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News :: Race
Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
12 Dec 2005
Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
Harvard Indologist's campaign to have his Aryan theories taught in California schools ends in fiasco.

N.S. Rajaram

In what could prove to be a major embarrassment to Harvard niversity, California educational authorities rejected the recommendations made by the Harvard Indologist Michael Witzel. The commission of experts
advising the California Board of Education rebuffed his efforts to have his theories on Aryans and the Aryan invasion included in the school curriculum on India and Hinduism.

The German-born Michael Witzel is known in India for his media campaigns in favor of the discredited Aryan invasion (which he now calls migration) and his crusade against scholars who oppose his theories claiming
Indian civilization to be seeded by an "Aryan invasion". Mr. Witzel, a linguist, not a historian or archaeologist is better known for his publicity campaigns than any contribution to Sanskrit literature or history.

Harvard greatly cherishes its liberal tradition. This has taken a beating in recent months following Harvard President Dr. Lawrence Summers's comments suggesting that women scientists are less industrious and dedicated than their male counterparts. Mr. Witzel's high profile propaganda campaign peddling his Aryan theories in the ethnically sensitive California schools is unlikely to add luster to Harvard's liberal image.

Theories based on the so-called Aryan race were widely popular in nineteenth century Europe leading to Nazism and Hitler. Because of this association, Western scholars studiously avoid any reference to Aryans and
Nazi era theories associated with race. But Mr. Witzel, who seems to have imbibed these ideas while growing up in his native Germany in the 1940s and the 50s has emerged as the leader of a small group of Western academics who aggressively propagate theories based on them.

What made Mr. Witzel jump into California school politics that led to this fiasco is a matter of conjecture; but this much is known. California, home to America's largest and ethnically most diverse school system has a significant number of students of Indian origin. Their parents felt that the California school curriculum contained descriptions of India and Indian religions, especially of Hinduism and Sikhism that were
inaccurate and insensitive.

To address their concern, the California Board of Education appointed a Commission to revise the curriculum by removing offending passages and obsolete material. The Commission submitted the changes to the California Board in early November. One of the sections that came under the scanner was the Aryan invasion theory, dear to Mr. Witzel's heart.

It was at this point that Mr. Witzel jumped into the fray as the head a panel of 'International experts' on India and Hinduism. In a letter written on the imposing official Harvard letterhead, Mr. Witzel charged that
the recommended changes were motivated by 'Hindutva' forces and would "lead without fail to an international educational scandal if they are accepted by the California's State Board of Education."

The panel met with some initial success, with the California Board and its appointed Commission taking Mr. Witzel's charges in good faith. But soon things began to go wrong. Some academics on the Commission saw that arrayed behind Mr. Witzel's Harvard professor façade-and Harvard stationery-were some questionable individuals and outfits with political agendas. These included self-appointed 'Indologists' like Steve Farmer, Marxist historian
Romila Thapar, Islamic groups and even the Communist Party of India, whose magazine Frontline has carried their articles.

The Commission members seem also to have been put off by Mr. Witzel's condescending attitude and the shoddy manner in which his panel made its recommendation, often without reading what the Commission had to say. They saw it is as little more than a gratuitous attempt to peddle their own prejudices in the guise of 'scholarly consensus.'

Dr. Metzenberg, a California biologist, minced no words when he rejected Mr. Witzel's claims with pointed reference to his Aryan theories: "I've read the DNA research and there was no Aryan migration. I believe the hard evidence of DNA more than I believe historians." He also described Mr. Witzel's portrayal of Hinduism as 'insensitive' and something that Hindus themselves would be unable to recognize.

In the end the California Board of Education threw out almost all of Mr. Witzel's recommendations except for some cosmetic changes to save his face.This fiasco is likely to hurt not only Mr. Witzel's dwindling credibility
but also Harvard's liberal image.

Behind this surreal political drama is the harsh truth that Western Indology today is a dying discipline. The so-called Sanskrit Department where Mr. Witzel teaches is having difficulty attracting students. The quality is so
pathetic that most of his graduate students would have difficulty passing a Sanskrit course in an Indian high school. Mr. Witzel often teaches summer courses in Sanskrit to visiting Japanese students who learn little more than the Sanskrit alphabet.

Indology took root and flourished in the West under the patronage of German nationalists and British colonial authorities. The BBC, in a recent program admitted as much. Even the position Mr. Witzel holds at Harvard, the Prince of Wales Professor of Sanskrit, is a colonial anachronism. The large and affluent Indian population in the West has no use for this 'Indology.' Hence the campaign to impose it on their unwitting children.

The truth of the matter is that the brand of Indology that Mr. Witzel and his group represent has outlived its purpose and is on its way to extinction. Desperate campaigns of the kind that led to the recent fiasco
are unlikely to reverse it.

______________________________________

ANNEXURE ON THE ARYANS: SCIENCE, HISTORY AND POLITICS

By

Dr. N.S. Rajaram

Background

The recent controversy surrounding the curriculum revision in California schools, particularly with regard to Harvard linguist Michael Witzel's attempts to influence the curriculum has created the need for a proper understanding of the issues involved. The present document summarizes different aspects of the issue- the latest scientific evidence and the historical position.

The author of this report is not associated with any group or institution. He is a former U.S. academic with more than twenty years experience as a faculty member and administrator in Indiana, Ohio and Texas. He is currently an independent researcher and author on the ancient world including India.

Scientific evidence

Before we go into the history and the politics of the controversy that let to Mr. Witzel insist on his 'Aryan' version of the history being included in the California school curriculum, it is useful to have an idea of what science has to say about Aryans and the Aryan invasion (or migration). It essentially boils down to the following two questions:

1. Was the civilization of India, the Vedic civilization in particular, the result of an 'Aryan invasion' (or migration) in secondmillennium B.C.?

2. Is there such a human group identifiable as 'Aryan'?

The answer to both these questions is an emphatic NO.

Taking up the first question, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Emeritus Professor at Stanford University and widely regarded as the world's foremost population geneticist, notes that the people of India, whatever their
present ethnic identity, are largely of indigenous origin, going back to the Pleistocene, or the last Ice Age. The exact words used by Cavalli-Sforza and his colleagues in a recent paper are:

Indian tribal and caste populations derive largely from the same genetic heritage of Pleistocene southern and western Asians and have receivedlimited gene flow from external regions since the Holocene.

In non-technical language, this means their current genetic heritage goes back to the Ice Age (Pleistocene), or more than 50,000 years. Further, they have received limited external gene flow since the Holocene meaning they are not the result of any major invasion or migration since the Ice Age ended more than 10,000 years ago.

This is what Dr. Metzenberg, who served on the Commission appointed by the California's State Board of education, was referring to when he said: "I've read the DNA research and there was no Aryan migration. I believe the hard evidence of DNA more than I believe historians."

Similar views have been expressed by many others like the geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer of Green's College at Oxford University. This, and not Mr.Witzel 's Aryan theories, represents the scientific consensus today.

In the face of this overwhelming evidence, it is presumptuous to say the least for Mr. Witzel or anyone else to claim that the exclusion of his favorite Aryan theories would "lead without fail to an international educational scandal if they are accepted by the California's State Board of Education."

Next, is there an Aryan race, or, does such a thing as race exist at all? Again, the answer of science is a resounding NO. Here is what Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great biologists of the twentieth century had to say as
far back as 1939:

In England and America the phrase 'Aryan race' has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature.. In Germany, the idea of the
'Aryan race' received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions.

In other words, the whole idea of 'Aryan' is a myth. The passage cited above sheds light on two factors (shown in italics) that have kept this discredited and indefensible idea alive, especially in academia: (1) political and propagandist interests; and (2) special conditions. This is what is examined next.


The Aryan myth fostered in 'special conditions'

Having looked at the so-called Aryan problem from the scientific angle, we may next take a brief look at the 'special conditions' (as Huxley called it) that led to this scholarly pathology being foisted as a central dogma of ancient historiography. These conditions grew out of nineteenth and twentieth century political currents arising out of German nationalism and British imperial needs.

The notion that Indians are one branch of a common stock of people who lived originally in Central Asia or in the Eurasian steppes arose in the late eighteenth century. It began as a linguistic theory to account for similarities between Sanskrit and classical European languages like Greek and Latin. From this modest beginning it soon acquired a life of its own when scholars, especially in Germany, concluded that Europeans and ancient
Indians were two branches of a people they called Aryans and later as Indo-Europeans. A whole new academic discipline called Indo-European studies came into existence whose very survival is now at stake following scientific discoveries.

The Aryan theory, which began life as a linguistic theory soon acquired a biological form. Scholars, mostly linguists, began to talk about not just Aryan languages, but also an Aryan race. Since Indology had its greatest flowering in nineteenth century Germany, it is not surprising that racial ideas that shaped German nationalism should have found their way into scholarly discourse on India. The Indo-European hypothesis and its offshoot
of the Aryan invasion (or migration) theory came to dominate this discourse for over a century.

It is important to recognize that the people who created this theory were, and are today, linguists (like Michael Witzel), not biologists. We have already seen that scientists, including German scientists, have no
use for it. Its perpetuation then and its survival today is the result of 'special conditions.'

These 'special conditions' were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial needs in India. While both Germany and Britain took to the idea of the Aryan race, its fate in the two countries was somewhat different. Its perversion in Germany leading eventually to Nazism and its horrors is too well known to be repeated here. The British, however, put it to more creative use for imperial purposes, especially as a tool in making their rule acceptable to Indians. A recent BBC report admitted as much (October 6, 2005):

It gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier.

That is to say, the British presented themselves as a 'new and improved brand of Aryans' who were only completing the work left undone by their ancestors in the hoary past. This is how the British Prime Minister
Stanley Baldwin put it in the House of Commons in 1929:

Now, after ages, .the two branches of the great Aryan ancestry have again been brought together by Providence. By establishing British rule in India, God said to the British, "I have brought you and the Indians together after a long separation, .it is your duty to raise them to their own level as quickly as possible .brothers as you are."

