South Asia Faculty Response to HAF Statement

We at the Academe Blog have been hosting posts on a conflict between scholars sparked by Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley. While we encourage and promote open debate and discussion, some of the comments on some of the posts have been anything but civil. Heated discussion can be positive and all of us feel passionate about certain issues. But we don’t need to turn that into attack. Please keep this in mind in your comments. Also, we welcome other guest posts with other views, hoping to present all points-of-view in the words of the holders. Please also remember that none of these posts represent the views of the AAUP. Each future post on these issues will carry this statement at its start.

This post was prepared by members of the group of scholars responsible for the post that has sparked the debate. Their names are listed there.

South Asia Faculty Response to HAF Statement

The Hindu American Foundation makes several incorrect assertions in its September 16, 2015 statement:

1)    The posting is not anonymous. It was drafted and approved by faculty signatories over a period of several days to allow feedback and revision.

2)    The harassing communications and veiled threats we describe have been published in India Abroad, the Huffington Post,  and Outlook India. They are also to be found in large numbers on the AcademeBlog website. It is rather surprising that the HAF board members who posted the statement have not managed to see any of them yet.

3)    The faculty statement does not say it received harassing emails from an HAF board member. It does not say that the HAF ever tried to contact faculty. It states that several signatories were targeted by an HAF board member. This is indeed the case: http://swarajyamag.com/politics/the-illiberal-indian-left-an-anatomy-of-the-petition/ In this article, Dr. Aseem Shukla seeks to cast aspersions on the scholarship and activities of some letter signatories without actually engaging any of it.

4)    There was no ad hominem attack on the HAF.  “Ad hominem” as per the OED is “an argument  directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.” Our faculty statement makes no comment on Dr. Shukla’s character. Dr. Shukla clearly identifies himself as an HAF Board member, and has also done so while  organizing a faculty letter to welcome Mr. Modi to Silicon Valley.  The HAF acknowledges that one of its statement authors, Dr. Asseem Shukla as “A member of the HAF board did, in an individual capacity with an explicit disclosure stating that his views were personal, offer his own experience with the faculty statement and its evolution.”

5)    The HAF objects to being labeled a “Hindu nationalist organization,” but  despite its rejection of  the “counterfactual insinuation that HAF is an ideological bedfellow of any organization with existential ties to the political landscape in India, nationalist or otherwise,” HAF former president, current  board member and statement co-author Mihir Meghani was identified on the (Hindu nationalist) Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America website as a former VHPA National Governing Council member (and on another occasion, as a member of the RSS sister organization, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh: http://www.letindiadevelop.org/thereport/authors.shtml. See also pp. 28 and p.31 of this report http://www.sacw.net/article9057.html for a list of the HAF’s other Hindu nationalist connections).  The presence of Hindu nationalists in key leadership positions of  mainstream religious and cultural advocacy organizations is part of a general pattern of how Hindu nationalist ideology has spread in the U.S.

6)    The HAF statement in its description of activities does not say that it has  lost on all substantive grounds, an important case against the California Board of Education in 2006 which attempted to include ideologically-driven Hindu nationalist edits into California textbooks http://www.hafsite.org/sites/default/files/HAF%20Public%20Comment%20Submission.pdf.  Indeed, the court found  “nothing in the way of derogatory language or examples from sacred texts or other religious literature that could be classified as derogatory, accusatory or that would instill prejudice against the Hindu religion or its faithful.” (See HINDU AMERICAN FOUNDATION, et al., v. CALIFORNIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Case No. 06 CS 00386).

7)    Textbooks are in need of periodic updating, and better approaches for the teaching and representation of Hinduism need to be incorporated into the current round of state-mandated textbook review. Yet,the HAF also does not disclose that it is presently involved in advocating several edits to California  textbooks which the Sikh Coalition has protested. In addition, troubling edits on at least one central issue are inconsistent with scholarly consensus, but consistent with Hindu nationalistideology that holds “Aryans” to be the original inhabitants of South Asia (see list of proposed edits at: http://sikhcoalition.org/images/documents/hss_public_comments_list.pdf).  The theory of Aryan indigeneity and superiority  is central to the Hindu nationalist viewpoint that Indian minority Muslims or Christians are guests in their own country, and that Dalits (former Untouchables) belong at the bottom of the social scale, and is used  to justify  violence and discrimination against them.

