Originally published at http://www.indiacause.com November 2006
“Textbooks should instill a sense of pride in every child in his or her heritage” California State Board of Education Guidelines http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/socialcontent.pdf
News flash: Indian-American parents have been working with California School authorities and textbook publishers for some years to improve what their kids are being taught about their heritage. In early November, they had just completed a set of small corrections to middle-school textbooks, when the whole process was derailed by a dung-throwing mob attack by so-called “Prominent Academics” The duly-appointed committee, guided by the “CRP” Professor- Emeritus Bajpai, were tossed out and superseded by a secretly-appointed “Super-CRP” consisting of persons of blatant bias and hatred against the community.
That textbooks should instill pride in one’s heritage, would seem to be simple, clear and obvious to anyone older than 3, outside the Ku Klux Klan or Taliban. So how did a sincere co-operative effort by community members and School Board professionals to get beyond the “Cow, Caste, Curry, Communal Riot, Taj Mahal” school texts on India, meet with such mudslinging? The following is an extract from a letter bearing a blood-red Crusader shield of Harvard university.
“I write on behalf of a long list of world specialists on ancient India – reflecting mainstream academic opinion in India, Pakistan, the United States, Europe, Australia, Taiwan and Japan – to urge you to reject the demands by nationalist Hindu (‘Hindutva’) groups that California textbooks be altered to conform to their religious-political views… 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 abut issues far outside their areas of expertise. There are ill-concealed political agendas behind these views that are well-known to researchers and tens of millions of non-Hindu Indians, who are routinely discriminated against by these groups.
In conclusion: the proposed textbook changes are unscholarly, are politically and religiously motivated, have already been rejected by India’s national educational authorities, and will lead without fail to an international scandal if they are accepted by California’s State Board of Education.”
–M. Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit, in letter on Harvard letterhead to CA Board of Education proporting to be from 47 (now 50) “Prominent Academicians”.
Obviously, one must not allow “religiously and politically motivated groups who routinely discriminate against ”anyone, to dictate what is taught to youngsters. So why is the Witzel mob allowed in here?
“Many of the alleged endorsers of the Witzel letter are members of a yahoogroup called Indo-Eurasian_Research (IER) which has stated that it is a political-group. “
– Letter from an Indian-American to the CA State Board of Education.
I checked the veracity of that. Apparently he meant YAHOO! Group, not a group of yahoos – a small distinction. He was right about their political nature.
“The orientation of Indo-Eurasian_Research is politically progressive, international, secular, and scientific. List discussions of political-religious developments are encouraged insofar as those developments affect research or issues of humanistic concern in the regions studied by core List members.” Excerpt from an overview/ mission statement of the Indo-Eurasian_Research Yahoo! group, signed by Michael Witzel, George Thompson, and Steve Farmer on April 5, 2005.
So there is substance in what the Indian-American wrote. Read on.
“We annex extracts from the Last Minute Memorandum of 8 November 2005 submitted to Members, SBE to show that the Witzel’s letter does NOT refer to any of these specific recommendations for edits /corrections and makes only a blanket accusation that these changes are unscholarly, and politically or religiously motivated :
Rather obvious. The full letter from the Prominent Academics is linked here. The letter demonstrates zero knowledge (or care) about the precise changes suggested, nor their merits. Instead, it is full of pompous declarations of expertise, and sweeping hate attacks on the Indian-American community. This, as I discovered, is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for Witzel and his cohorts, whose own area of expertise appears to be vicious ad hominem attacks on mere mortals, particularly sneering at the Hindu Faith. An example, from Witzel and Farmer’s November 11 posting:
“Advisors of the Hindu Education Foundation include none other than the infamous David Frawley and S. Kalyanaraman, two of the most active Hindutva supporters.” (Witzel’s arithmetic is commensurate with the rest of his Indology competence: the HEF website lists nine advisors..)
“We would, also urge that policy guidelines be reviewed to provide for re-writes of sections and to incorporate key sections to explain and portray fairly and truthfully about issues such as: hindu heritage, meaning of dharma, yoga, medication, ayurveda (indigenous health systems), status of women in hindu society, the social organization based on varna and jaati and the contributions made by hindu civilization to science and technology. Such a fair and accurate representation will help instill in the children a sense of pride in the hindu heritage.”
