72 thoughts on “Open Thread – Brown Pundits”

  1. It is an absurd that exact genetic results do not contribute much as they should to explaining ancient SA history. It was seen yet again through the reactions on the Early Indians book, including unbelievable censorship by India Today. Some genetic researches are very thoroughly performed, with glossy diagrams, published in the Nature, even occasionally we can find there unexplainable Polish map-crashers. Sometimes, they look like descriptions of Brownian motions where even OIT can find in certain periods, certain movements in a direction out of Punjab. Why is that?

    Because, these researches are disconnected from the history, linguistics, archaeology, timeline, tribe names, mythology, toponyms, epics, rituals, culture and a simple thing that one tribe crossed one mountain and mixed with other tribe may have no significance. Why one simple thing, such as that R1a in Europe which is 12000 years old and R1a in India for e.g. which is 3850 years old is so problematic to make any conclusion? Not to mention yet again thousands of toponyms which are almost universally ignored.

    Virtually all discussions and researches are geographically limited to central Asia, the horizon finishes at Black Sea, there is no any reference or knowledge on European component of ancient history neither attempt to explain for example the mechanism of spreading of so-called IE languages in Europe.

    Repeating again and again generic terms such as steppe, Indo-European, farmers, Anatolians, ets, also does not help to make any progress in our knowledge.

    Finally, I have just realised that this whole discussion is not so benign and academic. So as in the case of some issues related to Islam in Pakistan, the issues of Aryans existence or non-existence (and ‘imported culture’) it seems to me that it can be quite dangerous where OIT proponents are only the visibly peak of the more radical underwater iceberg.

    Anyway, Happy New Year and all the best to all pundits of all colours. Cheers!

    1. I don’t think Hindu Right will ever ally with White Supremacists in an operational way. Couple of meets between some fringe figures don’t matter much. Hindu Right is much more dovish than the White supremacists. For e.g., no Hindu right winger has stomach for a final solution kind of solution. I mean, burning people up in gas chambers and making soaps and candles out of human body fat does sound kind of extreme. I guess most Hindu right wing folks will be content as long as Muslims stop eating beef, if not turn complete vegetarians. 🙂

      Another, perennial irritant will be the age old goddamn Aryan homeland problem. White supremacists trying to co-opt Hindu right wingers will seek a common homeland somewhere between Europe and India, and Hindu nationalists will balk at any suggestions that they may not be the original sons of mother india. So at best this will just be another muslim dissing club.

      1. Couple of meets between some fringe figures don’t matter much.

        I think you meant to respond to me?

        Anyway, I agree with almost everything you say. But I was surprised by the fact that people like Ram Madhav and Ravi Shankar Prasad had had meetings with these jokers. The latter especially has always struck me as a more moderate, even erudite, type; he used to appear on all the TV news shows regularly.

    1. I just noticed the article’s date, and it’s a year old, so many of you may have read it already. Nevertheless, I found it interesting.

    2. i saw that when it came out. it’s sexy if it relates to white people. i don’t really think that ‘white supremacy’ is a major issue in south asia but i could be wrong.

      1. i don’t really think that ‘white supremacy’ is a major issue in south asia but i could be wrong.

        It isn’t now, but was during the British Raj. People still have lingering insecurities about it, I think. To some extent, the push for theories like OIT is a challenge to what some perceive as a white supremacist narrative. Our right wing may be focusing most of its ire on Muslims these days, but it’s no fan of our former white overlords either.

        Our diaspora in the West (more supportive of the Indian right-wing than the average Indian) may have more concerns about white supremacy though. In the US, their overwhelming support for Democrats would seem to indicate that.

  2. To the blogmasters: I posted a comment with a link a short while ago, but it seems to have been eaten up. Anything wrong with that post, or the link?

  3. Razib:

    I was wondering how you select articles to post here versus GXP; for example, the Hinduism before India on GNXP goes well with Angkor Wat, etc article here, but it got few views or commentary in GNXP. I would have thought it would have gotten more traction here, even if I believe the commentariat here do not read through articles, and pick up on the headlines and run with it.