38 thoughts on “South Asia Faculty Response to HAF Statement

  1. What an utterly pointless exercise by this monolithic coterie of academics! They have failed to respond to the many specific issues raised by Dr. Aseem Shukla. Instead they have gone off on a tangent about Aryans and textbooks in a classic leftist obfuscation, with desperation oozing out of their every misguided missive. And their final statement – revealing the comrade mentality – is an utterly bigoted, jaundiced, dishonest take, and is totally unbecoming of academics at prestigious universities.

    Instead of engaging in honest discussion on facts that counter their fondly nurtured worldview, these people resort to dishonesty in representation, distortion of facts, and Goebbelsian propaganda. For shame! You should know that it is now time to tender an apology for your ill-advised petition – assuming that you can still do the honorable thing, and protect the reputation of your universities.

    Every action has a price – and your careless misadventure should be no exception. I for one, will NOT send my children to your departments for any courses, nor will I send any money to your universities. And I will advise the companies on whose boards I serve, to reconsider their funding – if any – to your departments, by demonstrating how you are on the wrong side of facts and majority public sentiment, after having been knocked on by thousands across the globe.

    Finally, you may want to read what Prof. Madhu Kishwar has to write about this on http://firstpost.com, in an article on Sept 18, 2015. Do the right thing and salvage your reputation: repudiate your statements and apologize here for hurting the sentiments of hundreds of millions of Indians.

  2. It seems that the raison d’être of various “Indology” and South Asia study departments is the continued propagation of bigotry in the name of Aryan invasion theory.

    • Indeed former Harvard Professor Edwin Bryant has repeatedly said he is “agnostic” about Aryan migrations.

      Yet here Aryan migration is presented as fact.

    • So, we have to believe, self proclaimed Arya Brahmins did not come from outside, and native to India and god purusha created Brahmin from mouth, shudra from feet of the god, as explained in the Gayathri Mantra?

      • Satish,

        Even Doniger’s protégé David Gordon White has emphasized Vedic religion is partially derived from the Indus Valley Civilization.

        See page 28 of Kiss of the Yogini.

      • Concerned, At least do you know, HINDU word is not there in VEDA’s … entire VEDA is about VARNA or CASTE … Brahmins are the innovators or creators of the CASTE system.

        VEDA’s are by the Brahmins, for the Brahmins to the Brahmins … composed in brahmins code language Sanskrit … and divided gods also into VARNA (Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya) …

        Shudra doesn’t have a single god.

        (If you find a GOD for SHUDRA, (90% of India people) in Veda slokas, I will pay you $5000, and if you find a word HINDU I will pay more $5000).

        one more question …. On the name of HINDU, why only Brahmins are writing all lies?

      • Concerned, you did not answer my questions, Hindu word, no god for SHUDRA in veda slokas? So you guys are intentionally doing this lie propaganda..

        Entire world, feudal system structure …on top first King, second Nobles, third priests, fourth farmers, fifth laborers. If a farmer become king, or priest his status can change.

        In India feudal system, VARNA designed and developed by immigrant Arya Brahmins, in this structure on top first Brahmins, second king, third vaishya … fourth shudra, fifth untouchables (worst than black americans slaves).

        Brahmins brought this tri-partite ideology from indo-european like Iran zorastrian (Mobeds are priest brahmins there) … Iran Avestha is just like RigVeda …

        as Brahmins generated this system, placed themselves in advantage position.

        Can you tell me, why brahmins eat in leaves, when there is festival?

        why do brahmins consider COW as sacred and maintain GOSHALA beside the temple? consider FIRE as their god? why does all rishis lived in forest?

        If the Rishis who lived in forest has great knowledge 3000 years ago, why not present Adivasi who lives in forest doesn’t have knowledge, consider their rituals as ugly, you guys consider him as Reservation ST candidates?

        when you are passing through a forest, If some people put fire in forest, sitting around it, pouring something in the fire, singing meaningless songs … do you consider them as mental rouges or knowledgeable people.

        3000 years old orally composed VEDA’s still exist just because, they provided living, and great respect to brahmin caste. you guys use still pre-literate by-heart system, storing huge quantities of meaningless slokas .. singing to fool make living by begging SHUDRA.

      • Satish, it looks like you need to debate Rajiv Malhotra for clarify all these misconceptions you have. One thing I can also clarify though: this Aryan migrants that you are talking about are nothing but a myth. Several DNA tests have revealed that DNA of north and south Indians are same. So, please stop being ignorant even in this age of information technology.

