Atanu Dey On India's Development

Why I’m a Field-nigger and Manmohan Singh is Not

| 19 Comments

I should apologize for being a lazy bum. Otherwise I would have responded sooner to some of the comments that need a response to my post “Arundhati Roy is a Damn Nuisance.” Anyhow, better late than never. So, first, a note of thanks to those who left the thoughtful comments. I am glad that you took the time. Next comes the more interesting part of replying to the negative comments.

Pulkit writes,

Smacks of a soft Hindutva hardliner or a BJP spokesperson, desperately trying to hide under the guise of a cool, ‘pro-progress’ image.

You are sharp, aren’t you? Can’t get anything past you, can I? OK, you got me fair and square. I try very hard not to show that I am a “soft Hindutva hardliner” (as opposed to, say, a hard hindutva hardliner — H3 in short). And to conceal that fact, I consistently write against the Congress party and how it has under the control of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, brought India to its present dire straits (malnourished children, grinding poverty, illiteracy, a soft target for Islamic terrorists, unable to stand up to the failed Islamic states flanking it), and now under their misgovernance is teetering on the verge of a massive collapse.

But you have seen behind the facade and noted my true colors. Congratulations. (OK, end of sarcastic reply.)

Sudhir posits a hypothetical situation:

I meet some youngsters and then bombard then with anti-India ideology. Say that they have been oppressed by India and they have to kill Indians in return (just using my freedom of speech). Finally these youngsters pick up the gun and go on a rampage. So am I culpable in the crime or I can hide behind freedom of speech .

I am a free speech fundamentalist. You are allowed to say whatever your heart desires. Say what you will — and be prepared to defend the truth of your assertions if challenged. That’s the first bit. The other bit is that I hold people responsible for their actions. That means, if A does the shooting and killing, A is responsible. Not B who may have convinced A to do the shooting.

How about holding both A and B responsible? I don’t think so. Only A. Because regardless of what B had said, it’s A’s action that caused the harm. If A had not acted, B’s words would give rise to no harm.

Arundhati Roy can say whatever her tiny little brain wants her to say. But if you kill someone (whether because of what Roy said, or because of what Allah said), you are guilty of the crime. As for Roy, the response to her speech should be speech. If she is wrong, contradict her through words, not by gagging her.

Moving on, I am a bit surprised to see the comments regarding my calling Arundhati Roy a “house-nigger.” For example, Sumitra writes

Did you really have to use the word ‘house-N’? You’ve lived in the US for two decades, and didn’t get what that derogatory word stands for?

He is a little puzzled. Jay’s displeasure surfaces as sarcasm:

house n****r? thanks for keeping it classy bro!

Can’t say for sure but the refusal to even type out a word in full could be indicative of some neurosis. ” . . . …anxiety, irritability, mental confusion, behavioral symptoms such as phobic avoidance, cognitive problems such as unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, . . .”

A bit sad really. The inability or the phobic avoidance to name aspects of reality is sad. Slavery was a reality in the US (and unfortunately still is in many other places including India.) The slaves were Negroes (from “negro” meaning black.) Some of the slaves worked in the house, as opposed to the fields. They were called house-negroes, or house-niggers.

The notion of house-niggers is very useful to understand the dynamics of a heterogeneous world of rich and poor people, of power and powerless, and those who mediate between them.

Here, let Malcom X, self-proclaimed field-negro explain it. Listen to him and ask yourself if he is not describing Arundhati Roy when he is talking about house-negroes.

Arundhati Roy (and others like her such as Pankaj Mishra, Aakar Patel) are house-niggers. Calling them that is not an insult to Negroes as a group. The phrase “house-nigger” describes them precisely because they do what the house-negroes did. The field-niggers held the house-niggers in contempt. They were powerless but still had their dignity, but the house-niggers had sold theirs.

Speaking truth to power — that a field-nigger can do. So you could describe me as a field-nigger. I live my life without kowtowing to those who have unearned power over me. Dr Manmohan Singh is a house-nigger. He takes his orders, and whether he likes to do what he is told to do or not, he has to do it because otherwise he will be kicked out of the basement of his master’s house and will have to toil in the fields. He’s sold his dignity for the kitchen scraps from His Master’s House.

Pulkit, when he grows up, is not likely to be a field-nigger. He will try to be a master, and failing which, as far as I can tell from his comment, be content to be a house-nigger.

