When someone challenges your ideas, don't just brush them off. Decades of dismissing the right wing, calling them imbeciles, idiots, racists, and bigots is what has led to this sudden outburst of

When someone challenges your ideas, don't just brush them off. Decades of dismissing the right wing, calling them imbeciles, idiots, racists, and bigots is what has led to this sudden outburst of "nationalism" in India as well as the Trump phenomena in the US. You have to engage, argue, and debate. Defend your opinions and attack theirs with logic. If you act condescending and superior, you're only creating more problems down the line.

You HAVE to Engage the Right – Not Dismiss Them

The world watches in bewilderment, the sudden outburst of rabid patriotism in India. At the Trump phenomenon in the US. At the threats to Turkey’s traditional secularism. But you know what? We’re the ones who are responsible.

Who is “we”?

“We”, refers to the traditional intellectuals, the progressives, and the “politically correct” crowd. For years, we have refused to engage the right wing. We call them racists, bigots, and stupid. We’ve told them that if they oppose gay marriage, they’re idiots who deserve to be ignored. That if they want to incorporate religion into government, they’re backward and don’t understand the principles of modern governance. If they want to impose traditional values on the population through the law, we call them conservative idiots who don’t know any better.

But dismissing someone doesn’t make them disappear. It only pisses them off. If you don’t engage with a person you disagree with, they begin to suspect your motives. They think you don’t have any logic at your end. No one enjoys being talked down to. We didn’t like it as children when our parents told us what to do without giving us reasons, and we simply won’t stand for it as adults. No matter how idiotic a person appears to be, no matter how bigoted or racist their remarks seem, you simply cannot brush them off.

When someone doesn’t agree with me, I don’t dismiss them. I stand and argue. I engage – sometimes to the incomprehension of those around me.

And this is the reason for Trump in the US. This is why India is suddenly witnessing an explosion of hate for the “leftists”, the “progressives”, the “intellectuals”, and “the media”.

Do I support gay marriage, freedom of government from religion, and personal freedom? Of course I do! But when someone doesn’t agree with me, I don’t dismiss them. I stand and argue. I engage – sometimes to the incomprehension of those around me.

As a blogger, my wife (and others) constantly ask me – “Why do you keep arguing with this person?” Well for one, I love to argue! And second, I can’t bring myself to simply ignore and dismiss a person with an opposing point of view – no matter how much at odds they are with me and no matter how repugnant I find their ideas. Refusal to engage is not a strength. You are merely sowing the seeds for that future resentment.

People try and justify brushing off others with quotes like the one from George Bernard Shaw saying “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” They think it’s noble and high minded to avoid debate with a person they consider beneath them (hence the word “pig”). But that condescending attitude might just hide a fear of exposing your own weakness. Maybe you’re not really sure of the logic behind your own opinions.

Decades of brushing off the right wing, scorning their opinions that we find repulsive, labeling them as racists and misogynists have generated a large mass of the population who feel resentful that their voice is not being heard. And the outcome is a sudden burst of unfocused rage and knee jerk opinions.

After consistently being dismissed and looked down on, a point will come when they say “Fuck you. I am PROUDLY anti-intellectual. I am PROUDLY racist. I am a PROUD bigot. What’re you going to do about it?” We see this with Trump don’t we? We see this with the right wing crowd in India as well no? I don’t blame them. In their position I might do the same as well.

The politically correct crowd bears special responsibility. One of the primary appeals of Donald Trump is that he’s viewed as a man who “says what he means. Even if it’s repulsive. Perhaps because it’s repulsive. It’s essentially a massive, massive pushback against years and years of stifling opinions, words and entire ideas in the name of being “politically correct”. To an extent, being PC is nice. It indicates sensitivity towards the feelings of others. But as soon as you use being PC as a tool to feel morally superior, you’ve lost it.

Progress occurs by taking everyone along with you. By convincing them with logic and ideas. If you can’t do that, your ideas and logic are simply not good enough – it’s that simple. Change your tactics, find better arguments. But talk with the other side. It’s not cool to simply dismiss other opinions and look down on them.

So the next time you meet someone in real life or the Internet advocating the banning of beef in India, talk to them in a non-condescending manner. If you see a person defending hooliganism against JNU protesters, ask them why and challenge them. Give them an opportunity to put forward their opinions, and let them hear yours. Don’t hang back and feel good about “not engaging with the rabble”.

The members of the rabid right are citizens too. The value of their vote is the same as yours. And in some situations (like in Turkey), they far outnumber the progressives. Ignore them at your peril.

