The Liberal Fringe: In Today’s India and Family WhatsApp Groups

Oh, how the times have changed!

There was an age when moderate/liberal/progressive values were so highly regarded that people with such values were looked up to. Around me they were in larger numbers than people on the right of center. Right-wingers and conservatives were usually less educated, belonged to right-wing groups or were highly religious or highly feudal. A right-winger would either mask his inclinations or completely avoid the liberal \’elite\’. Usually these two groups did not overlap, so there wasn\’t much friction. We can even say that people were happy in their own bubbles.

But now the tables have turned (and overturned). Conservative and right-wing ideologies have made such inroads into the mainstream that it feels like liberals (derisively called \’libtards\’) and secularists (derisively called \’sickulars\’) have now become the fringe. But it\’s not all black and white, cut and dried.

There are progressive, modern people who voted for a right-wing party thinking that they\’re choosing a strong leader, decisive economy, and national security. Therefore, they chose to ignore (or downplay or deny) the darker aspects of the party, like sectarian/majoritarian ideology, silent endorsement of hate-speech and violence, polarization and divisiveness, questionable economic performance, etc. They felt it was a fair trade-off.

Then there are people who voted for the said party for exactly the darker aspects. Then there are people who are kind of bipolar in their views, being progressive and conservative at the same time. Maybe they\’re just opportunistic. Then there are people who voted for a right-wing party simply because there was no worthwhile alternative — the centrist parties carry an unsavory baggage of corruption and dynasty.

So, in effect, in a battle of fascism versus dynasty (the respective negatives of the two sides), fascism won because dynasty just didn\’t have the bells and whistles that fascism brought along. Of course, it is abundantly clear that not all who voted for a right-wing party are fascists. But based on their best judgement, this was their only choice. That\’s how people vote anyway — to the best of their judgement.

If you\’re like me, chances are that you\’re in the minority in your school and family WhatsApp groups. It\’s a bummer. I avoid responding to right-wing-supporting posts in the fear of upsetting a family member or a childhood friend. In social settings, I\’m afraid of being \’outed\’ as a liberal for the fear of embarrassment and ostracism. I resist all temptation and instigation to reveal my predilection.

So that\’s how it is now. Yes, things have changed completely in my forty-two years on Terra. It may not be 1984 yet, but sure is an Animal Farm.

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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