Is BP the alternative Brownosphere?

I’m just about to try out my Bollywood dance class (in case of life imitating art; I was talking about Kathak this morning and then it so happens that a Cambridge college is introducing its inaugural dance class) and a thought came to mind.

It had occurred to me that BP occupies a rather nebulous place in the Brownosphere. Steve Sailer recently wrote that he thinks “orthogonally” to the mainstream and hence will never go viral. Now Steve was how I discovered Razib 17/18yrs ago (I had googled Iranian genetics and found Steve).

But back to the main topic, it seems that BP is not mainstream or conventional Desi or Diaspora. We are mildly anti-Islam (well I’m wildly anti-Islam but let’s not go there) and more ambivalent to the Hindu Right.

While it’s difficult to categorise everyone; Razib is a classical conservative (an old school liberal), Omar is a soft-touch social democrat (I could be corrected on both counts and please do) while I seem to be an anarcho-libertarian with authoritarian tendencies & a fetish for pan-nationalism (in some ways I reflect the Pakistani psychosis fairly well; the inability to choose between Iran, Islam & India).

But I don’t see us becoming mainstream popular since we are stepped removed from surface analysis. Razib had mentioned in a conversation that “Zack’s not interested in Sikhism but in Sikhs.” It’s a fairly accurate conclusion; practical theology bores me but the movement of peoples, ideas and various histories is deeply fascinating.

How a martial people like the Sikhs arose between the frontiers of the Indus Valley and Gangetic Plains is endlessly fascinating but it’s not going to be of interest to the mainstream public.

We occupy a shadowy space; people (and influential people) read us and we may influence the discourse but in very oblique ways.

I’m quite satisfied because freedom of expression is paramount to me. I want to use this blog as a space to air out my ideas and reflect on esoteric matters (maybe not as esoteric like the Vedas but rather the effect the Vedas has had on contemporary and historic India).

It’s interesting none of us are particularly political; I rant about Urdu on a semi-Daily basis but I’m not necessarily anti-BJP. The long arc of history tends to transcend any power eventually but sometimes great events and leaders do make a difference.. Maybe Modi will be one of them?

49 thoughts on “Is BP the alternative Brownosphere?”

  1. BP certainly seems to attract a lot of Hindutvadis and anti-Islam people. There is a (perhaps inordinate) focus on saying nasty things about Pakistan and Islam. Where are all the center-left Indians? I don’t believe the whole country has bought into right-wing hatred of minorities.

    1. You should distinguish Pakistan and Islam. I don’t think (though I could be wrong; I haven’t done a scientific survey) that there is a lot of Islam-bashing on these forums, at least from the commenters. Pakistan-bashing, yes, but you will get that from centre-left Indians too (Congresswallahs, even many Indian Muslims.)

      For my part, I try to refrain from bashing either. (We differ on Kashmir, but I have stated my reasons.)

      1. The kinds of things that Zack says about Islam definitely count as Islam-bashing. And this rhetoric obviously appeals to a certain type of Indian. If someone were to constantly insult a Hindu deity the way that the Prophet of God is insulted on this site, people would lose their shit.

        Indians and Pakistanis obviously have different interpretations of a lot of things. But center-left Indians refrain from blaming any and every problem in India on Pakistan and do not tell minorities to “go to Pakistan”.

          1. No one on BP would countenance the same kinds of remarks about Hindu gods as are regularly made about the Prophet of God. I have no interest in insulting anyone’s religion but I’m simply pointing out that gratuitous anti-Islam remarks are apparently OK with a lot of people on this site.

      2. Pakistan isn’t a Muslim State, it’s just Upper Volta with Missiles.

      3. I don’t think Islam gets bashed for the pleasure of it. People’s opinions are based on current events and Islamic fundamentalism is at the root of much motivated and targeted violence in the world today whether it is US, UK, Srilanka, Afghanistan, Kenya or Nigeria ; you name it. All of us here have to go through stringent security procedures in the airports , every time you – man or woman – have to take off your shoes or belt , you know the reason – Islamic suicide bomber or shoe bomber or some such bomber . I don’t have to remind anyone about international bad news in which religious Islam is implicated. No wonder people take a dim view of Islam.

