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Many of the problems and issues in India – witness the political debate and the controversies that are so rife on twitter and other social media – are to do with either the relationship between people and the state, or the fine balance between the competing rights of individuals and communities.

It may be a generalisation but I believe that at its core these disputes arise from a fundamental lack of clarity in our own minds of the status of the people.

Are we citizens or are we subjects?

Until  70 years ago there was no question – we were subjects of one king or imperial power or the other. Even if you go back to before recorded history we were subjects of a King who later came to be regarded as God. Kingdoms large and small were sometimes replaced with empires as conquests superseded earlier victories. 

That changed dramatically with the ‘tryst with destiny’ in 1947 when almost overnight we became, in theory at any rate, citizens of a free sovereign nation. In 1950 we became a Republic when we gave ourselves a We-the-People type Constitution, thus setting in stone, so to speak, the role of the people as free citizens in determining the future.

But has this change of status from subject to citizen been reflected in how the State treats us; in how we treat and how we demand to be treated by the state;  and how we respond to each other and react with the State? Do we feel ourselves to be empowered citizens or do we behave like loyal (or disloyal) subjects? Do those we elect to run our affairs treat us as free citizens to whom they are accountable, or as subjects who can be taken for granted?

Make up your own mind But consider the distinction I make between citizens and subjects.

Citizens have rights and freedoms. They have independence of thought, speech and choice; they have agency. Citizens elect their governments to run the affairs of State – their State. They implicitly consent to laws that their elected representatives frame for the greater good of all citizens. When citizens are deprived of their basic freedoms by the agencies of the State it is only by the fair and impartial rule of law, and only after due process. When the State uses its power unreasonably citizens protest and expect at the very least not to be ostracised for it. 

Subjects, on the other hand, are people who have a duty, explicitly stated or otherwise, whether or not they agree, to serve the interests of the ruler. Such rights as they do enjoy are granted to them  at the will and behest of the ruler, capable of being restricted or removed at will. The ruler frames laws mainly for his benefit and implements these laws arbitrarily and not always with due process. As a consequence subjects can have new obligations imposed on them and rights and freedoms abrogated at the whim of the ruler.

A nation of citizens has a truly representative government with transparency, accountability and the rule of law applying equally to both rulers and citizens. The institutions and agencies (that run the country according to the will of the people as expressed through an elected legislature) do so impartially because firstly, they follow a code that requires them to respect the citizens, and secondly, they are independent of the state.  

It is possible in a country of nominally free citizens under an electoral democracy to end up with power going to a small group or ruling class that, whether benign or otherwise, acts mostly in its own interests with little accountability and little or no need for openness. It applies the law selectively, sparing its friends and cracking down on those who would question it. Indeed, the ruling class in a such a country with (de jure) citizens as  (de facto) subjects uses the law as a tool for oppression rather than for ensuring a free society. Such a power elite needs necessarily to subvert democratic processes, control institutions, and suppress dissent in order to maintain its hold on power.

Apply these criteria to the myriad ways in which the State in India interacts with the people, either liberating them or constraining them, either facilitating personal and collective freedoms or restricting individual liberties and group rights. Think about these criteria in relation to how we as individuals and communities interact with each other. Do we support each others’ freedoms or do we we deliberately or inadvertently reinforce our role as loyal subjects?

As a Twitter correspondent of mine put it, its actually quite simple:

Subjects are granted some rights by a sovereign Ruler.

Citizens are sovereign and grant some (temporary) power to a selected ruler.

I believe there is a long way to travel – before we can say we are no longer subjects but free citizens.

Democracies are expected to empower citizens to take genuine control of instruments of the state for their development. At the core of this concept is the idea that citizens will participate in governance at the local level, making decisions for themselves, and vote in representatives to legislatures for higher-level decisions. India is an implausible democracy, an audacious experiment, attempting to bring together a billion people with starkly different languages, religions, and food habits. However, the state of our democracy remains perilous, a country hanging on by a slender thread to its claim to being defined a democracy. Like with many other aspects famously considered ‘Indian’, our democracy is a mediocre one, fulfilling satisfactorily, only the most basic requirement of regular (and reasonably free and fair) elections. Democratic accountability in particular, appears particularly at risk, as we the people, have fewer ways to hold those in power responsible for their performance.

