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Political Neutrality – The Grave Byproduct of Privilege

With the global political landscape plunged in a battle within itself, the trope of indifference and indecision towards current affairs is unacceptable. The very fabric of our society is molded by the threads of politics that surround the core of our existence – from the mundane administrative policies to the telltale signs of a nationwide genocide. At some point, the question has to be asked – whose side are you on?

It is no foreign assumption that India is one of the major contributors to a massive paradigm shift on the political scale, with countries slowly but gradually leaning towards the right end of the spectrum. If we were to do away with the overly sugar-coated terminologies, the blatantly obvious inclination of the global community towards fascism is a fatal concern for minorities across different continents.

Amid these worldwide, hate-infested processions calling for genocide, instilling fear in the minds of the oppressed, systematically attacking the symbols of their existence, there is always an individual, away from the burning buildings, calling for peace and love. The said individual would have the world look at both sides of the fence – yes, the annihilation of an oppressed community is wrong, but why didn’t the martyrs simply leave their homes; why, if they were so keen to survive, did they meet the burning swords of the state-sponsored goons with pebbles of resistance as their identity, livelihood, and existence burned behind them? The said individual would shed a tear of sympathy for the bereaved – for he never learned the concept of empathy.

This is what political neutrality looks like – a hopeless cause of finding the middle ground on a barbed wire separating the sects of love and hate. In a society founded upon the chaos of world politics, the luxury of remaining neutral or inactive in the face of state-sponsored agenda and oppression is only accessible to those protected by the privilege of not being born into the other side of the country – where forlorn faces mar their idea of a perfect world. In essence, the oppressed never choose to plunge into the dirty and depressing books of politics; rather, they are inherently forced to participate in the stampede lest they are crushed without having the opportunity to raise a sound of defense, of resistance. This is something that the privileged need not concern themselves with – their lives are several light-years away from the homes where the curtains are never shut entirely in the fear that they would be blindsided to the calls of genocide fuelled by hatred, propaganda, and sheer evilness.

There is nothing innocuous about being oblivious to the pleas of a burning community; it’s not cute to be politically unaware, neutral, or indifferent, neither is it “woke” to transcend beyond the moral sphere to ignore one’s responsibility that should compel anyone to do the bare minimum of keeping themselves updated to reality.

Credits: Leslie Gilbert Illingworth

The tremors of political neutrality aren’t just limited to social media; it has been seeping into the mainstream channels of resistance for decades. Even something as simple as reporting a bigoted riot as a “clash” between two groups is a result of the normalization of treating politics as a subject that needs to be analyzed neutrally. When a knife strikes against a plastic toy, it’s not a clash; it’s murder.

Generally, with what has been going on, politically neutral commentators appear relatively inconspicuous; there are bigger things to worry about. But every time someone you thought was a close friend, who empathized with your pain, takes away the genuineness of the threat faced by you and your family, a little part of you dies – and that is always the first unreported murder that paves the way to a sinister genocide.

For me, choosing to remain politically neutral or inactive in this situation, be it for the love of a burning country or the wont to look away from what is difficult to see, is aiding the oppressors in their agenda.

As Louis Brandeis had smartly elucidated – “Neutrality is at times a graver sin than belligerence”.

Anzal Khan is a student pursuing B.Com Hons. from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Zaina Shahid Khan

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Written by Anzal Khan

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