  2. I don’t think that BP is ambivalent to the Hindu Right. From what I’ve read, I think most simply assume that the Hindu Right is ludicrous and stupid. So stupid that it doesn’t seem to be worth the time to continually bash it when many other places on the Internet lead that charge. I feel like the perceived anti-Islam bent is more of a response to the many who, while bashing the Hindu Right, seem to take a more lenient approach to conservative Islam.

    It reminds me a bit of Bill Maher. While Bill Maher went through a “criticize Islam” phase recently, I don’t think anyone can honestly say that Bill Maher is ambivalent toward the Christian Right. He hates the Christian Right and he’s spent much of his career saying just that. But in the process, he observed that the same folks who are eager to criticize the Christian Right seem to take a more lenient approach to conservative Islam. When he started criticizing conservative Islam, everyone started to take notice. Bashing the Christian Right is so ubiquitous among educated people that no one even cares to notice.

    Similarly, among segments of the English-educated class, bashing the Hindu Right is so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even raise an eye brow. It’s an assumed fact. Any criticism of Islam in the current political climate, however, is likely to shock many educated people.

    So we feel as though BP is “anti-Muslim” and “pro-Hindu” just because it isn’t exclusively anti-Hindu like most other blogs of the English-educated class.

    1. Any criticism of Islam in the current political climate, however, is likely to shock many educated people.

      Yeah, this is unfortunate. There should be space for honest and thoughtful criticism of Islam, just like there is for Hinduism (though the space for the latter has been shrinking in recent years IMHO.) This would be infinitely preferable to lashing out at individual Muslims for real or perceived social transgressions (like eating beef.)

      1. Numinous, why would you say that freedom of art and thought are shrinking?

        What does criticizing “Hinduism” even mean? There are hundreds of religions connected with “Hinduism.”

        The different sampradayas (hundreds of them) discuss and debate each other all the time.

        Do you mean that the conflict between different sects inside Achintya-Bheda-Abheda is getting more intense? Do you mean that the conflict between Maadvacharya and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda is getting more intense? Or the conflict between Vajrayani Mayana Buddhism and certain strands of Theravada Buddhism?

        These continuous conversations also take place between various Dharmic sampradayas and many different Sufi sampradayas.

    2. People on this blog have defended Sadhvi Pragya and minimized Modi’s anti-minority tendencies.

      There’s a difference between being “pro-Hindu” (which is fine) and pro-Hindutva, which is much more worrying.

      1. What do you mean by “Hinduism” and “Hindutva”? In general you use many phrases and terms that you choose not to define or study.

        Does “Hindutva” mean the doctrine of “mutual respect”? This is the closest thing to a definition that I have found. Based on my observation most but not all self described “Hindutva” subscribe to the doctrine of “sarva dharma sama bhaava sarva shrest” . . . or believe that all religions and paths are true. However many (but not all) “Hindutva” add an insistence of “mutual respect”.

        Personally I don’t believe in “mutual respect”. We love and respect everyone regardless of whether they love and respect us. If our love and respect for others was conditional on their actions, then we don’t really love and respect them.

        I think we should love and respect everyone. Including respecting their right to be disrespectful, racist, bigoted, prejudiced, white supremacist, imperialist, colonialists, hegemonic, exploitative, oppressive, sectarian towards us. Everyone has freedom of art and thought. And we have the right to make our choices based on their choices.


        Do you object to Modi’s close friendships with many Sufis and Shiites? Do you think Modi is encouraging an Islamic Fitna?

        1. Hinduism is a religion while Hindutva is a political ideology.

          The BJP has chosen a person who has been implicated in anti-Muslim violence as a parliamentary candidate. That says everything that anyone needs to know about Modi and his feelings about the Muslim minority.

          You can write a lot of words about “love and respect” but you cannot in any way justify the choice of Sadhvi Pragya as a Lok Sabha candidate.

  3. “maybe Modi will be one of them”?

    If Modi wins 2 more times, and passes economic reforms at a slow but steady rate, he will be (justifiably) heralded as one of the greatest figures of the 21st century.

    1. I wouldn’t count on the moron who made a snap decision to demonetize the Indian economy and bungled the implementation of GST to pass economic reforms at a slow but steady rate. If Modi wins two more times, we can forget about freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, minority rights, and a functioning election commission.