– From one of many letters sent by Indian-Americans pleading with the California State Board of Education to observe their own rules.
How can a person of such obvious bias and immoderation as Wtizel, who makes such wild sweeping rants abusing the community, have any credibility as a fair adjudicator of the need for changes? Wonder why citizens have to remind California bureaucrats in 2005 that they need to follow their own rules? For the same reason, I guess, why schools in the USA remained segregated based on skin color as recently as the 1960s. But this is 2005, right? Is California today no better than 1960s Alabama, nor Harvard University than Kandahar 1999?
And then there was this clincher that leaves no room for doubt that the Witzel mob are the ultimate in Scholarship on Sanskrit and ancient India:
“I know a great deal .. of literature in Indian studies ( in translation – but I have been hard at work for many months in Sanskrit”)
– Post at the Indic Civilization Yahoo! Group on 10/29/2000 by “Steve Farmer”, proclaiming his expertise as an Indology scholar. That requires no further comment except a rolling of the eyes.
What is the current California School Textbook debate about?
Indian-American parents who grew up reading 3 languages and learning by age 5 that all religions and cultures must be respected, no ifs and buts about it, have started wondering about what their own kids learn in school. Their shock has turned into a determination to clean up the sewage that is being dumped on their kids, demeaning their heritage, condemning them to grow up feeling like second-class citizens, encouraging the bullies that are increasingly targeting hard-working, high-achieving Asian-American children with hate crimes. For example, while the Iliad and Odyssey are described as “epics”, the Ramayana and Mahabharatha are “Hindu stories”. “Hinduism taught that women were inferior to men” (discrimination against women is absent in Christian and Islamic history, not to mention the modern US of A in 2005, right?). Asoka’s “tolerance” in allowing Hindus to practice their religion was “unusual for the time”. From a 6th Grade text: “Indian society divides itself into a complex structure of social classes based particularly on jobs. This class structure is called the Caste system” (Yes, that’s in the present tense!)
Hence the move to examine and correct California textbooks. Several dedicated, knowledgeable Americans have been working for years to find and fix the abuse, the sneers, the ignorance. Realization of the importance of “getting it right” appeared to be dawning on School administrators, who worked patiently and diligently with these citizens. And that is how they developed a list of very precise, very well-considered modifications to require of textbook publishers.
The process was well on track until November 5, when an email went out purportedly from “Arun Vajpayee”, described by IER as a “brave graduate student”. It was an SOS, expressing desperation that The Enemy was close to getting several changes made in the textbooks. Subsequent events stink of bad faith and insider sneakiness, with the “Arun” identity being a poor cover to bring in the mob. The Witzel letter, by any reading of the rules of the CA Board, should have been tossed out immediately as a rabid hate attack with no intellectual substance. It wasn’t thrown out. Instead, Witzel and 2 assistants were appointed as a “Super” board to overrule the lawful process. I can see why Witzel refers to Pakistanis in his group – this was vintage Rawalpindi in execution. The California Curriculum is now in the hands of the IER, and it’s MotherShip, the RISA.
Who are the RISA?
The RISA is a closed group of self-anointed “scholars” on Religions in South Asia. A retired Indian-American corporate executive and philanthropist, known for his articulate, well-researched writings and leading campaigner for reform of India-related studies, is not admitted to RISA – and why should he be? He’s a “non-scholar” who “writes far outside his area of expertise” in Witzel’s definition. But a yoga instructor who used to be an assistant librarian in some British village is an esteemed RISA administrator.
What is RISA’s record of respect for open intellectual debate?
