On January 17th, Rohith Vemula, a 26 year old PhD student at University of Hyderabad, was found dead – having committed suicide by hanging himself with a poster of the student group he headed. Rohith Vemula was the leader of the Ambedkar Student Association (ASA) and a strong political voice on campus – and he was a Dalit.
On January 5th, President Obama appeared on television to unveil new gun control measures. While speaking about the shooting at Sandy Hook – and in the full glare of the cameras – he shed a few tears. Some people were moved – others outraged, and others attacked for being moved, or being outraged. But in this shouting match what was lost was a real conversation – and moreover, appreciation that a conversation is what democracy should be based on.
Defending Kim Davis is a questionable act. Ever since she made national headlines in September for refusing to issue marriage licenses – to any couple – because she believed the sanctity of marriage had been ruined by the ruling in favor of gay marriage, this county clerk from Kentucky has been made a caricature: a hero for few and the paradigm of prejudice for many liberals.
The opposite of truth isn’t always lying – sometimes, it can be forgetting. There are so many chapters of our history that remain forgotten, either through deliberate action or through our own callous inattention, and they reveal something important about our priorities today.