Rebuttal for Paste Magazine article by Eoin Higgins “Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Who You Think She Is”

Hari
Hari
Nov 16, 2017 · 24 min read

Eoin Higgins, author of the Paste Magazine article, “Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Who You Think She Is,” displays in his writing a disturbing Hinduphobic bias. His article is replete with falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo, and baseless rumors, with heavy reliance on the propaganda tactic of guilt by association.

Throughout the article, Higgins relies on his own anti-Hindu religious bigotry and Hinduphobia to foment a sense of fear and loathing in the hearts and minds of readers. He denigrates and vilifies hundreds of millions of Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindus (the largest branch of Hinduism, credited with the origination of yoga and with scriptures including the “Bhagavad-gita” dating back more than 5000 years) as “cultists” and “extremists.”

He uses a broad brush in an effort to paint the world’s billion Hindus as “fearful” of and “prejudiced” against Muslims. All Hindus, he wants us to believe, are Islamophobic. Thus, his main “evidence” that Tulsi is Islamophobic is that she is a Hindu. In short, his argument is basically this: Hindus are prejudiced against Muslims; Hindus are Islamophobic. Tulsi is a Hindu. Therefore, Tulsi is prejudiced against Muslims; she is Islamophobic. He fails to recognize that the foundation upon which his conclusion that Tulsi is Islamophobic is his Hinduphobia

Higgins sought out at least two of the most bigoted, hateful, and quite frankly unqualified sources for his “research” on Vaishnava Hinduism to denigrate Tulsi’s Hindu faith. His sources are a right wing conspiracy theorist and a convicted pedophile who served time for egregious sex crimes against minors overseas, who has sought to personally smear Tulsi as retribution for her strong opposition to human trafficking, especially the sex trafficking of minors.

Any objective reader of the Higgins’ attack on Tulsi Gabbard will see that the author is not only a religious bigot, but also a misogynist. His outrageous contention is that because Tulsi is a woman, she is not capable of being her own person.

Higgins would have his readers believe that whether it’s Tulsi’s father, her ex-husband, India Prime Minister Modi, Syrian President Assad, President Trump, or Steve Bannon, the implication in each of these “arguments” is that Tulsi is or will be controlled and dominated by each of these men.

The criticisms floated by Higgins are fabrications supported primarily by the tactic of “guilt by association.” Throughout his article, Higgins first introduces a “bad man” — be it Assad or Modi or Trump or Bannon — then uses an insignificant fact (Tulsi met with Trump and Assad or Modi) to create the false impression that Tulsi is somehow beholden to or subservient to that “bad man.” Higgins bends over backwards to somehow link Tulsi to a man he labels a “right winger” so he can claim that Tulsi is similarly a right winger.

The reason Higgins and other Tulsi Gabbard critics rely on “guilt by association” and religious bigotry to undermine her support is because that’s all they’ve got. They have no ammunition to use against Tulsi when it comes to her policy positions or legislation. Her position on progressive issues is second to none.

Throughout the Higgins’ article, there’s very little mention of Tulsi’s voting record in congress or issues she has fought for or against. This is because anyone who looks at Tulsi’s actual position on issues and her record will recognize that she is not only a strong progressive, she’s a progressive who thinks for herself and is a progressive leader. What Tulsi’s critics fear the most is that readers will learn what Tulsi’s positions on the issues actually are and what her vision for the country is.

So instead of facts, those anxious to criticize Rep. Tulsi Gabbard resort to lies and innuendo — of which Higgins’ article is a perfect example.

Higgins lies about the purpose of Tulsi’s meeting with President Trump

For example, Higgins writes, “To some progressives, the news Monday that Tulsi Gabbard was meeting with President-Elect Donald Trump for consideration of a position in his administration must have been confusing.” Later, Higgins repeats the same lie, “News media have reported that Gabbard is under consideration for a position with the Trump administration, that her meeting with the president-elect was more than a bipartisan discussion — it was a job interview.”

Higgins’ assertion that Tulsi met with president-elect Trump to discuss her taking a position in the Trump administration is a Higgins’ fabrication. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met with Trump for reasons which she made public. President-elect Trump asked the congresswoman and two-tour Middle East veteran to meet with him to share her views on Syria. Tulsi accepted Mr. Trump’s invitation to meet so she could try to convince him to end the regime change war in Syria and to urge him to not be influenced by neocons who were advocating that the United States escalate that war by implementing “no fly” or “safe zones” in Syria.

