Major Hinduphobia Incidents in North America in 2021
According to the scholars, as agreed upon during the Understanding Hinduphobia Conference of 2021, Hinduphobia is defined as: “Hinduphobia is a set of antagonistic, destructive, and derogatory attitudes and behaviors towards Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) and Hindus that may manifest as prejudice, fear, or hatred.”
The year 2021 witnessed dozens of Hinduphobic incidents in North America alone. Needless to say, there would be many more that go unreported as some Hindus will choose to stay silent, not ruffle the feathers and try to blend in without creating much scene. However, the incidents below are definitely a tight slap on Hinduphobia deniers.
On July 9th, 2021, NASA placed an innocuous tweet inviting applications for Fall Internships with four photos of women in NASA. Nobody, in their wildest dreams, would have thought that the tweet would invite a tsunami of hateful tweets, many by the blue tick accounts, directed against one woman, Pratima Roy. Her mistake? She dared to not hide her faith, her inspiration, for the outstanding work she was doing at NASA.
What was disappointing was that the attack on Pratima Roy, for showing Hindu Devi on her work desk, was led by “academics” like Ashok Swain and organizations like Mission Ambedkar along with the long list of Hinduphobic trolls. Reminiscent of how Abhijit Sarkar of Oxford University led the attack against Rashmi Samant.
The hatred went to the extent of calling Pratima Roy “Sanghi”, “superstitious”, “right-wing”, “beggar”, “fascist”, “casteist”, “fanatic and radical”, victim-shaming. The attacks were even directed directly at the Goddesses, calling them “barbie dolls”, “pieces of sh*t” and so on.
Dismantling Global Hindutva Conference
Between September 10 and September 12, including the September 11 — the 20th anniversary of the deadly World Trade Center terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda — academics in the United States decided it would be the right time to focus on the so-called Hindutva extremism by organizing a virtual conference. The title of the conference was “Dismantling Global Hindutva” and a very graphic image involved Hindus (with a slight resemblance to RSS volunteers) being unpinned using a hammer (like a nail being removed from a surface).
The conference, even before it started, peddled misinformation. For example, the conference posted a tweet claiming Hindutva behind Baba Lal Das’ murder, while the truth was that CBI investigation in 1994 (when the Congress government was in power in the center and Samajwadi Party in the state) charge-sheeted two people for murder over land. One of the accused was sentenced to life imprisonment. The conference also called Hinduphobia a myth.
As expected, right on Day 1, the conference launched a vicious attack on the Hindus of North America.
One of the speakers, Gajendran Ayyathurai, teacher and researcher at Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University, Germany, singled out five last names to declare them as violent advocates of what he called “Brahminism”. He said: “So, these last names — Iyers, Kompella, Trivedis, Sharmas, Mukherjees and so on — they seem to be violent advocates of this kind of malignant Brahminism, which we need to talk about more”.
While the conference tried very hard to hide their Hinduphobia by constantly claiming that they are only against Hindutva and not Sanatan Dharma per se, by the second and the third day, the speakers of the conference itself asserted that Hindutva and Hinduism are the same.
Another speaker, Akanksha Mehta, Lecturer in Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Studies and the co-director of the Centre for Feminist Research at Goldsmiths, University of London, on Day 2 asserted: “I say all this to emphasize, without hesitation, that Hindutva is indeed inseparable from Hinduism. And arguments of “Hindutva is not Hinduism” are deeply dangerous, Brahminical, and laced with eration and violence. They will not take us to the future desired.”
Balmurli Natarajan, a professor of anthropology at William Paterson University of New Jersey, on Day 3, said: “Hindutva is always, no matter the context, explicit or implicit, drawing upon and taking power from Hinduism, and that therefore has implications for everyone who identifies as a Hindu or who practices Hinduism.”
Raja Bhattar, Assistant Provost and Executive Director of the Center for Identity + Inclusion at the University of Chicago, on Day 3, said: “I believe that, I do think that while Hindutva-Hinduism have, kind of, there’s pieces that separate them, I am totally in agreement that they’re deeply interconnected and that, to separate them, does only do the work of distancing ourselves from hard work of actually recognizing that this is homegrown and that we have work to do.”
