Guess Who Are The New Martyrs
The New Christian Martyrs is the title of a report (21 Dec. 2015) by John Allen Jr. in The Boston Globe. There is nothing really “new” about the story, as the report recalls a seven-year-old Kandhamal incident and tries very hard to impart currency to the outdated information.
The writer’s voice is that of an anonymous entity wearing the guise of an eyewitness. The reader seemingly gets a glimpse of the gore, mutilation, immolation and savagery that supposedly happened in August 2008. “Systematic violence against Christians continues in India to this day, though not often at the appalling scale of the cyclone of cruelty in Kandhamal,” claims the writer. For corroboration, he quotes a website dedicated to anti-Christian persecution, called Speak Out Against Hate, which alleges, “In 2015, there’s been an average of one violent episode every week.” How come we have never heard of these weekly episodes from the liberal, minority-loving, English language press? Their silence on these weekly massacres has been deafening.
If there is no statute of limitation on reminiscence, am I free to recall the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in which Christian rulers killed 379 unarmed Hindus and Sikhs and dumped their bodies in a well? Allen’s style of reporting gained currency in English media during the Gujarat riots and continues unchecked. For the record, The New York Times ran five articles in nine days on the Kandhamal incidents, and the uber-liberal Guardian published a story with this inflammatory heading:
Convert or we will kill you, Hindu lynch mobs tell fleeing Christians
In India, “minorities” has become a magic term to provide safe cover for evangelical activity that passes off as secular. Indian English media, in alliance with the foreign hacks, have popularized the lie of Muslim martyrdom in Gujarat. Muslims are perpetual martyrs, the downtrodden, and the persecuted. No matter, their roll of honor is headed by three Presidents, several governors, chief justices, chief ministers, a galaxy of musicians, internationally known painters, Khans ruling filmdom etc.
Now, according to Allen, it’s time to forget the Muslims. The new martyrs are the Christians. But not so fast, Allen. Also, in line to be considered martyrs are several other communities in search of a new identity that supersedes the national identity. Minorities in India are so protected and privileged that many communities are foaming at the mouth to dump Hinduism, and clamoring to be classified as minorities. There is a Ministry for Minority Affairs and a National Commission for Minorities, all working to ensure all forms of martyrdom, old and new.
One reader has commented that the persecution of Christians is due to the silence of the Church. The Church has never been silent. When the Tamil Nadu government passed an anti-conversion law some time ago, Pope Benedict XVI condemned it as a “Hindu fundamentalist attempt to ban religious conversions in India.” The Pope’s protest was weird and out of bounds. I still await the day when the Vatican seeks the permission of New Delhi to make its laws.
Legislatures in India are sovereign and elected by the people, unlike the Pope who is elected by a college of cardinals. Our legislatures do not need his permission to make laws and are duty-bound to protest remarks made by the Pope to the Indian envoy in Vatican!! If as the Pope says anti-conversion laws are “unconstitutional and contrary to the highest ideals of India’s founding fathers,” the Supreme Court of India is there to quash them suo motu. The Church, on the other hand, has a history of commissioning several inquisitions that decimated non-Christian faiths and cultures across continents. I can go on, but will allow history to speak for itself.
Coming back to the article, it appears that Allen may be the victim of an age-old journalistic malady. Most foreign correspondents are not conversant with Indian languages and rely on pliant Indian journalists for information on domestic discontent, unrest and anger, i.e. topics that will resonate with particular readers in their home country. In addition, India is crawling with human rights activists who, in return for a foreign trip, readily invent minority persecution. The Kandhamal unrest, while whetting the thirst of sections of the Indian press for sensation, was in reality a manifestation of an age-old caste conflict between the Kui-speaking tribes and the Scheduled Caste Pana community. But, who cares ???
Here is the reality that Allen and The Boston Globe should educate themselves on: At the dawn of independence, India assigned constitutional status to minorities and appointed the Supreme Court as a sentinel of minority interests. I would like Allen to show me another country that has done more for its minorities than India.
Who do you think are providing all the information that extraterritorial agencies need to lecture India on human rights and religious freedom? It is time that our journalists know the difference between the government and the nation. Every time foreign media and agencies comment on purely domestic matters, it is not a Modi government or a Manmohan Singh government that is the target but the nation of a billion people managing itself to the envy of others. Long before Europe and the USA began debating entry to immigrants, India accommodated millions of Bangladeshi immigrants.
The Christians have done remarkable work in education and healthcare areas and continue to do so. But they will create conflict if they try to disturb the country’s demographic structures by increasing their flock through means not endorsed by our Constitution.