Four scenarios raising concerns about democratic accountability currently playing out in India:

Propaganda rules over facts

Late last year, the central government pulled off ‘Demonetisation’, an exercise in purging cash reserves of the political opposition after ensuring the ruling party’s own reserves were safely parked (or converted) well in time. Manipulation of the press by political parties through direct funding (or proxy measures) continues unabated, as news channels spectacularly out-do the state broadcaster in peddling propaganda. The true extent of damage caused by Demonetisation will never be known — not because we do not have the tools to measure the damage, but because voters are being herded like sheep, not to ask any questions. As a result, the Reserve Bank of India can get away without releasing key data, and the lack of that data need not deter the government from making grandiose statements that go almost completely unchallenged in the public domain. Those who do question, do it with the knowledge that nit-picking on facts is futile.

Dissent is anti-national

The state’s response to dissent continues to plumb new depths. Civil society voices have been muted, farmer/dalit protests are killed in cahoots with a friendly media, etc. Those speaking up against the rampant terrorism in the name of the cow, or the fast-receding freedom of the press, are labelled anti-national. Dissent, whether from the grassroots or from intellectuals in society, are continuously demonised by a government that seems to take pride in its own anti-intellectualism, and celebration of mediocrity as evident from the various appointments to institutions of repute. Activists are being silenced everywhere. Today, Medha Patkar languishes in jail, as a government utterly insensitive to citizen protests makes no conciliatory move.Decimation of political opposition: A string of election defeats, poor public image, still quite unable to overcome the ‘corruption stains’, a lethargic party, and a seemingly disinterested leader — it is the perfect storm for the Indian National

Decimation of political opposition

A string of election defeats, poor public image, still quite unable to overcome the ‘corruption stains’, a lethargic party, and a seemingly disinterested leader — it is the perfect storm for the Indian National Congress, and a sign of the times for political opposition in India. This decimation is now fully reflected in the composition of India’s Parliament, and the erosion of checks and balances that the Legislature is supposed to have over the Executive In a parliamentary system. The few states that are not ruled by the BJP get undue attention from partisan Governors and federal anti-corruption agencies. The use of the Governor’s office as a pawn in the hands of the central government must evoke a sense of deja-vu. Politics that seemed to have matured in the last fifteen years or so now lies in tatters.

Narcissism and hero-worship

When the BJP government recently completed three years in office, the government launched the MODI Fest — the Making of Developed India festival. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly Mann Ki Baat speeches were released as a book at an event in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Every government scheme is credited to only one man, and no failures are ever pinned on him. If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, Modi-bhakti seems to be his second-last weapon of choice.

The point overall is this — to celebrate our incredible democracy, it is not enough to just conduct every five years, and for everyone to accept the election results. That is a very low bar. What matters is the quality of our democracy as measured by how the polity, the people, and the institutions operate once elections are over.

By this measure, India’s democracy has a long way to go. The systematic destruction of institutions, which need to function with a degree of competence and independence, will eventually kill our democracy. In the last three years, our institutions have shown themselves to be utterly incapable of protecting themselves from a government with authoritarian tendencies. The power that we have to hold public officials and politicians to account is directly proportionate to the credibility of institutions of governance. The way the Reserve Bank of India has folded in the last nine months should be serious cause for concern. The repeated attempts at politicising the military forces, the bellowing nationalistic media, our sanskari cultural guardians, and the uber-patriotic people’s representatives — together foretell a scary future for India.

The immediate casualty has been democratic accountability. No one seems to be responsible for the sluggish economy, now showing alarming signs of slipping into deflation. Similarly, no one seems responsible for breakdown in public services that the government is responsible for, nor is anyone held accountable for the questionable and inconsistent foreign policy decisions. Neither national security, nor corruption or cronyism seem to be topical any longer. Vigilantes break the law with impunity, as representatives of government hail them as patriots.

It is a great tragedy that after completing seventy years as a proud independent nation, our democracy is faced with such an existential crisis. If you are a liberal progressive Indian, this spectre should concern you.


A short addendum

A friend pointed out that none of this is “new” — that this has been the nature of politics in India, and indeed, is something I recognise in this column on politics and power:
It is in the nature of a government to exercise power. Every political party in power manifests power in one form or the other — never mind if the one exercising it is being labelled ‘Left’ or ‘Right’. Often, these labels allow us the convenience of picking sides based on who we like, rather than the issue at hand. This only serves to lower the quality of public debate. In reality, it would appear that at their extremities, the Left and Right are indistinguishable; and that is a clue that what we need to really discern is the manner in which both sides choose to exercise power. And for citizens unaffiliated with these labels, understanding power is the first step towards engaging with it.

