Home » national news » "Who is a patriot?" Why Pratap Bhanu Mehta's editorial in the Indian Express is a #MustRead

"Who is a patriot?" Why Pratap Bhanu Mehta's editorial in the Indian Express is a #MustRead

Geetika Mantri | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 10:40 IST

The word "traitor" has been one of the nicer names that Aamir Khan has been called on social media this week. While the actor's comments may have added fuel to the debate on intolerance, Mehta's piece is one of the few coherent arguments on the issue.

Here are five reasons why it's a must-read for everyone - on both sides of the intolerance debate.

Ignorance is bliss... or is it?

Mehta starts with a simple but crucial point: How many people bashing Aamir Khan have actually read what he said? He writes that the actor merely expressed concerns about "growing intolerance and, more specifically, the helplessness that the lack of a proper political response from those in highest positions of authority."

Being celebrated is not a crime

"In this day and age, one twisted act of retribution is to teach celebrities a lesson to put them in their place." Mehta argues that people are quick to criticise celebrities because of the privileges they enjoy.

He argues that this often strips them of the position of still being "an ordinary citizen".So they'll be bashed for acting like celebrities; They'll be bashed for acting like regular citizens. Is it fair that the only other option is that of a patriot?

Numbers are not enough

The principle that "numbers speak louder than words" is an oft-used comeback in this debate. While the stories that data tells are important, they do not always encompass "the suffocation that discourse can produce."

People seldom dispute a warning sign at an accident-prone area. Mehta appeals that the same logic be applied to understanding the context in which statements are made.

A few important questions

Everyone knows that patriotism colloquially translates to love for your country. But how far would you go under the garb of patriotism?

Mehta raises some difficult questions as he dissects the second argument used against Aamir Khan. Is someone who criticises the country not a patriot? Mehta says that patriotism should be a starting point and not invoked as a closing rationale.

Is your barrel pointing the wrong way?

While Aamir Khan's statements drew criticism from all corners, how much of this anger was misdirected? Mehta comes full circle as he explains that we need to hold the right people responsible. A patriot can feel ashamed of his country, he establishes.

Read the original article here.

First published: 27 November 2015, 3:05 IST