    I ask because some of the discussion there is precise, e,g.:
    “In the Indian context “secular” means a very precise thing which is not covered simply by being an irreligious atheist (which I am).” “But, just as the “Out of India” Hindu nationalists strike me as in the wrong, it seems clear that some secular Indian intellectuals engage in polemics unfounded in fact, or shading the truth in a manner that serves their ideology rather than the facts on the ground.”

    “A certain school of scholars, who seem to be engaging in a culture war against Hindu nationalists, present the genesis of Indian identity as a pure reaction to the engagement with Europe…….”

    I bring this us here, not there, because there is a strong secular and a strong atheistic tradition from 1920s in India, even if neither has traction now in Indian thought now. Often, the current indian thought seem to transpose secular into anti-Hindu, and atheistic into evil or satan-loving. Once we move away from the central Indian core around Delhi, and into the states eat and south, neither secular nor atheistic is an evil word.

    1. On the contrary, there has always been a great deal of traction – now and in the past – for what is best captured by BJP’s inspired adjective ‘p-secularism’. A good representative of p-seculars is ironically an interlocutor on this board who speaks the language of “individual rights” when it comes to “a certain religion” and switches to the language of “modernity and enlightenment values” when it comes to a “certain other religion”.
      In my younger days I was a p-secular myself. I would then have been surprised to hear that I happened to be on the side that was intellectually dominant. After leaving the fold I now realize how much Indian public discourse was then and is now controlled by this distorted version of secularism.
      Interestingly, a similar realization has been dawning in Western discourse after the turn of the century as exemplified by what has come to be known as the “intellectual dark web”

    2. I was wondering how you select articles to post here versus GXP; for example, the Hinduism before India on GNXP goes well with Angkor Wat, etc article here, but it got few views or commentary in GNXP.

      got way more views and hundreds of fb shares. just not much comment.

      the piece wasn’t really just about brown people. so i posted it there.

    3. “Often, the current indian thought seem to transpose secular into anti-Hindu, and atheistic into evil or satan-loving. ”

      Agree. Liberal space is shrinking in India. But I guess this is a worldwide trend. All over the world people are turning more nationalistic, more tribal. Everybody seems to be closing ranks behind their own kind. India is no exception to this. America under trump has swung far towards right. Russia and China are more nationalist now. Turkey, Pakistan etc are more Islamic. I really can’t think of one single major country which has become more liberal in recent decades. In fact the world of today will be unrecognizable to the liberal youth dominated world of 60s and 70s.

      1. In fact the world of today will be unrecognizable to the liberal youth dominated world of 60s and 70s.

        this is a very superficial comment. in the 1970s gays were considered deviant in the USA. let alone most of the world.

      2. “Liberal space is shrinking in India.”

        Is this really grounded in fact?
        I think that demand for social justice coupled with social media has increased overall ‘liberty’. It might not be of the genteel drawing room and letters-to-the-editor variety that people of a certain class were used to.

        Considering that you can now openly talk about both building a Ram Mandir as well as smashing Brahminical patriarchy, it seems the liberal space has actually expanded.

      3. You are mistaking cable TV and social media cacophony with liberal outlook. Just because there is more noise in TV doesn’t mean average Indian temperament is more liberal. India is decidedly slanted more towards Right compared to say, 70s. You can feel it in the movies of 70s, when cheesy themes like “Hindu-Muslim-Bhai-Bhai” were common. Most movies used to have one obligatory “Sachcha Musalman” character. We don’t see that in movies any more. In fact frequently movies come up with aggressive Hindu stance. Soft Hindutva is more of less a new normal in public discourse now.

        Again, not judging this as a positive or negative trend. Just being a neutral observer.

        1. I wasn’t alive in the 70s. I do have some questions:
          1. Why is religion such an important axis when assessing liberalism of a society? Lower castes, lower classes, gays, trans-sexuals all receive better treatment than before. Maybe due to Mandal, maybe due to general economic mobility post-91.
          There is less Hindi imposition as well!

          2. Notwithstanding the portrayal of Muslims in pop-culture, was the general public really as tolerant back in the day?
          I am not sure. They just didn’t have a mic with them.

          “Just because there is more noise in TV doesn’t mean average Indian temperament is more liberal.”

          I think we are looking at it from different perspectives.

