Political correctness is “just politeness” (for your friends)

Audrey Truschke is mixing it up again with the vilest dregs of “Hindu Twitter”. In response, I tweeted “For my friends everything, for my enemies the law.” What did I mean here? Rutger’s unequivocal defense of academic freedom, even unto trolling, shows their hand in terms of whose feelings they value.

You can go to the FIRE website, but if you know modern American academia you know that the administration does not care about academic freedom when push comes to shove. The regnant ideology in modern left cultural discourse is that “the feelings of marginalized people/communities” trump “objectivity” and “truth.” Rutgers’ general statement is one I agree with, but I’m a 20th century “liberal.” Rutgers is not a place for 20th century liberals, nor is academia in general.

What this illustrates is that the American left does not think it needs to be “polite” to Hindus. Their feelings don’t matter. Perhaps the Central Committee of the Inner Party has a list of marginalized communities, and Hindus were left off. I don’t know.

Suffice it to say this is total hypocrisy. If Truschke’s career involved wrestling with Muslim trolls online they’d find something more ambivalent to say. Even with tenure universities can fire professors on pretexts as well. They choose not to. They choose the law. Because Hindus are not their friends.

Addendum: The fact that many “internet Hindus” behave like vile cretins with subnormal IQs does not help. But I don’t think this is the main cause. First, many people who are “against” “internet Hindus” who are Indian are quite vile and exhibit subnormal IQ online (my experience with Jat Sikh anti-Hindutva racists is the exact same as with Hindutva trolls; Indians online tend toward troll behavior more than other groups). Also, Truschke offends many more conventional and humane Hindus, but their feelings do not warrant obsequious submission.

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25 Replies to “Political correctness is “just politeness” (for your friends)”

  1. “The regnant ideology in modern left cultural discourse is that “the feelings of marginalized people/communities” trump “objectivity” and “truth.””

    The Western elite white left doesn’t actually cancel and attack others because they’re good people who just feel too strongly about injustice to marginalized people.
    It’s because they’re terrible, awful, evil people who are using said injustice as a flimsy excuse to indulge their garbage natures.

  2. Rutgers slipped here. They are probably correct in a reflexive initial assessment that Indian/Hindu students aren’t a culturally/religiously disenfranchised community. One that is in need of safe spaces. But they also needed to make sure there will not be blowback in terms of punitive legal costs or something else. So they are stalling for a disengagement where they can seek a second opinion.

    Bottomline they fell into the trap of “handle with ambiguity”. They are unable to figure out this amorphous threat. Their release doesn’t talk about Hindutva. Instead they say “our Hindu community”. Makes sense. Indian universities feed a ready pipeline of students into Rutgers. They need to keep the temperature down before political leaders start getting a scent of the controversy.

    The Hindu Students Council at Rutgers has between 12 and 20 leaders – thats all it took to bring Truschke into the docket. Wow, this template is going to get replicated in many ways. Woke Hindutva inflicted a flesh wound here, if not a kill. No doubt about it!

  3. On the one hand, I agree with the ideal of academic freedom and care about that more than the sensitivities of whichever community is being incidentally offended in the process.

    But on the other hand, there is a realpolitik element to it. Academic freedom is an ideal while the situation on the ground is more akin to tribalism. While it’s good to aspire to ideals, it’s also important to be practical — keep in mind what tribe you belong to, develop a bit of solidarity, and advance shared interests. Need to be both practical and ideal, parochial and universal.

    So… tl;dr fuck Rutgers, fire Truschke.

    “The fact that many “internet Hindus” behave like vile cretins with subnormal IQs does not help.”

    This is an actual thing, but it’s made worse especially by people like Truschke, but also a habit many other people have on Twitter, which is to say something everyone knows will be controversial, and then Quote Tweet the vilest responses from random unknown accounts with 8 numbers at the end. This doesn’t explain all of it, and there is I think an ‘internet Hindu’ phenomenon, but it contributes to this issue significantly.

  4. There is a well established islamist leftist global alliance. Academia is a bastion of leftism. Defending the painting of islamic empires in an extremely positive light, whether supported by facts or not, makes perfect sense in these leftist spaces. Criticisms of such biased perspectives will not be taken seriously, that includes by other non protected- class minority groups, such as Hindus.

    Hindu Americans are extra screwed. There is a semi fluent in english massive population of online trolls who make fools of themselves constantly. Chinese trolls stick to mandarin more.

    Hindus get lumped in with Hindutuva trolls, but importantly, few in liberal circles pushback against the mischaracterization. And they don’t have recent enough or direct enough American Imperialism to paint a victimhood picture, in terms of not letting a small number of individuals paint the whole group in a bad light (eg. Conflating islamic terrorists and all Muslims) like Muslim Americans do with the wars in the Middle East and 9-11.

    Hindu Americans are not seen as underprivileged like Blacks and Hispanics, who have groups among them like Igbo Nigerian Americans and Cubans who do socioeconomically well like Indians but get the broad brush group protection.