The exercise of power, and the “feudal” nature of politics in India is a reality. And yet, there is distinct shift in the pattern that we need to recognise. A government running amok with little counter-balance from the Legislature or the Press, and an inconsistent Judiciary has created an unique operating environment. Political parties that are now emaciated are of course responsible for their own fates, but the corporate control of the media (and an organised effort on social media) has emboldened the current government in ways we haven’t seen in recent years. And while ordinary citizens and observers cannot replace a conventional political opposition, we need to keep demanding accountability from the government — ultimately, that is the essence of a democracy. The voters may yet surprise us again, (who knows!), but this column is about holding governments to account in between two successive elections.

Originally published here.


The following is the transcript of snippets of P. Sainath's insights on democracy. I think there is much to think of here. Many thanks Atul Hirde for making this video and sharing.

I believe that a democratic political culture is essential for any kind of governance, any kind of social contract, for any kind of society to be together, live together, work together, but the thing is, when you say "Do you agree that democracy is the best form?" You have one concept in your mind, which is not going to be easy for you to articulate. I may have another concept of it in my mind. Which may be completely different.

What is democracy?

Now, when we are talking about Western democracy, let it also be clear that there are many kinds of... there's more than one Western concept of democracy, okay?

One can look at Thomas Paine. He had radical ideas of democracy, but the main people who led the US independence and benefited from it, unlike Thomas Paine, were people like Jefferson, Washington... all of them were slave owners.

We speak of the ideals of Jeffersonian democracy. Thomas Jefferson not only wrote beautiful and exquisite poems, he was also pretty harsh on his slaves and he was willing to sell months old children of slaves. He did not release his slaves in his will - as Washington did for some of them - and Mr. Jefferson also had profoundly racist prejudices.

Democracies that you have in the west in the United Kingdom or the US are based on the enslavements of people, whether in Africa or Iraq or all around the world. In that sense there is continuity and consistency in the approach.

All the founding fathers of the United States, many of the ... you have people from the 17th, 18th century, you have people harking back to Rome, harking back to Greece, writing epics on these nations and the early republics and the democracies... these were democracies based on slave ownership.

When European nations went out and enslaved the world, it was very good to remember Rome and Greece. And it is very good in Greece to remember Plato and Aristotle, because these were guys who justified slavery. They saw the slave as property. Adam Smith writes of the slave as if he is a piece of machinery whereas in ancient Greece. Whether it is ancient greece or more modern England. Adam Smith writes of the slave as a piece of machinery - whose parts wear out. And you have to reinvest.

There's a lot of consistency in this view of human beings.

When you are an imperialist power in the 18th, 19th centuries, conquering people around the world, it is pretty good to restore those elements of the Roman, Greco-Roman, other cultures which support your position, because those were slave owning republics and slave owning democracies and slave owning empires and most of those who founded the United States drew their inspiration from that kind of democracy.

It's on view in Iraq, where everyone of you has sent the token number of troops as well, okay? We're seeing that kind of democracy. A democracy again based on enslavement of people.

You were asking me a question, "Why did Gandhi call Western Democracy a diluted form of fascism?"

Do you know something about Gandhi? All but five months of his life, he lived under British Imperialism. He watched the nation that called itself the mother of all Parliaments and he watched them enslave a hundred nations. All of them completely oppressed and held under the British rule. While the British power practiced democracy at home. To some extent. Even that democracy at home was substantially improved by the radical work and writings and ideas of people like Thomas Paine and others.

Please notice, Gandhi did not say democracy is diluted fascism. He said Western democracy is diluted fascism.

Let me give you an idea. I find it apalling, this Greco-Roman stuff, which is.... I have it coming out of my ears, and then we have a French academic passing through Bombay, who sings the praise of Greco-Roman republics and I think where are... you know... here is a guy coming from France - a nation that has produced far more noble ideas on democracy and egalitarianism than Greece and Rome ever did. Here is the nation that gave the world the slogan, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" - a slogan that Indian freedom fighters took to their graves with them.