After meeting with Donald Trump, Tulsi said:

“It would have been easier for me to refuse this meeting…but it was important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect to counteract neocons’ steady drumbeats of war, which threaten to drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government.”

Higgins accuses Tulsi of having an “extremist, fringe ideology” and adhering to “hard-right politics” without any evidence and despite her lengthy history of progressive positions

Higgins writes, “But a deeper look at Gabbard’s political career shows that she is devoted to attaining power and to the perpetuation of extremist, fringe ideology. She adopts and sheds extremist positions at will, but one thing remains constant: her consistent embrace of hard-right politics.”

So what is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s so-called “extremist, fringe ideology”? Higgins doesn’t say, nor does he provide any evidence that she holds on to any extremist fringe ideology. He simply claims it as a fact, offers no proof, and moves on to his next fabricated criticism of the congresswoman.

It is obvious that Higgins either has done absolutely no research regarding Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s legislative record, or he conveniently ignores facts that undermine his bigoted/misogynistic theme. Even the most cursory look at Gabbard’s record/progressive credentials utterly destroys Higgins’ entire thesis:

-Tulsi is a co-sponsor of HR 676, Medicare for All.

-Tulsi is one of just 7 members of the House who has pledged to refuse PAC money

- Tulsi is pushing for campaign finance reform, including co-sponsoring H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act, and HJR 48, a constitutional amendment that would reverse 2010 Citizens United decision.

-Tulsi has long pushed for Wall Street reform, including breaking up big banks and reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act

-Tulsi has pushed for criminal prosecution of Wall Street and pharmaceutical executives who rip off the American people.

-Tulsi strongly opposed TPP.

-Tulsi is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 15, legislation establishing a $15 minimum wage.

-Tulsi is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1227, Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017, and a leading proponent of the decriminalization of marijuana as part of her strong advocacy for criminal justice reform.

-Tulsi has a 100% voting record in favor of LGBT rights and has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT lobby.

-Tulsi has long pushed to end counterproductive, interventionist wars abroad and to invest domestically at home.

-A founding member of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, Tulsi is a leader on civil liberties, including introducing H.R. 2305, the Strengthening Privacy, Oversight, and Transparency (SPOT) Act, to expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board; and H.R. 2588, Preventing Unconstitutional Collection Act.

-Tulsi is a lifelong environmentalist and vocal opponent of DAPL, the only member of Congress to visit Standing Rock to stand with the water protectors.

-Tulsi is a champion of secularism and freedom of religion.

- Tulsi is against Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and his Muslim ban.

- Tulsi supports women’s rights, immigration rights, and early/STEM education.

- Tulsi supports labeling of GMOs.

- Tulsi supports sensible gun control, including banning assault-type weapons and high-capacity magazines, thorough background checks and ending gun show loopholes, and criminal justice reform.

-Tulsi is rated a “libertarian-leaning progressive,” votes with Democrats over 90% of the time, has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, Environment America, Alliance for Retired Americans and Humane Society and is endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, Bernie Sanders, Progressive Democrats of America, Sierra Club and Emily’s List, etc.

Regarding Tulsi Gabbard’s position on LGBT issues, Higgins fails to mention that since being elected to Congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT lobby in the United States.

As a member of the LGBT Congressional Equality Caucus, Tulsi also cosponsored HR 1755: Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, she co-sponsored two bills related to sexual orientation in the military. HR 2839, the Restore Honor to Service Members Act gave military discharge review boards the discretion to retroactively grant honorable discharges to former members of the Armed Forces who were discharged because of their sexual orientation. HR 683 Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act provides the same benefits to same-sex military spouses as it does to different-sex spouses. In her second term, she co-sponsored HR 3185 The Equality Act, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among groups protected from discrimination in public places. She was also an original co-sponsor for HR 197 Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Tulsi has spoken in detail about the reason for her change in views here

Higgins even attempts to exploit Tulsi’s failed first marriage to further his bigoted agenda

Contrary to Higgins’ claims, Tulsi has never tried to hide the fact that she and her husband Eduardo Tamayo divorced. Tulsi has publicly spoken about her marriage to Tamayo and the reasons for her divorce in the Honolulu Star Advertiser — how does that align with Higgins’ claim that she “scrubbed all mention of her past?”

Gabbard said she and her husband, Eddie Tamayo, divorced “a few years ago,” after she returned from an 18-month deployment to Iraq as a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard.

