South Asian nationalism

I happen to have Saloni’s genotype and she is certainly closer genetically to Sindhis than to most other South Asians. That being said, my own response to her tweet is this: my personal experience is that many liberal Pakistani & Indian Americans are highly nationalistic.

To be honest, it’s mostly Indian Americans. I don’t know too many hyper-nationalistic Pakistani Americans. I think that has to do with the fact that despite India’s social-political problems, its democratic and pluralist history, along with the international appeal of Mahatma Gandhi, makes it easier to be an Indian nationalist than a Pakistani nationalist if you are an American.

Also, there is a cultural “code-switching” that is common among Indian Americans, where they are fluent in, and totally embedded within, a Left-of-centre cultural zeitgeist in the American landscape. But, they also are comfortable switching into their parents’ more Indian nationalist views in different contexts. Rather than synthesizing the two worldviews (which may not be possible), Indian Americans just switch facultatively between the two, because the two social milieus never really engage each other.

Because I am Bangladeshi American it is hard for me to relate. Bangladesh is a very young nation. Both my parents have spent more than 3.5 times of their life living in the United States than an independent Bangladesh. In fact, both lived as Pakistanis for far longer than they lived as Bangladeshis! Additionally, it is not a major geopolitical player, and there are ambiguities with the relationship to both India and Pakistan enough that socially my family has felt comfortable with both Indians and Pakistanis in the USA.

P.S. I do get annoyed when I’m identified as Pakistani American by people just because of my last name. Since I am not vocal about being a “Bangladeshi American” I only find out later people had assumed I was Pakistani. Apparently, in some Indian circles, I am known as a “Pakistani American geneticist”, albeit not a particularly nationalistic Pakistani (told to me by an Indian journalist friend).

62 thoughts on “South Asian nationalism”

  1. “Indian-American” you mean people born outside US and naturalized GC holders/citizens/H1Bs? correct? Because I do not see citizens raised here being Indian Nationalistic in a big way? I will limit all my discussion to those who transplanted here.

    ” along with the international appeal of Mahatma Gandhi, makes it easier to be an Indian nationalist”
    To be honest, M.G> is a completely forgotten presence in India; M.G. rejected all forms of nationalism and his interpretation of India is entirely different from the present Indian formation. The Mahatma was not the father of a nation like GW or Jefferson. Indian nation tossed his ideas aside within a few years after independence, while retaining his picture in every government office. The first 4o years of India was a Nehruvian vision of central planning and state-induced secularism while keeping the caste structure intact and strong.

    The “Hindu” Indian nationalism is a relatively new phenomena not more than 40 years old. It is reflexive (not reflective) and sees India as the opposite of the Pakistani “other”, and is a predominant outgrowth of certain ideas developed by Marathi Brahmins and others in the late 1930s. It views a unified Hindu India that glosses over the deep caste differences with a Hindu polish. There is no “buy” of this view in large parts of India, from Punjab, to Bengal to Tamilnadu and Kerala. Outside the BIMARU and certain parts of Gujarat (not all), the reflexive Muslim/christian hatred, fear of beef, overhang of bizarro Hindu theories into the public, does not exist. The ethos of India is largely secular with only a superficial understanding of the “Hindu”. The recent economic growth, the transplant’s misgivings of the US, and an overwhelmingly Brahmin/Bania/Patel nature of the diaspora has created an illusion of “Indian Nationalism”. This nationalism is nothing more than the nationalism of , say, Trump; these nationalists will not in any time or any place do battle for India; that is the role of the poor.

    My view does not extend to you, the US-raised, as I do not fully understand my children.

    This nationalism is an outcome, something that would never have happened if the Congress has acted earlier on liberalization, may be in 1979 a-la-Deng. Economic growth is often a great relief valve. There will be no Swami Agnivesh, the bizarre beef focus in Tamilnadu or Goa. In richer states, the focus is on money during the working hours, and religion in retirement, vacations and weekends.

  2. As a Pakistani-American, I was never offended when people thought I was Indian. After all, ethnically Pakistanis and North Indians are the same. Two of my grandparents were from what is today India, so in a pre-1947 sense I am Indian.

    Prior to 9/11, most Americans could not find Pakistan on a map. Even today, a lot of people are quite ignorant about the country.

    To be honest, sometimes being mistaken for Indian led to an easier time. The person wanted to talk to me about “Slumdog Millionaire” rather than the Taliban.

  3. @Vijay:

    M.G. rejected all forms of nationalism

    I strongly disagree. MG was an Indian nationalist throughout his life. He also had an ethical core that was distinct from his nationalism (involving a tradional kind of religiosity, asceticism, vegetarianism, temperance, etc.), which is what probably confuses people of a more “conventionally” nationalist bent.

    If you examine the history carefully, MG always fought for the rights of Indians wherever he lived, whether in South Africa or back in India. From the 20s on, his focus was less on politics and more on self-improvement of Indians in an effort to get them ready to be part of a national family. I don’t see how his advocacy of protectionist agitations (cloth-burning and all) can be construed as anything other than nationalistic. Or his adamant refusal to give unconditional support to Britain in its struggle against fascism in WW2, culminating in the Quit India movement.