Switzerland, oh great. Switzerland. Taught to me in school as the epitome of democracy at every level... when did they give women the right to vote? Some 30 years after India did, because women in India had the right to vote the minute this country was born. I still say it doesn't make India a good democracy in that sense. It makes India a good electoral democracy.

Unlike people of America, people of this country vote, they use their vote, and they use it to change governments and to produce change.

The man who was the main architect of the Constitution of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar, when the constitution was released, when the constitution was launched, in 1950, Ambedkar said, we have built a thriving political democracy, but we have not accompanied it with economic democracy. The tensions of inequality, the tensions of this contradiction will blow us up one day.

Now if you want to believe that the United States and UK and its allies in Europe went into Iraq to promote democracy, if you believe that, then you can believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the rest of it.

Now if Iraq's national product had been onions, there would have been no war. There are two kinds of things why people went into Iraq. One is of course is the natural resources and the other geo-political stuff. Noam Chomsky put it very well when they have said International relations are also organized pretty much on the lines of the Mafia. If the small shopkeeper refuses to pay, you don't really need his money, but you gotta beat the shit out of him, because otherwise other shopkeepers will get ideas.

I think a lot of people make the distinction between democratic behavior and democratic governance, and the imposition of a particular breed of a violent democracy, on these nations by the United States and its western allies, I think people are intelligent enough to make this difference.

Many Western minds are not intelligent enough it seems to understand that people make that distinction. They might want democracy. They may not want your democracy.

The Australian political scientist, Alex Carry. I think he summarized when talking about the 20th century. He summarized - he said, "There were three great developments in the 20th Century. The rise and growth of democracy, the rise and growth of corporate power and The rise and growth of corporate media - to try and strangle the rise and growth of democracy.


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In the previous article, I have outlined some dynamics of power. Those are universal. They help us understand the JanLokpal agitation and how it is unfolding. Whether you call this troubleshooting, or you call it a strategy map depends on which side of the fence you are.

These observations are of the dynamics - they have no intent other than to describe the flows of power on an overall scale.

If you have not read the post about the dynamics of power, this article may not make sense to you at all, unless you have skills of understanding power dynamics. So I suggest that you read it.

Without further ado... here is the narrative of the movement in terms of power.


The conditions at the time of the emergence of the JanLokpal andolan were ripe for the existing powerful enitity to be challenged. If you look at the examples of reasons why a change is seeked, you will see that all those and more were present in the situation. People were frustrated and angry and wanted to challenge the power of the government. But they also lacked power individually. That was a lot of motivation without outlet.

The birth

Some individuals with initiative made a determined, well organized attempt to challenge the power of the government by coming together as IAC and strategizing meticulously in order to have enough power to cause a shift in the power structure of the country. (this is a staple of all civil uprisings)

The growth

While IAC made sustained, determined and highly efficiently designed efforts to grow in power, the vast number of people frustrated with the government found a stronger entity to support to achieve a larger goal.

Mistakes by the government

  • In acknowledging the IAC, the government gave it power - this was inevitable because the magnitude of the IAC challenge made communication a must. This is also an advantage of hunger strikes - by forcing a time limit for a response before stakes became unacceptably high, the government essentially ran out of time to regain its power.
  • By attacking the IAC before addressing any of the conditions toward a better advantage, the government gave it power by magnifying the conflict. The more attention it caught, the more support it got, because this simply wasn't the government's pitch and it failed to recognize that.
  • In response to the challenge, the government counted solely on its institutional power prevailing and became rigid to defend it. It did not take several opportunities where small concessions in institutional power would bring them significant situational power, choosing to attempt to disempower the opponent rather than risk any loss of power in a bid for increasing power.
  • It made several attempts with red herrings which got exposed and further disempowered the government.
  • It failed to understand what was happening and use the interval between protests to create more favorable ground.
  • It over estimated its institutional power and made no effort to develop situational advantages.
  • It squandered the advantage of institutional power for using it for creating red herrings, which was correctly recognized by citizens as an attack on their interests and rejected, resulting in disempowering of the government in relation with IAC

The challenge and victory

The IAC successfully consolidated all the power received from the people and informally institutionalized it as the "civil society". This added tremendous endurance to their challenge.

The sheer number of people coming together made IAC powerful enough to challenge the government and force it to compromise for survival. This is a victory. That battle was won at this point with the creation of the Joint Committee.

