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Open Diary

Swapan Dasgupta is India's foremost conservative writer and columnist
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The London attack, the jargonised prose of academia and the Ireland’s new Prime Minister

WHEN DOES ENOUGH actually become enough? When does camaraderie and political moderation give way to a virulent backlash? When does the ‘keep calm and carry on’ spirit finally collapse in the face of provocation?

This is a question that has been going through my mind as I witnessed the horror of the third terrorist strike in the UK in a month. All three incidents were inspired by the Islamic State, which has become a source of romantic inspiration to a clutch of rudderless Muslim youth in the West. All three were the handiwork of British citizens from immigrant families who, for some reason, grew to think of their fellow citizens as enemies. And all three involved spitting in the face of a society that had been extremely accommodative and generous towards people who either sought a better life or had fled from persecution.

The IS masterminds who motivated these young boys to kill and be killed are crafty. They have exploited the vulnerabilities of an open society and forced the creation of a society that, for its own safety and security, must be subjected to unending state surveillance. But I can’t really see an alternative. It is one thing to champion human rights and civil liberties but how will the state answer for its permissiveness? Most of those who have carried out terror attacks in the West have been in the radar of the police for involvement in Islamist activities. This has made post-attack detection work simpler but it hasn’t prevented the deaths of innocent people. The law, as it exists in the West, doesn’t allow the police to jail people for merely harbouring dangerous ideas. Yet, by the time dangerous ideas begin to evolve into dangerous plots, it is usually too late to act—although the British police haven’t done a bad job thwarting attacks before they have been carried out.

After the Manchester and London attacks, British opinion seems to be veering round to the conclusion that it doesn’t always help to play with a straight bat, more so since the enemy is within. After a new government has been installed in Westminster, I can sense the return of preventive detention and perhaps even the cancellation of citizenship of those who have failed the loyalty test miserably and who glorify waging war on the country of their adoption. Draconian legislation of this sort is bound to raise liberal hackles but I can’t see any alternative unless Muslim communities throughout the UK decide that their own survival demands a fierce purge within. Sadly, I don’t see that happening in a hurry.

MANY OF US who are reasonably conversant with the English language must share the complete exasperation with the jargonised prose that passes off as profound academic writing. Like the Emperor’s new clothes, many of us often overlook this massacre of the language for fear of being viewed as unlettered and ignorant. The jargon-wallas thrive on this passive indulgence of stupidity.

In last week’s Spectator, James Delingpole provided some truly revealing examples of this linguistic gobble. He cited the case of two impish US academics who submitted a paper ‘The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct’ for peer review. One of these reviewers lauded the paper’s treatment ‘of hypermasculinity through a multidimensional and nonlinear process.’ The other reviewer called it ‘outstanding.’

Needless to add, the paper was a hoax. But it succeeded in exposing the spuriousness of new-fangled disciplines such as gender studies. Since the gatekeepers of the social science departments in Indian academia have already declared war on the Modi government, there will be no political loss if bodies such as the UGC and ICSSR stop funding such neo-Left rubbish. We will be spared a generation of ‘scholars’ who talk gibberish.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA seems to be full of posts imagining that the only interesting thing about Leo Varadkar, the half-Indian politician who is set to become Ireland’s new Prime Minister, is that he is gay. How, the liberals are asking, can Indians take pride in Varadkar’s success when his gayness would have to be kept under wraps here, courtesy section 377 of the Penal Code?

They have half a point. Criminalising homosexuality is silly and the law ought to be modified. At the same time, Varadkar didn’t climb to the top of the political pile because he is gay. His sexual orientation was at best a footnote. It is only the dreary gay activists who think that someone’s bedroom behaviour defines an individual. Most people don’t give a damn about people’s sexuality unless it involves rape or paedophilia.

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