And the original post: I am beginning to realise that at least once a year, I use this blog to tell off fanatics. So far, it has been Islamist nut-jobs who got offended by my piece on Salman Rushdie. Then some time later, I wrote about Mumbai and Rohinton Mistry and some Hindu fundamentalists (what an oxymoron that is!) were equally offended. Both these links here will take you to what I wrote in those instances.
Last week I tweeted about Gilad Atzmon's new book and that has apparently offended some Zionist club of fanatics. Apparently, according to tweets and blogs and other online fora where these fanatics dwell, my reading of a book by a dissident Israeli brands me an "anti-Semite", a Holocaust denier and/or a Nazi supporter.
Full disclosure: I know Gilad professionally as we share the same literary agent although by no stretch of imagination can we be considered friends. I like his music and respect his writing and political convictions although there are many points of disagreement as well. And we are bound by our mutual respect and affection for Shimon Tzabar, the literary legend and human being par excellence (and one of the few utterly moral people I have had the privilege of knowing).
What I wrote for Rushdie applies now to the Zionist nut-jobs accusing me of anti-Semitism, and beautifully demonstrating their own narrow-minded, ignorant racism in their comments. I will not repeat all of that piece as you can check the link above if you really care to learn but I will make a specific point.
Of the many Zionist accusations, the one I find most ridiculous is the one where I am apparently 'playing to a Muslim audience.' It shows the ignorance and idiocy of my Zionist accusers who see a brown woman with an exotic name and assume she must be a Muslim. So for the record, let me repeat what I wrote to the Islamist nut-jobs way back when and redirect it to my Zionist accusers (Aside: hilarious how Anton Block's narcissism of minor differences applies so well to both):
As a Hindu, I grew up in a household where books were kissed (like Rushdie's household). But more importantly, I also grew up in a home where pens, notebooks, and more recently - with typically Hindu logic – laptops are worshipped. Every year on Diwali, you see, we are required to offer prayers to Durga – the goddess of war – and to our weapons that she is believed to embody and inhabit. In my childhood, my family would clean and polish old swords, spears, revolvers and rifles on every Diwali. And at midnight, these weapons would be placed on the altar and anointed with kumkum, turmeric, ghee. We would conduct an aarti, the polished metal of the weapons gleaming through the fragrant smoke of diyas and agarbattis.
While I was still a child, my grandmother began the tradition of placing our schoolbooks and pens on the altar instead of weapons. She said that in the coming world, these would be our weapons. That tradition endures and to this day, I place my laptop, even draft manuscripts, on the altar on Diwali. It is a tradition I plan to uphold and live for the rest of my life.
The point I am making is simple: keep those threats and hate mails coming!
I am not about to back down from saying what I believe. And I am not about to back down from fighting for what I believe. And I am not – like some writers – about to “self-censor” my writing because some pathetic, cowardly, creature out there may be offended.
This is not about Rushdie or Mistry or Atzmon! This is about my right to words, stories, opinions. And I will be damned if I let go of those without a fight!
A final point to note: fanatics are not only to be found on all ends of the spectrum, but they also show the same lack of imagination when it comes to the depth of their arguments. Good to know that there is a meeting point for fanatics of all ilk somewhere even though its marked by an acute absence of intelligence and imagination.