Is Fareed Zakaria Journalistically Unethical or Dishonest?


We used to wonder how it was possible for Europeans to hate Jewish people with such venom? We wondered that when we read about Nazi atrocities against Jews in Germany; we wondered that when we read Shakespear’s caricature of all Jews embodied in the diatribe against Shylock; we wondered that when we read how deeply Dominic Straus Kahn felt about being slighted in France for being Jewish. That was theoretical wonderment because we really hadn’t understood what such venomous hate feels to the  hated.

That changed a few years ago when we opened our eyes and began noticing a similar but non-physical hate against Hindus in American media. That was most obvious in sections of American media that are philosophically kin to Europe’s “liberal” views. This anti-Hindu hate is so deep & venomous that it smacks of Religious Caste System or even Religious Apartheid.

A new low was reached this past week perhaps timed to spew hate upon the arrival of Prime Minister Modi in New York. We are used to false, made-up charges from US media, used to rampant usage of terms like Hindu-Nationalist for Shree Modi (without pausing to reflect what else could Indians be in a Hindu-ethos, Hindu-majority India). 

But we had never heard of intense hate-filled condemnations of “Hindu-Nationalist” Modi for decisions of his party that were openly anti-Hindu. At this rate, these “European” sections of US media would blame PM Modi for being “Hindu nationalist” even if he bans the entire Hindu religion from India.

We are used to @HuffPostIndia writing utter trash about PM Modi. They go to such an extent in their Modi-hate that they actually support racism, yes skincolor-based racism, of India’s upper castes against poorer darker-complexioned Indians. So while we may shocked about the venom of their hate, we are not surprised.

But we were really surprised to see Fareed Zakaria stoop to the lows of @HuffPostIndia. Our good feelings about Fareed stem from our respect for his father, Rafiq Zakaria. We know Fareed is not Rafiq but we didn’t think he could fall so far from the tree of his father’s intellectual honesty.

But Fareed proved us wrong this week. Read his tweet about his video on Thursday, September 24, 2015

  • Fareed Zakaria @FareedZakaria – One of India’s greatest modern achievements, its secularism and religious tolerance is under pressure: GPS Last Look 
Fareed, being a Muslim, doesn’t know or care that India’s religious tolerance & its secular credentials precede the birth of both Islam & Christianity. Yet, he ascribes the adjective “modern” to it, modern being his code-word for bequeathed by the British.
India’s secular credentials & religious tolerance were first demonstrated when the Jain religion was formed in India in 4th century BCE. This tiny religion was freely allowed to form, spread and grow without any constraints in that India. We guess Fareed doesn’t know that or feigns not to know that. The Jain reference is relevant, because Fareed’s video is about the recent attempt to ban on meat & chicken in Mumbai to appease  Mumbai’s Jains.  
The tiny Jain minority in Mumbai is fiercely vegetarian. The Hindu majority in India is non-vegetarian. And the Hindu majority in the State of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, is staunchly non-vegetarian. And other minorities in Mumbai, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parsees, are all non-vegetarian. The local government in Mumbai announced a ban on meat & chicken on all Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsees & Jews to appease a rich but tiny Jain community. 

Yet, Fareed’s video blamed the “Hindu Nationalism” of Prime Minister Modi for this pro-Jain act. How did the right-wing Hindu parties react to this Fareed-described “Hindu Nationalism” of BJP? These Hindu parties came out in the streets of Mumbai in furious protest against this ridiculous ban. And these Hindu parties were supported by Muslim, Christians, Parsees and Jews.

So how does Fareed Zakaria blame Modi’s “Hindu Nationalism” for an anti-Hindu act that was widely condemned by Hindu parties and by all other non-Jain minorities? How does Fareed do this? What would you call it –  journalistic inventiveness or dishonesty?

We knew that others have reportedly questioned Fareed’s journalistic honesty. But we did not expect the level of dishonest portrayal he uses in his video about the meat ban. This goes beyond dishonesty. In our opinion, it is an act of a deliberate distortion that colloquially could be called a lie. 

But Fareed’s tweet is correct in a way. The ban on chiken & meat announced by Mumbai government was to appease a tiny religious minority for political contributions and it trampled on the rights of the Hindu majority and all other religious minorities. In that, the ban violated India’s ancient tradition of secularism & religious tolerance. Of course, this is not what Fareed meant.

Is Fareed’s lack of disclosure unethical?

Fareed Zakaria has religious, personal, and family reasons to be virulently anti-Modi. His father, Rafiq Zakaria, was a conservative Muslim cleric according to Wikipedia and a life long politician in the Congress Party in India. The Congress Party of Fareed’s father was virulently opposed to the BJP.

The current Congress party, run by Italian immigrant Sonia -a Christian Catholic & daughter of a reportedly pro-Mussolini father – hates BJP with a venom that we cannot even imagine. And the previous government appointed by her conferred the prestigious title of Padma Bhushan on Fareed Zakaria in 2010.

Has Fareed ever disclosed any of this when speaking about PM Modi on CNN? Not even once and not even remotely to our knowledge. Should Fareed disclose the above in the interests of journalistic ethics? We think so. But then, CNN seems to be run differently. No wonder, Donald Trump get raucous applause when he talks about honesty of US Media. 

Shame on you, Fareed. You have made us wonder about our respect for Dr. Rafiq Zakaria.  


Editor’s Note: In the tradition of this Blog, we will send this article to both Fareed Zakaria & @HuffPostIndia for their feedback. Their public responses, if any, will be printed verbatim.


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