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Rohith Vemula case: Consulting Editor of Newslaundry tries to spin the liberals out of trouble

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

When liberals are caught with their pants down, their last weapon is to try and “intellectualize” the situation. What does that mean? It’s a simple approach:

Step 1: Say something deliberately vague.

Step 2: People demand clarifications because you were so vague.

Step 3: Issue vague clarifications.

Step 4: Back to Step 2.

Infinite loop achieved! After running around the loop a couple of times, the detractors of the liberals will eventually give up and everyone can just call it a draw. Meanwhile, the fact that the liberals were caught with their pants down is forgotten.

Because liberals are so convinced that they are so much smarter than everyone else, they think that they can get away with this trick every single time. So it is no surprise that they went back to their favorite technique to save the blushes once this story broke all over the internet.


See if you can find shades of Step 1 in the words of Anand Ranganathan, consulting editor of Newslaundry


The deliberately confusing tweet intended to seed the infinite loop! Now, Anand Ranganathan has a mind trained in intellectual clarity, for he is a scientist as well. He knows *exactly* what  he is doing here. He has no excuse.

And you’ll never guess the illustrative example he provided to make his point.


The trap was now set. Of course one could ask several questions by playing around with Ranganathan’s  logic. For example:

(1) What if I say I “feel like” a Dalit? Can I get reservations?

(2) What if Sasikala says she “feels innocent”? Is the path clear for her to become CM of Tamil Nadu?

(3) If Ranganathan is so passionate about letting people choose their “real identities”, will he now condemn every single article on Newslaundry and everywhere else that suggest that the RSS is a communal/divisive force? Didn’t he just say that the RSS believes in the oneness of Indian society irrespective of religion?

But, of course, you have to realize that asking these questions only plays into Ranganathan’s hands. He wants you and me to ask those questions. He wants to keep giving “clarifications”. That way he can keep talking about everything except the core issue of liberals caught lying with their pants on fire in the Rohith Vemula case.

And that’s exactly what Ranganathan did. He issued more “clarifications”.


Excellent. Now people will come up with various other scenarios to counter his clarifications. Now we will discuss everything except the liberal embarrassment. From the plane of fact where liberals have been caught in the headlights, the debate moves to the plane of the hypothetical.

And Ranganathan took great delight in fueling this cycle further:


What if the university administration never intended to discriminate against anyone for being a Dalit or anything else? Doesn’t that mean they were innocent. I repeat, do NOT ask him this, because that’s exactly what he wants you to do.


Who condemned Rohith? We only condemned your liberal ilk. But people did take the bait and play into his hands. They went far far off topic just like Anand Ranganathan wanted, until he actually felt confident enough to turn the whole thing around on its head.


See how a professional does it? For the RW, there is something to learn here.

The right way to neutralize the spin and puncture people like Anand Ranganathan is simple: stick to the facts and don’t play into their hands. Stick to the fact that liberals cynically used a tragic suicide of a young man for exactly the kind of vote-bank politics that Rohith Vemula *pleaded* against in his final letter. 

When caught on the wrong foot, the liberals want you to step into an infinite loop of intellectualism till you get worn out and call it quits. Don’t take the bait.

The American hit animated comedy television series South Park uses exaggerated situations to deliver commentary on society. South Park does an excellent job of pointing out how to stop an intellectual infinite loop before it is set in motion. Sample this dialogue about someone trying to intellectualize their way out of child molestation. It’s between one of the lead characters, a boy named Kyle and an “activist” of “NAMBLA”. Here, NAMBLA = North American Man Boy Love Association (I told you they use exaggerated situations).

NAMBLA activist: Does anybody know their rights? You see, I’ve learned something today. Our forefathers came to this country because… they believed in an idea. An idea called “freedom.” They wanted to live in a place where a group couldn’t be prosecuted for their beliefs. Where a person can live the way he chooses to live. You see us as being perverted because we’re different from you. People are afraid of us, because they don’t understand. And sometimes it’s easier to persecute than to understand.

Kyle : Dude, you have sex with children.

NAMBLA activist: We are human. Most of us didn’t even choose to be attracted to young boys. We were born that way. We can’t help the way we are, and if you all can’t understand that, well, then, I guess you’ll just have to put us away.  

Kyle: [slowly, for emphasis] Dude, you have sex with children. 

See how nicely Kyle avoids getting sucked into the intellectual trap? He stays on course and doesn’t respond to any of the NAMBLA guy’s “arguments”. That’s the right way.

Now, if Anand Ranganathan reads this, he is going to accuse me of comparing him to a child molester. And I won’t be stepping into his trap, FYI. I will stick to pointing out how liberals cynically exploited a tragic suicide.


That is Sujata Anandan, political editor of the Mumbai edition of the Hindustan Times. And no, she isn’t celebrating the fall of a wicket in an India– Pakistan cricket game. She is talking about the suicide of a young man who had his whole life ahead of him, but chose to give it all up before he was 30 years old.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  
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