The Yoga instructor explained this to me in mid-2004, about their creation called ‘OpenRISA’. OpenRISA was not RISA being open. It was a special forum, the equivalent of an outhouse set up by racists who used to post “No dogs or Indians” on restaurant doors. OpenRISA, per the Yoga instructor, was a forum where “non-scholars” could post their opinions and have the benefit of discussions with RISA ‘scholars’ who might participate. A feeding trough for Untouchables. A few desis actually took up this demeaning offer, but RISA closed OpenRISA quickly when they saw the performance of their “scholars” in debate, and the laughter on the internet. In a typical example of RISA debating standards, now exemplified again by Witzel and his Mob of 50, RISA “scholar” Marty M. came on the ‘BeliefNet’ forum to defend Courtright’s porn-peddling, and, faced with precise links to facts, pouted off shortly thereafter, whining about ‘Hindu extremists’ and ‘academic freedom’. Exposed by readers in 2004, the entire RISA forum scampered underground where they belong, to protect their discussions from the eyes of ‘non-experts’.
What is their record of accuracy and fairness in representing Hinduism and Indian culture?
Examples of RISA Scholars are P. Courtright of Emory University, famous for peddling his “Limp Phallus” school of (child pornographic) thought, and W. Doniger of U. Chicago, famous for claiming to have been missed by audience feedback expressed as a flying egg, and for calling the Bhagawad Gita a “dishonest book”. They specialize in contortions of logic, trying to outdo each other in presenting Hindu deities and Gurus in the most obscene abuse imaginable by people with really sick minds. Rice University professor and RISA star Jeffrey Kripal is known for portraying Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa as a homosexual child-molester.
Some years ago, at least two of the signatories on Witzel’s “list of prominent academics” signed their own and their institutions’ names to another so-called “South Asia Faculty Letter”. They did so out of desperation to stop the exploding laughter and outrage against a “Comprehensive Report” generated by a gang of their Communist buddies – the Forum of Indian (or Inquilabi) Leftists. This report had attacked an Indian-American charity, making vile accusations of complicity in violence without a shred of evidence, and using blatant, ludicrous intellectual dishonesty. This provided a classic study on their modus operandi. When their political grandstanding positions were rendered untenable in the face of facts, logic and informed public opinion, they resorted to the cowardly “You Must Believe Us Because We Are Scholars” theme. Some of them are on record as saying that votes by the general public and especially mere Indians, are of no significance compared to votes by them – food for thought for people who teach children about the Constitution of the United States or of India.
The Report endorsed by these self-proclaimed Sanskrit Scholars, tried to con Americans by claiming that any organization with a Sanskrit / Hindi name including “Sangh” (organization) or “Parivar” (family) was a political “hate-mongering” organization. Thus they described the “Kushta Nivaran Sangh” (Leprosy Patient Relief Organization), the “Krishi Prayog Parivar” (Agricultural Practice Club – a team who passed tips on agriculture from the internet to poor farmers) and the Vatsalya (affection) Trust (a world-renowned orphanage) as Hindutva Hate-Mongering Organizations. They counted on us being ignorant and too lazy to check their ‘data’. As usually happens to con artists, they also declared the “Meeraj Medical Center” – a beneficiary of the same Charity, as a Hindu hate-mongering institution. This hospital is run by an affiliate of the Presbyterian Church of North America. The letter signed by the South Asia Faculty endorsing the report, came after we had clearly pointed to this blatant folly. As such, their endorsement was an inexcusable example of dishonesty. Witzel’s portrayal of these signatories as “world experts” under Harvard letterhead, speaks volumes on his own, and Harvard’s, ethical standards.
The RISA fought tooth and in nail when Hindus in the U.S. became aware of the appalling pornographic abuse inside a book by “Scholar” Courtright about our Deity Shri Ganesha. It is painful to me to repeat those slurs, but let me cite the gist of the decision that California parents face, with RISA/IER in charge of the curriculum.
- Do you want California children to be taught that if a child loves sweets, that is a clear sign that the child is asking for oral sex? The RISA attacked those who protested that utter filth, as “academic terrorists” using precisely the sneering language that Witzel now uses. Witzel’s Harvard university teaches courses where the book that makes this claim is a cited reference.
- Do you want children to be taught that if a mother gives a ripe fruit to a son as a reward for a smart answer to a question that showed his deep respect for his parents, that is a “vagina symbol” indicating sexual intercourse between the mother and son? Those whom Witzel calls ‘scholars’ gave awards to the author of that – citing some tavern ‘scholar’ as the source, in a book published by Oxford University Publishers (OUP) – after peer review and praise by the same RISA mob.