        I am not sure your qualification, but I am a Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics, and I do research based on facts. I have looked into details of human migration across world. I suggest you to check for the following, in order to clarify your Aryan migration misconception:

        1. Toba incident
        2. Gene mutation that gave human being the ability to speak
        3. After the Toba incident, which clusters of people survived, and how? Does the gene mutation has anything to do with their survival in the ice age triggered by the Toba incident.

        After you go through the above, I am sure you can cease to be an ignorant man.

        At last, but not the least, do ask Rajiv Malhotra (@rajivmessage on Twitter) for a discussion with you. If you have any material within you, he will he happy to have a talk.

        Good luck.

  3. WHAT A SILLY SERIES OF BLOGS ON A SITE FOR ACADEMICS.

    This post under the guise of “South Asia faculty” is anonymous for a reason and lacks credibility.

    1. Many South Asia faculty in American universities disagree with this blog. So who exactly is claiming to speak for whom? Claiming that “This post was prepared by members of the group…” is inadequate. Please list the names of the authors for this specific post if you want to have any credibility. DO NOT CLAIM TO SPEAK FOR FACULTY WITHOUT THEIR EXPRESS APPROVAL. This is unethical. In America, the ethical standards for discourse are higher than in South Asia.

    2. Any educated American can tell that the majority of these “South Asia faculty” are from South Asia, mostly India, and did not grow up in America.

    3. This odd collection of South Asian faculty are the last bastion of a dangerous and destructive Marxist and Communist ideology. Not many Marxists remain in Russia, China, or even Cuba. Yet, we have these Indian foreigners infiltrating American Universities, presumably as legal immigrants. Some may be illegal immigrants because they did not tell the truth about their communist affiliation on their application to the INS or USCIS, and that is why they want to remain anonymous.

    4. American immigration law is unequivocal that membership in the Communist Party is a bar to immigration to the United States. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) §212(a)(3)(D)(i), any immigrant who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the Communist or any other totalitarian party, domestic or foreign, is inadmissible.
    http://www.uscis.gov/iframe/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-2006.html

    • While I do not agree with the (small subset of) SA faculty behind this and the original letter to Silicon valley CEOs, they are here legally alright. It is quite possible that at the time of the application to immigrate they might not have had any affiliation with Communist or totalitarian party. It is entirely possible that they have become members of such parties only after becoming naturalized.

      I may not agree with them but I support their right to say what they want with or without evidence backing their pronouncements without any fear of retribution.

      • HINDUPHOBIA

        Many of these faculty may not be communists, but I know that many are Hinduphobic.
        Islamophobia, homophobia, antisemitism, racism, etc. all exist. However, it is the blatant and shameless Hinduphobia of these AAUP members that goes unrecognized in American universities and South Asia departments.

        P.S. It’s interesting to note that the only word that is not recognized by MS Word or any of the word processing programs is “HInduphobia”. Try typing the following words and only one will be identified and underlined as incorrect: “Islamophobia, homophobia, antisemitism, racism, and Hinduphobia”
        Islamophobia exists, yet Hinduphobia does not – in many curious ways.

  4. What an absurd response! Yes, Dr. Mihir Meghani was a member of VHP-America. And both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump used to be democrats. Move on folks! HAF has done some awesome work in education and without their resources my children would not have felt confident in advocating their religion in our predominately Christian neighborhood and schools. I totally support HAF getting involved in textbook edits. The history of the “Aryans” as HAF reports is consistent with current science and data on that period of time, and not at all consistent with this statement. All you need to do is look at HAF’s website, and browse their resources like their Hinduism 101 presentations.

  5. I must strongly protest the continued harassment and threats against the gentle South Asia Scholiars. This is exactly what they have been complaining about. So what if Capitalist Imperialist “law” specifies that members of the Communist Party and other foreign terrorist groups are inadmissible into the USA? Who set those laws? The same people who vote in elections, or their elected representatives, right? Pah! How can you compare them to the opinions of Endowed Chairs and Commodes in Watching Sex on TV from Divinity Schools?