    Gandhi, though devoutly Hindu, was not a Hindu nationalist. He included Hindus and Muslims within his nationalistic framework. That’s why he went out of his way to quell riots during Partition, and try to protect Muslims within India from the ire of Hindus and Sikhs (the protection that would cost him his life.)

    (Apologies if this was a digression from the main topic. It’s still about nationalism though.)

    1. +1.
      Nowadays there’s a tendency in Indian leftist and pseudo secular circles to separate MG from his intensely religious bent into a “secular person “, whatever that means . This is even more bizarre- to paint him as a non-nationalist. MG was probably most religious and nationalist politician simultaneously in the 20th or even 19th century.

      MG was a one-off as Einstein said more eloquently

    2. He also foolishly supported khalifat movement.It resultedin massacre of hindus in kerala.

  4. How on earth is it easier for an Indian American than a Pakistani American to be a nationalist when it is the Indians that have to do weird things like this “cultural code switching”?

    I think the key is in this quote from your post:

    That being said, my own response to her tweet is this: my personal experience is that many liberal Pakistani & Indian Americans are highly nationalistic.

    To be honest, it’s mostly Indian Americans.

    In other words, your sample space consists of *liberal* Pakistani and Indian Americans, not *all* Pakistani and Indian Americans, which means, selection effect is likely at play. Not entering your calculations are culturally cocooned Sherwani/Burkha-wearing American Pakistanis (and that does NOT include Kabir) who don’t form part of your sample space. These may be more nationalistic than Indians but you don’t count them.

    If the Pakistani comes out of his nationalist moorings, almost by default she/he becomes a liberal. Whereas the Indian does feel the pressure to be liberal even while a nationalist, and consigns herself/himself to a schizophrenic existence characterized by “cultural code-switching” and similar pathetic attempts to evade the cognitive dissonance from uncomfortable and ill-conceived attempts to reconcile innate civilizational loyalty with pressure to be liberal.

    1. Two reasons why being an Indian nationalist liberal should be harder than being a Pakistani nationalist liberal:

      1. Here are tweets from nytimes on Pakistan and India:

      There is negative coverage of both the countries, and the proportion of negative articles may be comparable. But here is the deal – the negative coverage on Pakistan targets the terror infrastructure, not the average Pakistani, while the negative coverage of India involves stereotyping and vilifying the average Indian as regressive and cruel. So it is easy for the Pakistani to say “Oh, there is a small fraction of these crazy people in my country”, which you can easily say while being a nationalist, while the Indian liberal discussing this will have to say “My country is predominantly regressive people but I am somehow an exception”, which is less consistent with being a nationalist.

      2. Liberal discourse provides tonnes of literature that a person like say Kabir can copy-paste (I am not saying he does copy-paste, but that he CAN if he wants to) to showcase how their people are victimized, but there is very little liberal literature that an Indian nationalist can copy-paste. A few like Suhag Shukla may try creatively adapting rhetorical tools irking Razib, but that is still harder than copy-pasting and hence rarer too.

      So almost everything a Hindu nationalist says is self-constructed narrative, not copy-pasted, and given how intellectually limited Indians are, a lot of what we say is content-free or outright retarded – which adds to a perception of hypernationalism.

      Granted there are some smart Indians like Slapstik and Violet, but they look at issues as “interesting intellectually stimulating problems to solve”, so any addition from such people making its way into the nationalist narrative is merely coincidental.

      1. Hinduism still has a much better reputation in the US than Islam. When the entire religion of Islam is vilified, I don’t think it’s quite that easy for Pakistani-Americans to say “Oh, there is a small fraction of crazy people in my country”.

        If your impression of Indians being portrayed as “regressive and cruel” have to do with the caste system, no one who calls themselves liberal should be defending the caste system. The phenomenon of Indian-Americans who are center-left in the US yet enthusiastically support Hindutva at home is very problematic.

        Indians in the US are associated with medicine and IT. Pakistanis are supposed to be religious fundamentalists. I don’t know what you are complaining about.

        1. “Hinduism still has a much better reputation in the US than Islam.”

          In the sense that American conservatives hate Islam more than they hate Hinduism. We’re talking about liberal narrative here, the ease of being a liberal follower of Hinduism vs Islam.

          1. What’s the problem with being a liberal follower of Hinduism? As long as you don’t defend untouchability, why should anyone have an issue?

            In terms of Islam, in order to be a liberal, you basically have to be a nominal Muslim and give up on most of Islam and Sharia. You can choose to pray five times a day, but you can’t be against gay marriage etc. People are trying to redefine Islamic theology in a liberal way but I think it’s a losing battle.

            Maybe our life experiences are just very different, but I think Islam would win the competition for most hated religion in the US right now. Hinduism is not associated with terrorism in most people’s minds.

      2. @froginthewell

        Thanks for the kindly-worded rebuke 🙂

        To my mind fundamental (irreversible) improvement of a country only comes by growth of knowledge embedded in systems of governance and within the cultural zeitgeist. And knowledge grows only by error-identification and criticism, not by projecting meta-narratives or propaganda.