In an email message, Gabbard writes:

“The deployment was very hard on my husband, and on our marriage. Sadly, Eddie and I became another statistic, another sad story, illustrating the stresses war places on military spouses and families. I had kept the Tamayo name in the hopes that we might still have a future together. However, recently I’ve come to fully realize that that’s not going to happen. Eddie and I are still friends, and I’m grateful the Tamayo family continues to welcome me as one of their own.”

Arrogance and ignorance are a bad combination and Mr. Higgins is arrogantly thinking that he knows why Tulsi and her first husband Eduardo Tamayo ended up divorcing. The breakup of a marriage is a very painful personal experience for all involved; and it is typical of underhanded smears that Mr. Higgins tries to exploit a painful, past hardship in Tulsi’s personal life to try to score political points.

Higgins’ contention that it is suspicious for Hindus to donate to Tulsi’s political campaign reeks of Hinduphobia

One of the most blatant examples of Higgins’ anti-Hindu bigotry is his argument that some contributors to Tulsi’s 2012 campaign are Hindus. Higgins doesn’t say if he’s gone over the list of contributors to the campaigns of other members of the U.S. House or Senate to see if contributors to their campaigns share their religious beliefs or affiliations. For example, Tulsi’s good friend and colleague Senator Brian Schatz is Jewish. Has Higgins scoured Senator Schatz’s donor list to ferret out any “Jews?” Has he gone through the list of donors of Tulsi’s other friend and colleague Rep. Keith Ellison looking for names which sound Muslim? His entire diatribe about Tulsi’s religion reeks of Hinduphobia/anti-Hindu bigotry.

Higgins blatantly lies about Tulsi’s Vaishnava Hindu faith, without offering any evidence

Higgins then writes, “By now, Gabbard has left any ambiguity about her religious beliefs behind. She identifies as a member of the Gaudiya Vaishnavism Sect of the Hindu faith.” Higgins is once again lying — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has never been ambiguous about her spiritual path. Since her teens, she has self-identified as a Vaishnava Hindu, a follower of Lord Krishna and the Bhagavad Gita.

Higgins then writes, “She identifies as a member of the Gaudiya Vaishnavism Sect of the Hindu faith.It’s a faith she shares with India’s leader, Narendra Modi.” Here we see yet another example of the author’s use of “guilt by association.” The only problem with this particular bigoted claim is that it’s not true. Narendra Modi is not a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu. Higgins makes conclusions about people’s religions without offering any evidence.

Then Higgins states, “but they share more than that. They share a hard-right political philosophy …” Another unfounded claim. What is this shared “hard-right political philosophy” between Modi and Gabbard and where is the evidence that Tulsi is a follower of this supposed philosophy?

The main thing that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has in common with Prime Minister Modi is their love for yoga. This is why Tulsi was instrumental in helping Modi and others bring about the United Nations recognition of International Yoga Day. Perhaps the author thinks yoga itself is the extremist ideology they hold in common.

Higgins makes the outrageously bigoted claim that Hindus are fearful and prejudiced towards Muslims

Higgins states, “The RSS-BJP alliance also uses the fears and prejudices of the majority Hindu Indian population against Muslims to ensure its hold on power. And those views are views that Gabbard shares with them — despite her framing of herself as a peaceful warrior.”

First, Higgins makes a baseless, Hinduphobic claim that Hindus are fearful of and prejudiced towards Muslims, and then, because Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a Hindu, he concludes that Tulsi is also prejudiced against and fearful of Muslims. In other words, Hindus are prejudiced against Muslims and because Tulsi is a Hindu, she must also be prejudiced against Muslims.

Bigotry is when you take a negative characteristic and place it on an entire population of people based upon their race, religion, etc. Higgins statement is one of the clearest examples of such bigotry.

Furthermore, his statement that Hindus are fearful and prejudiced against Muslims is a baseless, false depiction of the vast majority of Hindus. Hinduism is an extremely inclusivist ideology. One of the most well known sayings in Hinduism is “all paths lead to the same place.”

Anyone with even a basic knowledge of Hinduism knows that the core and essence of Vaishnavism, or Krishnaism, is spiritual love — love for God and others — regardless of their race, gender, faith, or other material designation. One of the world’s most famous Gaudiya Vaishnavas, Mahatma Gandhi, is respected and revered by billions of people of every faith and nationality as a messenger of such love for others and our planet. Even Martin Luther King was inspired by Gandhi and his inclusivist Vaishnava ideology of spiritual love.