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  • jjreddick

    Probably a tangent to the core point you are making, but do you feel the usage of the n word is not derogatory? Had to ask because you seem to have no qualms in using it.

  • quietist

    I would love to hear an alternative phrase which describe them more precisely than “House Nigger”, do we have a desi equivalent?

  • Sujith

    So, I guess it is right to say that Mr. Dey is also a house-nigger. He is there to please the ultra-right. He is also there to support the BJP in whatever way he can.He does that by bashing the congress and the left and also by being a mute spectator to the things going on in The party with a difference

    He pleases the right wingers by bashing all other religions. No, he is not an atheist, he believes in religion. Good at finding the faults in every other religion.

    Mr. Dey is a house nigger. If he is not he will be spewed with hatred from his loyal fan base of the iRight wingers. He even bashed Mother Teresa sometimes, because it gives him an opportunity to tarnish the work done by her.

    Understand that everyone has evil intentions; Congress, the BJP and the idiots down south, in Tamil Nadu who preaches racism for votes. They are in it for the money. Just taking a side won’t make any difference.

    All organized religions are evil. Given a chance they will split our country. The Muslims got the chance, they did it. Christians and the rest of them can’t so are the secular now. Sikhs tried but were thrashed to ashes. ESS/BJP is also trying the same with Hinduism, it will also turn bad, bite you back with the restrictions of fundamentalism. Clipping the wings of this nation.

    Everyone is a house-nigger, Mr. Dey; everyone has to please someone else, has to take sides, take some ideology to his heart and fight for it. You are no different than an Arundati Roy. Hell, you even goes for personal attacks.

    Everyone is a house-nigger. So, it is irrelevant.

    OK, Atanu, other than that thank you for the insights you are giving in the blog. Keep the hatred coming…

  • Anonymous

    Atanu, great work on expounding the “field niggers”. I wouldn’t have even bothered about the “attention-whore” but at the same time, there is no point in engaging the multitude of inane trolls floating around here. You have expressed your opinion and people are welcome not to accept it. At the same time, it can get very irritating to engage these masses because of the shallowness of their depth of comprehension about “real issues”. They seek to engage you for a “fight” because it legitimizes their own sorry existence.

    These wannabe self styled “secularists” (examples that you have quoted) are a drain on the bandwidth they utilize to comment here. I usually refrain from these masses or blogs but I guess saner voices need to prevail over such flotsam that you seek to engage.

    Ignoring them is also a virtue giving you enough time on your hands to seek out issues and suggest alternative solutions to them. This is important for readers like me who need some stimulating talk every day because there is so much to learn.

    Engaging these bunch of idiots deprives me of my daily fix; but then it’s your call.

  • Vimal Vikram

    Your diagnoses are always correct.
    But the prescriptions are always wrong.

  • gajanan

    Gharelu Chamcha , does it sound fine.

    Let us come to something more sensible and positive.
    Atanu Dey, please project this man who is doing great service to the poor in Madurai. He had no backing initially. He started with his savings. This gentleman did not take a lucrative offer of training to go to Switzerland as chef ( He is a trained chef). Kudos to his parents also. Within 5 yrs has established a great service center for poor,esp mentally retarded. Now he is getting support. I call this real service to mankind , without any labels attached. Here are the sites for you to browse. His name is Narayan Krishnan

    http://www.akshayatrust.org/

    http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/index.html
    Vote him as CNN hero among the worlds ten.
    http://heroes.cnn.com/vote.aspx

  • Oldtimer

    Congratulations for realizing that defending the indefensible doesn’t work, Comrade Sujith. We are seeing progress. Your new tack, “but everything else is also bad!” doesn’t work either. Not everyone is a house-nigger, not everyone has evil intentions, not every religion is evil. Good luck with your cynicism-feigning.

  • http://KetanPanchal.blogspot.com Ketan

    Hehehe! I agree to almost everything you say, except two.

    1. “Tiny little brain”, which you attributed to Arundhati. Were you serious? Do you take all that she says at face value. See, what all luxuries she enjoys despite deriding Indians & abusing science, technology & human intellect. Isn’t she like one of prototypibal Ayn Rand-characters like Elsworth Toohey – manipulating people for personal material gains, which she openly shuns in public, but personally craves for? I think it’s more important to expose her hypocrisy & dishonesty than her idiocy – if at all any of the two are to be exposed. [Personally, I am not sure if you consider Arundhati a hypocrite or an idiot, but am curious.]

