Why Hindu-Americans Don’t Stand Up For Hindus

One of my earliest memories of my childhood is watching the Mahābhārat with my dad. After we dropped my mom off for her night shift at the factory, we would return home, and a black rectangle filled with film would catapult me into a confusingly wondrous world. From the magical arrows whizzing through battlefields to the terrifying image of Time, the narrator of the epic, transposed across a cosmic abyss, I was glued to a story I couldn’t truly grasp but loved at the same time. I could barely understand what the characters were saying (I spoke Gujarati at home, not the hyper Sanskritized Hindi in the serial) and was too young to read the English subtitles fast enough. I would constantly interrupt my dad, many times to his annoyance, but he would still lovingly explain these stories that would make an imprint on me for the rest of my life.

 

As my life passed, I would see so many of the stories from the Mahābhārat play out in my life and in the world around me. The blind love of a long-gone Dhritarāshtra came alive with my parents, who showed me love, despite my bad behavior, my failures, and my unending ingratitude, one of my greatest flaws. Their love was uncompromisingly unequivocal, and I was an unworthy Duryodhan. I saw the struggles and rise of “low-born” Karna with my own family, as we grew from a family who couldn’t even afford to spare money to buy a popsicle from the ice cream truck that taunted me every day as it passed by my house to slavishly building a motel business in the middle of nowhere to selling it and owning a nice single-family “American Dream” home with many fewer worries than we grew up with. And perhaps most importantly, I saw the devotion or bhakti of Rādhā through my family’s Hindu faith and regular attendance to our local temple – a tradition that grounded us through tough times and brought a sense of community, fellow “gopis” perhaps to share our lives and love with.

Those evenings watching the words of Vyāsa transform into images will forever be special to me. For those nights would fuel the dreams of my days as I grew up connected to a timeless culture and values. And they would doubly serve me when I learned of the nightmarish state of my fellow Hindu diaspora with regards to their views on Hinduism and Hindus.

In The Battlefield

To find the answer to the titular question, I did a bit of “field reporting” one weekend with my fellow Hindu-American friends starting off with a simple question:

Why do you stand up for Black, Hispanic, and Muslim people for the injustices they face, but not for Hindus?

The most common responses were along the lines of:

    • “What injustices faced by Hindus are you talking about?”
    • “I honestly don’t know what type of issues we face, besides normal ‘brown’ discrimination here.”
    • “I’ve never seen any from the media I consume” A general theme of genuine innocent unawareness was what I saw.

So I prodded further and mentioned the atrocities Hindus face in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and even parts of India. Yet Still, the answer was “I literally never heard this before.”

Then came a visible sense of discomfort, and I know why. My question then silently morphed to “Why don’t you stand up for your own people” in their minds. I didn’t need to spell it out, but it turned into those very cutting words – why don’t you stand up for your own…

Bangladeshi Population Statistics – 1971 Contained A Civil War Where The Pakistani Military Is Said To Have Conducted A Genocide Targeting Bangladeshi Hindus

The rapes, the forcible conversions, the killings, the discrimination, the demographic collapse all signaling horrors that didn’t have any similar magnitude of rivals in India. The initial response was denial or wishing away the numbers I gave them: “Oh how do you know all that happened to them?!” “Maybe they converted willingly!”

I mentioned CAA and the refugees begging to return to the land of Dharma. Denial then became equivalating.

“Well, this all probably happens in India too!”

I kept unpacking this. I ask them, “why do you think this way?” Note – I tried to avoid a confrontational tone as much as possible, just neutral questioning so as to not pry open any vitriolic reaction. They talked about their parents’ hysteria over Pakistan, their WhatsApp forward fueled hatred, etc… I tried to explain to them that the equivalence wasn’t there. That the magnitude of what happens to Hindu minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh is much worse presently and historically than what happens to non-Hindu minorities in India.

Pakistani Hindus Begging For Refuge To Immigrate To India.

But they just weren’t having it.

“I don’t believe you. India is just as bad”

Now, India is of course not perfect, now or historically. But it is a work in progress. It is diversity in action in a way very few countries (The United States and Brazil are the only ones that come to mind) can compete with. India is pluralism, both its virtues and flaws.

By this point, we linked up with a few other friends and the conversation dropped. But let’s continue this theme with a few other independent observations and anecdotes.

Misinformation Warfare

Modi equals Trump – this fantastically false idea is an atomic bomb on one’s perception of India. A very simple notion that has a number of externalities. Hindu-Americans are fairly “woke” from my personal experience, and Indian-Americans heavily lean Democrat. Standard diatribes against “45” are common when talking politics with my Hindu-American friends. I don’t really care as I don’t support him, but the Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) gets tiring after a while.

Policy-wise (you know, the actual actionable impact that changes people’s lives and futures), Modi has done more socialism in one term than Bernie Sanders will ever do in his lifetime. The comparison fails at almost every metric:

Right Wing, Left Wing, “nationalism”, “conservative” and other meaningless labels are even more irrelevant when thrown into the ocean of Indian politics. They sink into nothingness. They’re pointless.

But to many Hindu-Americans, “Right-Wing”, “Nationalist”, “conservative” are terms that immediately make them see red, and “RACIST” pops into their mind in big white letters. I don’t care about your 14 syllable ideology. People see things through simple lenses. It doesn’t matter what Modi and Trump actually do to a lot of people; it matters how they are characterized.

Fuck your nuance. Damn it to hell.

Hassan Minhaj told me what I need to know in a 12-minute 37-second segment on a now-canceled Netflix show. I trust the consistently wrong coverage of the New York Times – yes the same one that complained why more Indian people aren’t dying of coronavirus. Additionally, it’s quite clear that “South Asian” organizations in the US have explicitly blacked out mentioning these atrocities as it would hurt their respective lobbies.

With community organizations, media, and celebrities silent – how can Hindu-Americans be aware?

American Dharma

Now let’s talk about religiousness.

