Rutgers University backs controversial historian Audrey Truschke

New Brunswick: Days after a group of students initiated a petition asking Rutgers University in Newark to take strong action against controversial historian and Professor Audrey Truschke for demonizing Hinduism, the institution has issued a statement expressing support for Audrey Trucshke, who teaches South Asian history there.

“Rutgers emphatically supports Professor Truschke’s academic freedom in pursuing her scholarship, abhors the vile messages and threats that are being directed at her, and calls for an immediate end to them. Scholarship is sometimes controversial, perhaps especially when it is at the interface of history and religion, but the freedom to pursue such scholarship, as Professor Truschke does rigorously, is at the heart of the academic enterprise,” the university said in a statement.

It said, “Just as strongly, Rutgers empathetically affirms its support for all member of the Hindu community to study and live in an environment in which they not only feel safe but also fully supported in their religious identity.” 

The university concluded, “Toward these ends, we are initiating dialogues to understand the sentiments of our Hindu community and create a context that honors our complexity, while allowing us to do the difficult work of constructive and healthy engagement among our diverse community.” Following the support from her own Institute, Audrey Truschke thanked the university administration for backing ‘academic freedom.’

The petition was shared on Twitter by the ‘Hindu on Campus’ group which was reportedly signed by more than 5000 people. The group had also written an open letter to the varsity expressing concerns over the views expressed by the professor on Twitter.  

The petition accuses Truschke of portraying all Hindus as “lustful and sex obsessed” and ‘cow piss drinkers.’ 

The group pointed out that Audrey Truschke tried to trivialize and downplay the Hindu genocide, committed by the Mughal king Aurangzeb. She had claimed that “such numbers are often exaggerated as there was really no way of knowing how many people existed in India at that time; and that people of that time made up numbers!”

The petition emphasized, “Prof. Truschke, who claims to be a responsible historian conveniently decided to whitewash such horrific statistics. In other instances, Prof. Truschke has defended the Mughal King by saying that he protected more Hindu temples than he destroyed and that he increased Hindu participation at the elite levels of the Mughal state.”

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