Vantage point

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vinod Mehta's Bigotry

Vinod Mehta is someone I don't always agree with. At worst, I have found his arguments flawed. Never did I expect him to descend into unvarnished bigotry! From the latest issue of Outlook

Criticism from other countries is acceptable. But not from Australia, a land largely made up of descendants of convicts.

Huh? Either Vinod Mehta has a bigoted ghost writer or he has done well to keep his bigotry hidden all these years. I am no fan of the Australian media. I find a lot of the reporting as well as editorializing in it condescending towards India. And there are several valid criticisms to be made of the Aussie media's slanted coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

So why stoop down to quasi-racist levels by bringing up this "descendants of convicts" BS? Does Vinod Mehta have classified access to the existence of some criminality gene that gets passed down from parents to their kids; something that geneticists haven't shared with the world? Does Vinod Mehta proudly stand by anything and everything his great-great-great-great-great grandparents might have done? Is Vinod Mehta suggesting that future generations of all convicts must forever be treated as different from the rest of us?

And did Vinod Mehta cheer in glee while watching Amitabh Bachchan's Deewar when the words "mera baap chor hai" were tattooed on little Vijay's hand? He might as well have, if he believes in this descendants of convicts claptrap. And if he doesn't believe it, and wrote it as a joke, it still isn't okay, especially after the Indian media coverage played a role in paul Henry losing his job for his jokes.

Arjuna Ranatunga had made a similar comment during his playing days. I think (although I am not sure) Harbhajan Singh might also have said something similar in the aftermath of the Sydney test. It is a xenophobic, bigoted and quasi-racist thing to say for anyone.

But especially coming from Vinod Mehta, supposedly a liberal progressive leading light of the Indian media, it is plain disgusting. Ad hominem, the fallacy of attacking the person not the argument, is bad enough. Attacking the ancestors of the person making the argument is a bigoted fallacy that we should perhaps name VinodMehtaism.