After this, nothing needs to be said. Today it is sustained by other 'special conditions', like vested interests in the survival of Indo-European studies in Western academia. It is only a matter of time before this vestige of colonial politics disappears from the scene making way for a more enlightened approach to the study of ancient India.

Mr. Witzel's campaign to have his Aryan theories made part of the California school curriculum is simply a last ditch effort to keep alive his academic discipline from sinking into oblivion under the impact of science.

The 'scholarship' that is being put forward in its cause is little more than "political and propagandist literature" (as Huxley put it) dressed up in academic jargon.

In drawing lessons from this distasteful episode, it is necessary to go beyond the immediate causes and effects of Mr. Witzel's campaign by placing it in the proper moral and ethical context. When we do
so, one fact stands out above all: Mr. Witzel's reckless disregard for the sensitivities of young minds in his effort to use them to serve his personal interests. Can there be education without human feeling?

The California State Board of Education has done the right thing in not giving in to the lobbying pressure from Mr. Witzel and his group.
_______________

Dr. N.S Rajaram, formerly a U.S. academic, is the author of several books on ancient history. He is currently working on Mekong to Indus: A natural history of the Vedic Age.

This work is in the public domain
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Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
12 Dec 2005
You have oversimplified Prof. Witzel's position. Furthermore you have completely ignored his claim that Hindu-tva political forces may be instigating some of this so-called reform. The Hindu-tva movements, which often put forward grandiose and bigoted propaganda, have instigated violence, murder, and oppression, for thousands of people. There needs to be a balancing force. Much of this so-called Hindu-tva movement wants to keep the Caste System, but they also are interested in saying that Hinduism is some how the pure Indian civilization. Witzel is not presenting the same Invasion theory of the 19th century and you should be ashamed for implying that he is. He has simply proven that the religious myths about the Vedas coming forth from mind of Vyasa fully formed are hardly teneable in their present form. He has traced the liguistic patterns of the most ancient Sanskrit Literature and identified its roots in Indo-Iranian.
The word Arayan was used by a group of people to describe themselves, in their own literature. You can say that they do not constitute a "race" but in so doing you have done nothing to prove that they did not have a culture.
You have insinuated that Witzel is a racist and I hereby challenge that statement. I also point out that by your own admission the Califonia Board of Education did not reject all of Dr. Witzel's recommendations. You have done nothing to actually refute any of his points. In fact, you don't even seem to know what they actually are. I can not help but wonder what your motivations are. (Hindutva?)
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
13 Dec 2005
"Aryans don't exist."

That is a very convenient belief considering the currect desire of the Young Socialists in the White House to eradicate Iran.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
13 Dec 2005
current^
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
14 Dec 2005
Farmer and Witzel are indeed Racists and a political axe to grind. Vishnu Dasa, please read...

<a href="http://tinyurl.com/c3f4b";>link a</a>

<a href="http://tinyurl.com/8lrq3>;link b</a> <a href="http://tinyurl.com/b72oy>;link c</a>
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
14 Dec 2005
None of your links prove Witzel is a racist.
Here is the sum and substance of the links you provided in their own words, "How can it ever be appropriate for religion to be taught by those who sneer at the deepest items of faith of that religion’s believers?"
This rhetorical question begs the reader to accept that in order for any scholar to be qualified to investigate Hinduism or Indian history they must first accept the dogma of your religion.
I spoke with another member of Harvard's Faculty today, Prof. van der Kuijp, who is a scholar of Tibet and Buddhism. He reasserted the fact that Hindutva movements, which have roots and ties to the racist political organizations of India, are trying to undermine the California School systems presentation of the Archeological record. This Hindutva is of the same substance as Creationism and its latest manifestation Intelligent Design.
Witzel may be opinionated, he may even be wrong about some things, but your portrayal of him and the generalizations you have made about his work are simply fallacious.
As a Hindu I want the world to know that your backward views do not reflect everyone’s opinion.
Perhaps, a more sympathetic and informed view of Hinduism would benefit children’s textbooks, but we should not tolerate a whitewashing of fact. Witzel has dedicated his life to the study of Sanskrit. He has spent years in India and Nepal, living with ordinary persons there. His findings may not be gel entirely with the history put forth by the Mahabharata, as religious fundamentalists understand it, but your inconvenience does not constitute injury.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
15 Dec 2005
From Harvard's Crimson http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=500579

--- quote 1 --- <b>At least four graduate students (out of approximately 25) say they may leave the department early, saying they are wasting some $30,000 on a "disgusting" education ....</b> -- end quote 1 ----

-- quote 2 -- <b>the students say there is no accredited course in the subject because, according to the minutes, the only pertinent class was designated by the Department's former chair (The great Prof Witzel) as a "hobby" and unaccreditable.

That department chair, Wales Professor of Sanskrit Michael E. J. Witzel, has assailed those minutes as "misrepresentations, half-truths, insinuations, accusations and blatant untruths that cannot be left unanswered." Witzel's lawyer said </b> --- end quote 2 ----
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
15 Dec 2005
Dr Witzel writes ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/ message number 2133): -- QUOTE -- "Many short mantras (the later biija mantras) like oM have humble origins the Veda. Him (hiM) is used in the Veda to call your goat .. and your wife." Cheers, Michael(Witzel)" -- END QUOTE -- Dr Steve Farmer replies ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/ message number 2134): -- QUOTE ---- "What if you want to call your goat and your wife _simultaneously_, Michael? :^) " -- END QUOTE ---- Dr. Farmer adds: replies ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/ message number 2164): -- QUOTE -- "I will try it on my girlfriend tonight." Steve -- END QUOTE -- Anyone know if Steve's girlfriend's still around? Witzel bhakt "Vishnu" who's been holding Witzel's brief for long here could try bleating 'OM' 'OM' around the Harvard campus and let us know of the response he gets.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
15 Dec 2005
You challenge the statement that Witzel is racist, and in the same breath "poison the well" by calling others who have opposite view as bigoted, hindutva etc, specifically "The Hindu-tva movements, which often put forward grandiose and bigoted propaganda, have instigated violence, murder, and oppression, for thousands of people". This line actually looks straight out of "Manifesto", then again, to each unto his own. :)

Your pre-emptive attacks and ad-hominem arguments do not really help Witzel's case (As he is also using the same logic)

Why should one accept Witzel's claim(s), which you have accepted at face value?

Just curious, you say "As a Hindu I want the world to know that your backward views do not reflect everyone’s opinion." Then you also say "qualified to investigate Hinduism or Indian history they must first accept the dogma of "your" religion." What are you then? What is your interest in this issue?
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
15 Dec 2005
You challenge the statement that Witzel is racist, and in the same breath "poison the well" by calling others who have opposite view as bigoted, hindutva etc, specifically "The Hindu-tva movements, which often put forward grandiose and bigoted propaganda, have instigated violence, murder, and oppression, for thousands of people". This line actually looks straight out of "Manifesto", then again, to each unto his own. :)

Your pre-emptive attacks and ad-hominem arguments do not really help Witzel's case (As he is also using the same logic)

Why should one accept Witzel's claim(s), which you have accepted at face value?

Just curious, you say "As a Hindu I want the world to know that your backward views do not reflect everyone’s opinion." Then you also say "qualified to investigate Hinduism or Indian history they must first accept the dogma of "your" religion." What are you then? What is your interest in this issue?
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
15 Dec 2005
I have not accepted all of Witzel's claims at face value. As I have already said, he is opinionated and there may be some problems in his work, as there may be some flaw in anyone's work. However, I have challenged the general assumptions put forth in this article, that Witzel is a racist and that all his scholarly work is a sham. Most of the supporting evidence that has been given in support of this article (the links you have provided etc.) has been quite heavy on rhetoric and light on specifics.

Here is a little background on the Hindutva and its ties to the US rightwing. http://www.zmag.org/southasia/stopfundinghate/part2.html
Witzel has been controversial for years. A lot of pressure has been put on him to soften his academic findings. Usually this comes from religious ideologues with a clear agenda.

Although I know little about Mr. N.S. Rajaram, I can say that his attempt to discredit Witzel's findings, which are based on linguistics, by introducing genetics, is a contrived attempt to dodge the real claims Witzel and his colleagues present.
The issue isn't about race. Its about the movement of people in South Asia at the Dawn of Civilization. Since before the written word India has been the crossroads of the world; why deny it now?

As I have already said, perhaps a revision of the text books is in order. People in this country are terribly mis-informed about Hinduism.
However, attacking Witzel personally because he doesn't accept a literalist interpretation of Hindu mythology is just fanatical. There are a lot of well respected scholars that support many of his findings.
Most people in America are ignorant about most of these issues. To come here and start calling a person a racist and a disgrace is simply an attempt to enflame the popular imagination and conjure up sympathy without really saying anything constructive.
It is pure posturing. Politics, and nothing more.
Have you even read his articles?

I have.

Do you know him?

I do.
If you want to criticize his work, do it in a dignified manner. If you want the textbooks to say something different; then talk about what you want to change and why. This crass attempt to muddle all the issues just won’t get you very far with people who know anything about what is actually going on. I’m sorry.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
15 Dec 2005
Here is a great article by Arundhati Roy about violence in India. (As with any human situation, there are many people to blame. Please just read the article and let me know what you think.)
http://zmagsite.zmag.org/JulAug2004/roy0804.html

Here is a link to more about Hindutva as a political movement. This is just an expanded version of the link in my previous comment.

http://www.zmag.org/southasia/stopfundinghate/index.html

Are you guys denying that Hindutva beliefs have many aspects similar to the Creationist Christian view here in America?
Are you denying that it has instigated repression and that it is backing some of the push for so-called reform in American textbooks (which is actually just icing on the cake)?
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
15 Dec 2005
"Vishnu" is it your argument that since you know Witzel Witzel can't be wrong. Right? The students who complained against him and to whom he threatened to sue were also Hindus? Please do let the readers of this site know. And did the Harvard staff that yanked his chair - they Hindus too? What about all those authors from various universities who aren't Hindus or Indians but have questioned Witzel's work - they part of some 'Hindu' agenda?