      1. i thought it happened overnight? kabir insulted a hindu goddess in a casual manner as liberal muslims are wont to do, all the while demanding that muhammad be addressed properly on this weblog, and zach lost it with the hypocrisy.

        in hindsight i don’t think i can blame kabir. i’m convinced he’s a 115 IQ person who can repeat things he learns, but has no deep understanding of them, so he probably didn’t see the contradiction in his behavior.

        1. I did not insult a Hindu goddess. I referred to Lord Hanuman as a “monkey god” (which incidentally is how he is referred to on Wikipedia) and Zack took that as a personal insult to his in-laws.

          In any case, Zack has put on record that it was the Asiya Bibi case that led to his visceral hatred of Islam. It seems bizarre to me to blame an entire religion for Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which many Pakistanis have admitted are liable to misuse and should be reformed.

          This is like blaming Judaism for the policies of the Israeli government or Hinduism for the destruction of the Babri Masjid. Zionism and Hindutva are political ideologies as is Islamism. It is reasonable to oppose political ideologies but bigoted to be against entire religions.

          1. It was not calling lord Hanuman “monkey god”. [Why would this be offensive?] It was a bunch of other things which I don’t remember.

            In general I can’t think of any offensive views that Kabir holds.

            The only issue is that Kabir does not support freedom of art, speech and thought.

            For Hindus/Buddhists/Jains/Sikhs/BonPo ultra pluralism or ultra multiplicity has been deeply ingrained for thousands of years.

  4. Steve Sailer is a smart man. It astounds me that “A Pair of Giants” (an article replete with flawed and gratuitous editorialization) is more on-the-money about India than 99% of South Asianist scholarship today.

    “We are mildly anti-Islam (well I’m wildly anti-Islam but let’s not go there) and more ambivalent to the Hindu Right.”

    I wouldn’t characterize myself as “anti-Islam,” I don’t think or talk very much about Islam at all (except occasionally as it pertains to India and Hinduism). I have my personal views on the religion, but ultimately, “what Islam is” is an internal matter for Muslims to resolve by themselves.

    I would agree that I am ambivalent about the Hindu Right…I would like to see the BJP evolve in a more market-friendly and technocratic direction, and give up its more virulent rhetoric while remaining stridently Hindu. Perhaps that’s a quixotic hope.

  5. “Where are all the center-left Indians? “

    Well, I used to be center-left. In fact very very left. Compared to most other commentators on this blog, I am still left of them. Unfortunately, last twenty years have shown the world that Islam is somehow different. It is just not any regular religion. This has made even the regular left-liberal intelligentsia to make an exception for Islam. While they may espouse standard liberal views towards gays and Blacks and women and all sorts of minorities, when it comes to Islam, they just sigh and say, what can we do when the religion itself is so shitty.

    With Muslims, you never know when your ordinary next door muslim neighbor will suddenly strap some bomb to his body and go boom! Blast off to heaven!

    Look at what recently happened in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans didn’t even have any egregious history of muslim-nonmuslim strife (beyond the regular minor tensions which are within normal range for multi-religious societies), and just like that -boom! 300 souls dispatched to Allah for judgement.

    I mean, liberals really wish if Muslims will make it a little bit easier to like them.

    1. Scorpian,

      I hesitate to speculate on Sri Lanka too much. The attackers seemed to be very educated and career successful. They may have gotten radicalized in England, Australia or perhaps Sri Lankan elite universities to a lesser degree.

      The issue is less old South Asian Islamic panths/paramparas/sampradayas/ schools than the promotion of Islamism from places such as England. Much of the global nonmuslim establishment appear to back Islamists against good muslims. Indian nonmuslims also do this.

  6. I think the only left Indian folks you can categorize here is Parallel Universe and Vijay the Dravidian one ( It sounds like the south;s hindi dubbed movies which comes on Sony max on Sunday afternoon)

    1. I would not characterize either “Parallel Universe” or “Vijay” as hard post modernist or hard marxist. India is now full of post modernist and marxist intellectuals.

  7. Sorry but I need to rant more 😉

    Look at this guy al-Baghdadi. He is no illiterate village Mullah. This guy is a fucking PhD! And he has instituted a regime where they rape pre-teen girls and sell them in sex-markets. He is of course basing his laws on relevant Hadiths and Surahs. More importantly, he is directly following the example of Muhammad, who is recorded in Hadiths as having sold female prisoners of his enemies in the sexual slave markets.

