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Raj McCarthy

We walk in fear of one another. It has happened before.

Written by Madhu Trehan | Published: October 29, 2016 12:20 am
RAJ thackeray, samajwadi party, pakistani actors, pakistan embassy, pakistan, latest news, indian express, india news MNS chief Raj Thackeray. (Express photo By Deepak joshi)

Would it be inappropriate to ask, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” This question was directed by Joseph Welch to Senator Joseph P. McCarthy in 1954, during the Army-McCarthy Hearings in Washington. I ask the same question to Raj Thackeray, president of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). What we saw in Karan Johar’s video statement was a snivelling, begging creature, professing his patriotism and promising never to be naughty again by hiring Pakistani actors. No human being should be reduced to such indignity. Should we blame Johar? I cannot. I blame the bullies who reduced him to this mess.

Raj Thackeray, in yet another exploitative move, announced MNS would not allow Johar’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil to be screened because Pakistani actor Fawad Khan was acting in it.

Is it fair to compare McCarthyism to MNSism? McCarthyism is defined as: “The practice of making unfair accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.” What are the similarities between Joseph McCarthy and Raj Thackeray?

One, both created an atmosphere of suspicion of being a traitor to their country around any person they choose. Two, both targeted actors, producers and writers, in the film industry. Three, anyone who held dissenting views was labelled a communist and a traitor by McCarthy. Anyone who dissents from Thackeray’s views is labelled a traitor to his country.

Four, two years after Richard Rovere wrote his book Senator Joe McCarthy (1959), he said that, “like Hitler, McCarthy was a screamer, a political thug, a master of the mob.” Ring a bell?

McCarthy went after Hollywood to weed out those he considered communists and unpatriotic. Initially, the people of America supported him and believed communists were trying to take over their country. Paranoia ruled the country. Many famous names were hounded. Hundreds of lives were destroyed. The legendary journalist Ed Morrow investigated Joseph McCarthy and attacked him in what would become an iconic programme — See It Now.

That was the beginning of the end for McCarthy. Morrow said, “We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”

How does MNS take policy decisions on Pakistan when it is a political party and not the government? The government has not issued any statement banning the hiring of Pakistani actors.

It is not surprising that actors Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan have pointedly stayed away from any statements. Imran Khan told reporters, “I have many views but my concern is if I voice those views, I am going to have people come and try to burn my house. I don’t want people to threaten me or beat me up, I want to avoid these things. I will keep my opinion to myself.” We walk in fear of one another.

Question to consider: Is it unpatriotic to hire Pakistani actors? Is it unpatriotic to do business in Pakistan? Numerous Indian companies have dealings in Pakistan and consider it a good market for their products. Raymond has a store in Lahore where they do brisk business. Is the “complete man” then unpatriotic? How do you gauge the level and temperature of patriotism in a person? By insisting they shout Bharat Mata Ki Jai? Should we have a Patriotic Patrol Force that checks levels of patriotism with a breath analyser? Who sets up the agenda of deciding whether you are patriotic enough? It can’t be Raj Thackeray. It can’t be Anupam Kher. It can’t be lawyers turned goons. It can’t be internet trolls. We, as a nation, cannot be reduced to unreason at the mercy of bullies and thugs.

A “deal” was brokered in a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, MNS and the film producers. Company T was most impressed with itself. Thackeray claimed victory and said he would allow the film to be screened if the producers gave Rs 5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund. But the army brass was not impressed and has unofficially refused such a donation. They sniffed that they only accept donations that are voluntary and not coerced or through extortion. Now will Company T call the army unpatriotic? The Indian army, determinedly secular, is clearly in no mood for politicisation of their actions or to be used as a pawn in a political game.

In this consumer-oriented culture, patriotism has become just another product to be used for personal profit and political gains. Did we forget patriotism is a feeling? It cannot be put in a box and marketed. Subverting it for personal gain is unpatriotic. It is shocking how many people succumb to this marketed, fake concept of patriotism. When we define patriotism, compassion for your country must lie in the kernel of your feelings. Does Company T have compassion for his country?


The writer is editor in chief, newslaundry.com

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More From Madhu Trehan
  1. O
    Onkar Singh
    Oct 29, 2016 at 4:37 am
    Brilliant Madam,will you call the Army anti-national when it refuses to accept the extorted money from Bollywood? Let the true patriot's,true nationalists answer this question!! The business community has no qualms in doing business with stan.But patriots must target stani artists.They have no difficulty when Modi breaks protocol in trying to be extra friendly with stan.Politicians of the Modi b are exempt.This is our double standard.Diplomacy has to replaced with exuberance.Thats acceptable.What suits me is acceptable what does not suit me is unacceptable(it becomes anti-national).No sense of balance.
    1. D
      Oct 29, 2016 at 8:11 am
      Why stan is so dear to people such as this writer? From the same arguments other guys also have equal rights to oppose something the way you are advocating about something. Get over Paklove. When they mutilate body of our soldier don't you feel pain.
      1. J
        Oct 29, 2016 at 7:59 am
        Dude, McCarthy's middle name is Raymond, why is it Joseph P. McCarthy?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;This does not bode well for anyone reading the article. Wikipedia could have told you this. Good research.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Also, isn't McCarthyism defined by his anti-communist rhetoric rather than his allegations? Where did you get that definition of McCarthyism?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;See it Now, was by a gentleman called Edward Murrow.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;A good point, not badly made, but this has very easy mistakes in it without any basic research.
        1. J
          Oct 29, 2016 at 9:12 am
          Your opinion is exactly the way you look , my dear " little miss muffet" finished your pie darling, otherwise your bran doesn't seem working
          1. P
            Oct 29, 2016 at 12:55 pm
            India has become a surrealistic state with a section of it's citizens leaving in utopia, author is one of them.and wants India to invite with folded hands marauders to come and create mayhem.Bollywood movies are commercial ventures and should be governed with business rules,not compensated by state for their follies.lt;br/gt;2)Comparing present Bollywood controversy to McCarthy's actions is irrelevant.US did not have a neighbouring country whose raison dI etre is to destroy India.lt;br/gt;Please elaborate your ideals in your social circuits to get applauded.
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