The resistance and counter challenge

While the government lost the battle in terms of operational power, it has institutional power which requires no energy to sustain. This power is drawn from the support of every person in the country through elections leading to its formation. No matter how many people rise up in challenge, very little dissent is required against them to overpower them because they cannot exceed the population of the country.

It has an advantage of being able to out endure challenges far more easily than one without that. The IAC with its excellent organization came very close to out powering that as well, and it would have in an out and out battle, but the government naturally used the advantage it had by drawing out the battle at very little cost to itself. It also made several and sustained efforts to undermine the power of the IAC which worked well.

I insert here a comment: It is not ill intent toward the country which causes this resistance. Any power challenged will resist. It is the nature of power. No matter how big or small.

Mistakes by IAC

After the initial victory, the IAC made several critical mistakes.

  • Their biggest one was shifting their power from the entity it had institutionalized it under to individuals. A system is far more difficult to overpower than individuals.
  • This backfired, because the red herring attacks by the government started hitting the power of the movement itself because the people had been turned into symbols. Make no mistake, the government has made personal attacks as distraction mechanisms all through. They had no impact on the movement till the people started becoming symbols of the movement.
  • Possibly this was done as a protection to the leaders of the movement who were under severe and sustained personal attacks. However, it divided the power being received and made it far less stable. Massive support became less visible.
  • You also notice this in the fact that among people around you, you will find very few who have changed their minds about the JanLokpal. What has changed is the ability to consolidate support.
  • Another reason, not related with the nature of power, but became a big disadvantage is supporting people runs instinctively counter to an objective of creating an independent authority not influenced by people. Therefore, the conversations of the IAC became increasingly tangled in futle, unconvincing explanations and attention was lost from supporting the primary objective to defending individuals, intentions, logic, credibility, etc based on subjective arguments... this dispersed available power over such a large area that it is becoming rapidly unsustainable.

I would like to note here that supporters of the IAC call the attacks against their leadership as the evil designs of the government, but I see it is an unethical but prevalent practice in our country and indeed in the world. The IAC has also made personal attacks on members of the government.

Would not like to comment on immediate situation because it is still fluid, but here are tips for both the IAC and government.

For IAC to win

It needs to move back as fast as possible to institutionalizing its power and leaving defense of personal attacks to individuals - no matter who.

It needs to stop adding agendas that disperse and over reach its power like election campaigns and other things. Opening more fronts of attack may seem like a temporary victory, but the government has no problem with that at all, while sustaining it will be an active effort for IAC - that way lies exhaustion. Better consolidate all power first to achieve JanLokpal before moving on to other obectives.

Citizens are smart enough to vote for whoever they choose - they most certainly know about the corrupt congress, etc and have an active interest in selecting non-corrupt people. That is a large investment of effort to achieve something that would happen anyway.

For the government to win

An institutional power is not effective against citizens at large for a very long time. It is important to get situational power by getting support and "buy ins" by the people. (no, this isn't about bribing, but convincing). A good way would be to take up a pressing concern and make an absolutely open and unhesitating stand to fix it.

Changing the nature of attacks to more ethical ones in terms of debating the utility of the JanLokpal or whatever, but moving off from personal attacks will create a massive moral advantage. It will mean learning a whole new way of counter argument.


I would like to say here, any victory is likely to be temporary. A more lasting solution would be in reaching mature compromises, but the chances for that seem low on both sides currently.

Yeah, that's about it. What I see in this situation without pushing my own agendas (which I have done plenty of already 😀 )

Thank you for reading.


There are a lot of people comparing Anna with the Taliban, and I think it is a product of our education system, where theory is taught as a separate thing from life. People aren't used to seeing ideas in action. The higher educated, the worse it gets. Anyway, here are some arguments and what I think of them.

anna come on, a modern taliban who flog people for drinking, whats the difference between approach of anna hazare and taliban??

flogging people is non violent? news? flogging them with hands tied , and mostly "bahi" used to do it by him self, woah

for your information talibans controll drugs and sexual harassment in same manner, at that time " o my god its brutality"

be on topic mam, difference between anna and taliban? power hungry he is and he used his power in shape of brutality

etc... by Munnazir

To begin with, I think it is ridiculous to compare Anna Hazare with the Taliban because he is authoritarian. He isn't running an illegal government, making terrorist attacks, enslaving women, imposing religion, beheading people at will, etc. I mean, the differences are so many, that I think the only similarity is Anna Hazare's punishment for drinking and a dubious similarity in massive popular support. Possibly the strength of this protest could be seen as challenging government authority.

