Mayawati's rallies? I can just imagine the headlines that New York Times would publish then. I would be all "sectarian strife" and "threat of civil war" from NYT!
So why do I care about the inanity emanating from the American campaign trail? Well, when the candidates for the highest office of the "most powerful country in the world" spew this sort of hate speech on their campaign trail, any lectures to India (or any other country) smack of imperialist idiocy. And when the same presidential campaign recycles fears articulated by Hollywood's greatest racist creation ("freed" slaves stuffing ballot boxes in D.W.Griffith's Birth of a Nation/McCain and Palin's smearing of ACORN), and the major media gags itself, then all finger-pointing at India by that same press becomes not only hypocritical, but even the veneer of virtue slides right off. Frankly boys, clean up your own houses first!