    South Asia Scholiars recognize no law set up by Capitalists or Indians. See their total disregard for the Supreme Court of India as well. All products of ‘democracies’, not People’s Democractic Republics. So what if some of the Faculty Signors publish regularly in the magazines of the People’s War Group of the Marxist (Leninist) Party? Or have published on the website of the Lashkar-e-Toiba in Pakistan? Or are seen on the same dais and in demonstrations with members of the Babbar Khalsa foreign terrorist group? They teach capitalists in, for instance, $69,730 per semester Trinity College, CT while telling the Indian-Americans to “commit (community) suicide!” That may be what they teach their students too. Or what if some of them had big writeups adoring the UnaBomber on their website? Or if they receive(d) money from the Pakistan ISI (InterServices Intelligence) to run “Kashmir Forum”? (‘Mary’ named in the Federal Indictment against Abdul Ghulam Fai, who is now out of jail after ratting on all the rest, was very much a South Asia Anthropologist until the (3-letter Agency or Bureau) explained the words “foreign terrorist agent”… Several of these signors are seen making speeches at gatherings of the Naxalite and Maoist (Communist Party- Maoist) terrorists to celebrate their success in murdering policemen and other innocent taxpayers. But isn’t that what American “Academic Freedom” is all about? They also attack organizations that try to help leprosy patients, tribal children, orphans, battered women – basically anyone that does any good for fellow humans or even for animals. Don’t you want YOUR children educated by Faculty Signors who author “Red Salute to Comrade Chairman HO” or Pol Pot? And pay $69,730 per semester to do so? Isn’t that English diploma from U. Penn worth far more than that, especially when you see the standard of writing (the Letter that they signed, q.e.d.) that gets U.Penn English Professor Ania Loomba’s endorsement? Sheikh bin Sphere would die for such writing skills!

    So PLEASE, AAUP, keep the Scholiars’ masterpieces coming. So much cheaper than buying tickets to watch the buffoons at the circus. To misquote Winston bin Churchill:
    Never have so few done so much to destroy so much of their own credibility in so short a time before so educated an audience! THANK YOU, FOIL! (that’s Forum of Inquilabi – meaning Revolutionary- Leftists, main arm of the PROXSA – Progressive Xenophobes of South Asia).
    Now can we discuss how you knew to set up the Oberlin International Conference in mid-March 2002, back in October 2001? Remember? The only business there was a Resolution Condemning India for ‘Genocide’ – just 2 weeks after that train was burned to set off riots in Gujarat.
    Or why the FOIL’s Newsletter “Ghadar” suddenly came out in January 2002, with evident new funding, citing “urgency” because you were “about to set off a Noise That Will Be Heard Around The World”?
    Don’t I have academic freedom too, to ask these questions and have them seen by Faculty?

    • And you are proving to be exactly what you are, a hinduphobic leftist who is perfectly ok with maoists, naxalites, leftists of all stripes being politically active. But the moment Hindus organize to protect their interests versus folks like you, out comes the slander in loony tunes websites like countercurrents. You guys are an affront to secularism and a true threat to Indian diversity, in that your bigotry makes more and more Hindu’s wary.

    • But your friends on the other hand, have always proven themselves to be rear ends for the Pakistan ISI, the Al Qaida, the Khalistan terrorists, the Naxalite terrorists, the Maoist terrorists, the KKK, the Aryan Nations, the U. Chicago School of Divine p*rn-peddling, Emory University School of South Asia p*rn-peddling, and the Conversionist Soul Harvesting abusers. Anarchist Petition-Signors 4 Rent.

  6. And oh! By the way, Comrade Chairman Xi Jin Ping of the Communist Party of China is visiting Seattle tomorrow. I imagine all the South Asia Scholiars have gone to bow to him. Take that, yindoo nationalists! How did they allow HIM into the country?
    I am scanning all over to see if there are any Letters from Human Rights Scholars etc being generated to warn Microsoft and other Seattle companies about the wonderful freedoms that China affords 1.2 billion of its citizens and the 100 million breaking rocks in the Gobi desert to Re-Educate Themselves about the greatness of the People’s Democracratic Republic. Did Ania Loomba shriek in protest? Did Kamala Visweswaran sign off on her 10,001st Petition? Did Vijay Prashad rant in People’s War Weekly about the Great Emperor coming to visit the newly conquered territories? But no, apparently the PRC pays these South Asia Scholiars enough to keep their mouths and eyes shut when it comes to PRC and their Communist masters. They must be in awe of the Academic Freedom and luxury enabled for them by the People’s Paradise.

    • Oh my! You dutty brown Indoo you! Using sarcasm, satire and the queens english? Clearly counts as an attack on the great association of leftists and hinduphobes. How can you, worshipper in dark temples, squalid follower of a dutty primeval pagan faith, dare to be disrespectful of your betters? The horror, the horror..