The debate continued with some people engaging with me on the subject of Democracy, liberty, and personal freedoms. Here are some quotes from primary_red

Because, ma'am, a basic understanding of the concept of liberty that seems to elude Anna supporters leads them to this position

Which is why I'mm a teetotaler. But, drinking is legal in India & Anna can go to hell if he thinks he can impose his views on anyone

The interesting things at this point are that the Janlokpal movement has no agenda on alcohol or alcoholism. Nor is this something Anna is imposing on the country. In our country, the government just increased the minimum age for drinking by seven years. If you marry before 25, you can't drink at your wedding. This is democratic. But Anna getting majority support in the village to ban drinking is not. Do you think the government took a vote on raising the drinking age, and do you know if they would have got the votes to pull it off if they did? Gujarat can be a dry state and it is democratic, but Ralegaon Siddhi can't. The double standards are enough to make your head spin. Ralegaon Siddhi is a real village surrounded by real India. If you measure it by some textbook ideals based on your beliefs about "best", it is unrealistic to say the least.

We have smoking banned in public places - even outdoor public places, where there is no known risk from passive smoking in an open area. In the process, smokers must smoke indoors and expose their families to concentrated passive smoke which is greater risk? And what does this achieve? Can this be enforced? All it does is provide periodic bribing opportunities to cops. How many people do you know got arrested for smoking on the street out of how many people you know smoke? What is this joke of a law? But it is there. It is passed. I makes criminals out of a significant percentage of the population. This is not authoritarian?

Fact is, India is authoritarian by heritage. We were ruled by kings, our attitudes, culture, beliefs, everything comes from a belief in hierarchies. Be it touching the feet of elders or telling your kids to not go out to play. Is it liberal? No. So what do we do? Do we create solutions in the reality we have, or create solutions for an ideal democracy that doesn't exist?

Sorry, ma'am. Inexplicably, you are very comfortable with sacrificing freedoms of others. You are free to abstain. Leave us alone

Also by primary_red

I have written about my experiences with what I call passive alcoholism - where my husband was an alcoholic. It is worth a read to grasp one point. While drinking is personal freedom, an alcoholic abuser is a social menace. Personal freedom doesn't include the freedom to let kids starve or beat up wives. I see absolutely nothing wrong with a social intervention to prevent or punish alcoholics for abusing their families. In fact, I think it is an important and much needed step on domestic abuse.

A village panchayat is the government of the village and arbitrates as it sees fit in the running of the village. While I am no fan of seeing people beaten, how do you punish a drunk? Reasoning doesn't work with them, they have no money you can fine them and anyway, it will be the family who suffers for money not the drunk, there are no jails and it is a fairly common problem. I don't agree with people being beaten, but I can see how it can look like a workable solution for village folks.

It is quite astonishing that people read about the transformation of Ralegan Siddhi and this is what they find important. Protecting the rights of abusers.

No one seems to wonder why the village is protesting with such dedication in support of this person. It the village and its panchayat is in support of a certain action, is it illegal? Is it even authoritarian if the followers are in agreement? Anyone has any records of dissent from that village and how severe it was, if at all it was present?

I don't support punishment for smoking or drinking, most definitely not physical punishment, but I fail to see why I should not take a good idea from a person because his other idea is bad. My liberal beliefs allow an authoritarian his beliefs as long as those lives he touches are not harmed by them. I don't believe in this new brand of extremist liberalism I see these days. This kind of finding one quality and calling it the defining trait of a person is actually extremism. The process of seeing in absolutes. If a person ate pork in America, he should never get a visa to a Muslim country kind of thinking.

The liberals with their purist views based on their books fail to see that ideas in action are a mix of thousands of things happening at the same time. They are dynamic and you can't pick out one idea and make it the sole factor of a choice. This is where intellect needs humility to keep observing the world and keep learning.

It is also a matter of whether we use or discard ideas for their origin, or their value. Whatever the origin, a good idea works and vice versa. It is authoritarian to decree authoritarian behavior as automatically unacceptable, if that makes sense.