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Wednesday, 22 August 2018

A Poem for Modi Supporters


A Poem for Modi Supporters

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 22 August 2018


Abstract

A poem on the current state of things in India, inspired by the Reverend Martin Niemoller's famous poem, “First they came …” composed in Nazi Germany.


First they came for the Muslims …
And you supported them …
Because you are not a Muslim,
Because you think Muslims should be “taught a lesson” …
Because you believe India has “bent backwards” to accommodate Muslims.

Then they came for the Christians …
And you supported them …
Because you are a good Hindu,
And you do not like conversions.

Then they came for the Dalits …
And you supported them …
Because you are a good Hindu,
And Hinduism says upper castes are better,
And the Dalits should be “put in their place.”

Then they came for the women …
Who wear jeans and go to clubs,
Who link their hands with their boyfriends’ hands,
As they go out to parks and beaches and pubs.
And you supported them (even if you are a woman yourself) …
Because you like “traditional Hindu values,”
And women need to be “put in their place” —
cooking, cleaning, making babies and rearing children.

Then they came for the rationalists —
The Dabholkars, the Pansares, the Kalburgis, the Lankeshs …
And you supported them …
Because you are a good Hindu, not a rationalist
And you believe these people
Were destroying the cultural fabric of Hinduism.
You may not have wanted to kill them …
(After all, you are civilized and educated)
But hey, some excesses happen
When a larger movement is afoot.
Puppies get crushed under the wheel of a car …
And you feel sad about that — but what to do?
After all, these are only rabble-rousing rationalists.
And they are, after all, part of the same gang
That wants equality for Dalits, Muslims, Christians, and women,
That supports inter-religious and inter-caste marriages,
That wants you to open your temples to Dalits and women!
Hinduism is under threat!
And you are a good Hindu.

Then they came for the Leftists and the JNU types …
They beat up a Kanhaiya Kumar,
They stoned a Shehla Rashid,
and shot at an Umer Khalid …
And you supported them …
Because Uncle Modi told you that India was not great because of leftist influence
And Uncle Ahuja told you they use 3000 condoms a day
And Uncle Arnab told you they were anti-national,
Although in 2.5 years, not a shred of evidence
of that has been presented.
Because you are not a leftist,
And it is okay for people to beat and kill those who are different from you —
As long as you are not affected.
And Rashid and Khalid are Muslims, anyway …
And you are a good Hindu.

A few days ago, they beat up
Professor Sanjay Kumar of Motihari
And tried to burn him alive
Because he posted something critical
Of the late former PM Vajpayee.
And you supported them …
Because you are a huge admirer of Vajpayee
And who are these people who dare to insult him?
“They asked for it,” you tell yourself,
And if a “liberal” friend asks you about it …
You tell him to
“stop worrying about irrelevant things like this
and enjoy your life with people who matter to you.”

But think about this …
Sanjay Kumar is not Muslim
Sanjay Kumar is not Dalit
Sanjay Kumar is not Christian
Sanjay Kumar is not a JNU leftist
Sanjay Kumar is not a rationalist
Sanjay Kumar is not a jeans-wearing, temple-entry demanding woman.
All he did was voice a political opinion
And he nearly got killed — and may still die in the ICU.

Think about the progression …
Muslim, Dalit, Christian, Leftist, Rationalist, Leftist, Woman …
And now a Hindu man who is none of the above.

How long will it be before they come for you?
Maybe “they” will disapprove
Of something your son said
Or something your daughter did.
What if your daughter wore the “wrong” kind of dress?
What if your son fell in love —
With a person of the “wrong” caste?
Or, worse, the “wrong” religion?
What if she listened to the “wrong” kind of music?
What if he read the “wrong” kind of book?
What if she had the “wrong” kinds of friends?
You may not disapprove, but that may not matter
When they bludgeon or burn your son or daughter to death
For violating the sanctity of their religion.

If and when that horrible day comes …
We will not be around to speak up for you …
We will have either been beaten up ourselves
Or silenced by terror.

For we are not heroes,
Just folks with a conscience
Who have the courage to speak
When there is still freedom of speech.
When that freedom is taken away
By marauding gangs —
whom you have always supported —
I am sorry, but there is nothing we can do for you.

We hope you enjoy the New India you are creating …
Where every one of the above acts is supported …
By tacit approval from the top
And a violent chorus from the bottom.

But something tells me
History is repeating itself.
As Santayana famously said,
“Those who cannot remember the past
Are condemned to repeat it.”
History is rife with examples of peoples
Who willingly chose dictators to govern them
Only to lament their decisions.
The day you will lament, though,
You will lament alone.
And it will be too late.



Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.