    2. Personally, I too have argued elsewhere that calls for violence also ought to come under gambit of freedom of expression, and thus should be legal. E.g., if I say, “Go kill people of community ‘X’.” of course, if somebody goes & kills people of community ‘X’, then culpability is of one who killed & not mine. But there’s a thing that happens almost imminently & without the need for killing to occur, and that is, feeling of insecurity & the fact the members of community X might feel intimidated. In cases of extortion, one does not necessarily kill the other, but the intimidation that a threat of killing/injury poses is what amounts to crime. Can a call for violence be equated with threatening & intimidation? I believe, yes. Will it lead to curtailment of freedom of those against who violence is called? Quite possibly, yes. In light of such call for violence, which causes insecurity & serves to restrict freedom of others, should such expression be considered illegal/be banned, if possible? With some hesitation, I say “yes”.

    If speech is to be countered with speech, then what should be a call for violence countered by? Let’s say, we advocate countering call for violence by a call for violence. I say, “Members of community ‘Y’ (to which I belong), go & kill members of community ‘X’”. So, now appropriate counter from community ‘X’ will be to only issue threat against me or entire community ‘Y’? Will it be alright for community ‘X’ to preempt preempt damage to them by killing me? Will such a killing be considered part of ‘self-defense’, which is usually considered legitimate motive to kill?

    Above is what I seriously feel. Am not being facetious/sarcastic.

    I hope, you’ll give your inputs. Thanks!

  • http://KetanPanchal.blogspot.com Ketan

    Sujith,

    How will coming to the defense of unconditional freedom to free speech (something that Atanu’s been consistently doing) please iRight people (whatever that means)? And especially coming to defense of Arundhati’s exercise of that freedom is also going to please the iRight?

    As now I’m a bit confused, please clarify with you mean by iRight?

  • quietist

    Politically incorrect certainly it is but no politically correct phrase comes close to precisely describe a “House Negro”, hats off to Malcolm X! Of course even Malcolm X was trying to impress/please his audience so by Sujith’s definition he was himself a house negro as opposed to a field negro that he thought of himself as.

  • Sujith

    Your new tack, “but everything else is also bad!” doesn’t (sic) work either.

    Oh! Thanks for telling. Now do the essential part, explain yourself?

    Not everyone is a house-nigger, not everyone has evil intentions, not every religion is evil. Good luck with your cynicism-feigning.

    The politicians as a whole are evil. That is a reality you’ve to accept. Add the bureaucrats also to the mix and you got the current India. If you don’t recognize a top-down malfunction, then what can I say, be safe in your little comfort zone, bashing targets here and there with set interests in your mind and exalting the virtues of the The Party with a difference

    If someone can spend fifteen minutes writing a comment, please do a favour, read them properly before responding. I said every organized religion is evil.

    Hope the HTML Magic will work.
    Good discussion going on here. Keep them coming.

  • larissa

    I said every organized religion is evil.

    Just like Comrade Marx!

  • Sujith

    @Ketan

    Freedom of speech shouldn’t have any limits, I guess. But it is not practical. The main idea behind freedom of speech, in my limited understanding is to allow dissenting voices to be heard. Mrs.Roy fits the bill perfectly.

    But how the legal system interprets it is a troubling question.

    Advocacy of Unlawful action etc. are clearly within the purview of it(How to Grow Marijuana even if it is illegal, How to crack software), but in certain circumstances, they are not protected. Even in the U.S, an unlimited freedom is not possible under the First Amendment. See these links for more:

    Freedom of speech has a limit and Hitman shatters it
    Excerpts from
    Court Opinions Regarding
    “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors”

    Wikipedia Article

  • AP Keshari

    Well put, Dr Dey. It was gracious of you to actually respond to some of the comments, a courtesy that many including the likes of Arundhati Susan Roy do not extend to their critics.

