Academic freedom, Hinduism, and the end of the age

Under fire from Hindu nationalist groups, U.S.-based scholars of South Asia worry about academic freedom:

We are at a tipping point,” said Rohit Chopra, one of the conference organizers and a professor of communication at Santa Clara University. He said the issue went beyond the conference. “It’s about the principles of freedom of expression, academic freedom and of a university being a space where people can speak for the most vulnerable.”

The online conference, Dismantling Global Hindutva, included panels on the hierarchical caste system, Islamophobia and differences between Hinduism the religion and Hindutva the majoritarian ideology. The event was co-sponsored by departments of more than 40 American universities, including Harvard and Columbia.

The whole piece is a mishmash. First, let’s stipulate that many Hindu activists are unsophisticated, illiberal, and nasty pieces of work. But someone like Suhag Sukhkla is none of those things. So the article focuses more on the former than the latter because the former is sensationalistic. Yet, many of the reported threats are credible to me because I myself have received various forms of these invectives from 15-year-old masturbaters in India on Twitter (though a little surprised adults behave like this too). But beneath the bluster and thuggishness, there’s a legitimate grievance. Imagine an academic conference on Islam that spotlighted its hierarchical gender system, religious dominionism, and the differences between Islam as a culture and Islam as a religion. Such a conference wouldn’t happen because academics would fear Muslim outrage and violence, and, they see Muslims as subalterns and marginal, and so above criticism.

The first issue illustrates why many Indians and Hindus are behaving like this: they’ve seen the heckler’s veto work on weak-spined academics before. They’ve seen it work for Muslims, and they’ve seen it work for left-wing activists. When Charles Murray was physically attacked at Middlebury it got results. Murray really can’t speak in public anymore at such venues because the cost of security would be prohibitive. The second issue is that academics don’t really believe in freedom of expression anymore, they believe in critiquing the powerful. They’re activists. Ideologues. What the Hindus are doing is turning the master’s tools against the master when they leverage identity politics and their status as people of color. The academics, who don’t really believe in freedom of expression, respond with most gusto when they try and smear Hindus by connecting them with Nazism and argue for their hegemonic status vis-a-vis Muslims in the subcontinent. It’s all who/whom here.

I believe in dispassionate analysis and Epoche. Many Hindu activists and believers are wrong on many things. And I tell them so when I think this. But I don’t do this because I want to “deconstruct Hinduism.” I don’t really care that much about Hinduism, or Islam, or any religion. I want to know what’s true. When humanities scholars gave up on the truth, they gave up on the high ground from which they could defend their viewpoints as part of free speech. This is the world they created. You told people that truth is subordinate is power. Your enemies now seek power to force you to speak their truth.

Pew Survey on India (religion, etc.)

The Pew Survey on India is long. Here are my main impressions/surprises:

– The strong emphasis on Hindi in the Gangetic plain is pretty striking (“Central”)

– The stuff about mass conversions to Christianity in South India seems overdone. I understand people can/will lie on Census due to reservations, but this seems less plausible for a pollster. That being said, a disproportionate number of conversions are in the South

– South India is less religious, less nationalistic, etc. This seems to apply across religions (that is, Muslims in the South are less focused on religion just like Hindus in the South are)

– Opposition to “inter-caste” marriage is very strong. And, it is strong among non-Hindu groups too

– All Indians seem rather nationalistic

Indian American survey (outmarriage rate)

The sex-ratio skews male outmarriage for immigrants but balances out for native-born Indian Americans. The 30% rate is pretty low from what I expected. Also, surprised that 40% of spouses of Indian Americans were Indians born in India, but I wonder what percentage of these are 1.5 generation (born abroad, raised in the USA).

Yoga: do your thing my brownz

Sometimes I can’t help it, I’m going to do it. So here it goes, Yoga Teacher Jessamyn Stanley Believes White Supremacy Has Polluted Yoga – and It’s Time to Talk About It:

Jessamyn Stanley needs you to know what yoga is really about – and it’s not the poses.

In her new book Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance, the yoga instructor and body activist shares reflective personal essays that touch upon everything from racism to the cultural appropriation of American yoga, from consumerism to cannabis.