In her address at the 10th Annual Prophet Muhammad Day event at Rutgers University organized by Muslims 4 Peace, Tulsi used the words of one of the great Gaudiya Vaishnava gurus, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, to express the need to transcend religious bigotry, sectarianism, and “othering.” Tulsi stated:

The sectarian spirit that fuels enmity and violence between members of different religions has been described by the great saint Bhaktivinode Thakur as “the greatest enemy of mankind.”

When a person thinks, I am a Christian, this other person is a Muslim, therefore he is my enemy, or I am a Muslim, this other person is a Hindu, therefore she is my enemy, they reveal their own lack of spiritual depth. No religion teaches this, and any understanding of any religion that adopts this divisive attitude proves itself false by doing so.

As Tulsi stated in the same speech:

As a Vaishnava Hindu, a devotee of Sri Krishna, I recognize and respect both Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed as messengers of God, messengers of love, peace, and universal brotherhood.

Obviously anyone who recognizes Mohammed as a representative of God cannot be Islamophobic or prejudiced against those who try to follow the teachings of Mohammed.

The author either knows nothing about Hinduism in general or Gaudiya Vaishnavism in particular or is knowingly lying about the subject. Unfortunately, because of most Americans’ lack of education and knowledge about Hinduism, they are easy to deceive.

What’s most despicable is that Higgins is clearly trying to foment anti-Hindu religious bigotry for partisan political purposes. This is not new. Tulsi Gabbard has faced this before. When she first ran for Congress in 2012, her Republican opponent stated in a CNN interview that Tulsi shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress because her Hindu religion “doesn’t align with the constitutional foundation of the US government.” In 2014, this same Republican opponent made the same anti-Hindu arguments.

Then in 2016, both her Democratic and Republican opponent tried to portray Tulsi as someone to be suspicious of because of her religion. Her Republican opponent went so far as to state that “a vote for Tulsi is a vote for the devil,” because of her Hindu religion.

Fortunately the people of Hawaii knew Tulsi’s heart well enough to not be deceived.

Higgins implicates Tulsi as “guilty by association” by lying about Tulsi’s relationship with Prime Minister Modi

Higgins then writes, “Gabbard’s relationship with Modi is well documented in Indian publications. Her admiration of the authoritarian leader is the subject of multiple interviews, where she consistently affirms her support of the Prime Minister and his hardline party. In a three-week visit to India on the invitation of Modi himself, she was treated as a state guest and held private meetings with the Prime Minister and members of his party.”

In the first place, India is not only the largest democracy in the world, it’s one of the most free-wheeling democracies. To describe the democratically-elected prime minister of India as a “authoritarian leader” is again an attempt to hoodwink people who don’t know about India. Obviously a person cannot be a dictator of a democracy. Higgins attempt to deceive readers into believing that India is a dictatorship is bizarre, to say the least.

Higgins is also purposely distorting the truth when he states that “she [Tulsi] consistently affirms her support for the Prime Minister and his hardline party.” Tulsi has never endorsed Prime Minister Modi or his political party. Furthermore, the author fails to mention that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also met with Indian opposition party leaders including Shashi Tharoor and Rajeev Gowda.

Higgins also fails to mention that as a member of the House Armed Services Committee (Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities and Subcommittee on Readiness) and Foreign Relations Committee (subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific and subcommittee on The Middle East and North Africa), that it is one of her responsibilities as a representative to meet with foreign leaders. She has also met with many other foreign leaders, including Prime Minister Abe in Japan, President Park in the Republic of Korea, and China’s Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

Higgins implies that there was something nefarious going on because Rep.Tulsi Gabbard was invited to India by Prime Minister Modi and treated as a state guest and held private meetings with the Prime Minister and members of the party; he failed to mention that other members of U.S. Congress have regularly been invited to India and treated as state guests and held private meetings with prime ministers and members of different Indian political parties.

It was only after Modi’s election that Tulsi met with Modi, and by then, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Ed Royce and every prominent U.S. politician was eager to meet and interact with the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy. President Barack Obama considered his relationship with Modi one of his most important political friendships. To single out Tulsi for meeting Modi as both are Hindus, or for expressing friendship and hope for strong India-U.S. relations is simply bigotry and Hinduphobia. Such dark insinuations should be shunned and isolated, rather than being given any platform.

