Here we interpret a secular apologist of M.F. Husain painting. As with most left wing ideological narrative, the core issue is dealt with only tangentially and that too to prove that their role model actually knows more about the subject than the experts on the right side of the debate (the whole Bt Cotton and Bt Brinjal debate was such a debate). The narrative then finds a boogie/straw man, usually RSS or its cohorts - those apparent right wing fascists or fundamentalists - if it's a cultural, historic, or scientific issue , or BJP if it's a political issue, and then the narrative trashes the straw man. Never mind that RSS/BJP usually are exhibit aggressive-passive behaviour - first aggressiveness issuing wild statements and then passivity when questioned by left wing media with selective facts, meaning RSS/BJP rarely have their facts, and thoughts, straight before speaking up for the right.
While the left wing media never consults/interviews/quotes anyone who can think coherently on right wing ideological narrative, they offer plenty of space to left wing ideological narrative and secular apologists. In the recent barrage of news stories and interviews boosting M. F. Husain apparent talent and our apparent lose when he voluntary accepted Qatari citizenship, amidst the cover up of what really offends Hindus, is an interview with one friend of M. F. Husain, Ram Rahman, himself a photographer and designer. We are told Rahman is an activist (is there another kind?) for freedom to speak(!!) and a founding member of the artists body Sahmat and that he laments India's shrinking space for creative freedom (I like to see his defense of Taslima Nasreen - but she's a Bangla!). Here is our interpretation of the interview published in Times of India on Sunday February 28, 2010.
Left wing ideological narrative (LWIN): What is it about M F Husains clutch of paintings that keeps him away from his country?
Right wing interpretation ( RWI): An opened question by media asking an apologist for tangential answers and beating up the straw man.
Rahman's narrative is in two parts: first is to say that M. F Husain is a traditionalist, ie a conservative himself, he's not out of the ordinary and there is nothing new about his painting. But he's special!
LWIN: Husain is one of the few artists who has a popular connect because he comes from a different background. He has crossed every tradition...
RWI: Meaning, he's a conservative or a traditionalist himself.
One of the key standard defense of LWIN is that left wingers themselves are traditionalist or that they are not radical. If they can't find the conservatism in India they usually point to the west, there is always something to find and emulate from the west, and that works perfectly.
LWIN:...worked on every religion,...
RWI: meaning, he painted similar painting of Islam and Christianity as he does of Hinduism, so it's no big deal. We have shown how similar Husain's paintings and interpretations are of Hinduism and Abrahamic religions.
LWIN: ...and mined all iconographic traditions.
RWI: meaning, he studies icons, pictures in depth. The guy knows what he's doing!
LWIN: The irony is that he is not a revolutionary painter: Conceptually, Husain has never transgressed...
RWI: meaning, again, he's a conservative or traditionalist painter. There is nothing out of the ordinary in Husain's paintings, every painter does it.
LWIN: He has reinterpreted existing icongraphy in his own style. That's all.
RWI: meaning, it's just a matter of interpretation, which is his own style. It's no big deal. They don't know what the fuss is about.
LWIN: But he has a connect.
RWI: meaning, despite his ordinariness, he's special!
Rahman's second part of the narrative is setting up the straw man - usually that tiny, ignorant, illiterate, facist, and fundamentalist - and then connecting the straw man to a known straw man, an apparent Hindu organization, would make the narrative perfect.
LWIN: There are two issues here. First, the titles of the paintings. Second, the politics of protest.
RWI: Here the secular apologist is framing the narrative – it's nothing out of ordinary but Husain is special, and here's why he's being maligned unfairly. Look for Rahman blame others for what Husain painted.
LWIN: Husain named his Durga sketch just that, 'Durga'. 'Durga in union with Lion' is the interpretation on the website of the Janajagruti samiti which run their main campaign against Husain.
RWI: We hope you got this! Here the secular apologist narrative is into semantic manipulation. Rahman is talking as though Durga is not naked having bestial sex with her ride, the loin. In fact, loin may have been added into the painting by Janajagruti samiti itself – who knows! Surely Husain just painted Durga, because he called his painting that. The fall back is: why does one interpret more than what Husain intended? The narrative says that the core issue now really is about misnomer of the painting, not the painting itself!