Does anyone who stands up to the peddlers of lie against Hindus are Hindutva or whatever-tatva proponents? What about those kids in California who are born and brought up in US who have clearly spoken against this? They part of some political party too? Check Mona Vijaykar's podcast with interviews with some kids. Since you appear to be challenged in terms of reading, listening to podcast might be helpful.

Arundhothi is the goddess of little things fiction is an authority on violence in India, if anything she's good at fiction. Do you know that she was the author of the article in Outlook where she claimed fetous of a pregnant women was murdered and abused by Hindus in Gujarat 02 but then had to come back with an apology when pointed out that the pregnant woman in question resided 10,000 miles west of Gujarat and was hale and hearty?

Rahul:
This "Vishnu" is part of the FOIL brigade. No doubts about it. Links to a CSHF articles which have been debunked in every internet forum is "Vishnu" proof of Hindus on rampange in America. LOL. Even the original authors and supporters of this creative CSHF report like Mir, S Gera, Biju M, Angana C, Vijay P etc have been tounge tied ever since their 'scholar work' was trashed and their academic credintials questioned.
Our for hire "Vishnu" here seems to be the last hold out.

Obiviously, if this "Vishnu" dosen't find Witzel and Farmers comments racists or bigoted, I hope you tries the same on his fellow Muslims or Christians or Jews. And I hope he comes back to tell us about his experience; that is if he comes back in one piece, I'll wager that the other communties won't be as charitable as "hindutava" crowd.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
15 Dec 2005
You guys are terrible. How can you completely disregard my actual statements and misrepresent me. I said, "I have not accepted all of Witzel's claims at face value . . . he is opinionated and there may be some problems in his work, as there may be some flaw in anyone's work."

You turn that in to, "Vishnu is it your argument that since you know Witzel Witzel can't be wrong. Right?" and ask, "Why should one accept Witzel's claim(s), which you have accepted at face value?"

Have you no shame?

I have consistently said that I think there is room for reform in American perceptions of Indian and Hindu society, but that some of the suggested changes appear to go beyond anything reasonable and call on the textbook writers to present an inaccurate picture of Indian history.

For instance, here is an excerpt from a very balanced article that was written about the California textbook debatec:
"Hindu activists want the statement, 'Men had many more rights than women,' replaced with, 'Men had different duties (dharma) as well as rights than women. Many women were among the sages to whom the Vedas were revealed.'"

C'mon, that is whitewashing sexism. India is one of the worst countries in the world for battered women and you guys want to say its just their duty!!?!?!
Manu describes the different dharmas for men and women and to say so is fine. In fact, there are even feminists today who recognize that there have been some drawbacks to the so-called sexual revolution. Exploitation finds new forms. For example, it is very hard for a woman today to have the luxury of full-time motherhood if she'd like. But let's not pretend that Manu's laws didn't contribute to oppressive patriarchy.
Women have never enjoyed the same respect en masse as men have in the realm of religion, in India. The suggested statement is totally misleading. Historically, women could never perform Vedic sacrifice. And still can't today. With the rise of bhakti traditions things have changed very little. How many female pujaris do you guys know? In fact, women are generally considered on the level of Sudra, the lowest of the four Castes. They had no rights under Manu, except the right to serve their husbands and sons. To pretend otherwise is simply to lie.

Mirabai and even Ammachi do not an egalitarian society make.

You guys have not answered any of my questions, which I posed sincerely. Here a few more:

1) Do you support the Caste system?

2) Do you think the communities who brought these complaints support it?

3) How many of these adults were sure to make sure that their children’s prospective suitors were of the right breed?

4) Are you guys denying that Hindutva beliefs have many aspects similar to the Creationist Christian view here in America?

5) Are you denying that recent manifestations of Hindu Nationalism have instigated repression in India?

6) Are you also denying that some of the people sympathetic to this cause also see as part of their agenda the sanitation of the Hindu image, which has contributed to some of the push for so-called reform in American textbooks?

As I said before, and I say again, there is a need for Americans and Westerners in general to be better informed about Indian culture, but not all of what these reformers want is legitimate.

For all interested readers, here is a well-balanced presentation of the California-Hindu-textbook-debate and its outcome, thus far: (I have chosen this article simply because it is only one returned by the Google News search I performed.)
Hindus and Sikhs Protest Curriculum Changes in Calif. Textbooks

India West, News Report, Viji Sundaram, Dec 02, 2005

Some Hindu and Sikh activists in the U.S. who have been trying in recent months to persuade the California Board of Education to adopt curriculum revisions in textbooks for elementary and middle school students say they are unhappy over the direction their efforts seem to have taken while on the home stretch.

A clutch of academics and historians, who have just recently joined the debate, seems to have neutralized the gains the activists believe they had made. The academics weighed in with their views Nov. 8, which collectively dismiss many of the curriculum changes suggested over the past year by individual Hindus, as well as such organizations as the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Society.

For example, one of the statements Hindu activists want deleted from a social science book is that Aryans were a "part of a larger group of people historians refer to as the Indo-Europeans."

The activists assert Aryans were not a race, but a term for persons of noble intellect. The academics have urged that this statement not be removed.

In that same book, Hindu activists want the statement, "Men had many more rights than women," replaced with, "Men had different duties (dharma) as well as rights than women. Many women were among the sages to whom the Vedas were revealed."

The response from the academics? "Do not change original text."

Writing on behalf of the academics, Michael Witzel, a Sanskrit professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., asserted that the groups proposing the changes have a hidden agenda.

"The proposed revisions are not of a scholarly but of a religious-political nature, and are primarily promoted by Hindutva supporters and non-specialist academics writing about issues far outside their area of expertise," Witzel wrote to CBE president Ruth Green in the letter.

Among the 45 or so signatories to his letter are Stanley Wolpert, professor of history at UCLA, and Romila Thapar, India's well-known historian.

Witzel also said that in the last two years, Indian educators themselves have "soundly repudiated" similar revisions in Indian history textbooks suggested by Hindu groups.

The CBE has included the recommendations by Witzel and other academics who have co-signed his letter, under the heading, "Final Recommendations," which seems to suggest that its vote later this week would more than likely favor the academics.

"I think the (December) meeting is a mere formality," noted Princeton, N.J., resident Rajiv Malhotra, who participated in the push for reforms. "I think the deck is stacked against Hindus," he told India-West.

Even so, supporters and opponents of reforms are planning to show up in large numbers at the Board of Education office in Sacramento Dec. 1 and 2, when the curriculum commission is slated to vote on the suggested changes.

Supporters are hoping to make a last ditch effort to have their voices heard. They say it is crucial that the CBE accepts their suggestions if students are to get a proper perspective of Indian culture and history.

"The social science and history textbooks do not give as generous a portrayal of Indian culture as they do of Islamic, Jewish and Christian cultures," asserted Malhotra, founder of Infinity Foundation, an organization that is trying to give a "fair" portrayal of India in the U.S. "The Board of Education needs to have a standard that should be applied to all religions."

"There's a Euro-centric slant to what's being taught in California classrooms," noted San Francisco Bay Area resident Mona Vijaykar to India-West. "I'm upset that India's contribution to modern civilization is not highlighted, and presented like European civilization is."

Vijaykar runs the "India in Classrooms" program she launched two years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area to set right misconceptions teachers and students have about Indian history and culture.

And Prof. Onkar S. Bindra, who teaches Indian studies at the Renaissance Society, a retirement learning facility at California State University in Sacramento, complained that most of the social science and history books have no mention about the contributions Sikhs have made in their homeland or in their adopted country.

"There are 200,000 Sikhs in California, a significant enough number to deserve mention in California textbooks," Bindra told India-West.

One reason the protests of Hindu and Sikh activists may well be brushed off by the CBE is the fact that there is little sign that these demands have resonated either within the broader Indian American community in California, or the substantial number of humanities experts of Indian descent in U.S. academia.

With several hundred thousand Indian Americans in the state, none of the major community organizations has expressed any support. Witzel's letter, on the other hand, includes signatories like Harvard professor Homi Bhabha, University of Michigan professor Madhav Deshpande, in addition to Thapar, arguably one of the world's most respected experts in ancient Indian history.

Every six years, the CBE meets with textbook publishers for possible revisions.

The books are then sent to all the educational institutions in the 50 counties in the state so educators and parents can offer suggestions.

The CBE began the elaborate revision process about one year ago. Since then, it has been reviewing the suggested changes, including those it received at public hearings it held.

At one of those hearings in November, for nearly five hours the 13-member CBE board heard members of the Hindu and Sikh communities put forth their arguments for changes. Most said they felt slighted by the materials in the textbooks.

Vijaykar told India-West that a social science textbook depicted a Hindu bride as sitting with a white sheet pulled over her head in front of a sacred fire, as if "she was weighed down by the sheet." And brides in India don't wear white, only widows do, she said.

"Hinduism is not treated with the same respect as Christianity or Judaism," Dr. Mihir Meghani, president of the Hindu American Foundation, told the board. Unlike in those faiths, "the sacred scriptures of Hinduism are referred to as legends or myths."

Bindra, among other Sikh speakers that day, told the board that the existing textbooks will not help elementary and middle school students in identifying with and respecting the Sikh culture, something that is so important, especially after 9/11.

"Students need to know that almost everyone who wears turbans in America are Sikhs from Punjab in India, and they have nothing to do with the Taliban or Osama bin Laden," he said.

Among the Hindu groups trying to push for curriculum changes are the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation.

Trying to get more Hindus involved in what it called the "Curriculum Reform Initiative," the Vedic Foundation cited a passage in one of the existing textbooks that spoke of Hanuman in a frivolous manner. The foundation pointed out that "teachings such as these promote the rejection of a valuable spiritual and cultural tradition by Hindu youth."