  7. Still searching – and searching. Not a single one of the 125 signors and 10 Late Arrivals has written a word about the repression in China. No Petitions by Kamal Visweswaran. No 5-th-grade-level rambling Letters given an A+ by U.Penn English Professor Ania Loomba. No shrill Blogs on AAUP. So your problem is only with free democracies, hain? Duh! Why do I have to ask that after all these years?

    Any all-expenses-paid trips coming up to conferences hosted by the PRC? At Oberlin College? People’s Republic of Berkeley? P.R. Columbia?

    • Free democracy aka Indian democracy, occupied by them smelly Hindoo pagans. Note the muted protests against the Iraq conflict and similar stuff vis a vis the US. After all, raving and ranting against the US would get our “faculty” lose their comfy tenure tracks and there might even be pressure into seeing what exactly these “experts” do in the guise of literary studies and other such earth shattering stuff.

  8. Former Harvard Professor Edwin Bryant has repeatedly said he is “agnostic” about Aryan migrations.

    Yet here Aryan migration is presented as fact.

  9. Poor Paki may want to reconsider and reevaluate if they are getting their money worth from their old exposed agents. They cannot start, shut and restart communal riots in India anymore and neither they can convince Americans to shed tears for Talibans, Pakistan,Al Qaida or ISIS. Please stop violating Human Intellectual Rights of 1.2 Billion Indians and stick to profession of do nothing good with your own kinds, better attend retraining camp in Peshawar.

  10. There are lies and then dam*ned lies, and these farcical Hinduphobic south asia faculty jokers engage in them with impunity:

    ” The theory of Aryan indigeneity and superiority is central to the Hindu nationalist viewpoint that Indian minority Muslims or Christians are guests in their own country, and that Dalits (former Untouchables) belong at the bottom of the social scale, and is used to justify violence and discrimination against them.”

    Liars all. In fact the Hindu nationalist viewpoint is that there was no Aryan invasion or any such thing, and indeed it is the Donigers and Witzels of South Asia faculty (in)famy who have built their entire lives on this colossal fraud which genetic studies are now rubbishing. As regards Dalits, Dr Ambedkar himself maintained that Dalits are former powerful members of the Hindu system who had a conflict with the rest of the society and hence a rift developed. Modern India, run by Hindu leaders has huge affirmative action programs for Dalits and economically disadvantaged groups, and the Indian PM is himself from a backward group.

    South Asia faculty seems to have lost their marbles or decided that lying again and again, would confuse the average American reader who is unaware of the reality in India. Shameless indeed!

  11. Thank you, Professor Aaron Barlow, for providing this very entertaining as well as very educational commentaries. By the way, let me thank also Abdulbinmao, Akaash, Kaalket, etc., for the humor and satire as they expose the ‘shameless’ Southasianists. Please keep it going.

  12. In his inaugural speech at the Seattle Westin, President (Emperor) Xi responded to the protests by the Falun Gong outside the hotel against Organ Harvesting. “What are the Splittists Reactionary Running Dogs of Capitaist Imperialism screaming about? Their relatives in China lost their organs? Their brains? So what? Look at all these American South Asia Professors – what use are brains to such people?”

    U got a point there, Emperor!

    • “U got a point there, Emperor!” I can’t stop laughing, vow! Please be mercy on my poor stomach, dear abdulbinmao. My little brain, however, got addicted, so please keep it going.

      • I was talking to my friend’s old uncle that few South Asian English teachers oppose PM Modi visiting USA because he is faithful to India’s civilisational ethos. Old man was confused and asked what is South Asia and after being told about term his natural response was why would an Indian call himself South Asian , it is like one proudly claiming he is son of the whole Street instead of his father. Question arose, being not part of the equation of India/ Indians and PM ‘s visit, so called South Asians have no right to buttin.

  13. This is so funny.. Hindu nationalists claiming Aryan invasion to be true? No F’ing morons.. that will be the church sponsored lie peddling dravidian liars from my state Tamilnadu.. The HNs always maintain there was nothing as aryan dravidian nonsense and DNA studies have proved that.. cant believe that this lie is still peddled in the US universities.. If this is the way things are there, I dont think anyone can stop Trump from becoming president.. its as rotten as in India..

  14. Why the people in USA refer India by the name of ‘South Asia’ ? Why can’t they call it India or HinduSthan ? Further, the recent DNA research have shown that all the HinduSthanis (including Muslims and Christians there alongwith Hindus) have common DNA ! The ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory was Conspiracy to convert the Hindus to other faiths and rule over them ! Bramhins and other Hindus are NOT separate!

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.