Hindutva Gaining in the US


Aliya Anjum

India was never in the American sphere: it was first in the Soviet and then in the Russian camp. In the early 2000’s the US began to nurture India as a counterweight to China. In the last two decades, India-US ties and mutual trade have risen exponentially. Due to its economic rise, India’s politics, religions and culture are now in the global spotlight – facilitated by the international media, Bollywood, social media and international tourism.
Policy decisions are taken by the American administration, however, there is the RSS foreshadowing going on behind the scenes to facilitate Hindutva. To understand how and why this happens, one has to understand Jewish American history, which mirrors the Indian trajectory to a great degree.
From 1820 through 1880, Jewish people – mostly German-speaking from Central Europe – first arrived in America. From the 1880’s eastern European Jewish immigrants arrived in the US in great numbers. This immigration was only halted when emergency immigration laws were implemented in 1921. POTUS Warren Harding wanted the US to be Protestant and white. Hence hatred of blacks, Catholics, Jews and others surged across the United States so much so that historian John Higham famously dubbed the era “The Tribal Twenties.” The white supremacist militant group the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) – known for lynching blacks – grew to have 5 million white male members. Catholic parochial schools were banned in many places. Universities, private academies and preparatory schools – both private and public – limited Jewish student enrollments. Fraternities, clubs, hotels and resorts, often shut the Jewish out completely. President Harding’s premier supporter, the famous automaker Henry Ford, ran an anti-semitic campaign in Ford’s weekly newspaper. Headlines would read “Does Jewish Power Control the World Press?” and “How Jewish International Finance Functions.”
Jewish individuals actively fought off the antisemitic tide with a three-pronged strategy. First and foremost they banded together as a religious group. Secondly, they wrote a slate of books and articles to counter propaganda and they filed lawsuits – emerging triumphant in the lawsuit against Henry Ford. Last but not least, they also fought on behalf of blacks and Catholics in their rights campaigns. Understanding “intersectionality,” the Jewish people understood that to change the zeitgeist of the times, they needed other minority groups as allies. Jewish groups also worked hard to create Jewish educational institutes and their social groups. Thus the conservative policies of POTUS Harding served to create and empower Jewish interests.
Today, a century later, Jewish Zionist lobbying has reached its zenith. Jewish interest groups are extremely well entrenched in the American system and they are very powerful in the US. Israel is thriving thanks to them.
The Zionists have now found intersectionality with the Hindus – owing to the fact that there is an ongoing genocide of the Muslims in both Israel and India.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is the most influential Hindu American advocacy group. At the time of its founding in 2003, they statedly turned to American Jewish organizations, whom they viewed as the “gold standard” in political activism. Indian Americans have modelled their congressional activism on that of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
On the surface, HAF has been known for its work on Hindu civil rights issues. However, Indian lobbyists have also partnered with these Jewish groups to achieve shared defense goals: including arms deals between India and Israel; and a landmark nuclear agreement between India and the US. These Jewish groups understand the US system on an organic level as they have successfully engaged with it- to their benefit – for a century now. Over the last two decades, they have consistently passed on this vital knowledge and skill by training a generation of Hindu lobbyists and advocates, offering strategies at joint summits and providing informal advice. This goes all the way up to the highest offices of the US government and the US Supreme Court.
It is crucial to understand that in spite of the Jewish people achieving political power, prominence and fame, anti-semitism persists. Hollywood’s famed director and producer Steven Spielberg has said that the bullying he suffered while at school made him ashamed of being Jewish. There are certain age-old stereotypes associated with the Jewish people, which closely match Hindu stereotypes. The old trope of the greedy Jewish merchant – immortalized by Shakespeare’s Shylock – also finds an echo in the trope of the avaricious Hindu banya or merchant. There is another ancient trope of “blood libel,” referring to the medieval belief that Jews used the blood of Christians in their religious rituals. An NPR journalist’s tweet accused Hindus of “piss drinking.” Indian Hindus and American Jewish groups actively work to fight negative stereotypes of the two groups prevalent in the media. The Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL), was founded in 1913 to oppose discrimination against Jews by monitoring their portrayal in US society. In 1997, the VHP – the cultural wing of the RSS – established an anti-defamation arm, American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD), which launched successful campaigns against demeaning uses of Hindu iconography in perfume branding, yoga gear, a Sony commercial, and a Simpsons episode.
Fighting stereotypes, caricatures, memes and public comments is vital to preserving Zionist and Hindutva interests. To prevent becoming hated and targeted as a socio-religious group, anti-defamation groups work hard to gain acceptance in society.
(To be continued)

The writer is an independent researcher, author and columnist. She can be reached at aliya1924@gmail.com