    Now, one may argue that religious texts of all religions are full of exhortations which will offend modern sensibilities. But the important point is, other religions don’t call their scriptures as literal, infallible word of God. Orthodox Muslims do. On top of that Muhammad is to be regarded as Insaan-e-Kamil, and his conduct is to be emulated faithfully. Is this a wonder that Islamic world is in the mess it is in.

    I think the problem will be solved when majority of the Muslims of the world will openly state that Quran is not a literal word of God; It is a human text, and parts of it are obsolete and invalid. And that Muhammad was not a perfect human being, but a man of his times, and some of his actions are NOT to be emulated.

    1. But the important point is, other religions don’t call their scriptures as literal, infallible word of God.

      there are subtle details in how you term this, but fundamentalist protestants do. also a strain of orthodox jews aligns in this direction for things like the books of moses.

      I think the problem will be solved when majority of the Muslims of the world will openly state that Quran is not a literal word of God; It is a human text, and parts of it are obsolete and invalid. And that Muhammad was not a perfect human being, but a man of his times, and some of his actions are NOT to be emulated.

      it’s weird, but on twitter some muslims who practice conservative views admit some of this. like the fact that muhammad is not perfect since he had sex with a preteen. but it’s something that gets outside of twittersphere.

      1. I am not sure (perhaps i am wrong) that all this Muslim acceptance of infallibility of Quran or Muhammad will really have that much of effect.

        What happens lets say lot of Muslims start accepting that, will it really have THAT much impact ? And what happens if we have been wrong all along and all this “acceptance” really does not change anything.

        1. i think all of you emphasize the koran way too much. the vast majority of the world’s muslims are basically semiliterate anyway

          1. Yeah that’s what I have always thought. All this “literal word of god” making a difference to Muslim behavior never made much sense to me.

            But lot of folks who do thesis on all this says it does so I felt perhaps they know something which I don’t

          2. But Muslim liberals IRL are wont to challenge the writ of the Quran or even Hadith or any real aspect of infallibility ..

            Rigid structures snap off at the slightest tension and modern Islam reflects that.

    2. Scorpion Eater
      MAY 5, 2019 AT 12:12 AM

      There is some nuance you might choose to add. I don’t think the holy Koran is the problem. The issue is freedom of art and thought . . . and dialogue. With this everything else will gradually take care of itself.

      Muslims have been denied freedom of art and thought (with tiny exceptions) for 14 centuries. Sadly too many nonmuslims oppose freedom of art and thought for muslims. 🙁

  8. But Muslim liberals IRL are wont to challenge the writ of the Quran or even Hadith or any real aspect of infallibility ..

    yeah, i think these people are not liberal. sounds like your muslim milieu is pretty lame.

    another way USA >>> UK.

  9. How can you lead civilised conversation with someone who doesn’t want to denounce jihad, taqiyya, kill infidels, sharia, 77 virgins, etc. The movement is so mafia rigid that you cannot leave it nor question any of previous. If you got in by birth this is a life sentence, no escape. Considering that I haven’t seen anyone, anywhere that objects any book tenet there must be something there what scares more than death. Many guys(and girls) are ready to sacrifice their lives as suicide bombers. Is 77 virgins so attractive proposition(what about girls)? I haven’t seen any (none, zero) so-called liberal that is prepared to risk anything with writing one simple article. This exactly is making this term an oxymoron. I haven’t found in human history (maybe N.Korea) more oppressive and more freedom-free, rigid ‘doctrine’.

  10. Actually Not many people hate islam or muslims. What they are generally sick of is how islam and muslims is portrayed in popular culture of India versus what the actual belief system is and behavior of its followers.

    If I showed you that hindu religion is all about the saffron clad monks who have renounced worldly life and are into spiritual pursuits, you would get tired of that because thats not reality on ground. Hindus are like any of the people. they are like you and me with personal ambitions and biases.

    On a side note

    I actually respect muslims and islam that is praticed in gulf countries, where they practice what they preach where law is followed in letter and spirit in both civil and criminal matter unlike in india where shari’a is applied in civil matters while given a passe in criminal matters. Nobody in india hates person like MBS or assad who is doing what is right as per his religion or what is right for his country.