Hindu-Americans have some of the highest retention rates of religious identification in the US.

I can’t judge others’ religiosity, but from what I’ve anecdotally seen. Hinduism is many times a more aesthetic/background thing than practice for Hindu-Americans. Sometimes it seems samosa and chicken tikka masala have more weight in their culture than pujas and scripture. Now token ritual involvement happens every time Diwali rolls around, but to me, Hindu-Americans really just aren’t “self-aware.” Funny as Hinduism places so much emphasis on self-discovery and reflection.

Another thing – explicit politics is pretty far removed at American Hindu temples versus other diaspora places of worship. Political rhetoric that’s common at other religious places isn’t a mainstay in mandirs; and honestly, I am glad this is the case. Religion to me is more about immediate community and individual practice rather than political machinations across the Atlantic. I’ve seen firsthand how the ugliness of politics warps American religious communities where identity realpolitik replaces spirituality for many of these “religious adherents.” Where insulting the “Other” is more important than praising the Omniscient.

Ideally, religion would be separate from politics. But we can’t deny a battlefield once we’re on it. Hopefully, temples stay out of the fray of such rhetoric, but Hindu-Americans outside of it strengthen.

So in conclusion, the answer to the question:

1. Genuine unawareness of Hindu injustices driven by media, community, and political organizational blackout. 2. Right-wing and left-wing notions don’t translate well across Indian and American politics. Many Hindu-Americans see red once “right-wing” is mentioned. 3. Religion and politics don’t mix at Hindu temples unlike other religions.

The Craven

 

Now while we’ve answered our query, I want to add an addendum to a vile specimen I’ve seen recently amongst the diaspora. Aping their equally contemptible cousins back in the subcontinent, this emergence of Indian-Americans who speak in the poisonous tongues of India’s elites is now slowly seeping into mainstream American culture.

They seek to transplant American history and dynamics onto India just as blindly as India’s elites have over the decades. Equating Hinduism itself to white supremacy and fascism and defining it solely by casteism are standard affairs for this type. They have no ingenuity in their discourse. The blueprint of their commentary is amateur oppression Olympics. Their foundations are self-loathing. Their walls are an echo-chamber blocked off by the soulless skyscrapers of coastal elites on one side and the great blue filter of social media on the other. Their roofs are paid for by verbal prostitution. Their material is so common, yet they have a profound disdain for commoners. They are copy + paste. Many are essentially white progressives with a sprinkling of turmeric and cumin for empty color and scant flavor.

They are from South Asia, not the Indian Subcontinent. Their culture can be summed up into samosas, chicken tikka masala, a few “South Asian” outfits, and henna. Depth is an allergy to them so their roots are forever undiscovered but much-maligned. They will go out of their way to pin every misfortune and misery inflicted upon other minorities as purely due to economics or European imperialism, but will not hesitate to blame the downfalls of India solely on Hinduism and its indigenous culture. On the off chance that they navigate blame to the British, they will remain mum on the equally or even worse atrocities of the Mughals and their hate-filled predecessors. Their silence screams at the scars and ruins of their ancestors’ temples, all to preserve this mythic “solidarity” amongst fellow “South Asians.”

As they watch their fellow Indian-Americans break all barriers, their reflex is dismissal. When our minority becomes model, they relentlessly attack their own people instead of appreciating and applauding. Excuses for success rather than attributing it to hustle and immigrant sweat. They write paragraphs lamenting how every Indian-American has come to America with a silicon laced gold brick in their mouths, a silver stethoscope around their necks, or a platinum high caste thread over their shoulder. They wash away the struggles of immigrants with haughty commentary and exhibit a saffron-tinged white guilt. They seek to be the oppressed lamenting at the impending “fascism” that is perpetually 1 Republican representative away from arriving and simultaneously the oppressor as they claim Hinduism itself is oppression. They cloak their jibes in a mythic and undefined “Brahminism” where they attribute normal Hindu practices like vegetarianism, innocent rituals, and practices performed by all castes and communities as part of a grand conspiracy of “Brahminical supremacy;” the irony being that many of these commentators are Brahmins or high caste themselves! Due to their skin color and last name, they believe they are the chosen voice for over a billion other Indians and millennia-old civilization.

Essentially, they care about what India looks like, not what it is. They seek approval at any cost. But either way and in the end, why should they expose their necks in courage when they can swallow their pride, forever remaining craven?

Reposted from The Emissary. Follow me on Twitter!

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59 Replies to “Why Hindu-Americans Don’t Stand Up For Hindus”

  1. Why would a well adjusted Hindu/Indian American care about what happened to Bengali Hindus in 1971? Or the destruction of Hindu temples in medieval India? To center ones identity around such topics may seem compelling to those already on board with Hinduvada, but to everyone else, it just seems weird.

    I’m also skeptical of the whole, “what happens to Hindus is worse than what’s happened to Muslims”. In the modern period (since the British arrived), Muslims have fared much worse than Hindus. Most of the Indians killed in the Sepoy Mutiny were Muslim. In the pre-partition riots, most killed were Muslim. In the actual partition violence, most killed were Muslim. Look at the post-partition victims of riots across South Asia, most killed are Muslim. Many Bengali Hindus were killed during the Bengal war in 1971, but this number is also less than the number of Muslims killed when considering the Jammu Massacres, Annexation of Hyderabad, and Occupation of Kashmir.

    1. I am really curious.. How have you come to this conclusion? Have you tabulated the atrocities faced by communities like Hindus, Buddhists, atheists by Islamists in muslims countries vs Muslims in India from unbiased sources? Have you compared the numbers of Hindus that lived in apartheid like conditions under their muslim Mughal rulers? I mean when you can still rail against the horrible apartheid behavior of the white rulers in Africa even today why is the same not owed to Hindus asserting their right to confront the descendents of people who DID subjugate them with their history? Can they, by playing the victim, just wish it away ? As an atheist that has no dog in this fight the hypocrisy by some is palpable to me

    2. I’m also skeptical of the whole, “what happens to Hindus is worse than what’s happened to Muslims”

      Would you rather live as a Hindu in PAK or BAN, or as a Muslim in IND? Be honest : )

      We can all debate the numbers later (after you post your sources), but I’ll address the statements themselves-

      Most of the Indians killed in the Sepoy Mutiny were Muslim
      Mutiny had multiple factors. Even if the mutineers were 100% Hindu or Sikh or Jain or anything else, they would’ve still been killed.