        My opinion is that many Indians are too busy shadow-boxing with narratives than in solving problems. E.g. take Zionism as an example. How many Israelis do you see constantly apologizing for Israel or trolling hostile Palestinian/Arab twitter accounts or lynching non-Jewish Arabic-speaking citizens in their country because of the latest Hamas attack or some other international provocation? Israelis aren’t Gods. They are fallible women and men and will make mistakes, but at no where near the rate their neighbours do.

        If you forget for a moment what the objective truth-value of the claim a Zionist makes is, the same Zionist is conformant with certain laws of behaviour – some of which have been explicitly legislated for but most are cultural thumb-rules learnt from peers and family. So what makes a Zionist effective is not really Zionism per se or the strength of her/his belief in Zionism, but the meta-rules of the (Western) society in which that Zionism gets expressed.

        One could make the argument that Zionism has certain necessary characteristics that makes it expressible (in principle) within a Western society in a way, say, Islam does not. That is perhaps true. But part of that Western-conformance of Zionism is an evolved/tweaked add-on, rather than innate in its orthodoxy. Hence the most Orthodox Jews tend to be the least successful Zionists.

        Can this be done in India? It is possible and perhaps that is what the Hindu Rightwing would like. But the way they go on about it is completely wrong-headed. They think that political Hinduism can become as ironclad an ideology as Zionism is by rallying Hindus around common revanchist causes of making temples on mosques or encouraging lynch-mob cow “policing” or love-jihad “policing” or going on morning marches in khakis.

        That is, in Ambdekar’s words, “the grammar of anarchy” and it will never work. Therefore, ironically, to be an effective Hindutvavadi one really ought to be a good Westerner first (like the Zionists). It is a necessary condition. Yet Western Enlightenment also carries within it the germ of globalism that makes narrow Hindutva as-it-exists moot. Therefore, if Hindutva has to exist it has to be constantly redefined on certain objective moral principles. It is a continuous intellectual struggle Hindutva ideologues are unprepared for. Heck! I don’t think any Hindutva ideologue has ever laid out the basic universal principles with clarity yet, let alone build a defendable intellectual edifice around them.

        (Apologies for the long reply)

        1. I agree wholeheartedly with much of what you are saying but why is building a temple on a site which has a lot of emotional connect with Hindus and where an ancient temple once stood before being destroyed and replaced with a mosque in medieval times by a foreign invader a revanchist cause?

          Hindus are not going around destroying mosques everywhere in India to take revenge. They are even willing to rebuild the Babri masjid away from the Ram-Janmbhumi site. Indeed this is exactly what was done by Patel and others when they rebuilt the Somnath temple in Gujarat after independence.

          I think even liberal Muslims fail to understand the significance of the site for Hindus and the emotional appeal it has in the Hindu mind. If they were to compromise on this it could form a basis of a much warmer relationship between Hindus and Muslims in India for years to come. Their not doing so will fuel generations of mistrust and enmity.

          1. Janamejaya, muslims and Hindus would have worked this out. The post modernists tried to provoke this crisis. There are multiple different muslim perspectives on this blog. The Shiites, Sufis and liberal Sunnis want to make a deal similar to what you suggest Janamejaya.

          2. ” There are multiple different muslim perspectives on this blog” should be ” There are multiple different muslim perspectives on the Ayodhya mosque.”

        2. @Slapstik Forgetting issue-specific details, a lot what you wrote agrees with my complaint, which was that only the non-smart Indians remain in Hindutva, while the smart ones are mostly looking for intellectual fulfillment. So telling me that many Hindutvavadis’ actions are wrong-headed doesn’t help your point at all.

          Where I differ is that in my view most insights come from effortful thinking energized by bias. To use Hindu terminology, “icchA-shakti” comes from bias. In other words, this “error identification and criticism” you speak of, like rigor in mathematics, has only a “safai karmachari” role, itself cannot provide much insight.

          New understandings germinate not quite from “unbiased analysis”, but from trial-and-error, tinkering etc., which needs icchA-shakti. Many smart Indians avoid tinkering with their political views because they think rigor is necessary even at the level of piloting ideas, which means pro-Hindu ideas never get piloted by smart people, and the smart people remain confined to the comforting safety of liberalism. In terms of that Terence Tao article, there is this transition from “rigorous” to “post-rigorous” stage – in the latter, one has to pilot informal and non-rigorous ideas, “experimental mathematics” simply out of passion. In politics, unlike in mathematics, the said passion usually comes from bias.

          Let us take the example of “cow lynching” that you speak of – if you had a pro-Hindu bias, your perspective would’ve been actually wider and not so one-sided; you would also have acknowledged the cattle smuggling problem, noting that cattle-smugglers themselves are often armed gangs that shoot cattle owners and police. You would’ve noticed that cattle-smuggling and associated mob-lynching happen in Pakistan too, and noticed the effort of Pakistani Punjab Government to protect cattle owners. But your view on the entire issue becomes one-sided, at the expense of Hindus who get murdered by cattle-smuggling mafia in India, ironically because you are relatively unbiased on the matter and are hence less incentivized to investigate.