    Hindus don’t have as clear of a history of large scale discrimination, in the form actual internment camps, not just simply barred entry, by the US government, like the Japanese do.

    They won’t be accepted by large swathes of the American Right, who day have some White Christian Nationalist leanings. And there are an active number among the second generation who are “woke” and feed into this same loop, with the added harm of being able to claim aunthentic hindu indentity and give legitimacy to unfair treatment.

    It’s ok. Struggle breeds excellence. Important to not quit and value truth and justice above all. I remain optimistic.

    1. Good points, but I would add one more. Even non-troll Hindus, the smartest of them, don’t seem to be able to get the messaging right. e.g., consider the stupidity of the thread:
      https://twitter.com/hinduoncampus/status/1369157924338229249
      They say they welcome academic freedom but don’t endorse certain kinds of statements, without explaining why those statements are false. This thread will sell only to those who already know/believe those statements to be false. I can see what they are trying to say but that doesn’t help, because I didn’t need their thread to see that. The thread adds no value.
      [Edit: I mean, contrast with how, when people make analogous requests on the behalf of Muslims, the focus is less on how sentiments concerning God are important, and more on how xyz aspects of the research can lead to worsening the atmosphere of Islamophobia and thereby encourage violence?]

      There was some thread by Larry Sanger, the wikipedia cofounder, a while ago, gently and kindly explaining to Hindutva folks why, if they wanted to push the view that the American media coverage of Delhi riots was skewed, they would have to do better than the non-professional takes such as the ones in Opindia (whether or not Opindia’s view is correct, they didn’t even sound like they wanted to pay lip-service to a neutral-sounding language). And yet, Opindia, which had interviewed Sanger and published his views against Jimmy Wales as part of the greater culture war, did not even attempt to run a better version of its earlier articles. Perhaps they don’t care about western-type audience.
      The idea that other people have different priors and you have to address from the perspective of their priors seems to elude or at least not interest the smartest of the Hindus, not just the trolls. Has anyone felt that among all the “dharmic” literature that has come out of India historically, the ones that do the best job of appealing to “universal human” sensibilities is Buddhist, then Jain, then Hindu? There is a deeper understudied problem here. I think this is also related to how Mukunda Raghavan has failed to bridge some of his views with those of the trads.

      1. I haven’t read too many Op-India articles, but yeah, if their writers were anywhere as good as The Caravan’s, they would get a lot more purchase among English-speakers in the West (don’t think it matters too much to the average Indian who is only somewhat fluent in the language). It honestly isn’t that hard to marshal evidence to show many centuries of oppression and “systemic -ism” imposed upon Hindus (non-Muslims generally) by Muslim ruling classes.

        Apart from language issues, there seems to be a lack of rigor as well as assumptions thrown in as fact (though evidence may exist, it often isn’t provided and is simply stated along the lines of “everyone knows that ….” or “…. is known to have been refuted”)

  5. RE: Aryan descendants are now ‘community of color’ in US?

    The Coalition of Communities of Color and Portland State University ‘formally recognized the Slavic community as a community of colour’?

    “We are pleased to present “The Slavic Community in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile.” Several years ago, members of the Coalition of Communities of Color identified a common need to ensure that data adequately captures the lived experiences of communities of color. Data informs decision-making but that same data often excludes dimensions of race and is undertaken without involvement of those most affected by the decisions guided by the research. The impact of these practices is that the Slavic community, along with other communities of color, is rarely visible at the level of policy…”

    The entire article (92 pages):

    https://www.portlandoregon.gov/oehr/article/713232

    1. This is a sign you are being accepted–it’s just your complaints are being treated as if you were Evangelical Christians or other conservative groups complaining about academia. Reading Truschke seems analogous to someone accepting Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States as the definite history of the United States (while it’s worth reading, if it was the only history you ever read you’d get a lot wrong).

  6. Would it be excessively cynical to wonder if the munificent financial contributions of Gulf Arab regimes to American Universities have purchased an honored place at the table of victimology for Muslims?

    Then again, Soviet Foreign Policy is still a good guide to the beliefs and actions of American leftists.

    1. Think it’s more the guilt feelings liberals acquired after originally cheering on the US government’s overreaction to 9/11? I’d moved to the country right before the attack on the Twin Towers, and for the next couple of years, there seemed to be a general closing of ranks (even in liberal areas) behind the Bush/Cheney government, and a consensus with their approach to the war and to geopolitics generally. Only when no nukes were found in Iraq and the Abu Ghraib stuff came to light did the big divergence begin. Many people on the left (with the notable exception of Christopher Hitchens) did a 180 degrees and decided to treat right-wingers as Nazis unless proven otherwise, and Muslims anywhere in the world as innocent sheep unless proven otherwise.

      I could be wrong though, as this was just my perception. But I do remember (even sitting in India), for example, reading strong criticisms (from various American power centers) of how the Taliban was treating its people during the Clinton era.