One of the hosts, Rupa Vishwanath, Professor of Indian Religions at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany, also asked the panelists if Hinduism needs to be dismantled.
Many speakers attacked the Hindu identity itself. It became very clear that the idea is not to fight, as they claim, the extremism but to dismantle the Hindu identity itself which will perhaps make the proselytizing work easier.
The conference was met with fierce resistance by the Hindu community in North America — individuals and organizations. While the DGH conference attempted to intimidate the Hindu community by putting in a number of university logos, trying to give an impression that so many universities are supporting this conference, after inquiry with some universities, it became clear that the support is no more than a few misguided individuals from specific departments from these universities. The subsequent versions of the website started taking down the logos and names of the universities as universities such as Dalhousie, Princeton, and the University of Massachusetts-Boston started withdrawing the support. At the same time, showing exceptional strength of unity, 150 American and Canadian organizations came together to ask universities to disavow Hinduphobia in the form of support to the DGH event.
Santa Clara County Hearing on Caste
This was one of the earliest signs of how California was becoming the epicenter of Hinduphobia in the United States. Many things followed as the Santa Clara episode empowered and emboldened the Hinduphobic organizations and individuals to give them confidence that they have institutional support for peddling hatred against Hindus under the garb of “social justice”.
On 29th April 2021, Santa Clara Human Rights Commission (HRC), conducted a public hearing to include “caste” as a category in their anti-discrimination policies. What was worrying was that the county officials, including Justin Boren (who was a chairperson on one occasion), weren’t just hand-in-glove with the openly Hinduphobic organization of Equality Labs, they were very boastful about it as well. Frequent tagging of Equality Labs in their tweets and providing undeserved legitimacy to a Hinduphobic fringe group with no academic credibility that conducted a shoddy survey, to put it mildly, comprehensively exposed by Carnegie Endowment, isn’t a sign of a neutral organization.
The hearing was met with fierce resistance by the Hindu community on the ground in addition to whatever number of voices that were allowed during the hearing. CoHNA put together a very clear and concise bullet point list on why such policies/legislations create a hateful environment against the entire Hindu community.
While there hasn’t been any conclusion yet but such institutional support to anti-Hindu organizations is definitely worrying.
Toronto Public Library Hosting the Hinduphobe Christophe Jaffrelot
On December 9, 2021, the Toronto Public Library and Ryerson University conducted an event: “Modi’s India: How Hindu Nationalism Has Eroded the World’s Largest Democracy” with speakers Christophe Jaffrelot and Sanjay Ruparelia.
The event was a part of 9 event series, “On Civil Society”, but this was the only one focusing on the politics of a specific foreign country.
While the event professed to be talking about the current Indian government, the description of the event used words such as “militant Hindu” and “growing intimidation and violence”. Whosoever wrote the description clearly appeared to be frustrated with the Indian National Congress government not being in power as the phrase “why do so many citizens in India continue to support the leader of the BJP?”. Such a phrase, along with what was mentioned earlier, clearly tried to portray a picture that anyone who votes for BJP is a “militant Hindu” who wants to “intimidate” and carry out “violence”.
With thousands of immigrants recently arriving in Canada, many of whom may have voted for Modi in 2014 and 2019 elections — the Toronto Public Library seems to have provided a platform to an insinuation that these immigrants are “militants” and believe in “intimidation and violence”. Even the ones who arrived in Canada before 2014, may have relatives, with whom they stay in touch, who may be voting for BJP during elections. Does Toronto Public Library want to provide a platform to the event that insinuates that the Hindu immigrants of Canada are relatives of and are staying in touch with “militants”?
Christophe Jaffrelot, the main speaker at the event, was also a speaker at the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference that called for the dismantling of Hindus and Hinduism. In spite of such hateful vitriol consistently targeted against a highly peaceful micro-minority in the US as well as Canada, for three days non-stop, Jaffrelot never condemned the remarks made at the conference or distanced himself from them.