Higgins accuses Tulsi of favoring Prime Minister Modi by opposing a bill that never had any support; even the original co-sponsors withdrew support from it

Higgins writes, “And Gabbard has protected Modi’s interests in the US,” implying that somehow Tulsi is the lackey of Prime Minister Modi, that she’s somehow a servant of a dictator.

Higgins states, “She fought against a November, 2015, Congressional bill mentioning his role in the Gujarat massacres, decried the US’s refusal to issue a visa for the controversial leader before 2014, and supported efforts to rewrite Indian history from a Hindu-supremacist viewpoint in US textbooks.”

In addition to getting the year (the bill was introduced in November 2013) wrong, what Higgins conveniently leaves out, however, is that HR 417 was never voted on in any House Committee and never received more than a few dozen congressional supporters. The House Foreign Relations Chair, Ed Royce, similarly vocally opposed the biased resolution and the original co-sponsors, Scott Perry and Steve Chabot, quickly withdrew from association with the resolution. To single out Tulsi for opposing a flawed resolution that was opposed by senior leaders of the House reveals bias at best, and a Hinduphobic witch-hunt at worst.

Tulsi fought against the bill because she believed it was an effort to interfere in Indian elections and it was therefore the wrong thing to do. She stated that we should not be trying to affect other country’s elections. Tulsi said she would like to address issues related to religious freedom and human rights around the world, but not in the way HR417 tried to.

Higgins accuses Tulsi of intervening with Prime Minister Modi’s visa long before she was even elected

Higgins also states that Tulsi “decried the US’s refusal to issue a visa for the controversial leader before 2014.” What he fails to mention is that Narendra Modi’s visa was cancelled by the State Department in 2005, when in fact Tulsi was not even elected to the House of Representatives until 2012. She had no say, no statement and no comment on the visa ban when it was announced. However, many other prominent strategic experts have weighed in and condemned the ban that had rarely ever been applied before in American history, and seemed to single out a prominent Indian politician. Fareed Zakaria, an Indian American Muslim, called the ban “selective, arbitrary and excessive.” As Zakaria wrote, Modi had been cleared by several investigative bodies in India for any culpability in the Gujarat riots, and continuing the ban was not only against the crucial U.S. and India relationship, it was wrong.

Denying Prime Minster Modi a visa to visit the U.S. would be completely counterproductive to the U.S. having a positive and productive working relationship with the world’s largest democracy. As a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, no doubt Tulsi knows that it would be very unwise and not in America’s interest to have a contentious or negative relationship with India, the world’s largest democracy. We need to be working with India as an ally on a whole host of issues and that would not t be possible if the U.S. essentially blackballed the Prime Minister Modi from our country. It would be no different than India blackballing the President of the United States.

President Obama and Modi “Bromance”

Higgins portrays Tulsi as an “Islamophobe” based on her friendly relations with Prime Minister Modi; yet President Obama had and has a much closer relationship with Prime Minister Modi than Tulsi does.

Higgins uses Tulsi’s friendly relationship with Prime Minister Modi (who the author depicts as an Islamophobic, “authoritarian” dictator) as proof that Tulsi hates and fears Muslims. By that reasoning President Obama must be an even bigger Islamophobe than Tulsi since his relationship with Prime Minister Modi has been and continues to be a lot closer than Tulsi’s. See CNN’s, “Is Obama-Modi ‘bromance’ a turning point in U.S., India relations?” Of course, we all know that president Obama is not in any way afraid of or prejudiced against Islam or Muslims which completely nullifies the author’s supposition.

Tulsi has shown a deep respect for people of Muslim faith on numerous occasions: she has spoken numerous times to defend Muslims from bigotry, including admonishing Trump for playing on people’s fears of Muslims

Tulsi also co-sponsored H.R. 569, condemning violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States. Tulsi was also recently invited to be the keynote speaker by Muslims 4 Peace at Rutgers University for Prophet Mohammed Day. Her speech shows her true aloha and respect for Muslims and people of all faiths. Here are a few notable quotes from Tulsi’s Prophet Mohammed Day speech showing her aloha for Muslims and people of all faiths:

“Aloha. Namaste. Salam Alaikum. Thank you for inviting me to be with you as we all come together from different faiths and spiritual paths to stand in solidarity for freedom and peace…As a Vaishnava Hindu, a devotee of Sri Krishna, I recognize and respect both Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed as messengers of God, messengers of love, peace, and universal brotherhood…When we are tasting such love for God, we are able to see beyond our external differences and designations, and recognize that we are all relatives in the deepest sense. By embracing this truth, which is a core message of all scriptures of the world, we can achieve real peace and harmony with others, no matter the different backgrounds we come from… The Quran states, ‘Humanity is but a single brotherhood. So make peace with your brethren.’ (Quran 49:10)…So let us confront hatred with love. Confront bigotry with aloha. Confront fear with courage. Let us truly live aloha in our actions, in our words, and in our hearts.”