    2. Gulf/SA money, lot of them, are given to academics on the understanding there won’t be any research or academic opinions which contradict Umma causes and political priorities.
      OTOH, Audrey Trutschke gets invited to Indian lit festivels and can pontificating to Indians in India; so she gets even more emboldended. Needless to say she also gets invite fom pakistan to speak ill of India , where she can’t express any opinion on Ahmedis or baluchis
      The political leanings of these academics is anything but subtle.

  7. I think perhaps people are getting the wrong message here? It’s not that Hindus are being treated harshly by the woke but that Muslims are being treated softly, no? How do Western academics treat Buddhists, say, from Burma, who are also accused of oppressing Muslims?

  8. the details are irrelevant. the main thing is she violates the dictum that groups you are talking about get to determine their own history (hindus). i think this is fine. but it is pretty hypocritical in the modern academy

    1. “she violates the dictum that groups you are talking about get to determine their own history (hindus)” .

      i find that a strange dictum. if history is just a faithful record of “what happened”, then there cannot be an our-history and a their-history. there has to be just one history.

      1. Faithful record of “what happened” is filtered by selected input of what happened , how much importance to what happened, the valence of what happened and the spin the historian gives to all these. Lot of imagination goes into history writing. Subjectivity of history cannot be denied

  9. A very fine set of observations. Let us follow up on what Razib has laid out: why are Hindus not on the “protected” list? I can think of a few reasons.

    1. Hindus are wealthy and perceived as well-off in the US – and hence don’t deserve protection. This might seem like plausible but this doesn’t prevent US colleges from cowering before Zionists. Jews certainly don’t lack clout in America. Case in point is Bari Weiss, who now pretends to be anti-cancel culture but who tried her best to cancel professors at Columbia for being critical of Israeli apartheid. Ask John Mearsheimer how he felt under the unending barrage of attacks because of his book on the Israel lobby. These people are outliers because most people don’t want to take this pressure and their universities did not fire them, but they *barely* came to their defence and often let them fend for themselves. So this can’t be the reason. Being wealthy is no barrier to being a victim in the status game.

    2. Hindutva as a ruling ideology threatens the US empire. This, I think, is more closer to the mark. I view US liberalism in the 21th century as basically the ruling ideology of whatever benefits the US empire. A hindutva that is not just dominant in india but accepted in the West would be very bad for US imperial objectives. Given that a large fraction of NRIs are closely connected to the top 5% in India, this has important international dimensions. The reason is simple, countries that are fractured and Westernised are easier to manipulate. That is why the US funds various “human rights NGOs” that are merely the frontgroups for US influence operations.

    3. Hindus in general, and Indian-Americans in particular, are not united. I’ve noted this in the past whenever debates were had about potential Indian-American political influence came up. Indian-Americans are quite heteregenous and divided (this is even more true of Asian-Americans). Apparently, even among Hindu-Americans (only about half of Indian-Americans), there are substantial lack of solidarity. Truschke’s Twitter feed is overflowing with woke hindus affirming their support for her. If you cannot maintain internal unity on a few cardinal principles, then you will never affect the outside world. If Hindu-Americans were truly united on this issue, I think Rutgers would ultimately back down. In the end, it’s just a power struggle and she (correctly) perceives that the threat to her bigotry is minimal.

  10. I wonder how the Rutgers administration would have reacted if it was Sikhs protesting against Truschke instead of Hindus. Aurangzeb also beheaded one of the Sikh Gurus, Guru Tegh Bahadur, and Sikhs have more cultural/social capital than Hindus, although less capital than Muslims.

    It would have been nice to see the two communities join up together in this aspect. Although with the farmers’ protests going on, any chance of that happening has flown out the window.

  11. Indians online tend toward troll behavior more than other groups

    Anecdotally I find this to be quite true/convincing as well. Maybe someone can run a sort of interesting study on this on twitter/etc.

    Maybe it’s to do with Scale effects, given the Chinese internet is more inward looking currently. Can’t be English language thing only either. Maybe its a rhetorical culture dynamic. Many societies like to have an argument but not in Absolute equal proportions and with a Statistical scale-multiplier of the sort India has end result being this sort of thing.

    Bengalis even inside India have long had a reputation for argumentative. Chinese Ambassadors barely can speak English fluently, maybe its a consequence of their early language learning but even young Chinese who are fluent in English aren’t nearly as adept at the rhetorical ferocity as even many a casual Indian on the same topic often is on twitter at least.

    Interesting social science data project this could be. Who are the most trollish societies/groups. Even the title itself is trollish/provocative and drama inducing, i.e. it will get clicks that’s for sure.

  12. It is quite disappointing that Indian-Americans are spending their surplus capital in this way. This is not very different than Pakistan spending their diplomatic and political capital on the ‘Kashmir is oppressed’ trope and making themselves useful idiots for China etc.

    One had hoped that Indian-Americans would work towards increasing access to America’s markets to Indians beyond high-achieving IITians. As an example, Indian farmers are still denied access to America’s food markets, imagine the impact on their incomes if they could sell their work to Americans.

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