But the issue has also pitted one group of Indian Americans against some others. Leftist and political activist Angana Chatterji, who teaches at the San Francisco-based California Institute of Integral Studies, told India-West that like Witzel and his supporters, she believes that those pushing for curriculum changes in the history books are "Hindu nationalists," and the changes they are proposing are "not ethical."

For example, she said, those pushing for reforms want India to be portrayed as a former "Hindu state."

"I agree some parts of the curriculum require re-representation," Chatterji said, but quickly noted: "History isn't about how good we feel about ourselves. There's a difference between history and nationalism."

Former deputy superintendent of the San Mateo and Foster City school districts Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who once served on a math textbook evaluation committee, felt that some of the demands of the Hindu organizations were a stretch -- asking that the history textbooks say that Ram Rajya lasted for 1.8 million years, for one.

"A scientific mind is not going to accept that," Prasad said, pointing out, however, that depicting brides in the manner described by Vijaykar needs to be corrected.

He defended the CBE's curriculum revision modus operandi as "fair and just."

"They are not prejudiced people," Prasad told India-West, noting that CBE members take their responsibilities very seriously because "they realize that if they screw up in California, the rest of the nation will be screwed."

California is the largest purchaser of textbooks and, therefore, educational publishers are careful to win approval from the CBE.

"The trend has always been that whatever California adopts, most of the rest of the nation adopts," Prasad said.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
16 Dec 2005
Well well, the mask is off isn't it "Vishnu"? From the position of well meaning Hindu who bears no malice towards any sides, here we see a side of "Vishnu" that's consistent the rants echoed by a paki operated site called Dalitstan.
Nice going "Vishnu". Didn't take long to unmask your bais - did it?

Kudos to N S Rajaram and others who've done a yoeman's service in unmasking frauds like Witzel.
A good article for those who care.

------------------------
The California Textbook Trial
By Kalavai Venkat



Can Hindus in the USA ask for parity with other religionists? Can they demand that Hinduism in textbooks be taught using the same yardstick applied to Islam and Christianity? Hindus in California thought so. In the eyes of most unbiased observers, these would be the most reasonable demands.



Portrayal of Christianity and Islam



Textbooks in California portray Christianity and Islam according to the beliefs of insiders. Christianity and Islam are historicized according to believers’ traditions. Mainstream scholarship subscribes to two views regarding Jesus Christ. One school concludes that he never existed and that all tenets, beliefs and legends found in the Christian Bible are derived from pre-existing Pagan, Persian, Buddhist, Jewish and Egyptian traditions. Professor G A Wells [The Jesus Myth] is an excellent example of this school of thought. The other school concludes that a shadowy figure called Jesus existed, who was later fictionalized in the Christian Bible. But, there are numerous hypotheses as to what his identity was. Professor Alvar Ellegard [Jesus, Hundred Years Before Christ] is an example of this school of thought.



But, all mainstream scholars tend to agree on several points:



1. There is no historical evidence that Jesus Christ, as narrated in the Christian Bible, ever existed.



2. There is absolutely no evidence that the Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In fact, Professor Robert Price [Deconstructing Jesus] even calls it cruci-fiction.



3. Many terrible social practices such as slavery and anti-Semitism are enshrined in the Christian Bible. From the Catholic Pope Pius XI to the Lutheran theologian Norman Beck, many scholars have admitted that the Nazi anti-Semitism witnessed in the 20th century was a mere culmination of a long tradition of Christian anti-Semitism. Beck even summarizes the approximately 450 anti-Semitic remarks found in just five of the books that constitute the Christian Bible.



4. The versions of various stories told in the synoptic gospels are often contradicted by other gospels which the Church suppressed. Professor Morton Smith [The Secret Gospel], for example, discusses a variant version of the life of Jesus discussed in a gospel. Of course, many scholars, including theologians such as Raymond Brown [The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus], have also concluded that even the synoptic gospels present conflicting versions.



Yet, textbooks do not hint at any of these academic findings when they discuss Christianity. Textbooks discuss the Sermon on the Mount as if a historical Jesus delivered it. They state that the twelve disciples of Jesus disseminated Christian teachings as if this claim is historically valid.



It is the same with Islam. Textbooks report the revelation of The Quran to Prophet Mohammad as a historical fact. Revelations are not subject to scientific skepticism. No mention is made of how jihad and jizyah were used as effective tools in the spread of Islam. Textbooks are silent about the fact that the Christian Bible has pronounced women inferior. A textbook reports that Prophet Mohammad was employed by an Arab widow and businesswoman, Khadija, whom Mohammad latter married. In the very next paragraph, it adds that Islam improved the status of women who were oppressed in the pre-Islamic society. If so, how did a woman run businesses in pre-Islamic Arabia? In a desire to present Islam favorably, textbooks even let go logic.



In the treatment of both Christianity and Islam, the following salient features are noted:



1. They are historicized according to the beliefs of their practitioners and not according to the conclusions of mainstream academics.



2. No terrible practice authorized in those religions such as anti-Semitism or slavery is even mentioned.



3. Tenets of these religions are summarized, in an instructional manner, as understood by practitioners.



4. Islam is not presented as an improvement on Christianity, nor Christianity presented as a replacement of Judaism.



It is reasonable to conclude that textbooks are doing the right thing in accordance with the guidelines of the California Department of Education [CDE] which stipulate that religions must be dealt with in such a manner as to instill pride in its followers.



Portrayal of Hinduism



On the other hand, Hinduism has all along been discriminated against. The following have been the significant features of the treatment of Hinduism:



1. It is historicized not according to its traditional beliefs but according to the speculative, racist and unproven 19th century colonial theories propagated by those highly hostile to Hinduism. For example, Aryan Invasion Theory [AIT], which was invented to divide India on racial grounds, justify British occupation and facilitate conversion to Christianity, is used to historicize the origins of Hinduism. This is being done even though many empirical evidences actually refute AIT.



2. The tenets of Hinduism, a very pluralistic tradition, are hastily summarized in a manner that is hardly instructional or not even mentioned.



3. The caste system is portrayed in a selective and biased manner, from the perspective of a hostile outsider. Social practices such as untouchability [also found in non-Hindu societies like Japan, Korea and Tibet] are depicted in graphic detail, and associated with Hinduism, which could only make Hindu students feel ashamed of their religion. Textbooks fail to mention that the most sacred books of the Hindus such as the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Tirukkural were all authored by Harijan saints. Textbooks do not also mention that many revered saints in Hinduism have been Harijans.



4. Textbooks make fun of Hindu gods and beliefs.



5. Buddhism is depicted as a cure all for the assumed evils found in Hinduism. This is done contrary to facts.



The California Hindu Initiative



As their children attend California schools, parents come to know of what is written in textbooks. Many have been astonished and pained. Many Hindu groups, all of them non-political, have consistently worked with teachers and schools, at a local level, to correct such misrepresentations.



Over the last several months, two organizations The Vedic Foundation and The Hindu Education Foundation have been working with the CDE. The former is a religious organization while the latter is a social organization that includes Hindus from all walks of life. Both understood that to ensure a fair representation, the mandate itself has to be revised. But, in the meanwhile, within the scope of the mandate, they worked with the CDE, publishers, schools, scholars and parents.



They reviewed many textbooks and suggested changes that would help remedy the erroneous and hostile depictions, until the mandate itself can be corrected. The CDE constituted a review process to review and accept changes.



Some Academics Oppose the Hindu Initiative



Some 47 academics, including those known for their virulently anti-Hindu stances and Communist affiliations, petitioned the CDE urging them to dismiss the Hindu demands. They alleged that the changes were unscholarly and politically motivated. Michael Witzel of Harvard University led the charge.



Ironically, those who initiated this petition admitted that they had absolutely no clue about the nature of changes proposed. Their petition to the CDE too did not reveal any knowledge of proposed changes. These changes had been on the CDE website for weeks, and anyone could have reviewed those. Petitioners did not bother to go through that trouble. Instead, they made wild allegations. Their petition lacked substance.



They also volunteered to help the CDE with the revision process. Surprisingly, the CDE accepted their proposal. It nominated Michael Witzel, Stanley Wolpert and James Heitzman to review changes. The first two had signed the petition while the third is a strong believer in Christian miracles.



Over 30 distinguished archeologists and historians had written the CDE supporting the Hindu initiative and explaining why falsified theories like the AIT or AMT should not be included. The signatories included such distinguished scholars as archeologist B B Lal, the most eminent authority on ancient Indian archeology who had also definitely established the direction of the Indus Valley script.



The CDE does not seem to have acted on this substantive communication. On the other hand, it yielded to Witzel and others, whose petition lacked substance. One does not know the logic behind this decision or why the CDE allowed Witzel etc to circumvent the proceedings late in the process.



Commissioners Uphold Hindu Suggestions



On December 1-2, 2005, the CDE held a hearing and the commissioners reviewed and decided on the suggestions. Most of the suggestions originally proposed by the Hindus and accepted during the initial review process, were approved by the commission. During the hearing, Heitzman urged the commission to at least retain Aryan Migration Theory [AMT] in the place of AIT. Fortunately, Professor Metzenberg, a distinguished biologist and a commissioner on the panel, pointedly told that there is no genetic evidence for Aryan migration and added that he would go by scientific evidence than accept the unproven beliefs of some historians. The commission decided to add that some historians believe in AMT.



What Motivates These Anti-Hindu Academics?



Even though Hindus succeeded, and got most of what they had asked for, there are many disturbing questions worth asking.



1. What motivates Witzel and other signatories to maliciously oppose a Hindu initiative even without bothering to know the nature of changes proposed?



2. Why did some academics agree to the Hindu suggestions in private but opposed that in public? What are they afraid of?



3. Will Witzel and other petitioners ever campaign that Islam or Christianity be presented according to mainstream scholarship and their crimes not whitewashed? Why are they silent when it comes to these religions and only hostile to Hinduism and Hindus?