      In the pre-partition riots, most killed were Muslim. In the actual partition violence, most killed were Muslim.

      Partition isn’t some everyday event. Most people didn’t bother holding back. There were far more Hindu-majority regions than Muslim-majority ones, outcome wasn’t unexpected. If it were to occur right now, the outcome would be the same.

      I think pre-partition riots were brought up on the araingang podcast too, Razib gave a good reason on why there weren’t a lot of riots in M-majority areas.

      but this number is also less than the number of Muslims killed when considering the Jammu Massacres, Annexation of Hyderabad, and Occupation of Kashmir

      Jammu massacres and annexation of Hyderabad are still things related to partition. And you might as well add Baloch insurgency and 1971 war to your list if you’re simply looking for Muslim deaths, but you know the core issue as well as I do.

      I’m not denying the religious angle here, but those Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims didn’t simply begin killing each other, partition triggered it.
      You simply just avoided everyday lives of Hindus and Muslims in the subcontinent by bringing up bodycounts from partition.
      We’ve come 70+ years since then.

      You either misunderstood The Emissary’s point by thinking that he’s stuck on some loop about the past, or you just aren’t interested in talking about the 21st century because you know it doesn’t paint the picture you want.

      1. Birdari supremacist Islamoapologists are among the best mental contortionists out there. Confirmation bias and selective presentation of evidence goes beyond even a penchant for them. This one in particular has expressed his disdain for the gangetic plains and its people. I don’t like using simple name calling because of its misuse by SWJs. But the guy is actually many of those labels they throw around.

  2. Why would a well adjusted Hindu/Indian American care about what happened to Bengali Hindus in 1971? Or the destruction of Hindu temples in medieval India? To center ones identity around such topics may seem compelling to those already on board with Hinduvada, but to everyone else, it just seems weird.

    evangelical christians and muslims do it all the time. basically almost all muslims are like hindutva then? e.g., south asian muslims took a big interest in bosnia and palestine. why? muslims.

    1. Yeah its like people want Hindus to take on the maladaptive Ummah stuff that Muslims suffer from.

      Though to be fair, Muslims usually draw upon contemporary issues, so their bellyaching carries more weight. The stuff from Hinduvadis is incredibly thin, as can be seen from this piece.

      Hindu Americans are basically the adults who live in the present and see India for what it is now (one of world’s rising superpowers, where Hindus are an incredibly privileged class). Hinduvadis are still living in the the 16th century, crying about Turks and temples, wondering why the rest of the world isn’t indulging in this nonsense.

      The 21st century belong to India, but for some reason many Indians aren’t interested, and prefer instead to be perpetually stuck in the medieval era. Oh well.

      1. Hinduvadis are still living in the the 16th century, crying about Turks and temples

        Why does so many people on this blog keep thinking that it’s mainly about history and/or the works of Savarkar/Golwalkar?

        It’s mainly just about demographic change and H-M incidents in IND, PAK and BAN. That simple.

      2. The Hinduwadis as you call them, are reacting to the very jealous and bewildered former imperialists trying to pull them down. It seems like the smart kid in the class surrounded by bully kids.

        Also, I keep reading the privileged Indians- where is this coming from? Is there actually any data? If it is anecdotal, then I have many instances of non-prosperous, non high caste Hindus making it in USA. When my cousin came here in 80’s as a doctor, several relatives pooled together money to buy his ticket to US. He studied in government schools, got merit scholarships (he was smart and he worked hard), was not high caste either. Same with lots of other Indians I know from IIT’s and other premier institutes. Things improved only in 2000’s in India. A lot of computer coaching institutes proliferated enabling even village boys and girls to migrate to US.

      3. India is still dirt poor. “Incredibly privileged” applies to only a few and it mostly has to do with money over anything else. Hinduism tends not to be politicized. For Islam, that is built in. That’s part of its strength and how it so efficiently spreading. The haleem gang sees themselves as halal before anything else, besides maybe a few rural tribal types and some secular ethnonationalists like you disproportionately see on the web.

        With enemes like China, climate change, automation coming, and a population that is so heterogenous where a tiny minority can riot to blackmail the country into potentially going back on any market based reform, to me it is laughable to have the certitude you do about India becoming a “superpower” this century. I am optimistic, but I don’t think I am anywhere near as absolutely rosy as you are about India’s future.

      4. Hindus are between 75-80% of India, many of whom are low caste or very poor, by definition they can’t all be a privileged or “incredibly privileged” class.

  3. Ohmygod dude – so well written. Captured so perfectly.

    Hearing the Mahabharata and Ramayana from my grandfather while putting me to bed made such a huge impact on me as a child. Not to mention those tv shows or amar chitra katha. Those memories are so strong and drive the Hinduism in me to this day. I try to pass this on to my kids.

    I agree with most of what you’ve written. But I cut the liberal Hindu American’s some slack – they come around later in life. A lot of times in their 20’s and 30’s everyone is on a whole change the world fantasy and attacking your own is the easiest and least dangerous path to be seen as virtuous.

    As you grow up you sort of understand that your openness isn’t reciprocated by people of other faiths and you actually do some digging into history. By that point you also don’t care what others think.

    This whole AIT/Ancient DNA journey/pastime has strengthened my practice as I’ve come to understand hinduism from both a religious and scientific perspective. It also makes the whole brahmin supremacy thing seem so stupid. Because of cognate words and gods with other Indo-iranian and Indo-European traditions, you can easily understand that hindu gods worshipped today are either pre-aryan or emerged from post synthesis culture.

