New York: Hindu American Foundation (HAF), an Indian American advocacy group with chapters across the United States, is continuing to lead the campaign against the virtual conference titled Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH) on September 10–12 by sending letters to universities that have been listed as sponsors.
The petition to university and college authorities raises concerns over Hinduphobia. “The DGH organizers trade on the prestige of your institution’s name to host, not an academic conference, but a partisan event related to politics in India. The event platforms activists with extensive histories of amplifying Hinduphobic discourse even while denying the existence of Hinduphobia,” the petition states.
Meanwhile, Indian American state senator from Ohio, Niraj Antani, has thanked HAF for leading the charge against this bigotry. In a statement he has himself strongly condemned the conference as anti-Hindu.
HAF’s executive director, Suhag Shukla told The Times of India that while thy are not asking that the event be cancelled or that scholar-activists from the institutions not be allowed to participate; but institutionally, there was a duty to encourage a diversity of viewpoints alongside academic freedom and free speech.
“We need to be sure that Hindu students, staff, and faculty at each of these institutions are supported through all of this. The recent example of Rashmi Samant, a student from India in the UK, being stripped of her position as the student union president at Oxford University is an overt example of the harm this kind of political activism promulgated by scholar-activists can result in,” Shukla said.
According to a statement by HAF, the event organizers of the conference had, due to public outcry and several direct requests from universities removed the display of logos and replaced it with a list of virtually the same universities with a disclaimer that it was specific departments and centers which were contributing to or sponsoring the event. The actual names of the department or centers, however, were not included, Shukla pointed out.
The initial effort by HAF to send emails to university presidents delivered slightly more than 928,000 emails in the span of 48 hours.
Four universities responded to HAF’s campaign and confirmed their name and logo was used in an unauthorized manner and that event organizers were requested to remove the logos. These include Princeton, Boston College, Dalhousie University, and the University of Massachusetts.
“We urge universities to take this entire episode seriously and understand that their faculty irresponsibly and falsely labelling tens of thousands of people exercising their own right to free speech and assembly as “fascists” and “supremacists” is endangering an ethno-religious minority in the US,” Shukla said.
Audrey Truschke, a professor of history at Rutgers Newark, has promoted the conference. Truschke and many of the speakers who are activists and Marxists not academics or scholars of Hinduism, have been on record for spewing venom against Hinduism and racism against Hindus.