          My proxy for liberalism is a large Overton Window and the existence of long tail interest groups asymptotically approaching individual liberty with time. We have more of this now.

          Your view of liberalism is some sort of aggregate of positions of all citizens on a hypothetical left-right scale. I agree that an average Indian might be more right leaning on this scale but IMO that is because he/she has more freedom to choose what to believe in.

  4. In several towns in Serbia and Bosnia where former Serbs, now Bosniac Muslims live, just before New Year appeared billboard signs with a message “I am Muslim, I don’t celebrate New Year”. There is a movement to separate kids in kindergartens and prevent that Grandpa Frost (secular Santa Clause) brings presents to all kids. There is a comical attempt in Bosnia to introduce Grandpa Hajj as a pandan to Grandpa Frost and Santa Clause, initially for muslim but later for christian kids as well. Similar things were an introduction to civil war in 90is. The question is if muslim faith can coexist with others unless it is a negligible percentage within other environments, otherwise it will seek not only for dominance than for the exclusion of other faiths.

    1. Is this the latest Serbian propaganda? That Serbs/Croats can’t be blamed for attempting genocide, because Bosnians have things like Grandpa Hajj?

      1. You sound as a hopeless case (= lack of basic knowledge x dumb), so, the long journey is in front of you. Bon voyage!

      2. From whatever you have said about Grandpa Hajj, it doesn’t seem like a good idea. I am afraid Grandpa Hajj may turn people suicidal.

    2. How will Grandpa Hajj look like for greeting card? Some one with a beard painted purple riding a desert sleigh drawn furiously by 50 camels, and distributing bags of semtex, Kalashnikovs , suicide vests to all and sundry.

      1. Grandfather Hidzro (Hajj) will be dressed in green, and not in red as that schmuck Santa Claus; instead of on the sweeps as that aggressor rides, Grandpa Hajj will ride on a flying carpet; instead of the deer, the carpet of Grandpa Hajj will pull camels; Instead of the disgusting greyish (Serbian) Chetnik beard with moustache, a hump or yellow beard will be in the Hajj without a moustache; as he strolls everywhere, without dripping his socks, Grandpa Hajj will shorten the trousers by twenty centimetres.


          1. Yep, as soon as they can reach the door handle they are candidates for marriage.

  5. Need book recommendations. What are some great books on history of Islam and history of Persian Empire and Central Asia?

    1. Ask her if she believes the ex-Muslim movement is sacrificing long-term legitimacy for short-term popularity, by allying with Neoconservatives (like Ayan Hirsi and Sam Harris).

        1. They should avoid allying with anyone that seeks to co-opt the movement and make ex-Muslims into their useful tools. In this case, a tool for Neocons to help justify their continued imperialism in the Middle-East.

          It should instead promote those values that causes Muslims to leave Islam in the first place (reason, liberalism, human-rights, etc), and how discarding dogma is a great way to help the Muslim community (and all communities really) advance.

          1. thanks INDTHINGS. are you an ex-muslim who has been threatened to be killed by their family? (the type of people sarah works with)

            and perhaps you might not get this, but not everyone is obsessed with the middle east (sarah and i have never talked about the foreign policy and we’ve talked a lot). muslims, jews, zionists, and leftists have a hard time getting this. also arabs.

          2. The vast majority of ex-Muslims here in the West aren’t afraid of being killed by their parents. They are afraid of being called Uncle Toms and sell-outs, because people like Ayan Hirsi Ali have made a career of being an ex-Muslim who regurgitates right-wing talking points (advocating for military attack on Muslim countries, defending Israel’s occupation in Palestine, etc).

            And you are right, I’ve never heard Sarah Haider do any of that. But people she works and partners with have. If she had the same relationship with, say David Duke, as she does with Sam Harris, I think it would be fair to ask her about the damaging optics of ex-Muslims being associated with Neo-Nazis. Its the same visa-vis Neocons.

            For the record, yes, I am a 23 year old ex-Muslim.

          3. /They are afraid of being called Uncle Toms/
            This has been done by Sadiq Khan also. Just before his election a radio station brought up his statement some years back, when he was defended Islamic terror suspects, that moderate Muslims are UTs. Then he said he should not have said it and he was wrong. Of course with mayor office dangling in his front what else he will say? But we know his proclivities. Khan is an enabler of retrogression.