- Do you want Hindu culture taught with Doniger’s accuracy? Doniger personally endorsed the above child-porn book, stunning us with her deep knowledge of Hindu epics, as in ‘Vyasa transcribing the Mahabharatha dictated by Ganesha’. Her own specialty is the notion that writing books on Hinduism achieves the dual purpose of getting the smut-peddling counted as scholarly work by the University of Chicago.
- Do you want your children to learn Indian History, not to mention ethics from Mr. Laine, author of a book advertised on Amazon.com as “history”? Laine had to admit before a court of law that his claim of Indian hero Shivaji biological father not being his official one, was not based on any historical evidence, but was basically a lie. The RISA did nothing to investigate Laine’s standards of honesty in claiming that his book was “history”.
- Do you want your children to learn the “scientific basis” of archaeology from people who are illiterate in the languages of the region being excavated? Are archaeologists no better than grave-robbers?
What is the Indology debate?
Witzel, Farmer et al call themselves “Indology” experts, and confer the same honor to their 48 co-signors (Harvard might as well advertise: Want a certificate of global expertise? Just agree with Witzel.) “Indology” is billed as the study of “ancient India”. Not surprisingly for studies done by those who are illiterate in the languages and culture of the land of their attentions, their recent publications are primarily filled with personal abuse against Indian researchers who also believe in the Hindu Faith.
Which brings me to the title of this article. I tried learning about the field of infestation of the IER. The main object of debate in “Indology” appears to be a faded photo of a piece of stone that has a few lines on it. This is called an “Indus Valley Seal” a.k.a. “Har(vard)appan Bull”. Held vertically, these lines are used like an Ink Blot Test. Witzel and Farmer see the posterior of a bull (should one be surprised that this is the source of most of their ‘scholarly output’?) Indian writers imagine the image of a horse in the missing remainder of the stone, based on several other, clearer images showing horses (see, for example, the “clear” images at the U. North Carolina Religion School’s “Concordance Project”. So Farmer and Witzel spend pages and pages screaming abuse and charging fraud against these writers. Predictably, they found an obseqious publication venue: “Frontline” –the magazine of the Maoist publication, “the Hindu”. This is run by people who believe, to quote my neighbor, that “Engleesh poriyum ennal yean Tamil peshanum?” and, when the Red Chinese invaded India in 1962, rushed to take Mandarin courses in 1962 to grab the good jobs in the coming People’s Paradise.
Had he bothered to do elementary review of prior work, Witzel, like Bwana Stanley finding Bwana Livingstone in the African bush, would have found the work of the famous Paul Courtright of Emory University. Per what could be called Courtright’s Theorem, any 3 vertical lines (or any lines at all!) clearly indicate a Limp Phallus. Or a child asking for “oral sex”. Or a mother suggesting sex with her son.
Now Revealed: The Equine Posterior Explanation (EPE)
Now, dear Reader, please compare the pictures in Farmer and Witzel’s masterpiece on the Harappan Bull Posterior, with this “Indus Seal” picture, found shortly before the “referendum’ where General Musharraf won over 400% of the registered votes in Gujranwala, a mere 269 km from Harappa, and close to Mohenjodaro. I would say “Q.E.D.” to the Equine Posterior Theory (EPT). It just takes imagination, a broader cultural perspective, and some time spent actually doing research and not abusing real scholars, to be able to see these connections across apparently disjointed fields. Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? To think that these Harvard Indologists have been laying eggs on this subject for decades, looking at the wrong end of the picture!
Aryan Invasion Fallacy
The major issue bothering the EIR/RISA is the Aryan Invasion Theory, and its thorough debunking by Indian researchers. The AIT holds that civilization came to the lumpen masses of India, courtesy of the wild (Caucasian) horse-riding tribes from the Black Sea area. So all civilization followed from Europe, and the Vedas etc. obediently followed the writings of the Greeks (and of course were copied from there). Neat.