I have no idea if Trump will win the nomination or become president (part of me wants him to win just to watch the fun!) But his success in the US is an indicator of rage – rage against the PC police and the “progressives” who have dismissed people they disagree with. The new nationalism debate in India points to the same thing.

So get off your ass and go argue with these guys. They might end up insulting you, sure (in fact it’s likely). But at least they cannot accuse you of hiding and ignoring them. They’re forced to talk about their opinions using logic – or at least they’re forced to think about what they’re saying. But without that, all they can see is you hiding behind your smug layer of condescension.

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Comments

  1. That’s actually not been my experience, at least in my friend circle. They all just tend to shut up and pretend to ignore me. Just recently, my friend shared this terrible post about fathers and daughters (link here, if interested: http://www.scoopwhoop.com/Vidaai-Photos-Weddings-Beautiful-Bond-Of-A-Father-And-Daughter/). I first told her that the article is insulting to women. She responded once and then I wrote out a pretty lengthy post explaining my reasons in detail why the post should be offensive to all women. I was completely blanked out after this. She kept responding to people who were going “Oooh, what a lovely post about fathers!” This has been the story of my life.

    So no, this technique doesn’t work, at least for me. People don’t want to change because change is tough. People with privilege are not interested in seeing things change for those lower down the pecking order. So I don’t think it’s our fault, specifically. They are the ones who don’t want to engage, not us.

    Reply

    • In reply to Fem

      I agree that there are lots of us who do engage others in debate. I see it often.

      But I’ve also seen the reverse very often. Outright dismissals – sometimes with insults. Appeals to decency, common sense, and even authority. In the US, there is a crippling wave of political correctness (PC) which has directly fueled the rise of Trump.

      In my opinion, it’s no coincidence that the rabid right in India and Trump have so much in common. They both hate “intellectuals”, scorn education, and are vehemently – one might almost say deliberately – vulgar and rude. I personally feel that this is an over reaction to decades of dismissals.

      I feel the situation in Turkey is a direct outcome of this dismissal as well.

      Reply

    • In reply to Fem

      so what exactly is offensive about that post ?

      i suppose it’s the subtle implication that fathers own daughters. which makes sense as parents semi-own children. And I get there are certainly ways to go wrong here, but the bonds shared by family are often complex. I’m certain my sister thinks she has part ownership of me and she certainly acts like it, which I either appreciate or get annoyed by depending.

      Reply

    • In reply to Fem

      “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. Just let him run wild and eat all of your food – wouldn’t want to get your clothes dirty!.”

      Reply

  2. Sir,

    You couldn’t have put this better. I was thinking of this, but didn’t know how to express it myself. This also seems to be a rising trend in Europe, wherein some Whites are tending to neo Nazism and demonizing the Jews again, blaming them for mass Islamic/Third World immigration.

    Indeed, we as “intellectuals” must engage people from all walks of life. We must engage people from the entire political and economic spectra. As an individual who has been in all stripes of the political spectrum (far left, liberal, libertarian, far right, you name it) and the economic spectrum (communism, socialism, mercantilism, free market capitalism, you name it), I can tell you, we gained nothing demonizing the right wing post 1945 anywhere. They’ve been patient for far too long in my opinion. The people of the USA, Europe and India have been patient with these “intellectuals” for too long and they feel a tipping point has been reached and any further patience might put their own future into jeopardy.

    For instance, in India, right wing and far right Hindus are right about one thing, and that is, Islam is an intolerant medieval religion that has little to no place for reform and hence by nature will never tolerate other religions/ideologies. As far as Christianity goes, in the West, people in general are kind and open minded, whereas Indian Christians up to what I’ve personally noticed are just marginally better than Muslims in terms of tolerance. No offense nor malice intended to anyone in any form. The ultra leftists, the center left liberals and to a reasonable extent the media have all blundered by demonizing the right wing for such a long time that now they face the rage of the latter. R for Right wing, R for Rage. This is for sure a blunder and not a deliberate design to outnumber and vanquish Hindus as some hysterical far right wingers believe.

    Rather than giving platforms for expression, intellectuals have literally stamped over the opinions of the right wing for a long time, so like a dormant volcano, the right wing erupts. And Indians in general are known to take abuse for a long time, but when they retaliate, there is simply no end to their fury. And this is being seen regularly with abuse, insults, threats of violence, death, rape, etc, littered all over the Internet. Erdogan in Turkey managed to maintain his popularity by actively doing work to improve the country, while Modi hasn’t ushered in the good days he promised and it’s almost 2 years. Add to that his confused policies, both domestic and international, that add to further frustration for the right wingers who now feel they’ve been “betrayed” and “stabbed in the back”. I expect more violent and gory eruptions in the not too distant future. If Modi doesn’t do something quick, we can expect the unexpected. Frustration levels are very high in the already agitated right wing stable and that isn’t a good sign.