The book explores the existence of white supremacy and cultural appropriation in American yoga. “I would venture to say that everything in our collective society is rooted in white supremacy. I am sure there are many people who would disagree with that, and honestly I don’t care because I believe that and I know it’s the case,” she says.


“The appropriation comes from practitioners who are not South Asian looking at South Asian teachers and saying, ‘I need to do exactly what they’re doing. I need to practice yoga exactly how they’re practicing it.’ Yoga as a concept exists in so many cultures. It’s literally the basis of so many different things: the idea of acceptance and the yolking together of the light and the dark. But these teachers are just saying, ‘Practice yoga.’ They’re not saying, ‘Pretend to be Indian.’ They’re not saying, ‘Steal someone else’s ethnic identity.’ They’re saying, ‘Practice the balancing of truth and light within yourself.’ “

Two words: Kali Yuga. This whole timeline is cursed. It’s absurd. It’s perverted.

I’m not Hindu, so I don’t “believe” in yoga in a spiritual sense, though I have seen its efficacy is a form of exercise firsthand.  But the way it is…yoked, to the most absurd and bizarre social justice movements today is just a wonder to behold.

Stolen oppression

‘The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind’ – A psychiatrist lecturing at Yale’s Child Study Center spoke about ‘unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way’.

The psychiatrist in question is Aruna Khilanani. Her parents are doctors. She was educated in private schools. But, she talks about her experience with discrimination. You know, stuff like not being supported as much in her medical residency as a blonde peer.

We have a problem. Who has the standing to point out the hypocrisy and manipulation of these people? I’m frankly sick of it. Any brown person in the United States does experience some racism. But those of us with education and resources are not really underprivileged in any way. The vast majority of white Americans, whose life expectancy is decreasing, have it worse off than us. That’s just a fact.

“too many Indian names”

This story should be known to all brown people just to make it clear “where we stand” in these United States, The Vaccine Had to Be Used. He Used It. He Was Fired.Ten doses of the Covid-19 vaccine would expire within hours, so a Houston doctor gave it to people with medical conditions, including his wife. What followed was “the lowest moment in my life,” Dr. Hasan Gokal said:

The officials maintained that he had violated protocol and should have returned the remaining doses to the office or thrown them away, the doctor recalled. He also said that one of the officials startled him by questioning the lack of “equity” among those he had vaccinated.

“Are you suggesting that there were too many Indian names in that group?” Dr. Gokal said he asked.

Exactly, he said he was told.

On Jan. 21, about two weeks after the doctor’s termination, a friend called to say that a local reporter had just tweeted about him. At that very moment, one of his three children answered the door to bright lights and a thrust microphone. Shaken, the 16-year-old boy closed the door and said, “Dad, there are people out there with cameras.”

This was how Dr. Gokal learned that he had been charged with stealing vaccine doses.

Harris County’s district attorney, Kim Ogg, had just issued a news release that afternoon with the headline: “Fired Harris County Health Doctor Charged With Stealing Vial Of Covid-19 Vaccine.”

There is a lot of debate and argument on this weblog about Pakistan and India and the like. That’s because more than half the traffic on this site now comes from India. But this began as a Diasporic weblog, and in the Diaspora, especially in the USA, the gap between Pakistanis and Indians is much smaller. Dr. Gokal is viewed as “Indian.”

The second issue I think one might note is that these lawyers, with a passion for racial justice, ended up pinning something that was pretty invidious on this doctor driven by the moral panics of the era. As a conservative brown-skinned person I am on the receiving end of a lot of insults from woke white people. Many of my white friends, who observe the nature and the persistence of the insults, suspect that some of the attacks are probably driven by sublimated racial animus.

Where are we as “Asian Americans” in this country? The ruling elite of this country thinks we have “bad personalities“, all the better to exclude us from their institutions of power. There has long been a pattern of what are obviously “hate” crimes (mostly for fun and kicks, to be frank) against Asian Americans, in particular older ones, in urban areas. The perpetrators of these crimes are usually not white, and so the media and the cultural elite have not focused much energy on them. And now they are trying to blame COVID-19 and the Trump administration.