4. Witzel has made many derogatory remarks about Hindus. He has made fun of Hindu immigrants to America. He has ridiculed their practice of cremating their dead. He has called them “lost” or “abandoned” people. He has ridiculously claimed that American Hindus do not invest in their children’s higher education. What motivates him to make such disparaging remarks? What motivates other academics to follow him and sign on the petition?



5. Why did the CDE nominate three academics with known hostile stances against Hindus or Hinduism? Will they ever nominate someone who makes such vilifying remarks about Christianity or Islam to review suggestions from those communities? What compelled the CDE to circumvent its own procedural guidelines and give a free run to such anti-Hindu academics, more so when their petition made wild allegations and lacked substance?



Conclusion



One can speculate on what motivates Witzel or others to attack Hindus, even when their initiative is most reasonable. Many of those speculations might be factual. But, Hindus can get justice only be being proactive. Here are a few things they must do:



1. Create forums that can serve as focal for textbook review and adoption process.



2. Review your child’s textbook and compare the treatment of Hinduism vis-à-vis Christianity and Islam in those. See if Hinduism is discriminated against.



3. Validate if the portrayal of Hinduism is according to guidelines.



4. Ask the education department who is reviewing and authoring textbooks. Do some background research on those academics. If they are known for their anti-Hindu credentials, Hindus must demand that the department replace such academics with neutral and sympathetic scholars. This is a very reasonable demand. After all, religion and culture, unlike science, are subjective. There is always a divide between an interpretation by a sympathetic and neutral scholar and one by a hostile person.



5. Form teams to work with publishers and insist that they do not hire anti-Hindu academics to author textbooks. After all, there are two million Hindus in the USA. There are numerous others sympathetic to the Hindu rights. Publishers cannot ignore a group like this.



6. Form a task force to identify neutral scholars to author textbooks. Work with publishers and education department to ensure that such scholars are considered for writing and reviewing textbooks.



Hindus must remember that the Jews fought many such battles in the courtroom and the media before getting justice. We cannot ignore the importance of either.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
16 Dec 2005
Vishnu,

The author of "Racism: A Short History" is professor of sociology at Stanford University . Fredrickson defines racism as hostile or negative feelings of one group towards another and actions that result. Witzel's caricaturing of Hindus and their beliefs fall in this category (just for starters), regardless of the thin fig leaf he hides behind - Lingnuistics and ever shifting Aryan theories. Witzel, along with his supporters might not believe in the notion of limpieza de sangre (purity of blood) - giving them the benefit of the doubt.

World War II and the Holocaust saw the end apartheid, and biological racism. But we all know that racism is neither dead nor dying. It has mutated into a new form that manifests more on cultural and religious lines.

Witzel (and gang), being in academia and that too at Harvard should all be sensitive and must be aware of this phenomenon.

Anyways, I would ask you to read RACISM IN ACADEMIA: LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF E. FRANKLIN FRAZIER.

In particular I urge all Hindus in America to read such books on how Racism has morphed and found shelter in some academic institutions.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
16 Dec 2005
wow, i didn't know so many rss freaks read imc. (rss is a hindu-supremacist organization which controls major political groups in india). glad vishnu is holding his own here against the saffron tide.

agreed there is ample room for improving americans' understanding of hinduism and india and history in general. the quality of public education here is very low, and what little is taught about the rest of the world usually focuses on how america is supreme.
but replacing that ignorance with a myth that similarly glorifies another culture doesn't do anything to reduce the students' level of ignorance. it's difficult to come up with history that is agreeable to all sides, especially when different experts claim competing evidence. but the panel evaluating the evidence in california seemed sober and sincere, at least as presented here on this site, and it appears they accepted some changes and rejected others. i don't see how that repudiates witzel's work and proves him a racist.

i'm inclined to lean in favor of vishnu's arguments simply because all the opposing views seem to be heavy on the name-calling and witzel-bashing and light on substance. also, nobody has successfully explained to me the reason for such stark differences between north and south india-- linguistic, dietary, architectural, complexion (rajasthani versus tamil for instance), etc. what else besides a migration from the north which pushed the dravidian people south and east?
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
16 Dec 2005
Good questions Rahul. The academics have been operating under the 'academic license' never being accountable for the trash they have been teaching.

Here's a quiz from the link above:

“Hindus in the USA are lost or abandoned people!”
“NRI stands for Non-Returning Indians!”
“Indians in the USA do not invest in the higher education of their children!”

Who in the USA do you think would have made derogatory statements to this effect?
A. A Ku Klux Klansman
B. A Bible thumping fundamentalist from Alabama
C. A Xenophobe who is paranoid about immigrants settling in the USA
D. A Harvard Sanskrit professor

No prizes for guessing the answer... more quizes to come. Read up on the likes of Courtright, Doniger, Farmer et al.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
16 Dec 2005
kasi dhakkan (please get your local indulogist to translate that) Ain't you glad that IMC supporsts RSS? It's up there, right on the top left corner - read again: <b>"Boston Indymedia Featured Stories RSS Feed"</b>
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
16 Dec 2005
>>glad vishnu is holding his own here against the saffron tide

Only thing Vishnu's holding here is Witzel's briefs. And thekkan kasi - you can hold his. He needs it since all his rants so far has been high on rhetoric and low on countering facts put forth by N S Rajaram and all the links put forth in this thread.

If you want a normal conversation get off the absurd Hindutava or RSS labels, maybe some will responce in substance.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
16 Dec 2005
This is an interesting debate. On the one hand, we have a situation where a number of carefully-considered edits were accepted by all who had considered them, for inclusion in California textbooks. There were some 77 such edits, all minor in editing effort but major in the picture painted. Compared to this, there were some 600+ edits by Jewish people, and some unspecified number by Islamic people, Catholic people, Budhists, you name it. Those other edits were accepted without fuss.

In the case of the edits about Hinduism and India, as the Komerath article states, a "dung-throwing mob" inflating their own egos as "world experts" etc. came on the scene, signing their names and affiliations (obviously even they understand that their brains and writings are not worth a fart in a thunderstorm without those affiliation names), and making sweeping generalizations against the whole community.

Now they are getting exposed. Good for "Indian".

Here are the "arguments" of this dung-throwing mob (and apologist "Vishnu")

1. The people pointing to the errors in the texts are "Hindutva" Is this any better than the Al Qaeda and Hamas calling anyone pointing to anti-Jewish statements as "Zionist"? We have come to take pride in this label, as it is used against anyone who stands up for the truth. Same, I suppose, with "Hindutva". If I were an Indian voter, I would insist that any candidate I vote for be "Hindutva" not all these Marxist crap that they keep electing in elections where the other candidates are murdered.

2. How does it matter WHO is pointing out the error?
The California Panel examined the issues, and AGREED that those were errors. Are Californians as stupid as Harvarians, that they can't see and judge facts, that they have to look at WHO is pointing it out? The dung-throwing Harvard mob's response is to call the California State Board of Education "IDIOTS" (S.A. Farmer, Witzel's moron sidekick, was the one who did this on a forum where every post has to be edited and approved by Witzel).

3. "Vishnu" is upset that people here don't allow his/her contention that s(he) is "not taking Witzel's statements at FACE value". I think Komerath's article points out the answer accurately - it's not an issue of FACE, but the other end of the anatomy that Witzel and his 50 Thieves are talking through.

4. I loved this gem from "Vishnu": One Ammachi does not an egalitarian society make".

yeah, and 1 murder in every million makes for sweeping generalizations as a "bride-burning" society?

Do California texts point out that in 58 years of independence, India has had:

1 Woman prime minister - Mrs. I. Gandhi
1 Woman "REAL" prime minister - Mrs. S. Gandhi
2 (at least) Permanent UN Reps as women

Roughly 60-40 ratio of women to men students in professional colleges, maybe 50-50 in medical colleges.

Many top, high-profile posts like Official Spokespersons, ministers, ambassadors, state governors, Department heads, judges, famous writers like Arundhati (Whine)Roy, - women.

Elected officials like Chief Ministers - women. Like Jayalalitha in TN, Rabri Devi, UP, Mrs, Laloo (ex-Bihar), Gayatri Devi (Rajasthan), and maybe others...

Do the texts point out that India has had several Presidents from minority communities, and that right now the President is Muslim and the PM is Sikh? That Army and Air Foce and Navy top posts are often held by people of minorities?

What other nation compares to this record? I know Israel managed to get Golda Meier in there, and women serve in large numbers in the defense forces, but how many women or minorities have been President of the US? State Governers? In 230 years of independence?

So I would submit that Vishnu's honesty, not to mention skills, as an objective researcher or thinker, are about on par with those of Witzel and the rest of his Harvard fascist, racist good faculty colleagues.
By the way, THANK YOU, "vishnu" for creating the environment where I felt compelled to speak out like this... nice going there, vishnu, you must be one of the super-Einsteins of the "EIR" yahoos. If they got any smarter they may qualify for admission to the Ku Klux Klan.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
16 Dec 2005
Speaking of Harvard's interest in the"Bride-Burning" brand of textbooks:

"http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9411&L=INDOLOGY&P=R487

CONFERENCE ON DOWRY AND BRIDE BURNING

JUNE 1995, Cambridge MA, USA

Organized by Michael Witzel

""The First
International Conference on Dowry and Bride-burning in
India" to be held in June next year in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, jointly sponsored by the International
Society Against Dowry and Bride Burning in India, Inc., a
non-profit organization incorporated in Massachusetts, and
South Asian Studies, Harvard University."

Consider the statement there:

"Thousands of newly
married women are burnt alive every year by their in-laws
because their fathers may have failed to pay the
outstanding dowry installment."

THOUSANDS? You mean its not BILLIONS AND BILLIONS? How about women raped and murdered in US cities like Boston each year? Or stoned to death in Witzel's sponsor nation, Saudi Arabia?