    Thanks.

    Reply

    • In reply to Iniyavel

      Yeah – frustration leads to anger and irrationality. We need to talk rationally – even if they don’t. Even if they insult us.

      Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Sir,

        True that. I’m afraid that if the right wingers get anymore frustrated with Modi that they can no longer defend him, that might trigger off an uncontrolled chain reaction which will definitely not bid well for the country as a whole. It’s high time we convince the intellectuals and the intelligentsia to engage the right wing as soon as possible and with an open mind. Shunning or attempting to humiliate them any further will carry unimaginable consequences. No one understood what went wrong with the right wing till date. I’m afraid there’s something more sinister to the story than mere lynching, murdering, smear campaigning, etc. which I’m not able to decipher nor predict.

        As a note, I heard that Europeans already have started forming vigilante groups to deal with Islamic immigrants who commit all kinds of crimes there because they’ve lost all faith in their governments. I got that from here.

        Oh well, that’s human nature, guilty conscience especially leads us to literally commit hara-kiri. This is why a proper balance is essential. Going far left also has its disadvantages as we’re seeing in Europe. On this topic, I must note that Japan (and other East/Southeast Asian countries) are far more assertive than the rest because they know how much they really can handle. We call them xenophobes, but being committed to one’s race and nation is not xenophobia. That’s plain common sense.

        I gather that the US is literally suffocated with political correctness as is Europe. Sweden takes the cake in political correctness. They’ve literally booked themselves a one way ticket straight to the 7th century. All because they do not want to be called racists, Nazis, etc.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZtc2ma2GEQ

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZsvdg1dkJ4

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_znVnOizU8

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uws9BlnJmjI

        As for political correctness, I will let Theodore Dalrymple respond:

        “Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. The purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. If you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

        I’m pretty much ready to talk openly with right wingers. A couple of them on Twitter after some time of discussion actually stopped their aggression against me and started discussing (although they ended quickly thereafter). As for now, a good proportion of them are still open for discussion. Before they go irrational, I would suggest that the intelligentsia and the intellectuals engage them as soon as possible with civility, even if the right wingers start off badly.

        Thanks.

        Reply

    • In reply to Iniyavel

      Indeed, it’s been almost 2 years and no Achche Din (good days) yet as promised by Modi! I am a right winger and simply can’t defend him any more. Been 45 years since Indira Gandhi proclaimed Gareebi Hatao (Remove poverty). I am tired of defending Modi. I am going back to the Congress….they have been in power for 35 out of the 45 years since Indira Gandhi promised to remove poverty…it’s time to give them another chance. You know what they say…the 36th time is the charm!

      Reply

      • In reply to Sumit

        Hi Sumit,

        I understood via interaction with a number of bhakts (on Twitter) their levels of frustration with Modi. Indeed, I was a huge fan of his during 2014 and early 2015, and even went as far as spewing hate left and right against those who don’t agree and glorifying Hitler. From 2015, I started losing hope already. The difference is, Indira Gandhi was a socialist inside-out. Modi isn’t a capitalist, but a crony capitalist and terribly confused regarding his domestic policies (political and economic) and foreign policies (blunders with Pakistan, Nepal and China). Neither he nor BJP had a firm base to stand on. Alas, this is what happens when a group of people don’t attempt to rewrite history but instead fudge, twist and appropriate the history of others. Indeed, the INC during its early years produced greats like Gandhi (although I disagree almost completely with his ideals, no scrap that, I’m the total opposite of Gandhi and his ideals), Nehru (I hate him due to personal reasons, but I must admit, he was good for his time), etc. But right now, like Sam Jackson’s character put it in Unbreakable: These are mediocre times. No country really is in good shape militarily or economically. The military forces of Muslim countries are laughing stocks, China’s economy is increasingly tumbling, Russia is too dependent on its natural resources, the USA is gutted by political correctness and demoralizing open ended missions, and India has no shining face to lead the nation (although I in my personal capacity am 100% sure I’ll do a much better job than BJP, Congress and AAP put together).

        No, just look at the types we have:

        1. Narendra Modi – 10th pass, absolute failure in all fronts since 2014 despite his high rhetoric before 2014.

        2. Rahul Gandhi – 12th pass, a walking joke. Though he’s better now than his earlier years, he appears utterly spineless. He has turned more into a milder version of TN politician Vaiko, in my opinion. I can surely do a million times better job than him, even now in my darkest days where it’s been almost a decade since I saw any major morale boosting success personally or professionally, and I just turned 23 on April 5, 2016. But I have sheer willpower that keeps me alive and burning.