To brown Americans: we are not victims. Never forget. But, we are also outsiders. Never forget.

Indian Americans are exceptional; no shit sherlock

The Atlantic has a piece up, The Truth Behind Indian American Exceptionalism Many of us are unaware of the special circumstances that eased our entry into American life—and of the bonds, we share with other nonwhite groups. I’m really curious what The Atlantic paid for this piece because it’s a husk of prose that just mixes and matches cliches and random facts into the sausage casing of a social justice narrative.

The author is “Senior reporter with WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit,” which suggests to me they aren’t very smart because obsessive fixation with “social justice” indicates you are stupid. Also, they state that “I don’t recall hearing the name Dalip Singh Saund until I was in my 30s.” If you don’t know that name, and you are Indian American, you are probably not very smart or intellectually curious. I knew Singh’s name when I was sixteen as I was interested in political history.

Ancient German gotras

The Bell Beakers are an interesting “culture.” A Bronze Age European people defined by their beakers, their origins seem to be amongst non-Indo-Europeans in Southwest Europe. But, at some point, the motifs spread to Indo-Europeans in Central Europe, an offshoot of the Corded Ware people who had admixed further with Neolithic farmers. These Indo-Europeans are the ones who brought the Bell Beaker Culture to the British Isles. We know this because of ancient DNA.

But what was the Beaker Culture right beside their material culture? Again, ancient DNA tells us, and Indians, in particular, may find the results interesting.

Kinship and social organization in Copper Age Europe. A cross-disciplinary analysis of archaeology, DNA, isotopes, and anthropology from two Bell Beaker cemeteries:

We present a high-resolution cross-disciplinary analysis of kinship structure and social institutions in two Late Copper Age Bell Beaker culture cemeteries of South Germany containing 24 and 18 burials, of which 34 provided genetic information. By combining archaeological, anthropological, genetic and isotopic evidence we are able to document the internal kinship and residency structure of the cemeteries and the socially organizing principles of these local communities. The buried individuals represent four to six generations of two family groups, one nuclear family at the Alburg cemetery, and one seemingly more extended at Irlbach. While likely monogamous, they practiced exogamy, as six out of eight non-locals are women. Maternal genetic diversity is high with 23 different mitochondrial haplotypes from 34 individuals, whereas all males belong to one single Y-chromosome haplogroup without any detectable contribution from Y-chromosomes typical of the farmers who had been the sole inhabitants of the region hundreds of years before. This provides evidence for the society being patrilocal, perhaps as a way of protecting property among the male line, while in-marriage from many different places secured social and political networks and prevented inbreeding. We also find evidence that the communities practiced selection for which of their children (aged 0–14 years) received a proper burial, as buried juveniles were in all but one case boys, suggesting the priority of young males in the cemeteries. This is plausibly linked to the exchange of foster children as part of an expansionist kinship system which is well attested from later Indo-European-speaking cultural groups.

Gotras and exogamy. Sound familiar?

Noakhali rape victim video

Bangladesh: Protests Erupt Over Rape Case:

Protests in Bangladesh erupted this week after a video of a group of men attacking, stripping, and sexually assaulting a woman went viral, Human Rights Watch said today. Protesters called for the resignation of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal over the government’s failure to address an alarming rise in sexual violence against women and girls.

Noakhali Gang Rape Victim: Delwar raped her several times before:

Our Noakhali correspondent’s personal office is in a computer market in Maizdee Old Bus Stand area. Over the last two days he has witnessed how the video spread over the whole market. It was played and replayed in public on computer screens as everyone crowded to perceive first-hand the horror inflicted on the woman.

“Bhaiya, do you have the video? I had it but it got deleted… I wanted to show it to someone,” said a computer businessman, approaching our correspondent, who declined to entertain the request.

Snippets of conversation overheard on the street also attest to how widespread the video has become. Two elderly men out on their evening stroll complained to each other, “The video keeps popping up on my mobile phone. This is so awkward, especially in front of the wife and kids…”

So perhaps a naive question: why are people sharing this video??? Every few years I hear about a gang-rape video coming out of MENA and South Asia, spreading virally. Why do people want to see this? It’s like sharing a video of a murder..