Other Collective of UC Davis, Distorted Diwali and Called to Not Celebrate It — and Instagram Silencing HinduOnCampus for Exposing the Hate
On November 2nd, 2021, just a few days before the biggest festival of Hindus, Deepavali, Other Collective, a student-run organization in the University of California, Davis campus, posted (now deleted) an Instagram post, distorting the festival by calling it “very violent”, “casteist” and called to stop its celebration.
The post said “Diwali, also known as Festival of Lights, is celebrated by millions of South Asians annually. However, little attention is given to its casteist history and origins. Swipe to learn about why you should say no to Diwali this year and instead commit to the abolition of the caste system.”
It also went on to allege that:
1) Diwali is celebrated by Savarna Hindus and is extremely violent for Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, and Bahujans (MDAB is a classic “Equality Labs” lingo)
2) Diwali is celebrated as the defeat of Asuras (who they call today’s Bahujans) by Suras (who they call today’s Savarnas)
3) Ram and Laxman cut Shrupnakha’s nose, ears, and breasts and Sita’s abduction was in response to mutilating Shrupnakha’s body
4) Ravana is venerated by caste-oppressed people
5) Hindu diaspora continues to exclude Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and Buddhists
In the end, they asked for money for Hinduphobic organizations like Equality Labs.
What was more shocking was that when HinduOnCampus exposed the Hinduphobia of Other Collective, Instagram deleted the post twice in spite of appropriate credits given for using the content of “Other Collective”.
Attack on a Hindu Family in Mississauga
While the academics from around the world gathered virtually at the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference to spew venom against the Hindus, the ground force was just as active.
On September 11, 2021, on the 20th anniversary of the deadly 9/11 attacks, a 44-year-old Hindu man and his family were conducting a religious ceremony in the area of Barbertown Road and Mississauga Road, when two males approached the family and started shouting derogatory remarks. This quickly turned into a physical assault, including throwing rocks at the man. Fortunately, the family was able to get into their vehicle and drive away while stones were thrown at the car, causing damage. The male victim was rushed to the hospital and treated for his non-life-threatening injuries. One of the wanted suspects, in their teens, was a Caucasian while the other one was Asian.
Melinda Byerly Calls Hindus Parasites
While one may understand biased Hinduphobic academics constantly attacking the people only surviving ancient pagan civilization on earth, it would be surprising to get that kind of vitriol on one of the most peaceful micro-minority that has contributed to the United States immensely from someone who flaunts “diversity” in her Twitter profile.
But that is precisely what Melinda Byerley, a San Jose, California-based CEO and Co-Founder of Fiddlehead (a digital marketing consultancy), who proudly mentions “Diversity in Tech” in her Twitter bio, did.
On November 7th, 2021, she tweeted: “ “Wtf is up with immigrants who come to silicon valley, get rich, and suddenly decide that America needs less taxes, education, and social support? Peter Theil, Vinod Khosla… the list goes on. Just take your money and go. Stop trying to turn America into the caste system/apartheid systems you came from. You came here under a system. It made you rich. Now you dislike it. It’s bullshit. Go home. Especially interesting is the non-white flavor of this kind of rich tech immigrant, many of whom seem particularly determined to stop their children from learning the history of race in America. My advice to other states and countries is don’t let these kinds of parasites gain a foothold in your area. Tax the living shit out of them and see them for what they are: strip miners who will not rest til they ruin everything. “
Dotbusters Resurfaces in Georgia
On September 12, 2021, the last day of the anti-Hindu Dismantling Global Hindutva conference, Kelly Mill Coalition, a Facebook Group of the residents of Cumming Georgia, reported the appearance of the Dotbusters hate signs in the neighborhood of Atlanta suburbs.
For those who don’t know, the Dotbusters Gang targeted Hindus in New York and New Jersey in the 1970s and 1980s. “No Bindi, No Hindus, No Indians!” — was the cry of the Dotbusters in the 1980s and it haunted the Hindu American Community for decades.
I know some of you might find it surprising that Audrey Truschke didn’t find a mention in the cases above. Well, that’s because her Hinduphobia can be a post in itself which I may write later during the year.
And while I elaborated only on a few, it doesn’t mean others didn’t happen — like the
and so many others……
And all of this in 2021 itself, excluding Audrey Truschke.