The problem with AIT has always been that we had to suspend logic. We are asked to believe that those macho horseback savages sat around composing the Vedas and the Epics during breaks from raping and mass-murdering the dwellers of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. There is no evidence that their cousins from the Caucasus / Black Sea /steppes of EurAsia showed any such propensity for culture (other than looting) in any of the other lands they
infested, for another fifteen hundred years. The Har(vard)appans on the other hand are supposed to have spent all their time carving stone “Seals” admiring the rear-ends of donkeys – the first Harvard East, perhaps? Accepting that these were horses’ rear-ends would hurt the AIT and IER no end. If the Vedas were accepted to be indigenous desi products, that would put Indian civilization way ahead of the claimed origins of Western civilization – a completely unacceptable notion to all the racist pecking order of western “history” texts. Here is Western History at its best: “Equus originally evolved in North America by the late Pliocene epoch, about three million years ago, .. central Asian nomads in the 3d millennium B.C. … Mesopotamia and China (c.2000 B.C.), Greece (c.1700 B.C.), Egypt (c.1600 B.C.), and India (c.1500 B.C.). ..W Europe no later than 1000 B.C.” The pecking order has to be maintained, to protect the whole edifice of Caucasian Superiority. No wonder Witzel, Farmer and the Prominent Fifty are up on their hind hooves about this!
Satellite imaging and ground investigations have validated the Saraswati River legends, and the legends of a land link between ancient India and Lanka. These add to the recent court-ordered dig by the Archaeological Survey of India that found a massive structure indicative of an ancient Hindu temple, buried beneath the (recent) ruins of the “Babri Masjid”, just as Ram devotees at Ayodhya had claimed all along. The remains of legendary Dwaraka have been reportedly found off Gujarat – in a region where massive earthquakes such as the Bhuj quake of 2001 periodically cause large changes in topography. Thus as real science and technology advance, they are rapidly drying up the swamps of colonialist “Indology” myths. Farmer out-Houdinis Houdini in his Frontline exposition, claiming that he (of course) accepts that the “Aryan Invasion Theory” is archaic, having been replaced by “Aryan Acculturation” – a vivid example of prejudice surviving scientific proof to perpetuate racist boo-boos. Oh, yeah, the Central Asian savages came in clutching passports with visa stamps and spent summers at Har(vard)appa? Consider the honesty of this “acceptance” in the face of emails flying around the IER that after trashing California textbooks, their next target is the BBC, which has recently seen the light and accepted that ‘AIT’ is bogus.
Scholars or Scientists, Frauds or Fatwas?
Cal Tech Professor Saffman remarked in the Preface to his book on Vortices that “one cannot be a Scholar and a Researcher at the same time” – but he was thinking of people who were actually one or the other. Come to think of it, no Scholar would claim to be a Scholar when s(he) is functionally illiterate in the language of the field of Scholarship. Let me now imagine the possibility that Witzel, Farmer and the rest of their mob are Researchers.
Scientists understand a basic truth – that what we know is a tiny fraction of what remains to be understood. The reason why religions are called “Faiths” – and what makes any thinking worthwhile at all – is that believers have Faith in some things, beyond what is claimed to be understood by science. This is at the root of the saying “More things are wrought by Prayer than this world dreams of” – an utterly nonsensical proposition, per the faux-‘scientific’ arrogance of Witzel and Farmer. Thus, per their logic it is perfectly OK to take a piece of scratched masonry and a fantasize a bull attached to it, but Indian believers are frauds if they imagine a horse there instead. Perhaps Witzel & Co. should consider looking in the intellectual equivalent of a mirror when they next toss accusations of fraud? Use a Harvard Bull Rear letterhead in lieu of the bloody shield with the silly Eyetalian words, as the fount of their scholarship?
