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Richard the Troll

Richard the Troll

Richard Fox Young has written an article titled “Time for a “Diagnostic Test” on Rajiv Malhotra’s Books” essentially repeating the same old points in all the previous articles. The arrogance is revealed in the very title of his article positioning himself as a doctor meant to diagnose a disease. This attitude will become more evident as we shall see.

Young begins his article with an analogy of how cars are tested for road worthiness in Princeton with stickers slapped on them “certifying” them and how cars without the sticker get pulled over. He wishes to perform a similar diagnostic test on Malhotra. This shows the crude arrogance of Young as mentioned above. One must note the implications of such a view. It lays emphasis on power structures of who has adhikara to question and set the discourse. Ones without the stickers slapped on them by so called “diagnostic experts” will be ridiculed and brushed away. This kind of sticker slapping attitude is what excludes the practising Hindu acharyas and yogis out of debate and unworthy of acknowledgement. Prof. Rambachan who says he had read intensely under Swami Dayananda Saraswati, has polished English and presentation skills and thus gets the sticker, while Swami Dayananda Saraswati himself would not qualify for the sticker! This kind of huge asymmetry in power where all the norms and conditions for dialogue are set by outsiders of the tradition is what gradually leads to cultural genocide. This is an irrational situation to be in and those that are enforcing such a system call themselves academics! This has exactly been what Malhotra is fighting and wants insiders of the tradition to get a seat at the table of discussion.

Young writes: “It was because I found Malhotra’s “thinly religionised” Hindutva nationalist ideology odious that I read him attentively and attempted, unsuccessfully, to engage him in the time-hallowed ways of academe.”

So what was Malhotra’s “thinly religionised Hindutva nationalist ideology”? He wrote a book on Integral unity of Hinduism called “Indra’s net”. One book on reversing the gaze at the West from a Dharmic point of view called “Being Different”. This book has distinct and deep rooted differences of the West from Dharma which the West would be blind to perceive from its own view point. This would only help alleviate some of the deeply rooted problems of the West. He has written one book titled “Invading the Sacred” which counters crude, vulgar representation of Hindu deities bordering Pornography on the pretext of Freudian psychoanalysis. He has written a book titled “Breaking India” where he names people, foundations and groups that use India’s past fault lines to their advantage. So it is clear that Young is very uncomfortable with establishing any kind of Hindu unity, critiquing crude representations of hindu deities, understanding Hinduism for its distinctiveness and a move of unity over fragmentation politics! Everything that maintains the integrity of the nation is problematic for Young.

Young writes “still, one doesn’t publicly “shame” a person like Rajiv Malhotra on social media as I have attempted to, without trepidation. Done carelessly, it could be ruinous—as it has been for several victims who have been wrongly maligned in the past, as Ronson illustrates in his book. It was imperative to level such a charge only after doing my homework as meticulously as I could and I did, both for Malhotra’s sake and mine. After all, I did not want to bear false witness against him or set myself up for a nosedive into obloquy. When various iterations of the SafeAssign test led to the same conclusion regarding the text of Indra’s Net, I went ahead and pressed the tweet button on Twitter back in early July this year.”

Here Young digs his own grave. Public shaming was always his aim. As we will see soon, he does not simply hit the tweet button like he claims. Also no intent of plagiarism can be established as Malhotra has amply cited the author. Missing quotation marks would at max be treated as Errata. When there is no intent for plagiarism, one respectfully approaches the author to fix errata. But this was not Young’s aim right from the beginning. As we will see, he represents a neat and tidy image of himself to his Seminary colleagues by claiming he resorted to twitter as he had no other choice! When Malhotra cites Nicholson more than 30 times, how in the remotest way can a case for plagiarism be made? Before landing on this “opportunity” Young himself sees the difficulty in establishing a case of plagiarism

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And Young keeps howling plagiarism when Malhotra has cited Nicholson innumerable times. It is ironic that Young had tweeted that “truth is his dharma” a long time back.  He further writes “I, too, made the disclosures with a degree of hesitation”. We will soon witness the immense hesitation that Young had in this hit job. The plagiarism charge has been responded to be many scholars in academia and I do not wish to elaborate on what is already made clear.

Young goes on to talk about Ram Jagessar’s mail to his colleagues at Princeton Theological Seminary. I do not wish to comment much upon this as Young gives it a relevance it does not deserve. Every society has those that would respond strongly with language not approved of by all. We witnessed this even by the comments of present day Brits to the Guardian article of Shashi Tharoor’s speech on reparations owed to India. There was much crass and ignorant language being used. Pinning such reactions to Young on Malhotra is dishonest to say the least. One would have to face such explosive reactions on social media. There are no power centers in social media and hence requires a different kind of attitude. This is how the internet works and one must live with it. In fact Young is himself an internet troll as we will soon establish.

