As a college student that practices Hinduism, it is both insulting and devastating that a Hinduphobic conference called “Dismantling Global Hindutva” is being sponsored by many well established, elite universities across the U.S.
It is clear to see that many of the trustees in these Universities are not even aware of who these “scholars” are, including Audrey Truschke. Nor are they aware of their patterns of denigrating Hindu traditions, labeling Hindus as extremists for defending our traditions, and misrepresenting sacred Hindu epics. Audrey Truschke is a Hinduphobe, best known for whitewashing the atrocities of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. She dabbles in provocation, traveling to many Universities and public spaces throughout the country indoctrinating students to mistrust any defense of Hindu traditions, customs, and heritage. This can and, similar actions have, led to a rise of Hinduphobia– especially when many people don’t know what Hinduism is, the history of colonization in India, or about present-day events in India.
Just as Goebbels and other Nazi leaders indoctrinated their citizens to hate minority groups such as Jews and Gypsies by providing false narratives and rhetoric to the point that it manifested in the Holocaust, such targeted, purposeful misrepresentations pose great harm towards our community. Violence against Hindus can certainly happen if many Universities are willing to sponsor a conference filled with people that hate Hinduism and teach non-Hindu students that have no knowledge of the tradition to essentially do the same.
This false narrative—that there is a mass of Hindu Americans that pose a threat to the well-being of their fellow citizens—is already being blared out through this conference to college students, and will impact many generations of Hindus in the future. Truschke and others disguise this toxic rhetoric by referring to what they oppose as “Hindutva not Hinduism.” This distinction is often used as a cover by other anti-Hindus and Hindu communists, who will be in the conference in September discussing false narratives about Hinduism and indoctrinating more kids into hating Hinduism. I am mortified to see many non-Hindu students that believe what Truschke is telling them because they trust her as an educator, completely unaware of the blatant bigotry she peddles.
It is devastating that such a professor still has a job teaching Hindu history and is being sponsored by such prestigious institutions, institutions that are also enriched and enlivened by their Hindu student bodies. Many Hindu students can face harassment, because of this conference. Similar rhetoric has already led to intimidation of students, as documented by the Hindu on Campus social media handle. With so many universities sponsoring the “Dismantling Global Hindutva” Conference, Hindu students across the nation have been relegated to living in fear. They can’t just all drop out of their colleges and universities and leave. And where will they go? The persistence of Hinduphobia across U.S. universities runs deep.
What scares me the most is that not only are these Universities only presenting one side of the argument, but they are willing to support bigotry and leave many of their students vulnerable to attacks due their beliefs.
Universities and departments that continue to stand by this conference must be held accountable if any Hindu students get harassed or bullied for publicly practicing their faith. These institutions—who have constantly hid behind “academic freedom”—now also have a moral obligation to reciprocate by endorsing conferences organized by Hindu Students Council and other Hindu student and scholar organizations on Hinduphobia, such as the Understanding Hinduphobia Conference held in Rutgers last year.
I don’t care what Audrey Truschke or the other “scholars” part of this conference believe in, it is her right to free speech. However, schools have a right to choose which speech should and should not be endorsed. Universities must say “No” to Hinduphobia.