    Shiva wears a tiger skin and lives in the forests/mountains, Krishna is dark-skinned, so is Ram… Kali – well that aint no european or persian goddess let me tell you. But you don’t see these liberals talking about that – how brahmin priests bow down at these temples. No that doesn’t fit their narrative.

  4. I see that too- a lot of children just do not care about Indian history or any of its stories. They will watch a couple of Bollywood films now and then but that is about it. They did watch Indian Matchmaking with a lot of interest though.
    At what point do they start showing deeper interest? I see Rutgers NJ being very vocal but do not see that level of interest from other college campuses. Oth, they are deeply interested in American politics.
    I think a lot of interest in India in recent years is due to a large extent by rise of India and Modi. World started to pay attention to India and western media started hating Modi. Before that even the NRI parents did not pay attention to home country but suddenly they realize that their fellow classmates are global CEO’s and world leaders while they are still in middle rung in US companies. Besides Amar Chitra Katha’s, very little active Hindu-centric or India=centric upbringing took place.

  5. Really thought provoking. Sometimes feel like this type of thinking is on the losing end and feel like people will revolt against this too but then as Krishna said ..
    “Don’t worry about the result. Do your work with sincerity and devotion.” 😊

  6. Why has the Hindu population % in Bangladesh declined so dramatically over the years while it has increased in Pakistan? I doubt it has anything major to do with Islamic zealotry, both Pakistanis and Indians agree that the Bengali culture is more grounded in or inspired by Sanskritic / Dharmic culture as opposed to culture of Pakistani ethnicities. Yet Hindus have left Bangladesh but not Pakistan.

    Seems like its more a case of exodus of Hindus, not because of persecution but because of open borders with India and better opportunities for employment available there. And this was not limited to Bangladeshi Hindus, there are almost 2 million + Muslim Bangladeshi immigrants in Pakistan, some stayed on after 1971, but most came in the late 70’s and 80’s to seek employment. Economics, it seems, plays a much greater role in population stats here than zealotry.

    1. It declined the same way Germany’s Jewish one did. However, in terms of treatment, today’s Bangladesh to Hindus is no modern germany to jews. The radical haleem zealotry actually is reviving and growing stronger, if anythibg.

  7. When will you guys learn? Religious Nationalism cannot stand on its own, it needs ethnic&racial homogeneity to strengthen it. If Religious Nationalism United everyone then why are the Christian Blacks in US not voting for the Christian Right?

    Ummah is nothing but a mirage, it doesn’t actually exist. Arabs dislike Turks/Iranians and they in turn look down on Sub-Continent Muslims, it’s like a hate boner triangle, Where’s the Ummah? Its the same with Hindus, For Ex:Punjabi Hindus don’t greatly associate with Bengal Hindus who in turn don’t associate with South Indian Hindus and so on and so forth. Hindu Unity is a global sham just like the Ummah.

    If you told your parents that Gujju Hindus were specifically being targeted by Islamist groups, maybe they would’ve been more emotionally invested in your Hindutva narrative.

    1. Israel does it, albeit it is a small country. There is common genetic heritage among all jews, but I’d say their origins as an aggregate are more disparate than S Asians’, given that some of the non-trivial components small groups have often are mutually exclusice. S Asians are 3 groups in varying proportions but an Ethiopian jew has components an Ashkanazi will lack entirely. I think this is part of the reason why BJP sees Israel as a model. That and how they handled their shit with terrorists.

      1. If you ask me, i’d say that Hindu Nationalism is running on borrowed time, it mostly props itself on the old wounds of partition and nothing else substantial, idk how long BJP/RSS can keep the embers alive. With the gradual economic&technological growth in India’s heartland, the average Hindu would become more aspirational, more aware of his/her ethnicity and less fearful of the Muslim Bogey rhetoric.

        ” S Asians are 3 groups in varying proportions”
        Linguistic Re-Organization of Indian States has created homogenized ethno-linguistic states within India, this runs counter to the goal of Hindu Unity. Congress should’ve created multiple Bilingual States to consolidate a greater Hindu Unity similar to Israel but then again, the last thing Nehru had in his mind was a Hindu Polity…

        1. Linguistic Re-Organization of Indian States has created homogenized ethno-linguistic states within India

          Whose boundaries have been dissolving rapidly since the 90s. Globalization has made its mark even within India. Lots of people in the South today speak Hindi, a fact that would have sounded astonishing in 1990. The casual prejudice shown towards S. Indians and S.Indian culture exhibited in the North back in the day has all but vanished even as the S. Indian breakfast is becoming the de facto pan-Indian breakfast.

          People who didn’t actually grow up in India nor live in it now should refrain from bloviating about the country.

          1. Don’t gaslight people about the ground reality of India. Your darling Hindutva project is nothing but Muslim bogey with a limited shelf life, its not some cultural revolution that will magically converge all self-interested Indian ethnicities into a Pan-Hindu Polity. India is not a melting pot like the US and neither is it an ethno-religious state like Israel. India is India.

            You’ve got it all backwards. Globalization will end Hindutva’s appeal and Federalize Indian Polity because Muslim bogey only works on the uneducated&insular masses.

            “The casual prejudice shown towards S. Indians and S.Indian culture exhibited in the North back in the day has all but vanished

            Straight Up Lies lol, but that’s okay because not many people here can verify your claims. At least, you’re willing to admit that N-Indians “used to be” xenophobic. baby steps.

            Lots of people in the South today speak Hindi, a fact that would have sounded astonishing in 1990.
            Yes, but only for its street utility. S-Indians still protest against Hindi’s Political Overreach, they don’t accept Hindi as a National Prestige Language a la Hebrew in Israel. Sanskrit is the only Prestige Hindu Language, everyone knows that but some are deluded by the power of Hindi Demography.