LWIN:The title was given by an art critic who didn't have the guts to come out in the open.
RWI: Again, the fault lies with the title and title giver who interpreted it differently than Husain, not the painting or painter. Also the narrative is such that an art critic, some unknown boogie man, is the frightened man, not Husain who left the India and became a citizen of a professed Islamic country, instead of fighting for what he believes in, which is hatred of Hinduism, in Indian courts, which we think would have obliged him.
LWIN: Husain is not stupid. He knows his Ramayana better than many pundits. He was making a flying Hanuman. The title is incorrect. Did Hanuman rescue Sita. No....
RWI: This is title of the interview in the newspaper, meaning, for people who glanced the title and move on, Husain paintings are real interpretation of Hinduism!! This classic defense of all secularists and communists – who just simply make up stuff from thin air - that they actually know more about a subject than the analysts who base their information on facts. We see this defense of left wing ideology repeatedly on free markets, open trade, defense issues, and, of course, on culture and religion issues. This is exactly why we, the right wing narrative has to be based on facts because liberal secularists talking points are based on fiction.
Painting in this case is the naked Sita Devi sitting on naked Ravana's thigh with Hanuman watching. The issue that this secular apologist brings up is: Did Hanuman rescue Sita? Obviously, according to Ramayana, Hanuman came in search of Sita and he was ready to take Sita back to Rama. Sita declined to go with Hanuman and wanted Rama to come rescue her from Ravana. The point is that Sita Devi is immensely respected in Hinduism for her piousness, for her fidelity to her marriage to Rama, and she would never do anything to shed her modesty. Not only that, Ramayana itself makes clear that Ravana himself, a Shiva bhakti, is a man of character. Although the enraged Ravana abducted Sita and wanted her to marry him, he was perfectly willing to wait until Sita changed her mind about him. He did not go naked in front of Sita, dangling his penis, and Sita, enamored by his naked body, did not get close to him. But we are told by Times of India and their secular apologist that Husain knows his Ramayana better than Hindu pundits themselves.
In this secular apologist view of the painting, pictures of which they could have easily published along with the interview, available on our blog, the painting didn't even have Sita and Ravana, both of them naked, on it. It was just flying Hanuman and nothing else was on the painting! The lies that secularists speak and media that publish are amazing!
LWIN: The reaction is the work of powerful rumour propaganda machinery, the RSS's...
RWI: And then comes the pitsy (intellectually) little RSS as the fall guy - that powerful rumour propaganda machine!! So the narrative went from Janajagruti samiti to RSS – that apparent famous Hindu fundamentalist organization that organizes for the sake of organizing and that which has done nothing for Hindus or fundamental since its inception some 85 years ago.
LWIN: ...The Saraswati drawing was 20 years old when it was picked up ..., several years ago...Only when commual politics was allowed to grow was the furore allowed to grow...Husain is the perfect target for communal politics.
RWI: The earlier nonsense is followed by irrelevant information – that a rich Hindu actually first commissioned Husain Ramayana paintings – there is no way to verify this information. Then it is followed by turning the tables: while Husain's work has no expiration date the people who are offended shouldn't be beyond a certain time. Meaning, it's Hindus fault that Husain painted what he did. In fact, his paintings don't represent hatred of Hindus until Hindus, who were offended, pointed them out for their own religious gains. As in the left wing standard narrative, the hater becomes the victim and the object of hate becomes the perpetrator.
This part of the narrative is the most important part. It turns the entire issue upside down - this is, again, a classic strategy of the left wing ideological narrative: after setting the narrative background that the left wingers are not radical, that they know more about the subject than knowledgeable right wingers, that right wingers themselves liked the offending material, and finally the offended party becomes the guilty party!!
One can go on about the nonsensical interview of the secular apologist in Times of India (which gave no space give to the opposing view). It is one illustration of the classic secular and liberal media narrative. This is exactly what we have fight. And we can't do that by being centrist. We have to offer an alternative fact, analysis, and commentary based right wing narrative to herds the cattle and bulls to our side. The politics will take care of it by itself.