          While there exist several smart people who share other biases – Islamism, liberalism etc. (it is possible to survive in the liberal intellectual world with these biases), smart Hindus either move out of pro-Hindu biases, or live with this “cultural code-switching” that Razib speaks of. That’s the tragedy, and I believe this is also why Hindu lives have so little value.

          I would apologize for long comment, except that I have made so many such already as to make such apologies meaningless.

          1. @Slapstik, Just a few minutes ago Kurdish mathematician Caucher Birkar was awarded the fields medal. In the video that was played (the winners are informed before the ceremony to produce the video) he said that he hoped his medal would bring a smile to the faces of [I forget the number perhaps 40 million] Kurds.

            Do you really think his comment was motivated by thinking of “a symptom of a deeper feature of reality, namely that some problems are objectively more interesting than others.” ? No, only smart Indians’ interests seem to be confined to such considerations.

        3. @Slapstik: Here is another example to illustrate the intellectual utility of bias. A lot of westerners’ views on free speech became more nuanced over the last decade, only because it came into conflict with a recalcitrant Islamic world. As long as it conflicted with Christianity, these westerners were simple-minded free speech absolutists. Hindutva opposition to free speech was merely “rallying Hindus around common revanchist causes”.

          1. @froginthewell

            Actually your response misjudges my intent entirely.

            Why do you think I wrote this to counter your example? I did not. I did it to explain *why* your point about smart Indians not contributing to building narratives is indeed correct. No wonder your reasoning tells you that it conforms with your point and I am glad it does.

            I don’t think “unbiased analysis” aids creativity. I never used that term. Knowledge itself is a form of cognitive bias, so I don’t even know what that term means.

            You are right I don’t care about cattle-smugglers because they are irrelevant to the point about morals I am making. Just because an aspect of reality correlates with a symptom of the ideology does not mean I make it a part of my explanation. The ideology of protecting cows in Hinduism far outweighs the relative preponderance of cattle smuggling now or ever in the past. The ideology has a moral component, which was what I referred to.

            I agree with what you say about iccha-shakti . However, where I disagree is that this iccha-shakti is not stand-alone but a symptom of a deeper feature of reality, namely that some problems are objectively more interesting than others. And Hindutva is not one of those problems for a good reason. So opposite to what the eponymous girlfriend says on breaking up: “it is really you, hun, not me”.

          2. @Slapstik You are right, I did misjudge your intent. Thank you for clarifying. So except perhaps on some details, which are not absolutely essential to the main point, I guess we are to a good extent on the same page.

            The following sentence from you actually sounds like a variation on my own original point:

            However, where I disagree is that this iccha-shakti is not stand-alone but a symptom of a deeper feature of reality, namely that some problems are objectively more interesting than others. And Hindutva is not one of those problems for a good reason.

            I don’t think it is a good idea (at a societal level – it could be on an individual level) to privilege questions based on how “interesting” they are. That may be where we differ, then. Let me expand on this.

            I am certainly not in Hindutva for the intellectual stimulation. Rather, it is because I have a sufficiently strong emotional attachment to those I consider “my people” – as a group – that I just can’t stand it when their lives don’t matter, or even when I feel they are systematically humiliated according to unwritten but meticulously followed societal norms, beyond a point.

            So let us classify people into two groups – group A consisting of those like me (and perhaps Kabir) who are in it for emotional/”human” reasons, and group B of those like you (and perhaps Razib) who are in it for intellectual stimulations. Individual variation in belongingness to either group is understandable, of course, though I would wager that your view of icchA-shakti is nerdily group B-specific, while for me it has a strong group A footprint.

            But my point was that there are many supporters of non-Hindutva or anti-Hindutva or pro-Islam causes that are both smart and in group B, while more or less every Hindutva supporter is in group A. This means that valid points in favor of other causes have a better chances of being detected than equally valid points in favor of Hindutva. icchAshakti etc. This is an anomaly, for which no single human can be blamed, and yet this anomaly has a human cost because it upsets the “bias balance” from its healthy equilibrium. This is what, I think, is a big tragedy of Hinduism, people with background in it that are not stupid, automatically lean group A on topics related to Hinduism (though they may be group B on liberalism).

          3. Oops typo/wrong phrasing in my writing: I mean non-Hindutva causes have enough smart group A supporters; whereas smart Hindus all move to group B (I had it more or less backwards).

          4. I actually don’t mind Hindutva –

            Pakistan moves to Turanistan and the rest of South Asia becomes Akhand Bharat.

            I think it’s a fair exchange; also we should open the borders for a while so populations can do a final swap..

            Then we can all be “doorie doosti” (friends from afar)..

          5. That is quite an out-of-the-box and interesting idea; full marks on the flexibility of imagination. Though, I am not big on nationalism myself, in the sense of not being a fan of the nation/republic called India, let alone of making it into Akhand Bharat.

          6. Pakistan is not moving to “Turanistan”. We fought too hard to give British India’s Muslims a country of our own to now join up with a bunch of Central Asians. I will not join the mullahs in Iran or a bunch of former Communist dictatorships.

