IAMC Weekly News Digest, 18th June 2021
In early March 2021, I awoke to a social media barrage of misogynist and bigoted slurs, unhinged accusations, and threats to hurt me and my family. For a few days, I thought little about this…. Over the past six years, I have become, by necessity, calloused to the worst humanity has to offer: hate, prejudice, and rage. This recent bout was the worst yet…. Just when the social media storm calmed a bit in mid-April 2021, I received a letter threatening a lawsuit. The letter came from a law firm that has represented Donald Trump and now represents another right-wing client: the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). HAF has ties with the RSS, a paramilitary group in India, and is widely known to promote an extreme right agenda…. I remain unclear about what set off this recent onslaught, but, generally, my research poses challenges for the Hindu Right. I work on Indo-Persian rule, presenting India’s Muslim kings of old as historical figures and highlighting Hindu-Muslim interactions in premodernity. Such research cuts against the Hindu Right’s politics of grievance, which demonizes Muslims in India’s past to justify their accelerating oppression of Muslims in India’s present….
Are Hindu Americans Being Victimized by Allegations of Dual Loyalty? Really? – By Sunita Viswanath & Rasheed Ahmed
Cries of “dual loyalty” have often been followed by pogroms and genocides around the world…. The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is now attempting to add Hindu Americans to the ‘endangered list’ by claiming that the community has been accused of dual loyalty. (See Suhag Shukla in American Kahani, May 20, 2021) There is no factual basis for that baffling claim, coming from a powerful advocacy group that would like to portray itself as representing all Hindus in America. The fact of the matter is that most Indian Americans, regardless of their faith and political leanings, are much more likely to express positive feelings towards both the U.S. and India – an inclusive version of dual loyalty, if you will…. It is unfortunate that Shukla, with her imagined grievance, completely elides over the real victims of the “dual loyalty” charges, namely India’s Muslims: It is no secret that Indian Muslims are frequently told to ‘go back to Pakistan’ and are the targets of abuse and violence every day by Hindu nationalists. The fact of the matter is India’s Muslims, who constitute the second or third-largest Muslim population in the world, have been facing charges of disloyalty from the very inception of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) in the 1920s. The foundational ideology of these Hindutva “pioneers” was Islamophobia and Christophobia, and it remains a key aspect of the Hindu supremacist worldview to this day. This has been amplified many times over under Modi’s BJP rule, in which mob killings and violence by Hindu nationalists have become the norm rather than the exception….
India remains the world’s largest democracy with a strong rule of law but some Indian government actions – including restrictions on freedom of expression – have raised concerns and are inconsistent with the country’s democratic values, a top US official has told lawmakers. Acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia Dean Thompson’s remarks came during a Congressional hearing on Democracy in the Indo-Pacific on Wednesday at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Nonproliferation. …. some of the Indian government’s actions have raised concerns that are inconsistent with India’s democratic values,” he said. This includes increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and the detention of human rights activists and journalists, he said….