Tulsi is a champion of freedom of religion and separation of church and state. She is a deeply spiritual and open-minded person from a multicultural and multi-faith background who has been a champion for religious freedom and separation of church and state. She has vehemently stood up for the right of people around the world to practice the religion of their choice, or no religion at all, without government interference or discrimination.

Higgins accuses Tulsi of rewriting “Indian history from a Hindu-supremacist viewpoint”: where’s the evidence?

Higgins goes on to write that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, “…supported efforts to rewrite Indian history from a Hindu-supremacist viewpoint in US textbooks.” This is a lie. Where is the evidence? First, what is “Hindu-supremacist viewpoint?” This has never been explained or shown by the author to even exist. Secondly, where is the evidence that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supported “Hindu-supremacist viewpoints”? The author doesn’t provide it because there is none.

Rather, Hindu Americans fought against the textbook changes because:

“The majority of the edits that the faculty group was trying to suggest, Kalra said, were negative in nature in relation to Hinduism and India. ‘They were trying to erase a lot of the identity and contribution of Hinduism and ancient Indian civilization.”

Furthermore, a group consisting of 41 internationally renowned scholars of social sciences and religion opposed the textbook changes, similarly highlighting issues of accuracy and parity as it related to the presentation of Indian history and Hinduism. Signed by distinguished academics such as Barbara McGraw of Saint Mary’s College of California, Diana Eck and Francis Clooney of Harvard University, and Gerald James Larson of Indiana University amongst others, the faculty group letter called for a “representation of India and Hinduism that is consistent with the manner in which other cultures and religions are portrayed, and one which avoids Eurocentric biases.

Since 2014, Hindu American children, parents, and community groups have sought equality and dignity in California’s history-social science textbooks, and to correct cultural stereotypes and historical inaccuracies about Hinduism and India. This effort, supported by a diverse coalition of organizations, individuals, government officials, interfaith and civil rights advocates, social science and religious scholars, educators, and community leaders was motivated by a desire to ensure that teachers have the most accurate and culturally competent educational materials at their disposal and that Hindu students are able to learn in an environment that allows them to feel secure in their identity and beliefs.

Higgins Claims Tulsi’s Views on Extremism Mirror Modi’s Views Without Offering a Single Example of What Those Views Are

Higgins further says of Tulsi, “And her views on Islam mirror those of Modi’s…”

But what are Modi’s views on Islam that Tulsi supposedly mirrors? He doesn’t give a single example of Modi’s views on Islam or Muslims. He doesn’t quote Tulsi on what her views of Islam are, so how can he claim that her views mirror Modi’s views, when neither of their views are even put forward? Tulsi’s own statements on Islam show a warm embrace and aloha for people of the Muslim faith. Here are a few examples:

Higgins further states that “… both [Tulsi and Modi] insist that identifying the faith of Islamists is of paramount importance in fighting extremism (not of Hindu extremism, of course).”

This is another lie. Tulsi has always argued that it is essential that we identify the ideology which drives terrorists like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Tulsi has described the ideology of terrorists like ISIS and al-Qaeda as follows:

“So-called “religious terrorism” is born of an exclusivist ideology that says, my faith is the only legitimate faith, and that everyone who does not believe as I believe is inferior and must be converted, enslaved, raped, or killed. … Groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram all share this divisive ideology in common, and it is also at the heart of the Wahhabi Salafist ideology sponsored and propagated by countries like Saudi Arabia…Therefore, in order to defeat this enemy, we not only need to defeat these terrorist groups militarily, we need to defeat them ideologically. Otherwise, those terrorists we kill on the battlefield will simply be replaced by others who have been indoctrinated into a perverse and violent understanding of religion.”

People of any religion or even political movement may adhere to an extreme exclusivist ideology. Tulsi argues that we need to confront and defeat this ideology of extreme exclusivism no matter where it appears.

Again, the author identifies the congresswoman as a “Hindu extremist” or sympathetic to Hindu extremists without ever defining “Hindu extremism” or showing any evidence of Tulsi’s adhering to such supposed Hindu extremism.

