Hinduphobia in the United States is real
Although members of the Indo-American community hold high-level political positions, the diaspora has failed to produce leadership that champions Indo-American and Hindu-American causes.
A carefully crafted elitist and toxic anti-Indian narrative, the Hinduphobic narrative gained momentum in the United States and much of the Western world after Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minister of India in 2014. The concerted campaign by left-wing media, universities and activists has finally begun to show signs of success. A wave of anti-Indian and anti-Hindu hate speech and hate crimes in the United States has sent shockwaves among members of the Indian diaspora, especially among the minority Hindu community.
First, miscreants vandalized a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in South Richmond Hills, New York. The statue was found face down with debris around it. The back of the figure has been spray painted with the word “kutta”, Hindi for a dog. Police said six suspects, aged between 25 and 30, smashed the statue with a sledgehammer at 1:30 a.m. The crime scene was Shri Tulsi Mandir, a Hindu temple. This was the second toppling of this statue in less than two weeks. According to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), a Hindu advocacy group based in the United States, the authors made “repeated appeals to Khalistan”.
Another incident captured on video occurred in Freemont, California. Krishnan Iyer had picked up his food order online from a Mexican fast food joint. There, Iyer was overwhelmed with a barrage of anti-Hindu insults by another man. The man repeatedly called Iyer a “dirty Hindu” and an “ugly Hindu” who “bathes in cow’s urine” and “eats cow shit”. Cow, cow urine and “cow shit” are among the most common anti-Hindu slurs. Police then arrested Tejinder Singh and charged him with several counts.
The report of the third incident came from the southern state of Texas. A viral video on social media showed a woman shouting racist comments and physically attacking a group of women. ‘We don’t want you here,’ the woman, a self-proclaimed Mexican-American, can be heard saying, ‘I hate you fucking Indians,’ she said, along with other racial slurs . Police charged the woman with assault and bodily harm and threatening terrorism. One of the women in the group has been identified as Rani Banerjee.
In yet another incident, an Indian was harassed and verbally abused across the Atlantic in Poland. The attacker identified himself as an American in the video and called the Indian a “parasite” and a “genocidal”. “You have your own country,” the attacker could be heard saying in this viral video. “You are an invader. Go home, invader. We don’t want you in Europe. Poland for Polish only. You are not Polish,” the attacker said.
Ann Coulter, a conservative commentator, accused Indians of taking affirmative action jobs from “blacks”. Amy Wax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, called India a “shithole” country where “Brahmin women” learn they are better than everyone else. India’s stance on the Russian-Ukrainian war has drawn vile anti-Indian and Hinduphobic backlash from high-profile social media. Last year, scholars participated in the Hinduphobic Dismantling Global Hindutva Conference. Audrey Truschke of Rutgers University was one of the main organizers of the conference.
Needless to say, “these programmatic and systematic attacks on Hindus are not only coming from monopolists and supremacists, but also from ‘progressive’ Democrats,” noted Ramesh Rao, professor of communication studies at Columbus State University.
Hate crimes have steadily increased in the United States in recent years. According to statistics available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) database (available through 2019), reported hate crimes increased from 7,175 in 2017 to 7,314 in 2019, an increase of about two percentage points.
UCR data from 2019 shows that 4,784 hate crimes were motivated by race and ethnicity. Of these, 4.3% (3.1% in 2017) were against Asian Americans, a broad category including Indian Americans. One thousand six hundred and five hate crimes had religious grounds, and seven were against Hindus.
The FBI began tracking hate crimes against Hindus in 2013. “The actual data on hate crimes against Hindus is still in its infancy,” said HAF’s Suhag Shukla. Many anti-Hindu incidents are not recorded as such by law enforcement agencies due to mistaken identity. For example, some crimes motivated by anti-Arab or anti-Muslim sentiment may involve Hindu victims. On the other hand, some crimes against Hindus may also be based on their racial or ethnic identity.
A recent study titled “Anti-Hindu Disinformation: A Case Study of Hinduphobia on Social Media” revealed an environment of widespread hate on social media against the world’s minority Hindu community. The study was conducted by the National Contagion Research Institute at Rutgers University. The study noted that Hinduphobic tropes are now “a key asset for media outlets and platforms”.
Hindumisia.ai, an AI-powered website that tracks Hindu hatred on the microblogging platform Twitter, supports these claims. “Hindumisia.ai seeks to enable an analytical approach to countering the anti-Hindu hatred seen on Twitter,” said Ramsundar Lakshminarayanan, the site’s developer. “The anti-Hindu hate we are seeing is simply mind-boggling… The anti-Hindu hate Twitter sauce needs to be stopped,” Laxminarayanan added.
It is no secret that the Western perception of Indian culture, texts and traditions is at odds with the reality on the ground. The dominant orientalist and colonial discourse on India favors a dubious and distorted “foreign” narrative at the expense of an indigenous and authentic narrative. This perspective has penetrated deep into Western consciousness and manifests itself in academic and popular presentations. A deviation from such outward presentation or a violation of “academic consensus” is dismissed as “Hindutva” terrorism.
Left-dominated academia and media have created a very negative image of Hindus, the largest religious group among American Indians. The specter of ‘Hindu nationalism’, ‘Hindutva’, caste etc. has been raised – without much understanding and contextualization – to belittle and create hatred against followers of one of the most popular religions. oldest and most liberal. “We see scholars lining up to worry about Indian democracy, fearing that Hindus will vote to elect leaders of their choice,” Rao said, “but never expressing concern that Muslims, Christians and Sikhs do the same”.
Although members of the Indo-American community hold high-level political positions, the diaspora has failed to produce leadership that champions Indo-American and Hindu-American causes. “Not an institution, group or leader who claims the mantle of ‘secularism,’ or who is ‘progressive,’ or ‘South Asian,’ or who cares about ‘human rights,'” Rao said. , ” defended the Hindus. ”
A former student of JNU in New Delhi and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Avatans Kumar holds graduate degrees in linguistics. Avatans is a recipient of the San Francisco Press Club’s 2021 Bay Area Journalism Award.)