          2. Don’t gaslight people about the ground reality of India. Your darling Hindutva project is nothing but Muslim bogey with a limited shelf life, its not some cultural revolution that will magically converge all self-interested Indian ethnicities into a Pan-Hindu Polity. India is not a melting pot like the US and neither is it an ethno-religious state like Israel. India is India.

            You’ve got it all backwards. Globalization will end Hindutva’s appeal and Federalize Indian Polity because Muslim bogey only works on the un-educated&insular masses.

            “The casual prejudice shown towards S. Indians and S.Indian culture exhibited in the North back in the day has all but vanished”
            Straight Up Lies lol, but that’s okay because not many people here can verify your claims. At least, you’re willing to admit that N-Indians “used to be” xenophobic. baby steps.

            Lots of people in the South today speak Hindi, a fact that would have sounded astonishing in 1990.
            Yes, but only for its street utility. S-Indians still protest against Hindi’s Political Overreach, they don’t accept Hindi as a National Prestige Language a la Hebrew in Israel. Sanskrit is the only Prestige Hindu Language, everyone knows that but some are deluded by the power of Hindi Demography.

        2. “With the gradual economic&technological growth in India’s heartland, the average Hindu would become more aspirational, more aware of his/her ethnicity and less fearful of the Muslim Bogey rhetoric.”

          Contrary 2 this, with economic liberalization of the 90s, the average Hindu has become more aspirational and more ‘Hindu’. I mean folks have written books on it, but y burst our bubble.

          https://www.amazon.com/Brand-New-Nation-Nationalist-Twenty-First-Century/dp/1503612244

          Brand New Nation: Capitalist Dreams and Nationalist Designs in Twenty-First-Century India

          1. NICE, can i beat that Straw-Man, too? I clearly said that Hindus will outgrow the “Muslim Bogey”. I didn’t say that Hindus would stop being Hindus

            Idk why my reply to Numinous isn’t going through but long story short, India is not a Melting Pot or a Religious State like Israel and Hindutva isn’t some magical cultural movement that unites all, its a one trick pony.

          2. Can i use another straw-man to beat ur straw-man?

            “I clearly said that Hindus will outgrow the “Muslim Bogey”. ”

            Contrary 2 this, with economic liberalization of the 90s, the average Hindu has become more aspirational and more ‘Hindu’. And much more anti-muslim. Perhaps its different down the Vindhyas were there was not much anti-muslim sentiment to begin with.

            ” Hindutva isn’t some magical cultural movement that unites all, its a one trick pony.”

            It doesn’t need to unite all. It needs to unite Hindus. Those who aren’t or are less Hindus, it doesnt need to 😉

    2. I’ve noticed many Arabs look down on Iranians but Iranians also look down on Arabs. For example Pakistanis, they suffer from an identity issue and don’t know if they’re Indians, Aryans, Afghans, Turks, Persian, or Urdu speakers from Bihar. The whole identity of Pakistan is centered around religion or else a Pashtun feels not common ground towards a Punjabi and Baloch feels nothing towards a Kashmiri person. Its only this spreading of the Urdu language after 1947 and the constant madrassas mullahs telling Pakistanis to be Muslim first and race second which makes Pakistanis great candidates for radicalization by Wahhabi people. These Pakistanis also are brainwashed to watch Turkish dramas and have statues of Ottoman conquerors in Lahore after watching Turkish drama. If you ask any normal Turk about the Ottoman empire. They will tell you that the Ottomans were not religious and were in for power and greed just like all empires from the Mongols to the British empire, there was no religious motivation for these empires. However you have to remember Punjabis are 44% Pakistanis and Punjabis hate themselves the most. They adopted a Bihari language because it sounds more upper class than their dialect. You also have to remember that all races, Arabs, Turks, Persians, Bosnians, Berbers only look after their own people and issues first and religion is secondary because they all have their own history and culture whereas Pakistan is half remnants of Mughals and Afghans put together. I do believe though Pakistanis for western born raised are the least westernized people in general. The Pakistanis in Britain are 5th generation and they still don’t assimilate with British people whereas a quarter of Arabs have already married British people by 2nd generation from the UK census Bureau, most Turks just blend in with whites and easily marry into British society also and Persians are mostly western and almost atheist to a point but they also mix with British people a lot by 2nd generation. Honestly without Pakistanis, the Muslim identity in mainstream British media wouldn’t even exist, because its they who raise Palestinian flags and donate food to Muslim lands and speak about western occupation of Muslim lands. The Arabs in Britain live their westernized lives in quietness and not caring about their own nations nor other Muslim nations either.

      Even Bangladeshis are most race conscious about Bangladesh than Pakistanis who are more religious conscious in Britain

      1. Your experience seems like it’s limited to the UK. Have you considered the fact that Pakistanis are the biggest and oldest Muslim group in UK so naturally they will have an over representation in British society? The term ‘Paki’ has its origin in it. If you hop over to France, you will find even more extremism in Paris banlieus but very few Pakistanis. Most of them are Berber/Arab.

        These types of analysis are only applicable to particular countries, trying to extrapolate those conclusions as a general global trend is just bad analysis. There were very few Pakistanis in ISIS or Al Qaeda, and these organizations hardly found any takers in Pakistan itself.

        To come to your point about Punjabis ‘hating their own’ – Punjab is (and was) a big and extremely diverse province, not only linguistically but also culturally and religiously. It was never united except under the Sikh Empire and even then much of it was rebelling against Sikh rule. There is no one Punjabi dialect, and for historical reasons, adopting one dialect over the other as ”the language of Punjab” would have resulted in a rebellion, as the British noted when they conquered Punjab. This is why they chose Urdu as the official language of Punjab, which was deemed ‘neutral’. Rest is history.

  8. the discrimination,

    i’ve be curious about this. i think it is more discriminatory in bdesh against hindus probably than muslims (we don’t need to compare pakistan), but everything i read about and talk to about indians indicates a large communal awareness. so i’m pretty skeptical muslims don’t suffer discrimination in a ‘natural’ manner. it’s almost impossible to get indians-born-in-india not to think of me as a muslim (intellectualy they know i don’t identify that way, but their reflexes are strong).