Higgins again deliberately misrepresents Tulsi’s position by confounding tourist visas from Asia with immigration

Higgins later writes, “She has worked to relax restrictions on Indian immigration to the US even as she joins with Trump’s rhetoric in attempts to refuse allowing Syrian refugees into the country.” His reference is to her 2012 campaign website where Tulsi advocated increasing the number of tourists coming from countries like China and India who have burgeoning middle classes. The author falsely tries to conflate immigration with tourism. What Tulsi actually said was:

In Congress, I will fight to relax the onerous and overly burdensome visa requirements for visitors coming from countries such as China and India. The present policies are outdated and do not reflect the fact that China and India now have booming economies and a burgeoning middle class. These people have money in their pockets and are eager to see the world. Many of them want to visit Hawai`i, but because it’s so hard for them to get tourist visas, they end up going elsewhere. The beaches of Bali, Thailand, and Vietnam are teeming with big-spending Chinese tourists. If we can get these visitors to come to Hawai`i instead, it will have an immediate and significant impact on Hawai`i’s tourism industry.

Higgins blatantly lies about Tulsi’s position on Syrian refugees

Higgins claims, “…she joins with Trump’s rhetoric in attempts to refuse allowing Syrian refugees into the country.”

Tulsi’s published statements show the truth of her position of strongly and unequivocally opposing President Trump’s executive order banning refugees; she has explicitly stated that the U.S. should not ban refugees:

“True to our history and values as a nation, we have served as a place of refuge to the most vulnerable in the world. We should not be putting in place a blanket ban of refugees, especially when we have actively been fueling the counterproductive regime change wars that have caused them to flee their homes. These people would much rather stay in their homes and live in peace. That’s why we must address the cause of this refugee crisis and end the destructive U.S. policy of counterproductive regime-change wars, as we’ve seen most recently in Iraq, Libya, and now in Syria.” https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/rep-tulsi-gabbard-statement-against-refugee-ban

“We shouldn’t ban refugees from entering our country. We need to responsibly ensure thorough vetting is in place, but more importantly, we need to stop the regime change war that is causing people to flee their country. They would much rather be home, in peace. That’s why I’m working so hard to end our counterproductive regime change war in Syria that has caused such tremendous suffering, death, and refugees, and has strengthened groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.” https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/rep-tulsi-gabbard-do-not-ban-refugees-entering-united-states.

Tulsi voted to improve the vetting of people coming into our country from places like Syria and Iraq where the reality is that there are terrorists who would like to come into the United States to engage in terrorist actions against Americans.

One may disagree with Tulsi’s position on this issue, but it is important to understand why she voted for the SAFE Act and what her position on immigration actually is.

When the SAFE Act was debated in Congress, Tulsi wanted to hear why the Administration was opposed to improving the vetting of refugees. When she discovered that the Obama administration’s only argument against improving the vetting process was lack of funding and staff,. she concluded that “lack of funding” was simply not an acceptable justification. She maintained that our country should have the finances to do the vetting that’s needed.

Following the vote, Congresswoman Gabbard said:

“True to our history and values as a nation, I believe we must offer refuge to the most vulnerable and those in need, while simultaneously ensuring the safety of the American people. My vote on the SAFE Act was not a vote against refugees, but ‘lack of staff’ is not a legitimate reason to refuse certifying that the refugee vetting process is thorough and complete.”

In 2009 the refugee program was completely shut down for six months after two al-Qaeda terrorists came to the U.S. as refugees from Iraq and began planning an attack. Gabbard explained that, if a terrorist comes to the U.S. posing as a refugee and engages in an act of terror, that would result in a reaction that “could lead to the complete shutdown of our refugee program for a long, long time. I want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Tulsi also expressed that women, children, and people who are obviously not a threat should be easily and quickly vetted. The congresswoman has advocated for more support for Federal agencies processing refugees, including those from Syria, and ensuring refugees are properly vetted so that, as she stated in 2015, the program wouldn’t be shut down and the door wouldn’t be shut on all refugees.

Conclusion

In a world made increasingly hostile and dangerous by political partisanship, bigotry, and intolerance, the last thing readers need is a “reporter” who can’t be trusted to subordinate his own views and prejudices and simply stick to the facts. Clearly, Higgins is one writer who won’t let the truth interfere with his personal prejudices and political agenda.