          4. Are ex-Muslims trying to “help the Muslim community (and all communities, really) advance” ? Does this have to be their mission ?
            Or is it enough for them to create conditions where people who want to escape Muslim social norms and controls do so safely ?

          5. /called Uncle Toms and sell-outs, /
            So there is an easy way to discredit to free thinking Muslims – just call them sell outs whatever they do.

      1. Sam Harris is not a neoconservative. He doesn’t exhibit the foreign policy belligerence, nor the knee-jerk American exceptionalism/nationalism that characterizes neocons. On social and economic issues, he’s a down-the-line liberal. You seem to just be projecting from his criticisms of Islam and various radical Islamic groups.

        1. Read Sam’s positions on Israel, or his debate with Chomsky (where he was thoroughly exposed). His foreign policy belligerence would make Rumsfeld blush. He also frequently touts American/Nationalist exceptionalism, and uses it to justify all manner of abuses. Though he describes it as “Western” rather than American.

          That you would waste time saying Sam is a “down the line liberal” on social/economic issues shows you don’t even know what a Neoconservative is.

          1. Dude, I’ve been following US politics, and listening/reading Harris, since you were a toddler (assuming you are 23, as you say.) If you think any American with pro-Israel views is a neocon, it’s you who is deluded (or at least you don’t understand these divisions and how they came about very well.) Also on the social/economic liberalism, I might add.

        2. Conservative, neoconservative, liberalism, racism, foreign policy belligerence, anti- Islam, Pro-Islam , socialism antisemitism and any political labels are not mutual exclusive. The labels Rightist vs Leftist is the most obsolete one. Such labels act as blinkers in understanding events or people. Such labels are unfit for 21st century politics. Their shelf life is finished long time back.

  6. maybe she has different priorities than you? i don’t personally agree with sam harris foreign policy positions from what i little i’ve heard/seen, but i know enough about him through back channels (people from muslim backgrounds who know him) that they trust him to have “their back.” in contrast a lot of the left today cozies up to orthodox muslims and what not… (all the while talking shit about muslims behind their back when they feel safe, which they always do around me 😉

    though it depends on where you are. muslims in the USA from what i can tell are relatively “chill.” those in the UK are FUCKING CRAZY from the shit my cousins tell me. or at least enough of them that you have to be careful with the crew you hang with….

    1. If her priority is to normalize dissent from religious orthodoxy (and orthodoxy generally), and advance the Muslim community via an infusion of liberal-values, then we have the same priority.

      I understand why she, and many ex-Muslims, turned to the right for promotion in the early days of the movement. Because the left wouldn’t give them space. Perhaps it was an ugly necessity to get the movement off the ground. But those days are long behind us. All this continuing alliance does now is tar us as native-informants.

      Regarding Sam Harris (and most neocons), his foreign policy views are intimately linked with and inform the rest of his views. As someone who values liberalism and human-rights, the things he advocates (some of which I’ve listed above) are as revolting to me as the Salafi who advocates stoning. More so, if I’m being honest. That he “has my back” is doubtful, and no more reassuring than Donald Trump “having my back”, provided I would dance to his vile tune (like some ex-Muslims have).

      Yes, I am an American, and yes, British Muslims are crazier. I agree 100% in this regard.

      1. I understand why she, and many ex-Muslims, turned to the right for promotion in the early days of the movement.

        you don’t know what you are talking about. the left has gone much more pro-muslim/islamic, at least outwardly, and turned away from atheist groups with ex-muslim baggage. this has a phenomenon of the last 10 years (i’ve seen it myself), and sarah has to had to deal with this a fair amount. she’s talked about it, and i don’t plan on turning the podcast into your obsessions, but i’ll ask her to restate it.

        i’ve seen it myself in my own life as many liberals will tell me privately that they think islam is fucked up, but they never would say that in public cuz they don’t want to support racism. (their words)

        1. Spot on.It is partly racism jibe and partly election politics. Much like in India where racism is replaced with ‘communalism’.