            Like it or not, we are a South Asian, Punjabi-majority country. Our interests are best served by a rapprochement with India on the basis of mutual respect and equality.

          7. @Slapstik, Just a few minutes ago Kurdish mathematician Caucher Birkar was awarded the fields medal. In the video that was played (the winners are informed before the ceremony to produce the video) he said that he hoped his medal would bring a smile to the faces of [I forget the number perhaps 40 million] Kurds.

            Do you really think his comment was motivated by thinking of “a symptom of a deeper feature of reality, namely that some problems are objectively more interesting than others.” ? No, only smart Indians’ interests seem to be confined to such considerations.

          8. @froginthewell

            Sorry to interject in your back and forth with Slapstik.

            Do you think the disinterest of smart Hindus in Hindutva related issues is due to institutional biases ?

            Most educational institutes in India have either been hijacked by liberals for the last 2-3 generations or have a liberal-ish consensus as the norm.

            The Twitter handle ‘Reality Check India’ (@realitycheckind) might interest you.

          9. @Prats, I certainly won’t complain about interjection since this is a favorite topic of mine :). I am old enough to have been familiar with Reality Check’s blog from back when blogs were a thing.

            However, while I think institutional biases worsen it, I don’t think that is the whole story – they are a symptom which is a consequence of the disease and also worsen the disease. For instance, I don’t think Slapstik’s views come from the sort of educational corruption that realitycheckind speaks of. There are structural reasons involving the nature of Indians and Hinduism, and their relation to the modern world, that will take time and effort to explain. Anyway this is not the space to dwell on that; if you really want to discuss that you can email my handle at protonmail.

            BTW Zach, if you count yourself as an Iranian, Caucher Birkar is the second fields medalist from Iran (and grew up in Iran, like Maryam Mirzakhani). India has had exactly zero fields medals so far (two of Indian origin though, including one this year, but neither grew up in India).

          10. She was Azeri / he was Kurdish but ultimately they are Iranian.

            I am more comfortable with Persian Bahai but identity for me is a nebulous concept since I exist at so many intersections..

          11. Are you sure she is Azeri? Some Azerbaijani websites claim so but I couldn’t find an authentic-seeming source anywhere, certainly not on her wikipedia page.

    2. How many “culturally cocooned Sherwani and Burqa wearing” American Pakistanis are there? This is an empirical question. Those Pakistanis who manage to immigrate to the US are generally middle to upper-class professionals (doctors, lawyers, engineers) with good English skills. Yes, we have our fair share of cabdrivers too but I don’t think there are a lot of people who are not assimilated into the larger American culture at all.

      From my own experience, Pakistani-Americans buy into US values while at the same time being invested in certain aspects of home (Pakistani clothes, food, family structures, and Islam). In this, we are not too different from other immigrant communities. Like most non-White people, we vote Democrat. Prior to 9/11, Muslim-Americans did vote Republican because many Muslims are against abortion and in favor of “family values”. But since the Republican Party has become increasingly Islamophobic, it would be difficult for Pakistani-Americans to vote for them.

      It is quite possible to love Pakistan while realizing that since you have chosen to make your and your children’s lives in the US, your primary investment should be in domestic US issues.

      Also, I probably shouldn’t ask this, but what is “innate civilizational loyalty” and how does it factor into the lives of those people who choose to leave India for a better life in a developed country?

      1. Okay, I should say I was having first generation folks in mind when I typed, and I now see you were talking of 1.5-2nd generation. More or less every Pakistani I saw while in the US was first generation (but I did see a lot of them). About half the desi restaurants I came across in Chicago were run by Pakistanis.

      2. I used to work for an organization called the American Pakistan Foundation. There are quite a few Pakistani-Americans. We are lawyers, doctors, engineers, World-Bank types, etc. Mostly an upwardly mobile, professional community–like Indian-Americans.

  5. Indian nationalism has many dimensions. Some of these are: a) a foreign policy orientation (specifically towards China and Pakistan but also other countries. Interestingly, antipathy to the US doesn’t make one a nationalist) b) attitude towards Islam and/or Muslims c) attitude towards Hinduism (orthodoxy ? caste apologia ? desire to unify ?) d) opinions regarding economy. Corresponding nationalisms in other countries have approximately analogous dimensions.
    These dimensions may be correlated but have a high degree of independence. I suspect every commenter implicitly addresses a different population when they use the word ‘nationalist’.

  6. I have had the same experience as Solani, I inverted:

    White guy: are you Indian?

    Me:. No, my parents are Pakistani.

    White guy: oh,I’m so sorry. My mistake.

    Me: that’s ok, we’re pretty much the same.

    I think white people expect greater enmity than really exists among the Canadian born. I once suspected that our white friends were a little disappointed that me and Ravind got along so well in high school.

    1. I agree with you. There wasn’t that much “enmity” between me and the Indian-American kids I went to school with. They thought I was weird because I wasn’t into math or science. Being Pakistani wasn’t really a factor.

      All of us kids who learned music from the same ustaad (the vast majority of whom were Hindu Indians) got along quite well.

