A 31-year-old techie of Indian origin who had just secured her H1B called upon an Uber to visit her friends. The Uber arrived at the scheduled time. It was driven by a white American man probably 25-year-old. As the driver started the journey after the pickup, he assumed that his passenger was probably a student because Lafayette is basically a university town. As his curiosity got better of him, he asked,
“Hey which school do you go to?”
To which, the passenger replied that she was actually a software professional working for a large software company. The driver was surprised but didn’t say anything. The passenger later told me that by all possibility the driver probably was driving Uber to pay for his college and most likely had a dream of becoming just like her. What she told after this surprised me and it would not be wrong to say, probably it somewhat frightened me as well. She said that there was no way in the world that this “White People” could compete with the Indian, Japanese or Koreans and get a decent job. For a casual observer, this might just be a regular conversation, but for me who always wanted to know, how on earth a person like Donald Trump could become the head of a country like the USA which boasted of leaders like Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln or till recently Barack Obama. These gents were true statesmen, unlike Donald Trump.
I wanted to get in a bit deeper. Providence gave me a chance. I was invited for a Christmas Eve party hosted by a famous doctor who again was of Indian origin and as doctors in America are, was filthy rich. This was in Sacramento, California. As I stepped out of my taxi, a fleet of cars, all high end, greeted me. They belonged to the guests. As I entered inside, I saw the Indian diaspora in its gorgeous best. Suits, probably designed by Armani or Alfred Dunhill and cocktail gowns again designed by Ralph Lauren or Roberto Cavalli announced the prosperity of the Indian community. As I got chatting, I was approached by a waiter, again a white American offering me some bites to go with my drink. I looked at him squarely and he smiles politely asking me if I was having a good time. I thanked him and started to look around the room and realised that the chefs, the waiters, the bartenders were all white Americans. I stepped outside the house and realised that even the drivers of the cars were white Americans. It would not be wrong for me to say that the amount of money that was spent by the host that evening was probably more than these guys made in a year. As the party got over, I called a taxi and went towards my hotel. On the way, I probably might have crossed Christmas Eve party like this of a Chinese, a Korean or a Japanese.
It’s when I reached my hotel and lit the cigarette that I realised why actually Trump had won. In a country like America where over a period of time the marginalized and the Blacks were slowly given their rights, so much so that a Black man, a liberal, a pro-immigrant became the President for two consecutive terms. This is when the Republicans realised and even solved the code of winning the election after Obama. They clearly understood that insecurity in majority leads to ultra-nationalism. For decades the common white American was laid back, drinking beer and watching soccer. At the inception of the pro-Black and pro-Immigrant policies, he did not pay a lot of attention. He was probably ok with it. But as years got converted into decades, he started witnessing that he indeed was losing out to the other communities. As my two examples above portray my case, the Trump agenda said “Let’s make America great again” by which he clearly meant that he is pro-White Americans who are the actual majority of the USA. He drove into them fear and raised dinner table questions like “Are they actually taking over?” That’s actually when the common White American realised that he actually needed someone who is like him or understands him better than others who were famously called the Liberals. To put it in political jingoism, Trump successfully converted the majority White American to true blooded nationalists.
As stated above, the insecurity of the majority leads to ultra-nationalism. However, articles and documents on the former in my limited reading is in modicum. Ultra-Nationalism then leads to fascism which according to me is not any different from terrorism. A borderline ultra-nationalist has already taken his first step towards fascism. When Hitler started out, all he had to do was to instil a sense of fear and insecurity among the majority, mix it properly with hyper-patriotism and very strong propaganda through the then media like print and radio to take over the reins of Germany. The genocide that followed is common knowledge. The following quote by Hermann Göring in an interview during the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, 18th April 1946, emboldens my argument:
All you have to do tell them they
Are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and,
Exposing the country to danger;
It works the same way in any country.
Ultra-nationalist leader is usually very aggressive, abrasive, a great orator and a pathological liar. He usually disregards diplomacy and portrays such a picture of machismo that he is looked upon like a fearless hero by the naïve society that he is targeted to attack. A statement by Donald Trump is a case in point. Can you imagine the President of America tweeting something like this-
“I have the support of police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough – until they go to a certain point and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
Sadly today this phenomenon of ultra-nationalism is prevalent everywhere. Take for example the Election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil as their President. Bolsonaro, just like Trump is a far-right hyper-nationalist and he rails against “radical Islam” and “cultural Marxism”. His primary targets are LGBT Brazilians, women, Afro-Brazilians and indigenous communities. Just like Trump, he is abrasive and uses force to crack down upon his opponents.
But I would be telling you half of the story if I only present the facets only of nationalists and fascists. If you look at the quote mentioned above by Göring, he states “denounce the pacifists for the lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger”. Here pacifists mean usually the liberal governments. There is a very thin line between liberalism which is good and over appeasement which is dangerous. It is this over appeasement that leads to insecurity in majorities. Having understood this phenomenon, let’s now come to India.
Congress for a very long time governed this country. Their biggest mistake, however, was over appeasement. In the race to garner Muslim and OBC/SC/ST votes, they somewhere forgot the upper caste Hindu which is the majority in this country.
Today many upper caste Hindu, just like the white American is asking himself “Are they taking over?”
He feels the Government has nothing for them. No job, no reservation, nothing. This is what the BJP caught on very smartly. BJP frankly just does not care for the votes of the Muslims and the marginalized. Keeping the humanity aspect aside, this targeted move of BJP is an extremely smart political tactic. That is why I am convinced that they will be the single largest party in the General Elections of 2019. Just do a small survey, have a chat with your colleagues and friends who are as educated, learned and prosperous like you. Most of them would subtly tell you that they are angry with Muslims and the rest. There is a growing resentment among this upper caste and it’s in BJP that they find solace. The move of giving reservations to the socially backward upper caste Hindus by the BJP again emboldens my theory.
Nationalist propaganda needs three things. I have already mentioned the personality traits of the leader. In the other two are a symbol and medium of propaganda. A symbol can be just anything. It can be a party, a country, a community or even structures like a wall or a temple. Whenever Trump says “I will build the Wall”, he actually is indirectly pointing towards immigrants and others. For the common American, the Mexican wall now has become his own symbol of victory. It is no more general, it is personal. Similarly, Ram temple in Ajodhya is a symbol. Even if the Supreme Court turns it down, the government is ready to bring the ordinance, because by now, Ram Temple is a symbol of victory for the upper caste Hindu, which is the majority. Next comes a medium of propaganda. I would urge the reader to look at this own WhatsApp messages. It is filled with data, statements, events that provoke the recipient and makes him believe that his existence is actually in danger.
The undertone of politics and elections across the world at this point of time is of ultra-nationalism. If it becomes fascism, we don’t know but every time a shooter goes berserk somewhere before calling it terrorism, one must see if it is actually fascism. Those who died in the New Zealand mosque attack bear testimony to this. I have been thinking about this for a long time but now I am convinced that India is in the grip of ultra-nationalism when the Air Hostess in an Air India flight concludes her customary monologue by saying, Jai Hind.
Also Read: “What About Whataboutism?” How Our National Debate Has Fallen To An All-Time Low