Today in Hinduphobia March 18, 2021: “We have every confidence in Dr. Truschke’s respect for Hindus and Hinduism”
An Open Letter in Response to “Letter in Support of Professor Audrey Truschke”
I write to question your claims professing “confidence in Dr. Truschke’s respect for Hindus and Hinduism and its compatibility with a critique of Hindu Nationalism as a social and political enterprise.”
One. How does Dr. Trushke’s tweet denigrating a beloved Hindu deity like Lord Rama as a “misogynistic pig” (and, equally recklessly for a scholar of Sanskrit, misrepresenting her own words as those of Goddess Sita’s from the Ramayana) embody this “respect for Hindus and Hinduism”?
If a colleague’s act of comparing a Hindu god to a pig does not make you hesitate before you profess your confidence in her respect for Hinduism, should you not consider the possibility that you too may have lost the ability to discern between respect and hate when it comes to Hinduism? Is it not possible that your definition of “respect” when it comes to Hindus is just virulent iconoclasm, normalized Hinduphobia, as it were?
Two. You say, I mean, “insist” that a “critical examination of Hindutva is not … the same thing as Hinduphobia,” and that “students can be safe and supported in their identities and intellectually challenged at the same time.”
Your mention of student safety (“in their identities”) is touching. Have you, or Prof. Truschke, offered a word of concern so far specifically for the hate that Hindu students have said they have been receiving?
I see Hindu students at Rutgers taking a principled position in condemning any hateful messages their professor may have received while maintaining their right to question some of her actions and positions about Hindu history. But why do the reports of student bullying by Hinduphobic community members, even faculty members, as in the case of a recent incident that caused a young Hindu woman to flee from her college in England, not evoke a drop of concern from you?
Could this deafness to Hindu student suffering be a result perhaps of your lack of engagement in a scholarly manner with the idea of Hinduphobia in your work thus far?
How credible do you expect your statement of support to appear to your students and colleagues and the wider Hindu community if you presume the expertise to distinguish between Hinduphobia and a “critical examination of Hindutva” without having devoted the slightest empathy in your work for Hindus or Hinduism in the face of what we have been describing for over one hundred years as Hinduphobia?
Do you have a theory perhaps that you could share on how a tweet calling Lord Rama a “misogynistic pig” constitutes what you might call a “critique of Hindu Nationalism”?
I welcome your participation in a dialogue on these questions.
University of San Francisco
(You will forgive my being a solitary signatory for now; it is my experience that most of your critics in the academy are either too scared by your numbers or, alternately, too tantalized by the prospect of writing welcome letters to Pradhan Mantri Modiji as their preferred way of giving “befitting reply” to you.)