    2. I would advise against claiming that Indians and Pakistanis are “pretty much the same” because it rubs a lot of people on both sides of the border the wrong way, especially Pakistanis. Pakistanis don’t have much in common with most Indians(the exception being those in the northwest). It is oversimplification.

      I myself get annoyed when people-mostly Arabs-assume I’m Pakistani(white people generally take me to be an Arab). My parents came from South India.

      1. You cannot change the facts. Most Pakistanis are Punjabi (60%) and are therefore ethnically Indian. We are the same people divided by religion.

        Are Pakistanis ethnically the same as South Indians? Obviously not. But we are Indian in a pre-1947 sense.

  7. One of the most ironic things about Muslimphobia in the west (particularly in America) is that a typicl Indian Hindu looks much more stereotypical Muslim to an American than an Arab. Since 80% of the time an American sees a South Asian in America, the guy is an Indian Hindu, it is Indian Hindus who bear brunt of casual Muslimphobia from a average bigot. They must be very aware of this bitter twist of fate. I wonder how do they feel about it.

    1. The first man to be killed in ‘revenge attack’ after 9/11 was a Sikh. It is to the credit of the American system, that the perpetrator was quickly caught, prosecuted and punished

    2. it’s worse for sikhs since they “dress like muslims.”

      there are issues in hollywood where i’ve heard some iranian and arab american actors don’t look “ethnic” enough to cast(e) 🙂 as terrorists.

    3. From what I’ve seen, a lot of them are very frustrated with it and it’s pushed them to become politically quite liberal. A lot of Hindus would otherwise lean right politically, IMO.

  8. Asian Americans trended strongly republican in 1992. GW Bush did well with Asian Americans and muslim and Latin American voters in 2000 and 2004. [2004 being after 9/11.] In 2014, 50% of Asian American voted Republican.

    ” Like most non-White people, we vote Democrat.” This appears to be a Trump related phenomenon. Is this partly because Trump did poorly among rich, upper middle class and college educated voters in 2016? Asian Americans sharply outperform caucasion Americans by every socio-economic measure available.

    What is the definition of “Islamaphobic”?

    1. I remember in the 90’s being in the US in Chicago and a Muslim friend telling us (she was a BritPak who married an AmPak) that they vote Republican because it was better for the Muslims.

      The Republicans were seen as the pro-Muslim party pre 9-11 especially when it came to Israel and the Arab world etc..

    2. “What is the definition of Islamophobic?”

      Really? We need to get into this again? I think I have given you the Wikipedia definition at least ten times now.

      Any party or president who supports a “Muslim ban” is clearly Islamophobic. Anyone who blames Muslims for every act of terror in the US and immediately brands them “terrorists” (as opposed to when it’s a white gunman) is Islamophobic. Trump’s comments about Khizr and Ghazala Khan during the 2016 Democratic convention were also Islamophobic.

      I believe that most minorities are an integral part of the Democratic coalition. The Republican Party as it stands today is basically only a party for White, straight men. White women vote for them, but any party that wants to restrict abortion is not a female-friendly party.

      In case you can’t tell, I despise the right wing (in whichever country they happen to be in). Good center-left voter here.

  9. “left” and “right” are mostly meaningless labels in every country. We need to get away from using it.

    Minorities are an integral part of both the Democratic and Republican coalitions. Both are big tent parties without strong ideologies. Unless “minority” means “black”, in which case blacks trend strongly Democrat. [Recent polling suggests that Trump might have the support of over a third of African American males without college degrees . . . but these I suspect are pro Trump and not pro Republican. Do you think a majority of black American males without college degrees will vote for Trump in 2020? I think it is possible. If an election were held today Trump might win a majority of the Latino male non college educated vote and over 80% of the caucasion male non college educated vote.]

    “The Republican Party as it stands today is basically only a party for White, straight men.” Do you mean caucasion men (Republicans love gays now) without college degrees (about four fifth’s of which support Trump)? Are these voters loyal to Trump or the Republican party? My guess is more the former. Do you think these non college degree caucasion males will stick with the Republican party post Trump?

    “White women vote for them, but any party that wants to restrict abortion is not a female-friendly party.” I am completely confused–especially given your view on Islamophobia. Is there any polling indicating that woman are more pro choice or less pro life than males? I have never seen it. How is this a gender issue? I find your attitude toward abortion hard to understand. Conservative Sunnis are strongly pro life, especially 4 months or more into a pregnancy. Unless nonmuslims can learn to strongly respect pro life muslims . . . how can muslim/non muslim relations improve? Not just in the US but around the world. I strongly respect your right to disagree with pro life Hadiths. But can’t you hold a pro choice position while strongly respecting religious pro life people? Remember how Bill Clinton (and formerly Hillary) use to say that Abortion should be safe, legal and rare? Bill Clinton regarded every abortion to be a terrible and sad human tragedy and was always solemn when discussing abortion.

    BTW, some people regard pro choice people to be “islamaphobic”. Especially pro choice muslims. “Islamaphobia” is a code word for apostasy and blasphemy. Most of the people accused of being Islamaphobic are muslim or muslimish.

