Best columns: International
Dalits won’t be cowed by violence
I’ve recently been leading a group of activists across India to visit areas blighted by hate crimes, said Harsh Mander. Most of this violence has been directed against Muslims. But many Dalits—once known as untouchables, the group at the bottom of the Hindu caste system—have also been targeted, and it’s striking how differently they’ve responded. Whereas Muslims are resigned to living in fear, Dalits are “fighting back.” We visited one Dalit enclave in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh that was savagely attacked by upper-caste Rajputs after residents installed a statue of B.R. Ambedkar, the Dalit father of India’s constitution and a fierce op ponent of the caste system. The attack didn’t intimidate the Dalits: They reacted by throwing out their Hindu idols and converting en masse to Buddhism. After Rajputs recently thrashed a Dalit man in the western state of Gujarat for sporting a mustache— something they believe men of his lowly caste have no right to do—he remained defiant, joking to a reporter, “Is there a problem if we are good- looking?” Social media is now full of Dalit men flaunting their mustaches. India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party might be able to ignore India’s Muslims and still win power. But they ignore at their peril the “mounting Dalit anger against upper-caste hate.”
The West is descending into chaos
What on earth is happening to the West? asked the Global Times. Not so long ago, the U.S. and Europe were stable, prosperous places, happy to lecture others about the superiority of their democratic systems. Today, they have much less to boast about: Their angry electorates have voted in populists who care little for “traditional values and political order”; terrorist attacks have become almost routine in their cities; and now separatists in Catalonia and elsewhere threaten to break apart their nation-states. “This series of events may not be a temporary phenomenon but instead reflect a deeper problem.” The old order has been shaken by the rapid evolution of technologies—including social media and the increased automation of work—and Western democracy has utterly failed to adapt to this new world. Political parties have moved to the ideological extremes, which has eroded their ability to compromise and pass legislation. And rather than trying to build unity, Western elites instead simply blame one another for society’s disintegration. “The slogan of ‘change’ has frequently appeared in Western election campaigns, but the so-called changes are all formality.” Until its leaders rediscover their “political authority and moral compass,” the decline of the West will continue.