  9. I don’t live in America, nor am I hindu, but I have interacted with “woke” Hindus quite a lot over the internet and had political discussions. The argument they make is that, yes, Modi is not like Trump. He’s *worse*. Modi, unlike Trump, is actually genuine in his minority-bashing and largely succeeds in doing so (in their telling) whereas Trump is a pompous fraud who does whatever to gain power. Modi, by contrast, is an ideologically consistent zealot who springs out of a larger movement that has groomed him his whole life. In other words, a far more dangerous and ideologically implacable opponent than the pliable and vain Trump whose main motivation is his fame and vanity.

    Modi also has a much higher elite support network than Trump does (e.g. higher-caste Hindus are very pro-BJP whereas upper-middle class whites tend to be quite liberal and hate Trump). That makes Modi much more dangerous since he has much more buy-in from society’s elites.

    I agree that Modi is fundamentally different than Trump, and from a liberal perspective, far more dangerous. That the BJP is anti-caste and uplifts women is a weak argument in these people’s views, because this social liberalism is mostly just extended to the “approved” groups. (My personal view is that India would need a state-led conversion campaign, but this is probably far to the right of even the author. Nevertheless, the liberals have an internal consistency to their argument).

    I also think the author’s argumentation is quite weak. He essentially accepts all the attacks of the left against the West and whites in general, but just want to make an exception for his own group being attacked in similar vein. I think this touches on something Razib mentioned earlier, the clumsy appropriation of woke rhetoric from Hindutva activists but in their own cause. What the author does here is a variation, he accepts the woke narrative, just for the outgroup.

    But if you accept it for the outgroup you are on some level legitimising it. So you can’t be surprised if people from your in-group end up using it for cynical ends for squabbles within the group, which is what the author complains about. You made your own bed etc.

    1. FWIW – I don’t think all of India’s woes (or any minority/colored folk) are because of white people or colonialism. I prolly should’ve added a sentence in there to clarify.
      Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s accurate or true in life to label critiques of colonialism/imperialism as “woke.” They had their detrimental impacts. Basing ones entire own identity on that oppression can be considered “woke” I guess but now we’re getting into semantics and definitions which I’ll leave to others.
      Critique of Hindutva or any ideology is fine, but what we see amongst “the craven” demographic goes far beyond Hindutva and into Hinduism itself, much of which is wildly off base (but that’s just my opinion). Do you think this group would post similar critique at similar scale about Islam or even Christianity in major publications (that mainly lean “liberal”, another word which means nothing now) and academia? I don’t believe so.

      1. “ but what we see amongst “the craven” demographic goes far beyond Hindutva and into Hinduism itself “

        Less-hindu people.

    2. @principia,I don’t live in America, nor am I hindu,

      My personal view is that India would need a state-led conversion campaign,

      Wait, you are not a Hindu but support a state-led conversion campaign in India? Will appreciate very much if you could expand on that view (regardless of whether you advocate conversion campaign to Hinduism, or Christianity or Islam, or…).

  10. i think the primary thing is most “hindu americans” don’t see themselves as hindu american first and foremost. most 1.5 & 2nd gen hindus are not super religious. they see themselves in racialized terms.

    in contrast, a large number of muslims who are 1.5 and 2nd go to the other direction and see themselves as muslim first. not pak or bang or whatever.

    this issue occurs with christians too. conservative protestants care about what happens in sudan and china to their co-religionists. most cultural christians don’t give a shit. they’re more interested in palestinians. tho there is the weird phenomenon that some evangelicals are so pro-israel they purposely ignore eastern christians in many cases (who are often not pro-israel)

    1. They’re only 500,000 Pakistanis here in America with 80% being Urdu speakers and majority are first generation American, they’re nothing like the Pakistanis in Britain who are 5th generation and never assimilate with the local British people and go back to Mirpur every generation to marry their cousins which means every generation has at least 1 parent who can’t speak English. They also have been through many race riots with white skinheads. However its noticeable of how much impact they made on British psyche compare to Pakistani Americans. From singers and politicians to so many boxers and people leading protest too. It seems despite their nonassimilating nature and cousin marriages, they have made a sub culture for themselves and have built an identity which the other south asians and arabs have not in Britain, most younger generation kids like to listen to rap music and hip hop, they generally identify with rappers who make Islamic references vs a man with a beard telling them go fight some war in Syria, however many youth are still radicalized too. From rappers such as Frenzo Harami and JJ Esko to singers such as Zayn Malik to athletes such as Hamzah Sheeraz and many others who win WBO world titles, they have been the main face of the South Asian sub culture that not just South Asians but even Arabs and many other Muslims follow too, however they’re also the poorest ethnicity in Britain, much poorer than black Caribbean people too. the richest are Indian Hindus in Britain, they live in the posh middle to upper class white areas, but Indians have not made any media impact in Britain nor have they made any impact in sports or other fields, just education and wealth is where Indians do well.

      1. nor have they made any impact in sports or other fields, just education and wealth is where Indians do well

        Coincidentally, BBC actually released an article on the first British Asian footballer to play in the PL yesterday (Jimmy Carter)-
        https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/55536025

        Aside from the fact that there are barely any British Asian footballers (just 12 out of around 4k players), only 5 British Asians have played in the Premier League-
        3 of Indian descent, 1 of Bangladeshi descent and 1 of Pakistani descent

        If you’re specifically just talking about boxing, then I don’t really know much.

        As for entertainment, yeah, Zayn is probably the biggest South Asian name out there right now, but Sir Ben Kingsley is probably the most decorated British Asian actor (Academy Award, Bafta, Golden Globe etc.) as far as I know. Kunal Nayyar, Riz Ahmed and Dev Patel have also managed to become quite popular (there’s plenty of other actors that people here may know of based on the shows they watch).