  11. I don’t think BP is alt-right. A “well rounded” alt-right blog will be hostile to all minorities, like Blacks, Dalits, Tribals, linguistic minorities, gays and all. I don’t see such views espoused here. If at all, most commenters are pretty liberal in their views in these matters. Neither do I see any racial supremacist views here. There are no hostile north Indian vs south Indian or Hindi vs Tamil debates. India and Indians have truly moved beyond such 20th century topics.

    Islam of course gets bashed a lot. But then as I already said multiple times, Islam *is* different. Twenty years ago in my college days such open Islam bashing would have offended my liberal sensibilities. Not any more. Today, honestly speaking, I will feel very jittery boarding an airplane full of visibly muslim looking passengers. And therein lies the rub.

    1. It is somewhere between Alt-Right and Ctrl-Left very close to Shift.

  12. (Now I really don’t want to make this about me but I see this as a perfect opportunity to attempt a personal closure associated with the very weirdly homophobic views (not the garden-variety homophobic views) I expressed on this blog before. I just would like to indicate that my weird thoughts and opinions on the matter arise from deep personal realities and leave it at that. Now my closure related to that topic is finally done thanks to the grace of the dear Scorpion Eater and I am a bit more at peace about that now. Phew!)

    (Now follows what everyone here knows is just an awkward though arisen-out-of-respect tag-along to the personal rant in my above paragraph lol:) Yes, I personally view Brown Pundits as more a bastion of free speech and free thought than a platform for views gravitating towards this political nature (alt-right, etc.) or that. At least I personally can’t sense any underlying tendency and yearning to be the latter and I do notice a strong underlying desire on the part of the behaviour of the website – of a subconscious nature perhaps – to be the former. Or all this is just indicative more of my own personal lenses than the objective reality.

  13. also zach, i would be really careful about using that word in relation to this blog. it might get us banned on a lot of platforms. i don’t think you are aware of how toxic the alt-right brand is in the USA. it’s like talking about like is this a KKK website?

    1. Completely agree with Razib.

      College admissions often google search a college applicant’s name. If they pull up google search results that depict said student as “alt right”, “islamaphobe” or another similar term they are usually not admitted. This also relates to companies deciding which job applicant to interview.

      This is a serious challenge for Hindu, Buddhist, Asian and caucasian male students. [Females have slight protection.]

      I don’t know if a “muslim” sounding name helps much since most non muslims aren’t good at identifying muslim names.

  14. yeah. the more i think . about it i think you should change the title zach.

    putting it in quotations makes it seem like you are asking if you actually rape your daughter or something. someone is going to say “look, even a contributor to the website wonders if it’s alt-right.”

    i think you don’t understand the context of these terms in the USA at all. we’re not liberal about words anymore at all.

    that sort of latitudinarianism is for asia or perhaps europe.

  15. BP is a free-speech platform where most views are handled maturely and debated, while the facile ones are ignored/argued away. Given that, is it any surprise that it comes off as being soft on H’tva and I’phobic? Any platform that gives truth to speech will end up this direction

  16. Surprising that “alt-right” can trigger somebody in the free speech Mecca of the world. Things not lookin good for US if true

    but lookin good for us horselord Jihadis, got less work to do bruv. ghazwa just got a whole lot easier… mashallah!


  17. I’ll add that I find BP and its comment threads to be a very refreshing corner of the internet. I engage on here as some folks engage twitter. I’ve always been avoidant of social media — never been on FB, and only joined twitter some years ago because my former employer strongly encouraged it for outreach activities. My presence on it is rather sparse, and most of my twitter network doesn’t/ won’t care for brown related issues, even though the latter occupy my thoughts as much as anything else. Hence this is my go to place to sound out or engage on brown related things, and it’s been relatively enlightening so far. By and large, the signal to noise ratio on the comment threads (although variable) is usually greater than one.

    Some peculiar things I’ve noticed however: people seem to round on particular commenters (Kabir especially) for engaging in straw man arguments or being inconsistent/ contradictory in their views when in fact many more folks do so here consistently and get away with it because their positions are concordant with the majority of commenters. I find myself agreeing with Kabir relatively often, but that could be because our priors on certain issues might be similar. INDTHINGS however, truly puzzles me. I’m not sure it’s one or multiple people since their comments have a split personality about them, ranging from being incisive at times, to straight up trollish (usually). However, I find even these type of comments to be of value as a counterpoint to comments from folks elsewhere with more similar cultural priors to mine that engage in similarly trollish behavior.

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