Or women murdered in the Gulags of communist countries like china? No conference on those? Why such concern for only HINDOO women. Witzel?

One slur does not a racist make, Vishnu, any more than one Ammachi makes an egalitarian society, but most certainly, a full-time occupation as racist hate-monger DOES make a racist hate-monger.
And Witzel is most certainly that.

Some people claim that Witzel is a front for Saudi Wahabi Islamist propaganda dollars. There a a few with Jewish/German names who take such money, just like there are "Hindus" like "Vishnu" or "Angana"

Examples: Martha Nussbaum of U. Chicago, Shapiro of California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).

I note that Saudi Arabian government has jut donated $40 million to Harvard for services rendered or expected.
A mantra to ward off HINDUTVA attacks:
17 Dec 2005
Myron Dershowtize, you missed the point.

Rather than address the real issues I raise, you have chosen to insult me and condemn 40 of the world's leading scholars, including Romila Thapar, an Indian historian, who also happens to be a woman. Now we are all racists and against Indian people and Hindus?!??!?! Does this woman hate herself? Am I lobbying for discrimination against myself?

Let's go back to the actual proposals before the school board.

Ram Rajya, the rule of Ramachandra, did not last 1.8 million years.
It is an historical impossibility.
How can any sane human being demand that California schools teach children that?
It’s a myth. The Ramayana is a beautiful, inspiring, and sacred story but not all aspects of it can be read literally.

Ram may be God, but there is absolutely no archeological evidence that he had a kingdom that lasted 1.8 MILLION years.

If you produce some, I will be happy to apologize with body prostrations at your feet.

Things like this make this a ridiculous conversation.
It’s obvious that we are not really communicating.
To confuse the fact India has elected women leaders, with the notion of a country that isn't plagued by horrible discrimination, is barbarous.
Do you remember Indira Gandhi's campaign of sterilization, when more than 1 million Muslim, low caste, and poor people were forcibly sterilized by gangs of thugs, accompanied by doctors? When was that? The early 1980's.
CBS news ran a story about female infanticide on Feb 9th of this year. They blamed, "local religious and social customs — which remain biased in favor of sons over daughters," as the chief causes.

Here is an excerpt from the Human Rights report submitted to the Congress of the United States of America during 2004:
Women
Domestic violence was common and a serious problem. In a survey by the National Family Health Survey released in 2002, 56 percent of the women said that domestic violence was justified. These sentiments led to underreporting and, combined with ineffective prosecution, made progress against domestic violence difficult. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 49,170 cases of domestic violence reported in the country from 1998-2001.

The issue of rape received increased political and social attention during the year. The majority of rapes are never reported to the authorities. The NCRB reported that there were only 16,075 cases of rape from 1998-2001. However, the Home Ministry reported in February that, in 2001, there was a 16.5 percent increase in reported rape cases as compared to 2000.

The press consistently reported that violence against women was increasing, although local women's organizations claimed that there simply had been increased reporting. Only 10 percent of rape cases were adjudicated fully by the courts, and police typically failed to arrest rapists, thus fostering a climate of impunity. Mass rapes often formed part of the tactics of intimidation used by upper caste gangs against lower castes, and gang rapes often were committed as a punishment for alleged adultery or as a means of coercion or revenge in rural property disputes. The number of reported rape cases and the extent of prosecution varied from state to state. In Assam, 30 percent of rape cases involved girls below 18 years of age. Most of the victims were maidservants, some as young as 6 years old. For example, in October, a 17-year-old girl allegedly was gang-raped by Presidential Body Guards in New Delhi. There was no action taken by the authorities in this case at year's end.

Dowry disputes also were a serious problem. Although providing or taking dowry is illegal under the Dowry Prohibition Act, dowry was practiced widely. In the typical dowry dispute, a groom's family members harassed a new wife whom they believed had not provided a sufficient dowry. This harassment sometimes ended in the woman's death, which family members often tried to portray as a suicide or accident. According to NGOs, approximately 7,000 deaths each year in the country are from dowry-related burnings. Although most dowry deaths involved lower and middle-class families, the phenomenon crossed both caste and religious lines. According to the NCRB, between 1998-2001, there were 6,851 reported dowry-related deaths in the country. In August, the Government announced that defendants under the Anti-Dowry Act would be able to be released on bail.

Women usually at a disadvantage in dowry disputes, began to speak out against dowry demands. For example, in August, Nisha Sharma filed a complaint with the police when her father was asked for more dowry minutes before she was to be married. The potential groom was detained for 14 days while formal charges were filed for violating the country's laws against dowries.

Under the Penal Code, courts must presume that the husband or the wife's in-laws were responsible for every unnatural death of a woman in the first 7 years of marriage--provided that harassment was proven. In such cases, police procedures required that an officer of deputy superintendent rank or above conduct the investigation and that a team of two or more doctors perform the postmortem procedures. According to human rights monitors, in practice police did not follow these procedures consistently.

Sati, the practice of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands, was banned, but continued to be practiced in some areas. There were no developments in the arrest of 15 persons in connection with the 2002 sati incident in Madhya Pradesh.

"Honor killings" were also a problem. Human Rights organizations estimated that up to 10 percent of all killings in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana were so-called honor killings; however, many more women are believed to be affected by this crime. In Muzaffarnagar, 13 cases of honor killings were report during the first 9 months of the year, up from 10 in 2002.

Several traditional practices that were harmful to women continued during the year. In March, 100 women in Tamil Nadu were walked on by a Hindu priest with nails in his shoes in a ritual intended to cure them of physical and mental illnesses; the state's human rights commission issued a request to investigate the incident. There were no developments in the 2002 cases of a tribal woman in Madhya Pradesh forced to bathe in urine and the woman in Indore forced to engage in the practice of "agnipariksha."

In remote villages, witchcraft accusations and punishments still occurred.

Societal violence against women was a serious problem. In January, the National Commission for Women reported that it was dissatisfied with the Gujarat government's handling of rape cases stemming from the 2002 riots, noting that there were no convictions during the year.

Dalit ("untouchable") women have been stripped naked by mobs and paraded around in public to humiliate Dalits who offended other castes. For example, in June, a Dalit girl allegedly was abducted and gang-raped by three youths in Noida. No further information was available at year's end. In 2002, a Dalit woman allegedly was paraded naked in Chhattisgarh. Police arrested two men in connection with the 2002 abduction and gang rape of a Dalit women in Haryana state.

Numerous laws exist to protect women's rights, including the Equal Remuneration Act, the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act, the Sati (Widow Burning) Prevention Act, and the Dowry Prohibition Act. However, the Government often was unable to enforce these laws, especially in rural areas in which traditions were deeply rooted. According to press reports, the rate of acquittal in dowry death cases was high, and due to court backlogs, it took an average of six to seven years to conclude such cases.

Prostitution was common. According to UNICEF, the country contained half of the one million children worldwide who enter the sex trade each year. Many indigenous tribal women were forced into sexual exploitation (see Section 6.c.). In recent years, prostitutes began to demand legal rights, licenses, and reemployment training, especially in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Calcutta. In 2002, the Government signed the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution. The country is a significant source, transit point, and destination for many thousands of trafficked women (see Section 6.f.).

Sexual harassment was common, with a vast majority of cases unreported to authorities. Sexual harassment of women in the workplace became a subject of NHRC consideration during the year. The NHRC instituted a committee to investigate harassment of women in the legal profession and asked universities to establish complaint committees immediately. The commission suggested the creation of a telephone hot line for complaints, initially starting in New Delhi, and gave advice to the media on reporting incidents of harassment against women.

During the year, women joined the National Security Guard for the first time as a result of an internal change in policy which had previously prohibited women from this organization.

The law prohibits discrimination in the workplace, but enforcement was inadequate. In both rural and urban areas, women were paid less than men for the same job. Women experienced economic discrimination in access to employment and credit, which acted as an impediment to women owning a business. The promotion of women to managerial positions within businesses often was slower than that of males. State governments supported micro credit programs for women that began to have an impact in many rural districts.

The Government continued to review legislation on marriage; it passed the Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act during 2001; the act widely had been criticized as biased against women. The Act placed limitations on interfaith marriages and specified penalties, such as 10 years' imprisonment, for clergymen who contravened its provisions.

In Kashmir, the Lashkar-e-Jabbar militant group required all Muslim women to wear a burqa (a garment that totally covered the face and body) when in public or risk retribution. A significant number of women in the Kashmir Valley appeared to be complying with the order, frightened by the threat of being attacked with acid, beheaded, or killed. Lashkar-e-Jabbar also further ordered Hindus and Sikhs in the valley to wear identifying marks and told transport companies to reserve 50 percent of their seats for women in an effort to separate men and women in public spaces. At year's end, the Home Ministry reported that no women police officers had to quit their jobs as a result of the 2002 militant threat that ordered all women police officers in Rajouri District of Jammu and Kashmir to quit their jobs by January 2003.


Domestic violence was common and a serious problem. In a survey by the National Family Health Survey released in 2002, 56 percent of the women said that domestic violence was justified. These sentiments led to underreporting and, combined with ineffective prosecution, made progress against domestic violence difficult. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 49,170 cases of domestic violence reported in the country from 1998-2001.

The issue of rape received increased political and social attention during the year. The majority of rapes are never reported to the authorities. The NCRB reported that there were only 16,075 cases of rape from 1998-2001. However, the Home Ministry reported in February that, in 2001, there was a 16.5 percent increase in reported rape cases as compared to 2000.

The press consistently reported that violence against women was increasing, although local women's organizations claimed that there simply had been increased reporting. Only 10 percent of rape cases were adjudicated fully by the courts, and police typically failed to arrest rapists, thus fostering a climate of impunity. Mass rapes often formed part of the tactics of intimidation used by upper caste gangs against lower castes, and gang rapes often were committed as a punishment for alleged adultery or as a means of coercion or revenge in rural property disputes. The number of reported rape cases and the extent of prosecution varied from state to state. In Assam, 30 percent of rape cases involved girls below 18 years of age. Most of the victims were maidservants, some as young as 6 years old. For example, in October, a 17-year-old girl allegedly was gang-raped by Presidential Body Guards in New Delhi. There was no action taken by the authorities in this case at year's end.

