By Rajiv Shah
Does the Hindu Diaspora in the United States fear the intensive attacks of white supremacy? It would seem so, if a new report prepared by Rutgers University in New Jersey, authored among others by researchers associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, is any indication. Titled “Anti-Hindu Disinformation: A Case Study of Hinduphobia on Social Media,” the report seeks to compare the “dangers” facing the Hindu diaspora from white supremacists with those from Islamic extremists.
Based on a “contemporary analysis” of “anti-Hindu hashtags and comments from popular social media and messaging platforms Twitter, Tiktok, 4chan, Gab and Telegram”, the report highlights, without mincing words, “Islamist extremist communities and white supremacists regularly spread genocidal and violent propaganda and memes against Hindus.
Of the five authors of the report, Prasiddha Sudhakar, who leads the team, is President of the Rutgers Chapter of the Hindu Student Council (HSC), and is an Analyst, NCLabs at Reugers. He is supported, among others, by Dr Parth Parihar, postdoctoral fellow at the Wallis Institute of Political Economy University of Rochester, also secretary general of the national HSC. Founded in the 1980s, HSC is the student arm of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA).
The report begins, in its first pages, by stating that “the ugliness, bigotry and violence of anti-Hindu hatred” are not new to the United States, pointing out that white supremacists were behind “a series of attacks violence against Hindus in Jersey City”. in the late 1980s. The provocation, he says, was “the publication of a letter to the ‘Jersey Journal’ in 1987 ‘which amounted to a hate manifesto’.”
The report quotes the letter:
“I am writing about your article in July on the mistreatment of Indians. Well, I’m here to tell the other side. I hate them. … We are an organization called dot busters. … We will go to any extreme to get the Indians out of Jersey City. If I walk down the street and see a Hindu and the scenery is good, I hit him.
“We plan some of our most extreme attacks such as breaking windows, breaking car windows and throwing family parties. … They will never do anything. It is a physically and mentally weak breed. We will continue on our way. We will never be stopped.
The report states how, following this so-called ‘dot busters’ letter, “a young, largely white gang had embarked on a campaign of vandalism, violence and murder aimed at terrorizing the Hindu population of Jersey City and kick her out of town.” Interesting as it sounds, he admits: “An Indian, though not a Hindu, was beaten to death on his way home from Hoboken; his white friend remained unscathed.
“So,” he insists, “there is unfortunately nothing new about the bigotry and violence facing the Hindu population. Indeed, in a similar way to anti-Semitism, Hinduphobia ‘today is harnessing centuries-old tropes to rekindle hate. What’s new, however, is the deployment of these tropes on social media in what amounts to a new playbook to rekindle old hate .
Stating that even “this new playbook” has already been “in the works,” the authors say, “Our previous reports have highlighted the deployment of anti-Semitic and anti-Asian tropes on social media to fuel spikes in social media. intensity and volume of hate messages. Time and time again, when the intensity and volume of the hate messages reached a climax, violence erupted.
The report states that “Hinduphobic tropes – such as portraying Hindus as inherently evil, dirty, tyrannical, genocidal, irredeemable or disloyal heretics – are prevalent across the ideological spectrum and are deployed by fringe web communities and state actors” , lamenting, “Despite the violent and genocidal implications of Hinduphobia, it has been vastly understudied, dismissed or even denied in the public sphere.”
Referring in particular to the term ‘pajeet’, which the authors refer to as an ‘ethnic slur’, they state, it was ‘coined up as a derisory imitation of Indian names’, pointing out that ‘typically, ‘pajeet’ is used to describe the Indians. on the Internet – and, by default – the Hindus. The term was first used on social media (4chan) by John Earnest, “the white supremacist Chabad Synagogue shooter in San Diego, 2019”.
Noting that “this slur has also been used by white supremacists in white nationalist podcasts in reference to violent and murderous fantasies about Indians,” the report states, “Our qualitative analysis suggests that ‘pajeet’ is used in reference to Hindus. and to Indians interchangeably, with the majority of derogatory characterizations aimed at Hindus. He adds: “In particular, distinctly Hindu symbols (swastika, tilaks, etc.) are persistently used in memes referring to pajeet…”.
He continues: “Several groups in the Theme Network indicate similar themes – the idea that pajeets (Hindus) are dirty (streetshitter, poojeet), dishonest (scam) and unintelligent (mong – a slang term on 4Chan for people who do silly things or silly actions without realization) We see an entire group in blue, dedicated to dehumanizing portrayals such as “shit skin”, “sub-human” and “poon***r”.
Extremist Islamist and white supremacist communities regularly spread genocidal and violent propaganda against Hindus
Insisting that white supremacist disregard for Hindus is similar to that of Islamist extremists, in that they “regularly spread genocidal and violent propaganda and memes against Hindus,” the report said: “ Through our collection of open source intelligence for ‘pajeet’ related comments and images, we have found open calls for genocide disguised using coded language. However, it does not fail to mention: “We have found that messages are not limited to Islamist extremists”.
Suggesting that white supremacists’ disdain for Hindus is no different from Islamic extremists, the report cites the example of social media’s “self-identified Pakistani Islamist narratives” that “poke fun at the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai, in which 175 people were killed. by Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists based in Pakistan.
In these accounts it is said: “The Hindu identity of the survivors/victims is particularly emphasized with the brown face, the saffron colored clothes and the tilaks. The Hindu victims are shown crying, frustrated and helpless, while the Islamist terrorists are portrayed as impervious and smug, reveling in the violence.
Pointing out that “Islamists borrow genocidal motifs from far beyond India, including Nazi Germany and the contemporary United States”, the report states, in one such social media post, “the Islamists co-opt the killing of George Floyd by Minneappolis police officer Derek Chauvin to suggest that the same dehumanizing treatment should be meted out to Hindus.
However, he is quick to comment: “Similar anti-Hindu themes are echoed by white supremacist communities; the idea that Hindus are ‘pajeets’ who are filthy, backward and perverted.
In fact, the report notes that “white supremacist communities borrow anti-Semitic tropes — such as the idea of an ‘occupied Zionist government,’ a conspiracy theory used in several anti-Semitic manifestos that denote conspiracy theories about Jewish control over the government and the media – and use it against Hindus through the dog whistles of “Brahmin-occupied government” relaying themes of Hindu domination and control in places of power.
Much like white supremacists, according to the report, an analysis of 1,766,301 Iranian state-sponsored troll tweets from 2010 to 2021 suggests that “Iranian state-sponsored trolls use influence operations and propaganda of social justice to create communal divisions in India”.