        And I don’t really know much about British Pakistanis in the world of gaming and stuff, but Vikkstar123 and ShivFPS have managed to become quite popular in their domains.

      2. Indians do pretty darn well in politics. And others have mentioned actors like Dev Patel. It isn’t just business and education which btw do run first world economies. Pakistani Miripuris have done well in one subculture of alternativd hip hop. When I go to the UK, clubs there mostly just play American hip hop anyway. Outside of Amir Khan, they mostly do well on the amateur boxing circuit but nothing that’s at a global level. Zayn Malik is their biggest star but again Ben Kingsly is the most decorated. Priti Patel is the most powerful woman in the UK outside of the Queen.

        Miripuris are poor the same reason chavs. It is a cultural failing. They should from other S Asian groups and learn to prioritize education more. Maybe they can transition like Italian Americans, starting out with a gang element but eventually diversifying and securing a good cultural niche. First thing is first though, the retardation promoting cousin marriages must stop, samw with the rape gangs.

        1. warlock, in general, pak-americans seem less socially ambitious (than other south-asians), and brit-paks even less so. There are famous exceptions of course. My pet hypothesis is that female empowerment usually fuels social ambitions on the community level. Non-pak south asians have a really competitive dating scene with more flexing on money, status, and accomplishments. I’ve seen these really bright pak-american girls stay home and go to commuter colleges. They never get socialized to the SWPL yuppie rat race in that context (which has its pluses and minuses). Compare this to punjabi khatris or tambrams and its a world apart, everyone is striving, and it goes along with the match-making. I don’t think its explained fully by the class standing of the families on immigration. I see this somewhat downward mobility trend among pak engineers and doctor families too.

      3. Shaz’s comment is on point from my own experiences with the Brit-Pak community. The Mirpuri community in particular seems to be very blue collar in its self-conception and proudly so, which explains why there are so many taxi and bus drivers, warehouse workers, curry shop workers etc. from that community. And the fact that there’s so many ‘fresh’ folk from the motherland who enter the community via chain and marital migration explains why they haven’t assimilated fully and its quite common to see 4th gen households with very basic grasp of English and British style and presentation in contrast to the Indian immigrant communities. (As an aside – strangely its almost always the men who take wives from back home, I wonder what the women end up doing since their (x-th gen) men aren’t interested in them and from what I’ve seen and heard they don’t get men from the motherland to come over for them!). The more recent Pakistani non-Mirpuri immigrants are more ambitious and actually turn their nose up at these folk, funnily enough.
        The UK Sikh and SL Tamil community is somewhere in between the Mirpuri and Indian immigrant spectrum, with lots of fresh immigrants in the latter that come in due to the war and discrimination who’s effects are still felt strongly in the motherland. SL Tamils are also more ‘salt-of-the-earth’ than Indian immigrants in my experience, and are often at the forefront of establishing Hindu temples and institutions such as Hindu sunday school and cultural institutions. The Gujaratis are also quite prolific in this aspect, since they’re mostly arrived via East-Africa and that sort of grounds them. Despite being very ambitious and successful, they’ve maintained their culture and religion quite strongly. Unlike the Mirpuris however there’s a very strong white collar tendency among all of these communities and the 2nd gen onwards quickly makes its way into the Great British Middle Class.

  11. Can one even be hindu and american? Its not exactly a confessional identity that’s portable. I suppose one can be a gaudiya vaishnava (like tulsi gabbard) or arya samaji ect, but the hindu umbrella rubric is very cultural and rooted in sacred spaces and seasons. In many ways indian christians and even muslims are more hindu than us kids in america who may have geeked out on hindu philosophy, the epics, and metaphysics at some point in our lives.

    1. american can make anything confessional. so of course it’s possible. religion is made up by ppl. it’s up to hindus whether they want to get creative in that way. perhaps they don’t

    2. That’s a fair point. Hinduism is tied to India/subcontinent in a way that other religions aren’t tied to their respective ‘core’ regions, which makes Hinduism rather unsuited for porting around the world. While one may argue the teachings of the Gita are universal, the various festivals are highly localised. Severing this link is probably necessary to some extent for Hinduism to universalise. Not sure what its like in the States, but in the UK the Hindu temples end up becoming quite ethnically segregated – for example Tamil temples, Gujju temples, Punjabi temples, etc. Might explain to some extent why even in the diaspora a pan-Hindu feeling isn’t to be found (even though most UK universities have Hindu societies, etc.) The mosques and churches on the other hand have worshippers of all races.

    3. Well, maybe American Hindus could look to the experience of Southeast Asia- the Balinese and the Cham are still relics of what was once a largely Hindu sphere of influence. I’d be curious to know how they adapted their religion to a “foreign” environment.

      1. I exaggerate a bit that its not possible, as you bring up the point about the Cham and Balinese. I’d add recent examples of hindus in the west indies as well, and tamils in malaysia. Maybe the key is a critical mass.

    4. Tangential – is your username another version of government or is it a version of गारा-मिट्टी (gaara-mitti) -> गिरमिट (girmit) i.e. construction material.

  12. Atleast for christians, I do believe there are ethnic korean, armenian churches. I am no expert but even within americans, you get different flavors like episcopalian, presbyterian, evangelical which map to different regional backgrounds. Although this being US, there is quite a bit of intermixing after n generations.


  13. Atleast for christians, I do believe there are ethnic korean, armenian churches.

    the two are totally different. armenian orthodox christians are an ethnic church, korean christianity in the usa is temporary and koreans who are assimilated usually intermarry and move out.

    none of this is equivalent to hinduism’s ethnic focus (or judaisms)

    1. You do occasionally see Armenian Protestant churches as well (or at least I have: I’m from Massachusetts originally and there are a lot of Armenians there: apparently a lot of Armenians converted to Protestantism when they immigrated in the early 20th c).

