Recently, a new term– “Hindu Supremacists” has joined the growing body of Hinduphobic labels used to target, stereotype and silence any Hindu who attempts to speak for his/her faith.
A public briefing by academics, ostensibly about the “Dismantling Global Hindutva” Conference recently brought this term into the limelight, and it has since been furthered by mainstream media publications like The Guardian as well as academic platforms and social media spaces. This dangerous trope is being callously used to silence and target Hindu Americans who won’t stay quiet as their faith is openly denigrated and equated with some of the most heinous regimes and groups around the world. The dangerous statements made by several speakers at the conference have unmasked the real intentions of those involved in the conference and those who endorsed it. CoHNA unequivocally condemns this line of propaganda, which has also recently been used against Jewish Americans (see here and here).
The repeated use of the term “Hindu Supremacists” to refer to anyone and everyone who expressed opposition to the conference is not an accident. It is an important example of Hinduphobia and spreading deliberate misinformation about Hindus as people in order to target them using racist terminology. With this, the academics are finding common cause with far right groups and individuals like Ann Coulter who denigrate indigeneous cultures using convenient stereotypes and attempt to portray them as “un-American” and thus in need to be dismantled.
Similar claims by academics from Boston University, Duke University etc. against Jewish Americans are being mainstreamed in the field of Jewish Studies, just as South Asian Studies departments are attempting to inject this form of hate against Hindu Americans.
A briefing by some academics initially positioned itself as a “Congressional Briefing” but morphed into a public attack on a minority faith titled “Hindu Supremacist Attacks on Academic Freedom.” It made outlandish claims about purported genocides, while ignoring the ongoing and documented slow genocide of Hindus in the Indian Subcontinent (this year also marks the 50th Anniversary of the Bangladeshi Hindu Genocide). The academics directed their fire at Hindu Americans exercising their first amendment rights to oppose the openly Hinduphobic platform of an “academic conference” and characterized them as being “Supremacists” who “push for genocide.” It is particularly troubling that professors from publicly funded universities like Rutgers (e.g. Prof. Deepa Kumar, Prof. Audrey Trushcke) are reviving this thread of propaganda from the Nazi era and applying it to Hindu Americans, the small micro-minority immigrant group in the US which has suffered the brunt of deadly “dotbusters” attacks, traumatizing and false Hinduphobic textbooks and ongoing slurs of being practitioners of a false faith.
In another troubling instance of hate, The Guardian of UK, published a report from its Indian correspondent Hannah Ellis Perterson, which clubbed together a vast variety of Indian and U.S. based organizations (including CoHNA) as “US-based rightwing groups” or “Hindu Nationalists,” without so much a perfunctory enquiry to the groups in question. Despite data showing a majority of Hindu Americans vote blue/left wing, there is a concerted attempt to link Hindus to one specific radical political ideology on the right.
These statements even defy plain logic, especially in light of the fact that this conference was opposed by hundreds of thousands of Hindus living in the US and Canada– both via individual emails and via 150+ temples and organizations, big and small that signed a letter asking universities to reconsider their support for an openly Hindu hating event.
CoHNA is a registered 501(3)c non-profit organization. By law, it has no political affiliation, either in the U.S. or abroad. We are neither left nor right and have Hindu volunteers and members from all walks of society. Our purpose is to advocate for a better understanding of Hinduism and matters impacting our community, along with the basic human rights of Hindus. We ask for no more than what is guaranteed in the Constitution– the right to be left alone to practice our faith and bring our next generation up in the faith that has stood us well for millenia. Yet, august media houses and academics deliberately label us as “Supremacists” and seek to make our children ashamed of our faith.
CoHNA unconditionally rejects the use of such tropes against any community and its mainstreaming in academia and media. We ask the administrators at these institutions to reflect if this is the reputation that their academic freedom seeks to achieve and the editors at publications to watch for anti-factual statements and not so hidden bias. We demand an immediate and unconditional apology from The Guardian and the academics for their false and Hinduphobic comments.
(The article was published on cohna.org on September 23, 2021 and has been reproduced here with a modified headline.)