Dowry disputes also were a serious problem. Although providing or taking dowry is illegal under the Dowry Prohibition Act, dowry was practiced widely. In the typical dowry dispute, a groom's family members harassed a new wife whom they believed had not provided a sufficient dowry. This harassment sometimes ended in the woman's death, which family members often tried to portray as a suicide or accident. According to NGOs, approximately 7,000 deaths each year in the country are from dowry-related burnings. Although most dowry deaths involved lower and middle-class families, the phenomenon crossed both caste and religious lines. According to the NCRB, between 1998-2001, there were 6,851 reported dowry-related deaths in the country. In August, the Government announced that defendants under the Anti-Dowry Act would be able to be released on bail.

Women usually at a disadvantage in dowry disputes, began to speak out against dowry demands. For example, in August, Nisha Sharma filed a complaint with the police when her father was asked for more dowry minutes before she was to be married. The potential groom was detained for 14 days while formal charges were filed for violating the country's laws against dowries.

Under the Penal Code, courts must presume that the husband or the wife's in-laws were responsible for every unnatural death of a woman in the first 7 years of marriage--provided that harassment was proven. In such cases, police procedures required that an officer of deputy superintendent rank or above conduct the investigation and that a team of two or more doctors perform the postmortem procedures. According to human rights monitors, in practice police did not follow these procedures consistently.

Sati, the practice of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands, was banned, but continued to be practiced in some areas. There were no developments in the arrest of 15 persons in connection with the 2002 sati incident in Madhya Pradesh.

"Honor killings" were also a problem. Human Rights organizations estimated that up to 10 percent of all killings in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana were so-called honor killings; however, many more women are believed to be affected by this crime. In Muzaffarnagar, 13 cases of honor killings were report during the first 9 months of the year, up from 10 in 2002.

Several traditional practices that were harmful to women continued during the year. In March, 100 women in Tamil Nadu were walked on by a Hindu priest with nails in his shoes in a ritual intended to cure them of physical and mental illnesses; the state's human rights commission issued a request to investigate the incident. There were no developments in the 2002 cases of a tribal woman in Madhya Pradesh forced to bathe in urine and the woman in Indore forced to engage in the practice of "agnipariksha."

In remote villages, witchcraft accusations and punishments still occurred.

Societal violence against women was a serious problem. In January, the National Commission for Women reported that it was dissatisfied with the Gujarat government's handling of rape cases stemming from the 2002 riots, noting that there were no convictions during the year.

Dalit ("untouchable") women have been stripped naked by mobs and paraded around in public to humiliate Dalits who offended other castes. For example, in June, a Dalit girl allegedly was abducted and gang-raped by three youths in Noida. No further information was available at year's end. In 2002, a Dalit woman allegedly was paraded naked in Chhattisgarh. Police arrested two men in connection with the 2002 abduction and gang rape of a Dalit women in Haryana state.

Numerous laws exist to protect women's rights, including the Equal Remuneration Act, the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act, the Sati (Widow Burning) Prevention Act, and the Dowry Prohibition Act. However, the Government often was unable to enforce these laws, especially in rural areas in which traditions were deeply rooted. According to press reports, the rate of acquittal in dowry death cases was high, and due to court backlogs, it took an average of six to seven years to conclude such cases.

Prostitution was common. According to UNICEF, the country contained half of the one million children worldwide who enter the sex trade each year. Many indigenous tribal women were forced into sexual exploitation (see Section 6.c.). In recent years, prostitutes began to demand legal rights, licenses, and reemployment training, especially in Mumbai, New Delhi, and Calcutta. In 2002, the Government signed the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution. The country is a significant source, transit point, and destination for many thousands of trafficked women (see Section 6.f.).

Sexual harassment was common, with a vast majority of cases unreported to authorities. Sexual harassment of women in the workplace became a subject of NHRC consideration during the year. The NHRC instituted a committee to investigate harassment of women in the legal profession and asked universities to establish complaint committees immediately. The commission suggested the creation of a telephone hot line for complaints, initially starting in New Delhi, and gave advice to the media on reporting incidents of harassment against women.

During the year, women joined the National Security Guard for the first time as a result of an internal change in policy which had previously prohibited women from this organization.

The law prohibits discrimination in the workplace, but enforcement was inadequate. In both rural and urban areas, women were paid less than men for the same job. Women experienced economic discrimination in access to employment and credit, which acted as an impediment to women owning a business. The promotion of women to managerial positions within businesses often was slower than that of males. State governments supported micro credit programs for women that began to have an impact in many rural districts.

The Government continued to review legislation on marriage; it passed the Indian Divorce (Amendment) Act during 2001; the act widely had been criticized as biased against women. The Act placed limitations on interfaith marriages and specified penalties, such as 10 years' imprisonment, for clergymen who contravened its provisions.

In Kashmir, the Lashkar-e-Jabbar militant group required all Muslim women to wear a burqa (a garment that totally covered the face and body) when in public or risk retribution. A significant number of women in the Kashmir Valley appeared to be complying with the order, frightened by the threat of being attacked with acid, beheaded, or killed. Lashkar-e-Jabbar also further ordered Hindus and Sikhs in the valley to wear identifying marks and told transport companies to reserve 50 percent of their seats for women in an effort to separate men and women in public spaces. At year's end, the Home Ministry reported that no women police officers had to quit their jobs as a result of the 2002 militant threat that ordered all women police officers in Rajouri District of Jammu and Kashmir to quit their jobs by January 2003.

Under many tribal land systems, notably in Bihar, tribal women do not have the right to own land. Other laws relating to the ownership of assets and land accorded women little control over land use, retention, or sale. However, several exceptions existed, such as in Ladakh and Meghalaya, where women could have several husbands and control the family inheritance.



That was the section on Women, here’s a little of what the State Department had to say about Caste:

The country's caste system has strong historic ties to Hinduism. It delineates clear social strata, assigning highly structured religious, cultural, and social roles to each caste and subcaste. Members of each caste--and frequently each subcaste-are expected to fulfill a specific set of duties (known as dharma) in order to secure elevation to a higher caste through rebirth. Dalits (formerly called untouchables) were viewed by many Hindus as separate from or "below" the caste system; nonetheless, they too were expected to follow their dharma if they hope to achieve caste in a future life. Despite longstanding efforts to eliminate the discriminatory aspects of caste, the practice has remained widespread.

The practice of untouchability, which affected those who, along with tribal people, occupied the lowest social strata, was outlawed in theory by the Constitution and the 1955 Civil Rights Act, but it remained an important aspect of life. Untouchability refers to the social restrictions imposed on persons because of their birth into certain Hindu castes. Dalits were considered unclean by higher caste Hindus and thus traditionally were relegated to separate villages or neighborhoods and to low paying and often undesirable occupations (such as scavenging, street sweeping, and removing human waste and dead animals). Many rural Dalits worked as agricultural laborers for caste landowners. By custom Dalits may be required to perform tasks for upper caste Hindus without remuneration. The majority of bonded laborers were Dalits (see Section 6.c.). Dalits are among the poorest of citizens, generally do not own land, and often are illiterate. They face significant discrimination despite the laws that exist to protect them, and often are prohibited from using the same wells and from attending the same temples as caste Hindus, and from marrying persons from castes. In addition, they face segregation in housing, in land ownership, on roads, and on buses. Dalits tend to be malnourished, lack access to health care, work in poor conditions (see Section 6.e.), and face continuing and severe social ostracism. In contrast, the highest caste, the Brahmin, with 3.5 percent of the population, holds 78 percent of the judicial positions and approximately 50 percent of parliamentary seats. NGOs reported that crimes committed by higher caste Hindus against Dalits often were unpunished, either because the authorities did not prosecute vigorously such cases or because the crimes were unreported by the victims, who feared retaliation. For example, on August 10 one Dalit was beaten and killed by four upper caste persons in Anand after reports he was sitting in a temple verandah.


BUT HOW DOES HINDUTVA FIT INTO THIS?

(thanks to Yoginder Sikand for help with this answer) I.K. Shukla has written a book which focuses particularly on the politics of Hindutva, linking this to its underlying agenda of seeking to transform India into what the author calls a ‘fascist theocracy’.

Shukla argues that the notion of a singular, homogenous ‘majority’ ‘Hindu’ community, which Hindutva organizations claim to represent, is nothing but a fiction. The word ‘Hindu’ is itself absent in all the classical ‘Hindu’ texts, which suggests that the ancient ‘Hindus’ did not think of themselves as members of a single community. What is today regarded as the ‘Hindu’ community is actually a motley collection of castes and sects, often mutually opposed to each other, hierarchically divided as they are on the basis of the principle of ‘purity’ and ‘pollution’. Hence, they cannot be collectively referred to as a single community. Shukla opines that the construction of the notion of a single Hindu ‘community’ was a project jointly undertaken by Orientalists, British colonial officers and the ‘upper’ caste elites. For the ‘upper’ castes, a minority among the ‘Hindus’, the project helped bolster their own claims to authority, for it enabled them to assert their claims as the ‘representatives’ of this imagined community (The same could be said of the process of the construction of the notion of a single pan-Indian Muslim ‘community’ that transcended sectarian, ethnic, linguistic and caste divisions). Hinduism, as it came to be constructed as an ‘organised’ religion thus was inseparable from the interests of the ‘upper’ caste minority. The same holds true in the case of Hindutva, which, Shukla tells us, essentially represents the interests of the dominant castes/classes.