    @Sujith: You may have spent 15 minutes writing your comment, but you clearly did not spend even half the time carefully reading what the blog’s author (Dr Dey) said. A ‘house-nigger’ by definition has to want to engage in some activity not just because s/he feels it is the right thing to do but because s/he stands to substantially lose by not doing it (however nefarious the act might be). Dr Manmohan (even if he disgarees) will actually get booted out of office if he doesn’t obey the Master. Dr Dey stands to lose nothing if he suddenly changes his position on any number of issues. So, you see, not everyone is a ‘house-nigger’. You also referred to Ms Teresa’s work (you deferentially called her ‘mother’), accusing the author of ‘tarnishing’ it (implying you are an admirer) while also describing all organized religions as evil – now dude, there you totally contradict yourself! For Ms Teresa was as much part of ‘organized religion’ as it can get, and her ‘charity’ came with a pre-condition to convert.

    Going back to your example, Dr Dey, I would hold both persons ‘A’ and ‘B’ accountable, although to different degrees. Apropos Arundhati Susan Roy, it is interesting to note the difference between the India she lives in (which came to light thanks to her mansion getting photographed in the process when some protestors landed up there) and the India she rants in/about. Free speech, like every other right, comes with its own set of responsibilities/duties. For some reason, Indians are often reluctant to punish people who abuse the freedom of speech. Sadanandh Dhume touched upon this issue when writing in the WSJ ( http://on.wsj.com/9pPRf3 ), observing that “that Indians appear to have trouble distinguishing between free speech and hate speech”. One may also add free speech v/s seditious speech to that.

  • Ranger

    I dont know who is more irritating… Ketan with his inverted photo or Sujith with his idiocy.

  • Sujith

    Thank you for your observations, AP Keshari

    You may have spent 15 minutes writing your comment, but you clearly did not spend even half the time carefully reading what the blog’s author (Dr Dey) said.

    Dr Dey stands to lose nothing if he suddenly changes his position on any number of issues. So, you see, not everyone is a ‘house-nigger’.

    Oh! Sure, Mr.Dey stands to lose his loyal army of followers if he suddenly changes his opinion, not to say about the backlash.

    You also referred to Ms Teresa’s work (you deferentially called her ‘mother’), accusing the author of ‘tarnishing’ it (implying you are an admirer) while also describing all organized religions as evil – now dude, there you totally contradict yourself!

    It is not that I am implying anything. You are assuming that I am. Accusing me of calling her Mother and not Ms.Teresa you are clearly showing your disdain for her. Please note that evenWikipedia lists her as such.

    Lee Kuan Yew is a person many admire, but he helped drafting draconian laws to thwart media freedom. But that doesn’t take away the good things he has done for Singapore.

    People are not one dimensional. Get used to reality.

    -
    Hello Ranger!

    Since you have shown us that you don’t have anything intelligent to contribute to the discussion in your comments.Your comment is proof of your own stupidity

    There is no need for further response, I guess :)

  • AP Keshari

    @Sujith: Thanks for responding. On the 2 points you made, your logic is flawed on the first and the second simply affirms what I stated earlier. You suggest that Dr Dey does have to lose something if he were to tomorrow take a position that may displease many non-leftists (“Mr.Dey stands to lose his loyal army of followers if he suddenly changes his opinion, not to say about the backlash”, you posited) – but surely, that will be compensated by a new fan-following and their adulation…I see you as a potential new fan :-) Of course, you also need to calibrate – losing a few ‘followers’ is not the same as getting booted out of office or losing your neck! On Ms Teresa, indeed I am a skeptic. The point is, you contradicted yourself. She was as ‘organized religion’ as it could get – everything she did was primarily to further the Catholic Church’s interests. Do read up Christoper Hitchens’s book that provides evidence-backed perspectives on this. We do agree on one point though – people are not necessarily one dimensional. Am already aligned to that reality. The question to ponder upon is, why do we not apply this wonderful theorem to all individuals and situations then, rather than do so selectively (depending upon which side one wants to take) as is often the case?

    @Dr Dey: I missed mentioning it in my earlier post, but thanks for posting the MalcolmX video. Hadn’t seen it earlier. Am also looking forward to reading your latest article in Pragati!

  • larissa

    The lind below for all the British aping Hindus out there. Will Durant’s A case for India is also an eye opener. While India’s problems do not begin with the British (as Indian leftists like to think), but with the Islamic invasions to which the destruction of the country side and the onset of massive poverty can be attributed, as well as destruction of native culture and native learning, it is interesting how India still tries to ape British ways in governance, in just about everything. I think being mostly deracinated these days, most Indians cannot see beyond the British colonialism (to which they attribute the current problems) to begin to understand their history.

    http://www.fravahr.org/spip.php?breve1056