Witzel and Farmer represent the standard theme of the Inquisition and the Taliban that those outside their own “faith” are frauds. Where I was raised, one was supposed to outgrow this stage by age 5. For instance, it has not occurred to the IER to rant against those who hold Faith in their own legends of the Immaculate Conception, of the Holy Spirit Rising From the Grave and Promising to Return, of Moses coming down the Mountain with a story of being handed ten heavy stones by a Divine Hand from the clouds (early USB memory sticks? Satellite Phones?), or of Noah building a boat that could carry 2 of every living species on the planet – and then being silly enough to let it run aground on a mountaintop. Nor would they describe those who believe in these to be frauds, because most religions are unforgiving of loutish behavior against their Faith. Not so Hinduism – none of us would approve of Fatwas against his ilk, their loutishness or slander notwithstanding. Hence, like the porn-peddling “psychoanalysts” of Emory and Chicago, the Harvard “Indology” bull-peddler tribe feels perfectly safe in their freedom to abuse Hindus.
Vive L’Ignorance! N’est ce pas chic?
I was not trying to be disrespectful of Mr. Farmer by repeating his flaunting of illiteracy in Sanskrit. He is in excellent company. Witzel cites one of his co-signors as “India’s Most Famous Historian”. True. This person is articulate, and adept at ensuring coincidence of “research” conclusions with those of the “mainstream” money and power centers. The “fame” is mostly because of all the incredulity about this person’s state of literacy in Sanskrit or any other ancient Indian language.
Stanley Wolpert, another signatory, is author of the abysmal “Nine Hours to Rama” (which I have read as a child since it was banned, and still resent the time wasted) and “A New History of India” (where I did not repeat the error). Excerpts from the review by James Mills, University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom:
“… It would be a misjudgement for any undergraduate to submit an essay on such subjects without bothering to consult the authorities so it is a fundamental flaw for a book that seeks to be taken seriously as a history of these periods and topics to commit such neglect … simply narrates the region as a succession of kings, viceroys, prime ministers, and policies on the assumption that the people were a ‘lumpen’ mass capable only of mule-like forbearance or unpredictable and sudden violence.
Thus the well-meaning but rather out-of-touch Mr. Wolpert is an ideal choice to perpetuate the “Caste Curry Communal Riot Taj Mahal” school of “Indology” that Witzel and the RISA so desperately guard. Is it any surprise that the “Prominent Academics” have thrust Wolpert in as one of 3 “Super CRP” Dictators of the Curriculum?
The RISA and the IER wear their ignorance with all the pride of David Macaulay’s Archaeology Expert wearing the “Ceremonial Headdress and Neckwear” (a toilet bowl and toilet seat) in the classic “Motel of the Mysteries” (available at Amazon.com). Their attitude reminds me of the story about the expensive Russian restaurant in a Southern U.S city. Someone asked the waiter why the menu had not a single Russian dish. “Ze Czar Nikolai he never eat ze Roossian feud! He always prefer le Cuisine Francais!”
Research Standards of the IER and RISA
Let me again test the hypothesis that Witzel and his cohorts might be Researchers. Examine their Letter for some tell-tale characteristics:
- Sweeping generalizations: The Mob of Fifty sneers at all of us who support the careful revision of school textbooks, declaring that we “discriminate against non-Hindus”. It would be trivial to prove that they are lying, except that it would be a case of “attributing to malice that which is adequately explained as stupidity”.
- Failure to study prior work. The letter reveals a gross lack of care about what changes the community had in fact suggested – and the Ad Hoc Board had accepted.
- Baseless statements. Ah! A whole page full of those, supplemented by reams on their website.
- Failure to understand context of one’s field. The abusive rants by Witzel and Farmer against Indian scholars is clear proof of their own utterly low class.
- False pretences of competence as “world specialists”. Face it: someone who “understands Sanskrit literature only in translation”, does not. Understand, I mean. Ignorance may be cute in “Indology” and other “liberal studies” among likewise ignorant cohorts, but not in general human society. Imagine an ‘Engineering Scholar’ who understands differential equations in solved color picture form. Or a Doctor of Medicine who understands Anatomy only when explained in gutter slang. Boggles the imagination. Indian schoolchildren learn Sanskrit fro 10 years by age 15, apart from a deep education (anything is deep compared to the depth of the IER) on Indian culture and epics.
- Conclusions sans Data: Witzel claims that the 50 signatories of his letter represent worldwide Hindu sentiment, without presenting the source to back that claim. Which Hindus exactly, approve of the abusive texts that Californians have been trying to correct? What is the basis for claiming that these constitute a majority of the estimated 800 million Hindus on Earth?