Preserving ‘upper’ caste/class interests, rather than the interests of India as a whole, is the major agenda of the Hindutva project, Shukla argues. This is reflected in the fact that the Hindutva organizations played no role in India’s freedom struggle, and, instead, actually collaborated with the British to oppose the joint Hindu-Muslim movement for India’s independence. Indeed, Shukla notes, the Hindu Mahasabha, the progenitor of today’s myriad Hindutva groups, came up with the theory of Hindus and Muslims being two separate and hostile nations even before the Muslim League did, and many years before Pakistan came into being on the basis of Muslim nationalism. Hindutva’s indifference, if not hostility, to the interests of India as a whole, Shukla argues, is also amply evident from the fact that Hindutva organizations have no agenda for the poor (other than perpetuating their subordination), from their willingness to ransom India’s economy to foreign multinational corporations and from their close nexus with American neoconservative groups and with Israel.

Violence is intrinsic to the Hindutva project. Indeed, Shukla shows, violence, such as directed against ‘low’ castes and dissenters, is deeply ingrained in the Brahminical Hindu texts themselves. In this sense, then, the large-scale violence perpetrated by Hindutva groups is not a new development, a deviation from a presumed ‘non-violent’ Brahminical Hinduism. The Hindutva project is based on fortifying the myth of a ‘Hindu’ monolith transcending caste and class divisions, for which purpose organized massacres, particularly of Muslims, serve as a major mobilisational device. Dalits and Tribals, victims of ‘upper’ caste/class Hindu oppression, are routinely instigated by Hindutva groups to launch anti-Muslim pogroms, as most recently evidenced in Gujarat. In Hindutva propaganda Muslims are inevitably portrayed as ‘enemies’ of the ‘Hindus’ (including the ‘lower’ castes) and as the principal cause of all their ills. Pitting the ‘lower’ castes against the Muslims is, Shukla rightly points out, a well-thought out strategy to prevent the former from challenging ‘upper’ caste hegemony.


There is room for reform.

India is struggling to come out of the age of discrimination but the Hindutva, the BJP and other Brahmin led religious movements are doing little to help that cause.
You can pretend that Hindutva is a benign movement but it will not make it so. The demand that the world accept the Hindu Fundamentalist version of history is a demand that the entire world recognize the supreme purity of the Male members of certain family lineages. It is a call to continue discrimination.

I NOTICE NONE OF YOU DENY THIS SIMPLE FACT!!!

As I have said and I say again, there is a profound need for more awareness about Indian culture and about Hinduism in this country.
However, you guys are intentionally playing on the fact that people don't know anything about the situation. That is only way you can play the racism card. It is despicable.

I'm not sure what you think the affiliation with Saudi Arabia and Prof. Witzel is, or how it even pretends to offer anything to this conversation.

But I will just ignore it.

The scholars who opposed some of the suggested text book changes are not racists. In fact, they stand in opposition to a group of racists. They come from a wide cross section of society. Some of the suggestions made by the Hindu community were accepted, but the majority was not.
This was not a big victory for education or Hindutva. The personal attack on Witzel is a clear indication of the agenda, and the school board saw through this sort of posturing. I hope the readers of this website will as well.

JAI SRI RAMA!!!
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
17 Dec 2005
Answer to Quiz:

Question again:

“Hindus in the USA are lost or abandoned people!”

“NRI stands for Non-Returning Indians!”

“Indians in the USA do not invest in the higher education of their children!”

Who in the USA do you think would have made derogatory statements to this effect?

A. A Ku Klux Klansman

B. A Bible thumping fundamentalist from Alabama

C. A Xenophobe who is paranoid about immigrants settling in the USA

D. A Harvard Sanskrit professor

Correct answer: D.

I am sure none of you scored right on this. So, read on and get informed.

Harvard professor disparages Hindus
Recently, in a Communist-leaning political list better known for its uncritical beliefs in myths like Aryan Invasion and its negation of historical facts, Harvard professor Michael Witzel made some startling claims about Hindu immigrants to the USA. One of his acolytes invented the acronym HINA for Hindus in North America. Witzel disingenuously and infamously transliterated it as “hiina” and translated it as “lost” or “abandoned.” This Sanskrit word has many other derogatory meanings such as “inferior,” “insecure,” “lowly” and “defective.”

It caught my attention that Witzel had described Hindus using the very same phrase – “lost people” – which a rabid Christian fundamentalist and anti-Semite had used to describe the Jews a few years ago.
Rev. Bailey Smith, then-president of the Southern Baptists, had infamously declared:

“God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew” and added, “without Jesus Christ, they [the Jews] are lost.”[1]

One does not know whether, or to what extant, Witzel shares Smith’s fanatical and bigoted beliefs. But Witzel was instrumental in urging activism against the Hindu initiative, as a result of which his cosignatory urged a Hindu-bashing Christian fundamentalist to mobilize a show of strength against the Hindus of California, as we will see later. Witzel also makes fun of the Hindu custom of cremating their dead:

“[Hindus immigrants to the USA] have begun ---as an old, very conservative US Brahmin friend pointed out to me already in 1994—building crematoria as well.”[2]

Witzel also makes fun of Hindu Gods, rituals and second generation American Hindus:

“Second generation [Hindu] people just understand [Hinduism] as "boaring rituals" (puja, etc.), temple visits and Indian (mythological) comic books ... All such items add to the heady brew that we have seen emerging here...”[3]

Considering that our Harvard professor has specifically enclosed the words "boaring rituals" within quotes, one cannot but assume that it was intended to make fun of the Hindu God Vishnu, who incarnated as a boar.

Background
Some of the proposed textbooks for grade six of the State of California portrayed Hinduism in the most derogatory manner. A textbook described Goddess Kali as “bloodthirsty” and, while talking about the Ramayana and Lord Hanuman, asked the students to look around and see if there was a monkey in the classroom. Another textbook claimed that Hinduism taught that women were inferior. Yet another textbook repeated the long discredited racist theory, which contrasted the supposedly tall, blond and blue-eyed invading Aryans with the supposedly curly-haired, snub-nosed native Dravidians.

Naturally, Hindus in California were offended by this offensive treatment of their religion and culture. So, they worked with the State Board of Education, understood the procedures and submitted a list of proposed changes with due explanation. Perhaps, Max Muller, the 19th century German racist and Christian fundamentalist, who had stated very clearly that Hindus as a race are inferior to the Whites but superior to the Blacks,[4] would not have countenanced such audacious gestures from erstwhile colonial slaves seeking parity with other religionists according to rules. A section of Eurocentric academics that faithfully propagate Muller’s racist theory and chronology of Indian history too did not tolerate such a gesture from the Hindus.

‘Rev.’ Witzel launches anti-Hindu Crusade
Witzel and some of his cosignatories admitted that they knew nothing about the nature of the changes proposed. But, in the same breath, they concluded that this is an unacceptable Hindutva initiative, which must be opposed tooth and nail. On Sunday, November 06, 2005 9:46 AM Steve Farmer [a cosignatory and originator of Witzel et al's protest petition] wrote:

"There is little time to research and respond to exactly what is happening in California, since we only learned about organized Hindutva challenges to California history textbooks yesterday. ... The final School Board meeting on this will apparently occur in Sacramento (the state capital) in three days. Even given the short time, a collective response of some nature by internationally known S. Asianists is certainly in order. At a minimum, the Board should be made aware in some way of the religious and political nature of the attacks, be provided with a quick overview of similar attacks on textbooks in S. Asia in the last decade, and be given notice of the opposition of the vast majority of S. Asian researchers to such changes. Given the short time frame, the response may have to be largely symbolic, but a letter endorsed by a dozen or more internationally known S. Asianists from every continent might still have some effect."[5]

Witzel, on behalf of another 46 signatories, petitioned the State Board of Education [SBE] against the proposed changes [the nature of which he and his cosignatories were unaware]. He launched an ad hominem and slanderous attack on the Hindus who had proposed the changes.

The petition, like Lallu Prasad’s election campaign, provided a “balanced” mix of ignorance, slander and comic relief. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, whose parents were Christian missionaries in Asia, was one of the signatories on the petition. He is also the author of the proposed textbook from the Oxford University Press. California Hindus had reviewed the OUP textbook and suggested changes in a meeting with OUP officials. The OUP officials informed in writing that Kenoyer agreed with the suggestions. Should one then suspect the inclusion of Kenoyer’s name in the petition or was Kenoyer filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues [The New Testament, Acts 19:6]?

Sometime back, in a review of Edwin Bryant’s 2001 book, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture – the Indo-Aryan Migration Debate, Witzel wrote:

“[Bryant’s book is] A balanced description and evaluation of the two century old debate dealing with the origins of the Indo-Aryan speaking peoples of South Asia. [Bryant] presents both sides of the issue, that is the traditional western, linguistic and philological consensus of immigration from Central Asia, and the more recent Indian position that denies any immigration and that asserts an indigenous South Asian origin.”

Now, the same Witzel calls it Hindu Nationalistic propaganda when California Hindus say the same! Perhaps, he is filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues!
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
18 Dec 2005
wow, so we had first the christian fundamentalists and now zionists lining up to oppose witzel and his 'communist-leaning' list. this is making it a lot easier to take sides in the debate. makes sense the jewish supremacists would ally with the christian and hindu supremacists.

any apartheid romanticizers? any takers from the turkish or japanese nationalist camps?

my point here is not guilt by association (as apt as the comparisons may be), but rather to point out that while many societies have made made large mistakes, those singled out for opprobrium tend to be those who refuse to admit wrongdoing in the face of damning evidence, and who cling to tired historical glory myths. despite the flaws, there is much to celebrate in all cultures, and yet some cannot countenance anything less than absolute correctness.
Re: Major embarrassment to Harvard University : Michael Witzel
18 Dec 2005
Myron Dershowtiz,

Don't mind this kassi, it's a common ailment that plagues some nitwits who can't make a point. If you don't agree with them you are either a "hindutva" or a "zionists" or "crusader" or "communists" or a "jihadi" (take your pick)

Discussion approaching Godwin's principle at mach speed. The "N" words just around the corner. Hopefully bogus "Vishnu" will do the honors.