    We agree completely about the “Muslim ban” . . . which thank God is not constitutional in the US and cannot be imposed. I believe that no country in the world should have a “Muslim ban”. I wouldn’t call this Islamaphobic. I would call it anti muslim sectarianism.

    “Anyone who blames Muslims for every act of terror in the US” . . . who has done this? Is it okay to blame “Islamist” or “Jihadi” ideology for terrorist attacks all over the world? The number one security threat for every country in the world is Jihadi Islamist violence–the vast majority of which are directed against “fake” or “lesser” muslims or atheist muslims.

    “as opposed to when it’s a white gunman”. Many “white gunman” are Islamist Jihadis. Large numbers of European caucasions have converted to Islamism and joined Daesh or Al Qaeda or their allies. The converts are a far bigger threat in my opinion than children born in good cultured muslim families.

    I won’t defend many of POTUS Trump’s comments.

    1. I am always going to be center-left. I will never have any patience for the right-wing. Try to convince someone else.

      When a white guy shoots up a school, we talk about him being mentally ill. When it’s a Muslim, it’s all about the religion. If you can’t see the double standard, there is nothing I can say to you.

      I am not a fan of taking the issue of abortion lightly but fundamentally it is a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. That is the Democratic position and that is my position.

      The “Muslim Ban” was approved by the US Supreme Court. Which I find shameful, but that’s what happens when Trump’s nominee has made it to the court. Which is why it is always important to elect a Democrat.

      As for “Jihadis” being the greatest threat to the US, how about you actually look at the facts. How much violence has been committed on the US homeland by Muslims and how much by mentally ill White people with guns?

      You have an obsession with “Islamism” and with “postmodernism”. Frankly, our worldviews are too different. I am done engaging with you. Peace.

  10. I don’t understand what you mean by “center-left” or “right-wing”.
    Stephen Paddock who shot up Los Vegas appears to have been brainwashed by Jihadi Islamism. Many other caucasions around the world have been similarly seduced by Jihadi Islamist ideology.

    “I am not a fan of taking the issue of abortion lightly [very nice] but fundamentally it is a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. That is the Democratic position and that is my position.” I believe you. Would you like being called an “Islamaphobe” for disagreeing with Hadiths on abortion? The phrase “Islamaphobe” needs to be retired.

    Hope to write articles about crime in the future. Assume you saw my last one? There is a difference between ideological violent crime and ordinary violent crime. Why can’t we discuss both? Currently 52% of all homicides in the US are committed by African Americans, who represent 12% of the general US population. There are many causes. One of them I think is that the caucasion intelligentsia (including post modernists, KKK and other groups) have long tacitly facilitated African Americans killing other African Americans for their own dark purposes. This is part of the long game colonization of the mind to oppress “darkies”. Similar in many ways to what the Europeans did to Africans and Asians. The global intelligentsia is similarly trying to break and destroy India now.

    To understand Islamist Jihadis I think it helps to meditate. Many Islamist Jihadis get spiritual experiences through religion and are persuaded by their experiences that the divine has infinitely greater bliss than all the temporal pleasures of the universe combined. This is why they try to impose God’s will on earth. From their point of view this is an act of love.

    Islamist Jihadism is the number 1 security threat for every country in the world, not just the US. Islamist Jihadism might kill millions or billions of people and threatens the survival of our species. Over 100 million non Islamist muslims have been killed by Islamists in the 14 century Islamic civil war. The nonmuslim world is suffering collateral damage from the Islamic civil war.

    “The “Muslim Ban” was approved by the US Supreme Court.” There is no religious restriction on travel or immigration into the US. There are restrictions on immigration from 6 countries, albeit with exceptions. I don’t like this restriction.

    1. I am not going to respond to you in the future or read your posts. Our worldviews are too different and I don’t like your obsession with “islamism”. I feel you tend to blame things on ” postmodern” conspiracies, which is not rational. We talk past each other and it is not productive. I wish you well but please don’t address comments to me in the future.
      Let me make a few final points.
      1)Center-left in the US context is the Democratic Party. The Republican Party is right-wing. Like most liberal arts people, I am firmly center-left. I am not going to be converted to right-wing positions, no matter how many comments you type. My education and life experiences have made me firmly into a Democrat.
      2) The ” Muslim ban” is on 6 countries, yes, but they are all countries which have Muslim majorities. While advocating for it, President Trump even called it a Muslim ban. By definition, it is Islamophobic and it is shameful that the Supreme Court approved it. For what it is worth, they probably were ruling on the narrow question of whether the president is allowed to make immigration policy.
      3) Most White guys who shoot schools up are neither Muslim nor Muslim converts. The US has a gun problem.
      4) I think you do not understand Islam properly. I find your thoughts about the “14 century Islamic civil war” very problematic. Honestly I have no interest in discussing Islam with someone who lacks the basic knowledge.
      5) Meditation is hardly the way to deal with the genuine national security threat of terrorist violence. Don’t propose things which are so clearly irrational. It just sounds absurd.

      1. Kabir, the six countries on the restricted list include North Korea which isn’t muslim. Although if the bromance between Trump and Kim continues North Korea might be dropped from the list. The US supreme court would never allow a “muslim ban” and correctly so. People from these six countries are not completely banned but have to go through an excessively strict vetting process.