- False Analogies Witzel claims that the changes suggested by Indian–Americans to the CA School Board, are changes that have been rejected in Indian textbooks. Since when is the standard of California textbooks dictated to be below that of Indian textbooks? Many Indian textbook changes have occurred in States ruled by Maoist Communists. An example of “politically correct” Indian material, presumably approved by Witzel’s ‘global experts’ is the Mandatory Essay question in West Bengal: “Lal Kile Par Lal Nishaan, Maang Raha Hai Hindustan!” (sorry, Indologist, get someone else to translate that for you). Want California to teach its kids the equivalent, replacing ‘Lal Kila” with “Gora Makaan” and “Hindustan” with “Witzelstan”?
So much for the claim that these are “researchers”. So what are the conflicting positions on textbook revision? Please see Table 1 below, from the submissions of the Indian-American community, and Witzel’s Letter from Prominent Academics.
Table 1: Community Suggested edits (detailed list) and the Witzel Mob’s demands and flailing abuse.
|Community Request (CR)||Witzel Mob’s Demands (WMD)|
|California adopt textbooks that correct or delete
1)Unbalanced and poor coverage of Hinduism as compared to other religions
2) Negative description of Hindu values and belief systems
3) Incorrect or one-sided portrayal of the origins of Indian civilization
4) Omission of earlier river valley civilizations of India
5) Teaching of theories as facts and biased teaching of one side of these theories
6) Biased description of Hindu and Indian women and their role in society
7) Factual inaccuracies regarding the dates of the historical events
8) Stereotypical colonialist descriptions of India as an ‘exotic land’Full list of suggested changes is at
|“Reject the demands by nationalist Hindu (‘Hindutva’) groups that California textbooks be altered to conform to their religious-political views.”“Proposed revisions are not of a scholarly but of a religious-political nature”
(Proposed revisions) “are primarily promoted by Hindutva supporters and non-specialist academics writing abut issues far outside their areas of expertise”
“There are ill-concealed political agendas behind these views that are well-known to researchers and tens of millions of non-Hindu Indians”
“Tens of millions of non-Hindu Indians, are routinely discriminated against by these groups.”
Why should any of this concern Indian-American and Hindu families?
As of this writing, all the careful, patient efforts of the concerned parents and the Board appear to be down the drain. The California Board has been bullied into underhanded antics bordering on treachery, appointing Witzel and two cohorts as a “Super” board to dictate their version of “history” and to protect the status quo of the abusive texts on India and Hinduism. The processes of open debate and freedom of expression, provided to the Christians, Muslims and Jews, have been shut in the faces of Hindu Americans. Someone pointed out that this gang being put in control of deciding what to teach about Hinduism, is like Heinrich H. being appointed to decide what to teach about Judaism.
This has destroyed the carefully-built trust and faith between parents and the California Board. The IER has “won” – they have divided good, caring people, and stopped progress. The losers in this are of course, California students who will miss the chance to understand India and Indians – they will continue to say, like the vast majority today, “Ah cyaint say this name!” when faced with putting 4 syllables together to say “Narayanan”, while having no trouble with “Zbgniew Brzezinski”. Indian-American, and specifically Hindu, children are condemned to suffer the humiliation of being taught from racist books by ignorant teachers, to impressionable and gullible classmates. There will be several more hate attacks on Hindus and Sikhs.
Should California trust Witzel and the RISA to dictate what our children are taught? Do we want them to grow up being as loutish and ignorant, in a world that demands cross-cultural understanding? Witzel and cohorts imply that people like me have no right to object to these evils. They have failed in their basic duty to society as teachers and researchers, and revealed themselves to be shockingly primitive hate-mongers.
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? For instance, should Christianity be taught by a bigot who sneers at the notion of Immaculate Conception as a “scientific” impossibility, and ignores the deeper philosophical and moral lessons behind that notion? How can it be appropriate for any religion to be taught by bigots who sneer at our deepest articles of faith, using the most obscene tavern songs, while ignoring the deep philosophy behind our symbols? This last item is precisely the specialty of Witzel and his co-author Farmer – the “global expert” Indologist Comparative Historian who’s been learning Sanskrit for “months”.