        3. Arvind Kejriwal – Confirmed ISI setup. Behaves exactly like one. This can be seen by how he blatantly shames the PM regularly with no regard to the post that the PM espouses. And then calling the PM an ISI agent. Now extending his tentacles into Punjab. An utterly confused fellow who doesn’t know the core cause for economic corruption in India, not to mention super arrogant.

        I only practically looked at how socialism and capitalism work for a country for barely 6 months, and my knowledge base expanded. Refer to this site: http://www.sabhlokcity.com I have other conflicting non-economic issues with his ideals, but overall I understood what India needs and I started off my own blog for the same reason: http://reflectionsofafuturist.wordpress.com/ This is because I personally believe HISTORY HAS NO ROOM FOR EXCUSES. And as a futurist, I find my ideals as the most necessary to not only ease the load off the government but also improve the quality of life in the country and also focus on developing India’s defense in the face of a growing ever-aggressive China.

        I can now proudly say, no matter how tall Arvind Kejriwal stands, even if he uses ladders, he’ll still be miles below my right/left testicles and will probably never even come close to touch them in his lifetime. Apply the same to Modi. That’s not arrogance from my side, but confidence. By that yardstick, I personally believe Rahul Gandhi will be more successful in squeezing my schlong, look at how he has improved from 2012-13, but that’s only under the condition that I don’t update myself and stagnate. Right now I’m busy, but will be back in full swing when I get the time and the breakthrough. That isn’t arrogance, but sheer confidence. It’s sheer confidence in myself and science & tech that makes me believe that I’m at least a million times better in my individual capacity than all the Indian political parties put together. Because I do not want to be one among the mediocre, but independent and strong. On the lines of Genghis Khan, Peter the Great, Cyrus the Great, Mohammad Aqa Khan Qajar, Chandragupta Maurya, Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I, Qianlong, Taizong, Reza Khan Pahlavi, George Washington, King Saladin, etc, (apologies for no chronological order) I tread and inspire myself seeing their lives as examples that I can be a much better leader in today’s mediocre world, in whatever field I pursue.

        Okay, apologies for getting carried away. Why not you try this new party for now instead?
        http://swarnabharat.in/

        Regards.

        Reply

  3. …i always want to talk logically and understand and ( like you) argue ..but what if the other side says….that they dont want to talk…they have forgotten what they said…..in fact they didnt say anything .. nothing happened ??? like many of the Nazis deny that the holocaust ever happened …..then one cannot engage..one has to let the matter lie…..and make excuses for the other………forget…

    Reply

    • In reply to tp

      There’s a limit to how much you can talk. When one has already talked and talked and talked, then you can grow tired of it. Particularly if it’s not very interesting.

      There is such a thing as beating ad dead horse and carrying a grievance too far.

      Reply

  4. Wow…Bhagwad has moved to “WE” and talking in group terms such as “politically correct crowd”.

    Truly Achche Din have arrived :)

    (Explanatory note: “Achche Din” is a slogan in the Hindi language that means “Good days”. During his 2014 election campaign, Narendra Modi promised to bring “Achche Din” for Indians if elected).

    Reply

    • In reply to Sumit

      Didn’t know how else to frame it :) . “You” is too disassociative since I share a lot of things in common with the group (but not all). And other formulations would have been very clumsy grammar.

      Indeed, I get attacked by both sides – the right and the left. And I like it that way!

      Reply

  5. That’s a nice blog. I really liked it since that is what I do too…argue!! I cant just put up with all those self righteous people who casually make remarks that reek bias , intolerance and communalism. But I must say at times it costs you. I lost friends that way coz they refused to budge even though they knew they were wrong..
    Keep writing Bhagwad..

    Reply

    • In reply to Nikhat

      Yes, we might lose friends. The key is to try and argue without getting personal.

      Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        But the real question is, were such friends worth having in the first place? Think about it, on the one hand there are the progressives arguing brilliantly using logic, answering every possible question about the universe and on the other there are those of an inferior breed. They don’t argue but just produce a mish mash of their prejudices and stupidity and ignorance. Would you not rather stick with the enlightened crowd?

        Reply

      • In reply to Sumit

        Well…I can’t really say. I won’t pass judgment beforehand about how someone is going to argue. I think the point about not getting personal is true regardless of what kind of friends they are.

        I’ve still managed to retain most of my friends despite arguing very strongly with them. It depends less on the actual matter of the argument, and more on the tone.

        Reply

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