Ranjona Banerji: Sing(h)-ing the Wrong Right View!

25 Oct,2019

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Why does a journalist with Bennett Coleman, India’s biggest newspaper group, travel to the United States to take part in a US House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on human rights in South Asia and then sound like a spokesperson of the Government of India? Ha ha ha, I ask this question but we all know the answer. Aarti Tikoo Singh, senior assistant editor of The Times of India only repeated to the US committee the rightwing view she presents for her paper, and the Islamophobic nature displayed in her tweets in this hearing. That is, to forgive the Modi government for its atrocities in Kashmir since Article 370 was abrogated and the state was cut up and shut down because of the suffering of Kashmiri Pandits in the past and the threats of Pakistan-sponsored militancy. Plus all Muslims are bad.

However, what was a senior assistant editor of TOI doing there anyway? And what did the newspaper or the senior assistant editor think was going to happen there? Minimal research into the history of the US’s views on human rights in South Asia would have given Singh and the newspaper an inkling, if indeed the newspaper was involved or was just happy that someone else was paying for a plane ticket.

Having been questioned rigorously by Ilhan, US House Representative from Minnesota for her reporting on Kashmir, Singh then accused Omar and the committee of being some sort of stooges for Pakistan. The insinuation of course, (once against the clue in Singh’s Islamophobic tweets), is that she was targeted because Ilhan is a Muslim. Although someone who covers foreign affairs for TOI might consider that historically Pakistan’s biggest support from within the US has come from white Christians.

Omar has received any amount of flak in the US. But one of the most vicious attacks came from Singh’s husband Harbir Singh, who is a columnist at DailyO, Swarajya and so on, according to his Twitter profile. Harbir Singh shared a photograph of a turbaned woman holding an AK-57 and claimed it was Omar at the camp of a Somali warlord. This pic had earlier been shared by US President Donald Trump and very publicly debunked then. As we know columnists do not always do their homework. Ah well.

https://www.altnews.in/no-this-is-not-us-congresswoman-ilhan-omar-at-a-training-camp-of-a-somali-warlord/

Even more appalling was this tweet, which he sort of apologised for, but it is open to debate whether an apology is enough: “The woman who married her brother to defraud American immigration, then fornicated with her own employee, is now the hero of Pakistan’s Jihad against India in Kashmir. What desperate straits @NarendraModi has put the jihadis in, now leaning on degenerates like @IlhanMN”.

I had never heard of this gentleman before this, but am sure he is very popular and his columns are a hoot for his readers and his editors at Swarajya. Hasn’t DailyO shut down?

I suppose the compassionate amongst us will commend him for trying to support his wife. For the rest us, despicable is the word.

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Another American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also in the news for her takedown of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s attitude to political ad campaigns.

The lies and dissimulation by Zuckerberg are worth a watch:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2019/oct/24/so-you-wont-take-down-lies-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-challenges-facebook-ceo-video

 

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Am sure someone will ask why I didn’t cover the election results coverage. Well, what was there to say? The opinion polls mostly got it wrong, the rightwing media was very upset, the buying and selling of politicians is on, what was there to say?

 

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And finally, Happy Diwali, whatever happiness come your way, do take it with both hands!

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. Her views here are personal

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