India Uncut

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The fuss over Hitler's Cross

Arzan and Emperor Frost, via separate emails, brought my attention a couple of days ago to the much-discussed story of the chappies who run a restaurant in Mumbai called Hitler's Cross. Many people around the world are pissed, and understandably so: naming a restaurant after a murderer of millions is tasteless and replusive. I think anyone who agrees with that -- most of my readers, I would assume -- should show their displeasure by not going to that restaurant.

However, I do not think that the law should be brought into play, or that the restaurant's name should forcibly be changed, as Israel's consul general, Daniel Zonshine, is demanding. In a free country, people should have the right to express their admiration for any individual or ideology, provided they don't impinge on the rights of the others -- and I haven't read any reports about people being forced to eat at that restaurant.

Personally, I find the Communist hammer and sickle every bit as offensive as Hitler's Swastika, and I'm amazed that some political parties hang portraits of Stalin, no less a mass-murderer than Hitler, in their offices. People who proudly wear Che Guevara T-Shirts are acting out of quite the same ignorance and tastelessness as the misguided gents who started this silly restaurant. We don't demand they remove their T-Shirts, we don't demand that M Karunanidhi's son change his name, and we should, similarly, leave Hitler's Cross alone.

PS. Neela points me, via email, to this most amusing site called Brahmin Leather Works. I won't be surprised if the goondas in the Shiv Sena find out about these guys, based in Massachusetts, and call a bandh in Mumbai. That would be quite typical.

Also PS. And do read my earlier post on tolerance and taking offence, "Do not draw my unicorn." It was written at the time of the Danish cartoons controversy.

Update (August 24): Bobin James writes in to inform me that the restaurant's owners have decided to change its name.
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