Harvard is a fine university, but not in teaching Hinduism or Indian History. Harvard’s Hinduism and Indology teaching appears to be comparable in intent and level of scholarship to the teaching of Christianity at the “renowned scholar” Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s Binori Madarssa in Pakistan. The Coat of Arms of Harvard has been sullied by Witzel, by dragging it through the mud of his hate letter. At any rate, it is utterly offensive to use a Crusader shield, symbol of religious tyranny and unspeakable torture to those who know of the Portuguese Inquisition in western India, in dictating the teaching of Indian history to children of a free, modern society.
It’s your country, your vote, your tuition dollars, your Constitutional right to equal treatment and human dignity for youselves and your children, your children’s education and their future in a global marketplace that are stake. Other than that, there is no reason for anyone to get concerned, or get off one’s chair and make that call to one’s representatives, or write that letter, or find out more what is being done with one’s taxes.
If, on the other hand, you feel that this matters, then please consider some implications:
- We cannot get fair treatment from the present Academic Power Structure. Far from representing community concerns, those who occupy the “mainstream” academic furniture on Indology, Hinduism, Sanskrit studies etc. are very clearly determined to protect the status quo of bigotry, and go to any extremes of abusive behavior to obstruct progress.
- The standard of intellectual honesty, not to mention competence, in Indology studies, is abysmal. Can we rest happy about these as our children’s teachers and role models?
- Why should we continue to send donations to universities that do not afford us the courtesy of even listening to us? To those who perpetuate abuse against us?
- Why should such low standards as Witzel and Farmer exhibit in their letter, be accepted as Indology scholarship?
- As an Indian-American asked: “Why should 3 anti-Hindu non-Hindus get to dictate what is taught about Hinduism?” Would California countenance 3 Taliban Islamists dictating Christian history and religion curricula?
- We have to generate our own books, our own internet-based educational resources, and our own peer reviewed journals to advance knowledge on Hinduism and India. Clearly, abusive mobs like those who signed that hate letter, cannot be accepted as our “peers” to review our work. They are, after all, illiterate.
- This means that right now, you and I have to stand up for what is right – and insist that the California Board of Education follow due process and treat Indian history, culture and Hinduism with respect. They need to start by accepting, in toto, the edits recommended by their own Ad Hoc Board, under Prof. Bajpai’s guidance. They need to reject the bullying from the hate-mongering Witzel mob. If they will not act in fairness, we need to demand that the Governor find people who will be fair to replace them. Nothing less will do.
Mr. Witzel and his cohorts need to learn the first principle of Hindu and Indian culture before they can have any credibility as “scholars” or “researchers”. That is simply that Humility is the first pre-requisite for knowledge or wisdom – something Harvard clearly does not teach its faculty.
. “It is regrettable that we are unable to have a discussion of those reservations on the main RISA email list as Rajiv Malhotra and other critics are precluded from joining the list for reasons that have never been made public. Therefore some of us have started a yahoogroup to provide an open forum for discussion of these issues: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/openrisa Membership is open to all – but please read the group description, and the messages so far before posting.” Noyce. J., http://www.swaveda.com/articles.php?mnthyr=&action=show&id=28&comment=Comment
 Columbia University, “Encyclopedia”. Entry: “horse”: Equus originally evolved in North America by the late Pliocene epoch, about three million years ago, spreading to all continents except Australia. Horses disappeared from the Americas for unknown reasons about 10,000 years ago, to be reintroduced by Europeans, c.A.D. 1500. Many species of Equus arose in the Old World. Horses were probably first domesticated by central Asian nomads in the 3d millennium B.C. Horses were recorded in Mesopotamia and China (c.2000 B.C.), Greece (c.1700 B.C.), Egypt (c.1600 B.C.), and India (c.1500 B.C.). Horses were domesticated in W Europe no later than 1000 B.C…” http://www.answers.com/topic/horse Viewed Dec. 1, 2005 AD