Young writes: “When I learned of it, however, I felt that it might be a mistake to shrug it off. Jagessar happens to be a prominent Toronto-based “Intellectual Kshatriya” (a term of self-description popular with Malhotra’s clique), whose emails are a staple of the Malhotra-managed Yahoo listserv, dubbed the “Yahooligans” by a commentator on reddit.”

The sly Young does not say that he himself has sneakily slipped into the yahoo group with proxy ids. His troll nature goes beyond twitter. He trolls Malhotra on every platform available. PTS must take cognizance of the fact that one of their colleagues is really an internet troll.

Young writes:”In the weeks since this soap opera, now in its umpteenth act, got going, Malhotra’s fanciful excuses have included the claim that an attempt was being made to deprive him of his “intellectual freedom.” This was plainly disingenuous of Malhotra, considering Jagessar’s bald-faced attempt to deprive me of mine, by the kind of intimidation ordinarily called blackmail.”

How can reaction by people in general be pinned on Malhotra? Is he accountable for the actions of all his readers?

Young writes a detailed reply to his colleagues at PTS. I will highlight only the parts that I can critique myself. The rest has already been responded to in various articles.

Young writes: “John Boopalan and I trod the timeworn path of routine scholarship and produced an essay on Malhotra’s noxious mischaracterizations of Indian Christianity and Dalit Christians. […] Attempts have proven futile to elicit any response at all to the book by Malhotra.”

By the same token of sticker slapping, why does Young assume he is important enough to be taken seriously? Why should Malhotra not have the freedom to do his own sticker slapping on Young? After all Malhotra is one of the handfuls taking the might of the academic establishment to have time to respond to every book produced by the academy. In fact when called for a debate this is how Young responds.

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After using such crass, ignorant and gutter language, they expect to be responded to with dignity?! They expect to be responded to at all? As I will show shortly, this has not been a recent one time issue, but has been happening for a while now.

Young writes: “As Mr. Malhotra is not an academic (and holds academe in the utmost contempt), I had no means (I did consider a number) other than social media to call attention to his infractions of the code of academic ethics the rest of us have to live by. Had he been affiliated to an institution of higher education, I could/would have drawn the attention of that institution to the issue; presumably, a panel would have been commissioned to weigh the evidence, and a variety of penalties might be enforced, from probation to dismissal.”

Standard line – “Malhotra is not an academic” (sticker slapping). It is laughable that he says he had no other means! What about mailing the author and publisher for clarification first? It must be noted how he presents a neat and tidy image of himself as having thought out every bit before resorting to his “troll gunas” of using social media for a smear campaign. Unlike how he attempts to put a civilized image of himself in having no other go, this is what he did.

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That’s right he gives an official count down and tags everyone under the sun on social media for the smear campaign. Grossly un-civilized behavior carefully covered away from his seminary colleagues in his letter. Is this how one who “had no other go than to resort to social media” behaves? Young plays the roles of both good cop as well as bad cop. The extreme joy and pleasure he derives from such behavior is self evident

Young writes: “As for Jagessar, […] I do not think it an exaggeration to call him a digital bully and blackmailer.”

“On Twitter, “troll” means many things and Twitter bullies accuse people like me of being trolls when we get in the way by holding them to account for the noxious things they say. See for yourselves.”

So the troll calls Jagessar a troll and a bully. Please open Young’s TL and see that every single tweet has been directed at Malhotra. Of the top 3200 of his tweets around 1300 are targeted at Malhotra. Isn’t this what a troll does? Rest of the tweets are to troll Vamsee Juluri, twitter handle called @noconversion and the other “Sanghis” as he calls them. Also the crude language he has used makes him a real thug on social media.

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He tweets this with a picture of Donald duck.

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He goes around counting number of retweets for Malhotra’s tweets claiming Malhotra pays for them. Who other than a troll engages in such petty activity? Every tweet in his TL is abundant with sarcasm and mockery aimed at Malhotra. The toxic language he uses is evidenced below.

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I do not wish to pour more of his filth here. Every tweet on his TL is loaded with mockery and name calling.

Mr. Young, you had once asked me this:

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Have I answered you now? 

Author: Akash Ravianandan (Blog)

Published: Aug 5, 2015

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