  14. What you have written about American Hindus in terms of engagement also applies to Indian Hindus and how they view the travails of their fellow religionists. One of the specific activities of RSS is to sensitise and build a “Hindu empathy framework for Hindus” in the minds of its volunteers. They achieve this through the shakha – essentially a congregation in its construction.

  15. I’d be curious to know how they adapted their religion to a “foreign” environment.

    Balinese Hindus are officially monotheistic and have formless conception of god in their temples (represented by an empty throne).

    Also Indonesia used to have Ganesh on it’s currency at one point. They often use Sanskrit names etc. My general impression is they esp. Javanese are more accepting and respectful of their Hindu heritage than sub-continental.

    That said, the current trend in Indonesia is towards more conservative Islam. I think possibly they will end up being more conservative like Muslims (like Malaysia perhaps, not Pakistan tier).

    1. Do you happen to know, have Bali Hindus always been that way, or did they adopt monotheism as a response to the official “Pancasila” state ideology which requires monotheism?

  16. That said, the current trend in Indonesia is towards more conservative Islam. I think possibly they will end up being more conservative like Muslims (like Malaysia perhaps, not Pakistan tier).

    indonesia has wide variation, and the key is cultural distance from java. aceh in north sumatra is MORE conservative than malaysia. ‘outlying islands’ like sulawesi are more muslim in the muslim areas than java. it’s cuz they have less cultural overlay than java.

    west java, inhabited by nonjavanese, is more muslim than east java, inhabited by javanese.

    i think the trend will be toward world-normative islam, but the malaysia target for java may not point correctly because of historical differences (malayas pivot to islam was one way it kept itself out of javanese domination, and it later led the way for coastal polities in java)

    1. \malayas pivot to islam \
      I think malays pivot to islam to keep their ethnic superiority over Chinese and Indians in malaysia. With ethnic superiority they hope to keep Malaysia tightly under their control and edge out in some future Chinese and indians Under malaysian law, if you are a malay you have to be Muslim, and as Bhumiputras they are ubermensch by law

    2. indonesia … the key is cultural distance from java. aceh in north sumatra … ‘outlying islands’ like sulawesi are more muslim in the muslim areas than java. it’s cuz they have less cultural overlay than java.

      west java, inhabited by nonjavanese, is more muslim than east java, inhabited by javanese.

      (malayas pivot to islam was one way it kept itself out of javanese domination, and it later led the way for coastal polities in java)

      What a wonderful comment! Such a pleasure to read comments like this. It must be amazing to have the neural wiring to be able to read so much.

  17. I am from India and a Hindu myself.
    I would like to weigh in here and present a very vital perspective that Desi Americans are perhaps missing out on.

    The difference here is simply between the New World and the Old World.

    In New World,there are labels such as White,Brown,Asian etc,which honestly,are totally meaningless in the old world.

    You may ask why is that so?

    Because you actually are living in a land where your ancestors did not live,did not live off the land,did not worship its dust!
    Those who were native and had deep love for the land and worshipped the land suffered genocide!
    So,there was no culture which the settlers could call their own.
    Moreover,branding their culture as a melting pot was quite a terrible move,because when you have every culture,you actually have no culture at all!
    That is exactly why those who are trying to implement the US melting pot model are deluded in the extreme and are actually contributing to some cosmopolitanised “imposed” identity like Americans,not the real organic ones like Anglos,Germans,Mongols,Bengali,Tamil,Punjabi etc.
    If you are trying to make an ethnostate,then also it is quite a dumb idea because there are multiple ethnicities in India.
    In case of Israel,there is actually shared heritage but there is hierarchy as well.
    Ashkenazim are the elites,Mizrahi and Sephardic in the middle and Ethiopian Jews are at the bottom.
    Those who want to make ethnostate first need to decide that which culture should be the common one which all shall adopt,as well as the language.
    It is not as easy as you might think.
    In the US,civic nationalism is much more dominant and ethnic consciousness might be very little,but in India,ethnic,regional,linguistic and caste consciousness is still quite high and only a consensus can solve that,not any forceful assimilation.

  18. The whole premise of hindu-americans not standing up for hindus runs counter to my experience. I went to college at a famously left-leaning place in the 90s, and I recall a non-trivial subset of my fellow undergrads being very vocal about hindu identity issues and participating in policy debates around UCC/Kashmir pandits as well as other things particular to the US context. In one incident, some of this group, right out of the woke playbook, were up in arms that vedanta texts were in the “occult” section of a neighborhood book store. Rajiv Malhotra and Konrad Elst would be doing campus circuits at the time. Mind you, these same students were well within the mainstream of the POC left coalition at the time, it was pre-9/11 and pre-godhra. and the divergence hadn’t happened. I felt that the discourse around hindu idenity and india as a “hard” state was being shaped in the diaspora by people studying other examples and gaining perspective. If anything, the graduate students from India were the ones who scoffed at the hindu-americans, for being neo-trad and wearing ersatz folk costumes at cultural shows and being pious to traditions they only half-understood. The VHP even hosted a major conference called “vision 2000” in the early 90’s that was well attended and very mainstream among gujaratis in particular. At any rate, some of the people in these circles went on to become fundraisers and staffers for democrat administrations, and if they had a fundamental mistrust of islam, they’ve softened their expression of it for the sake of optics.

    1. The turning points could be all of the things you mention. My own sense is that Modi’s 3 terms as Gujarat CM combined with the shock of 26/11 were the real game changers. Modi after the 2002 riots was not popular among desis in America (I was there at the time) and indeed regarded with some disgust. People were also generally in favor of his visa application getting rejected, from what I remember. But as his tenure progressed, news reports kept emerging of him being a business-friendly CM, someone who had improved the infrastructure and the economy of his state. In the latter part of his tenures, these reports were all uniformly laudatory. And desis in America, wherever on the spectrum they may be, instinctively understand the need for being business-friendly. That’s what they are in America for, aren’t they?

      26/11, in contrast to other distressing events in India, got massive play on American TV, and I think that pushed a lot of desis over the edge.

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