Denial is Bliss!


Until a couple of decades ago ignorance was bliss. It was relatively easy to shut oneself away from reality by reading only sports section of the newspaper or watching music only channels. But with the advent of social media and their news feeds, it is almost impossible to feign ignorance. So denial is now the new source of bliss. If at this point you are wondering as to what is that I am ranting about, then know that this happened. And immediately savarnas all over India got ready to get into various denial modes.

The first denial mode is to just completely ignore the caste of the victims. The strategy is to refuse to see the casteist pattern of these atrocities and justify them away as “family feuds” or some other such nitpicked attribute of the incident. This is easy because hardly ever a murderer is going to announce “You are a dalit and that’s why I am killing you”. And once caste is ignored, it becomes easy to live in the delusional state “casteism is history and not applicable in present Bharat”. How else can people, such as union minister V. K. Singh, shirk social responsibility and spew their hatred towards lower castes? And how else can they satisfy their need to live in a savarna bubble cribbing about reservations?

Then there is the “not in my world” denial mode. This is phrased in terms such as “this happens only in villages” by obviously an urban savarna, or “this happens only in Haryana” by a savarna of some other state. As if these can be any legitimate excuses in a country where 70% of population lives in villages and where casteism is not at all unique to any state. In fact it is not even unique to savarnas residing in India and extends to NRIs. The strategy of this denial is to distance oneself from reality and weave an image that all these incidents happen in a land far far away. It is basically denial of the ubiquity of casteism in India by living in a savarna bubble cribbing about reservations.

The third denial mode is to blame everything on media and politics. It’s the argument that “things aren’t this bad, politics or media just present them that way”. How else can they justify status-quo and live with their just-world fantasies? How else can they shirk social responsibility? It is nothing but outright denial of the inhumanity of such atrocities and the casteism behind it just because acknowledging it would destroy the savarna bubble they live in cribbing about reservations.

Another denial mode is the moderate-extremist mode which is akin to religious moderates claiming their religion is peaceful and only fringe elements give it a bad name. These people will actively practice all the subtle kinds of casteism by participating only in caste-arranged-marriages or serving their lower caste maid in different plates reserved for “such people”. They paint this picture where such actions are harmless while ignoring the fact that it is this imposed segregation that preserves social power structures and leads to caste clashes. Then they enter their savarna bubble to crib about reservations.

The last kind of denialism is the universal apathetic mode. This is where denial is same as ignorance. In this mode people will be seen “spreading positivity in social media because it has gotten so much negative you know”. They treat social problems like maths problems where negatives can be compensated by positives, i.e. a casteist atrocity gets compensated with a lovely rendition of our national anthem. And then they go back to their savarna bubble to crib about reservations.

Comments

  1. Bruce says

    This is a good blog post.
    To clarify when a situation is one of these kinds of improper denials, here is what to ask. Ask yourselves if it is “OK” to have just a “small” amount of repulsive action accepted in society. Thoughtful people realize that any amount of evil behavior is too much. So things can’t be excused by just saying that it’s just a few people, no matter how one looks at it.
    Also, Martin Luther King pointed out that what was worse than the most violent racists were the supposedly moderate people, who all seemed to act polite, but who sent the message that no action was needed. King was right, and this blog article is right. Thanks.

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