        My hope is that the Iran, North Korea and Libya are removed from the list. Iran and North Korea can be removed as part of a grand bargain deal that converts both of them into US long term allies. [POTUS Trump loves to “WIN” and make “DEALS.”]

        There are many Democrats that I like and many Republicans I like. Neither party has a clear ideology. For example neo-conservatives were almost entirely democrats. The party label was irrelevant. The intellectual dark web has only one conservative republican. The rest of Democrats or independents or not American. Almost all of them could be identified as liberal or leftists. I love the way their minds think.

        Many “Republicans” I know are more liberal than me. Many self described “leftists”, “liberals” and “democrats” I know are more conservative than me.

        Aren’t all of us many things at once? Isn’t it more useful to describe what we feel about each issue in turn? For example you are pro choice (which doesn’t fit cleanly into Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, leftist). And I congratulate you for being willing to be flexible in your interpretation of Sahih Bukhari. Please consider similarly offer this courtesy to all Islamish people around the world. I also thank you for saying “I am not a fan of taking the issue of abortion lightly”. This is very good and respectful. I also thank you for respecting Ja’fari theology. Non Shiites who respect Ja’fari are often accused of Islamaphobia and killed for their free speech.

        More important than your issue by issue positions is the way your mind thinks. I don’t understand the way your mind thinks, although my observation is that it has slowly evolved over the time I have read you.

        There isn’t much point in having generic non specific discussions about something as broad and amorphous as “Islam”. I am far more interested in detailed perspectives on specific verses in the holy Koran, Hadiths and other Islamic scripture. I have thought of writing book reviews of some Sufi books; but I don’t know how to explain them to someone who doesn’t enjoy meditation and mysticism. [Shia have large mystical strains too . . . some Marjas are mystical.] I recognize that your personal theology regarding the holy Koran and Hadiths probably interprets mysticism differently and I respect that.

        Every person of muslim heritage in the world should have freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling. Every person of muslim heritage should be able to interpret the holy Koran, Hadiths and Sura any way they wish. Including self described muslim and spiritual practicing muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

        When you visit the great Hindustan (or Aryavarsha, Bhaarat, or India or holy land or Hind or whatever else you want to call it), perhaps think about visiting Shirdi, Ajmer, Nizamuddin Dargah and the Tomb of Salim Chishti.

        You don’t have to call it “meditation”. You can call it an opening in the heart, love, compassion, openness, softness, sweetness or anything else. The solution to global security threats are:
        Short run — combined intra-agency and international whole of system security operations
        Short to medium run — thoughts (surface ideology)
        medium run — intuition (or deeper more subtle thoughts), (deep ideology)
        long term — love

        What other possible solutions can there be?

        You can look up the mass shootings in the US since 1982. Asians are significantly over-represented. In general Asians commit far fewer crimes and are far less likely to be incarcerated than caucasions. However Asians are massively over-represented in mass shooting. Blacks are also over-represented in mass shootings albeit less over represented compared to other types of crime. Why do you focus on caucasion mass shooters when they are under represented among mass shooters?

        I would also note that non Jihadi mass shootings represent an extremely small percentage of all murders in the US. Isn’t it offensive that the mass murder of African Americans generates little to no public recognition and sympathy?


        John McWhorter and Glenn Loury–who I think the world of–call it the “white intelligentsia”. Much of it but not all of it is post modern. There are non post modern streams in it. For far too long “darkies” have been too scared to take them on. Isn’t it time “darkies” stood up for themselves? That we stood up for ourselves?

        1. I will let you have the last word. For the love of God, never ever speak to me again. I am sick to death of you and of your obsession with “Islamism”.

          My being “pro-choice” has nothing to do with Islam. I simply believe (like the good Democrat that I am) that it is a woman’s right (and only a woman’s right) to decide what happens to her body.

          Don’t try to understand me. You’re not doing a good job. I am a liberal-arts person who will always be center-left on everything.

          1. Also I have very little interest in shrines of any sort. If I go to India again (which would be after the Hindutvadis have left office and sanity has prevailed), I would see the monuments of nos ancsestres les Mughals.

          2. My last comment was published before I was finished.

            My last sentence was going to be: I have no interest in hearing from anyone who is not a Democrat or doesn’t have center-left views. Right wing people (in any country) just upset me needlessly.

  11. “the negative coverage on Pakistan targets the terror infrastructure, not the average Pakistani, while the negative coverage of India involves stereotyping and vilifying the average Indian as regressive and cruel.”

    I am sorry but this is nothing but paranoia. Newspapers are meant to cover problems and bad news, and it just turns out that for Pakistan such items stem from structural issues (army rule, military conflicts) whereas in India they stem more from contingent factors (cruel people etc) simply because the countries are at different stages of political/social evolution.

    Americans have incredibly favorable views of India. Consistently, for more than a decade they have expressed favorable or extremely favorable views of India in opinion polls. This is also reflected in their visa and immigration policy.

    See here: newsDOTgallupDOTcom/poll/1624/perceptions-foreign-countriesDOTaspx

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