        2. I appreciate you willing to broach the subject with Sarah. She’s had to address it a lot, because its an issue she and other prominent ex-Muslims haven’t really dealt with. Not because they are duplicitous (hopefully), but because they couldn’t bite the hand that fed them.

          Now however, I think the movement has enough on its own to strike out on its own and really be a factor in how the post-Islam generation of Muslims affect change.

          1. I think the movement has enough

            the movement is diverse. sarah is very different from ali is different from armin is different etc. they’re not a homogeneous whole. kind of like MUSLIMS!

      2. As someone who values liberalism and human-rights, the things he advocates (some of which I’ve listed above)

        Don’t see a list anywhere, pal. 🙂 You seem to be jumbling up a number of people whose views (especially on Islam) you dislike, or consider to be “hateful”, and are painting them all as guilty by association.

        I’ve listened to, and read a lot of, Harris over the years, and I’d wager he values liberalism and human rights at least as much as you claim to, and definitely has a better understanding of those concepts than you do.

        1. Sam, like most neocons, values liberalism and human rights insofar as they can be used as a bat with which to smash his ideological opponents (Muslims).

          Like most neocons however, his support vanishes when those same values are used to criticize or restrain Western imperialism in the Middle-East.

          1. You forget liberalism and Liberals was and is proponents of imperialism and interventionism abroad. In the 19th century, 5 star Liberals like J S Mill were enthusiastic supporters of colonialism.

    2. That’s coz Labour has bent backwards to accomodate most retrograde elements giving them more cred among Muslims since medievalism “works” in getting more advantages

    1. indian scientists who want to do work generally leave. indian science is bureacratic and sclerotic. like a lot of countries. science is converged by the pareto principle.

    2. Lots of Indian names in those 2639!

      It’s harder to do influential/impactful research in India because of politics as well as a penny-wise pound-foolish approach towards these things generally. Research needs funding and smart people with good ideas have an extremely hard time getting the moneybags to open up. (This applies to both government and private industry.) In private industry, there’s also an undercurrent of self abnegation where new ideas and ventures are looked down upon unless they come from a source located in the West.

      Is this because Indians waste too much time expressing opinion on everything under the sun in blogs?

      We had precious few influential scientists in the country even before the blog (or the Internet) was invented. More seriously, even among our practitioners of science and technology, there may be a tendency towards theory and “gab” rather than tinkering. I’d hope we can do more of the latter.

    3. There is too much of politics of negativity in India which has dragged down not only science and also most institutions. Constructive thinking and doing is getting rarer

    1. One of the comments on the twitter thread you’ve linked to is the following:
      Anyone who speaks about #AiT as if it has validity is a certified dumbass that refuses to look at evidence.

      Yes, I’m sure it’s going to be a very balanced debate. 🙂

        1. Narsimhan was begging Oak for a lunch appointment based on their publicly available twitter correspondence.

  7. Support your friend Tony on Youtube. So far it s only me with the following comment.

    “Mr. Joseph can take the cake away from Rudyard Kippling of the “White Man’s Burden” in(fame) in a racism context. The


    The cover of his new book features a dark skinned naked ( supposedly aboriginal) girl waiting for the superior light skinned races of (only men, no women!) from West Asia (once again a loosely defined term), Central Asia (ditto) and Europe to bring civilization in the form superior genes, language and culture.

    Such blatant and hateful racism is ok as long it comes from the leftist/Marxist wing of India.
    Show less”

    Help! Hindutva Nazi attack.

  8. Another Russian Alexandr Semenenko for OIT with juicy sexy stuff also.


    “That the sexual cults were widely spread in the Indo-Aryan society of the AVSh itself is seen from not only the presence of highly developed vagina (yoni, upastha) and lingam (skamba, vetasa
    , ś
    epa) worship, but also from the incorporations into the AVSh collection the hymns devoted to secure successful conception, restoring
    and enlargТng tСe male’s power, love
    -charms, and also the verses describing the ritual sexual act in the wedding hymn XIV.2.”


  9. Zack, Razib

    When do you think the two podcasts will be online? The Razib-Sarah Haidar one as well as the South Indian Browncast one?

Comments are closed.

Brown Pundits