Rhetorical Diversion

In another good conversation via DM with another twitter friend @varun_vijay, I came across the brilliant term in this article on Dalrymple’s book “So Little Done” – Rhetorical Diversion. This post is inspired from what I could gather form these articles. Via @varun_vijay on Twitter: “More popularly used phrase to describe “rhetorical diversion” is Red Herring http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Literary_technique”

Rhetorical Diversion is the most famous and most used technique of defense. Media uses this too often and we have seen it work once too many a time. For example, take Afzal Guru. Now he was convicted and judgment was passed on his crime that he should be hanged till death. This was a judgment by none other than the Supreme Court of India – the highest judicial bench in India. But he has not been hanged. The files on whether to execute the sentence or not has been pending for the last 4 years. Pratibha Patil – the rubber-stamp President of India has said to this effect that – because of her religious belief, she might not be able to turn down mercy petitions in case of death penalties. We know what exactly this means.

Lets for a moment forget about what is the reason behind GoI’s reluctance. Lets look at what media has to say.

They say “Killing Afzal Guru will not solve the problem. It will on the top of it give the jihadists what they want – paradise for their heinous acts. Moreover, there are more pressing issues than Afzal Guru that need immediate attention. For example, Bhopal Tragedy, Godhra Riots, Kandhamal killings etc.” Notice that they would never speak about Wandhama massacre or 1984 sikh massacre. Thats for some other day. This is a Rhetorical Diversion. What has Afzal Guru’s death penalty got to do with any of these? Many journos would like to point out that it is root of the issue. So Afzal Guru shouldnt be executed? How does that logic hold?

This is generally referred to as Red Herring in story telling. Hitchcock was a genius in using it. In most of his movies, your attention would ostensibly be diverted to a character just by the looks but only in the end you would realize that actually the character which you didnt notice at all is the real culprit.

Today’s Indians are suffering from the disorder of “Rhetorical Diversion”. For example, you get frustrated at Congress’ mistakes in handling inflation. They would say “was it any better in NDA regime”. This is the disease you would catch if you watch too much of NDTV/CNN-IBN/Times Now. To start with, “how is congress’ mis-handling of inflation justified if NDA did mis-handle it?”.

Another gleaming example of Rhetorical Diversion from Arun Shourie’s speech in 1993 on Ayodhya.

“They can’t see a platform which is there today, five feet deep and lying in an area which is one acre big. They can’t see that, what will they say about five hundreds years ago.In any case those pieces were there, inscriptions are there, why not study these?

And imagine if some manuscript had turned up in Babur’s hometown in Uzbekistan in which he said no, no, no this is not the Babri mosque, it is in Tashkent. You just see the amount of prominece that would have got in the media. Here things are lying under the open sky, in the custody of the district administrator and five, it is said six leading historians whose names you have never heard in a box item in the Times Of India have asked several questions : What is the proof that these artifacts were not brought in from outside?

This is the standard Marxist trick to always ask some red-herring question, so that you have to spend your time answering it. Before all this, in July, you will see big headings in all newspapers: Ayodha was in Afghanistan, says scholar. Now you start proving how it was not in Afghanistan. Structure was probably stupa, says scholar. So you start proving how it was not a stupa. So now they said prove that you did not bring it from outside, They said, in whose custody are these things lying today?

अरे, Faizabad is on STD. One call to the district administrator, would have shown you that it is in his custody. No, they will ask all these questions in the Times of India and all these papers put it in box item. Questions: Doubts about evidence, says scholar. So this kind of thing enrages people and compounded with what the courts are doing, it convinces them, no you have to take the law in your own hands.”

Beware of these tactics by left liberal media. Make your decision based on logic. Ask yourself – what has the question that I am asking got to do with what the event/statement? Let your logical side answer the questions.


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