Hate Crimes Against Indians in America
- A Call to Action
The mainstream American media are once again making excuses for yet another hate crime against an Indian. Witness thus the murder of Sunando Sen by being pushed off a New York City subway platform. Not four days went by and the New York Times ran this huge front page article about the hate criminal, referring to the ‘troubled past’ in the title, going on a fishing expedition in the murk of the hate criminal’s mental illness.
A similar whitewashing effort pulled a smokescreen over direct justice against the “Namaste Kicker” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He kicked really hard and to the ground several Indian students attending the University of New Mexico. Like the previous case mentioned, law enforcement did call it a hate crime. But then the talking heads papered it over with the civil rights of the accused, and how he needed treatment, not incarceration…and he emerged from jail only to assault again.
When are we immigrants in America going to realize that we are dealing with predators who abuse and even kill us because they think we are the current wave of wimps? When are we going to finally stand up to this? Why have we not come up with something like the Jewish Anti-defamation league, that so successfully jumps on anybody who so much as mocks their faith?
Till then we are going to have these hate criminals acting with impunity. A big reason is they feel they are representing the sentiments of their local community when they commit these acts. Thus Sen was murdered because the hate criminal claimed to be against Hindus and Muslims since 9/11. Prior to that the Namaste Kicker said, when asked why: “We are at war with them.” Prior to that in turn, right after 9/11, the murderer of the Sikh store worker in Mesa Arizona excused himself saying he was a “patriot.”
Therefore we as Indo-Americans need to do a frontal assault on these sentiments, and dispel them or at least expose them for what they often are: jealousy for how well we do in America, combined with a lack of any respect and admiration for how hard we work and how much we contribute to what is essentially a nation of immigrants.
One vector in this assault needs to be a clarification by our lobby of Indo-American lawyers that mental illness in a hate criminal should not stand in the way of punishment for a hate crime. (A nuance in this context is the drawing of a legally clear distinction in cases where there is no evidence that the criminal hated Indians, but acted more like a classroom bully preying on the weak and vulnerable, as likely happened in the Sikh temple shootings. In short, abusive acts by predators may not be hate crimes, therefore they do not go so much to hate in the mind of the criminal, but to their getting a sadistic kick out of hurting a member of the group they target.)
Another vector needs to be a public boycott of one reason why so many Indians are being targeted, especially in short-interaction situations like in American convenience stores: the mocking depiction of male Indian characters in TV sitcoms and cartoons. The latest ongoing example of this is on the Disney Channel where a clearly Indian wimp of a kid (Ravi) is shown getting bullied and even having stuff thrown at him and he does nothing about it; the audience of course as usual is snickering at him and his Indian mannerisms, including that accent which Americans so love to make fun off by mimicking.
If these depictions are not fought against, it will, as it has led historically for groups like the Poles (Polish jokes) and the Jews in Germany, continue and even exacerbate the stereotyping of Indians as cardboard cutouts on which Americans can do target practice.
One more vector is the dispelling of part of this stereotype of us in the mainstream public psyche, that we are all gentle Gandhians who apply some deep spirituality to any kind of violence done to us. This was exemplified by Attorney General Holder and the Governor of Wisconsin in their speeches after the Sikh temple shootings, where both alluded to this mythical turning of the other cheek.
Mr. Holder! You should have talked more about what you were going to do to protect us, what you were going to do to go after these White Supremacist racists whom the mass murderer represented. You, a black man, and you should have jumped at the opportunity to hit them hard and tell us Indians at that gathering that you were going to hit them long and hard. Instead you are implicitly, like the Governor himself, telling us to forgive? Don’t show up just days after some of us have been butchered and remind us how compassionate we are. That is for us to decide.
The larger problem is now obvious: India as a country and the Indian diaspora as a group still lives with the colonial slave mentality we ourselves are responsible for continuing in our own minds, well after the British and Portuguese have left. They raped Mother India, and several decades later, we have not properly gone through the four stages of mourning required in order to recover our self-esteem, in particular anger.
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Arun Anand Ahuja
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||I would sympathise with everything written in your article except the first clause in the last sentence: 'They raped Mother India' referring to the British and Portuguese rulers. First and foremost, India had been conquered by the Moghuls, who had ruled in a dynastic order of emperors over north and central parts of India right up to the time the British came as traders in the newly formed East India Company in 1600. You can hardly call the subsequent takeover of power by the British from a foreign invader 'rape' of any kind. In those days, that's how ruling power was decided, as the Moghuls had done.|
There was, at any rate, no concept of a 'Mother India' during Moghul rule, or when the British gained the ascendancy of power. If anything, events were to prove catalytic for the development of a consciousness of nationhood, what was to become 'Mother India' at independence, in the very integrity of British Rule; for against the British the Indians could unite and define a concept of India as a nation.