The Indian American community is the most prosperous ethnic minority in the United States.The median income of an Indian-American (IA) household is almost twice than the national average. Known for their academic prowess and humility, the Indian-Americans, off late, have gained substantial political ground. President Obama, over the course of his presidency, has appointed many members of the IA community to significant and prestigious positions. Most notable of those has been the appointing of Preet Bharara as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of the State of New York, Manhattan who has spearheaded many crusades against the Wall Street. Even the Surgeon General of USA, or "America's Doctor", is of Indian origin, Vivek Murthy.
The stellar positioning of this community comes with the responsibility of staying united in their endorsements and the use of their political clout. The fact that they possess a considerable fortune and money is the most crucial component of an American political campaign , only makes this responsibility greater.
It's because of these reasons that an event endorsing Donald Trump for President and courting support for him by the Republican Hindu Coalition on October 15th in New Jersey, has set a dangerous precedent.
The event masqueraded as a charity fixture but was a propaganda event of the Hindu Right Wing fringe. It was publicized on the social media with inflammatory keywords and hashtags like #KashmiriPundits, #HinduRefugees and #VictimsofTerror ! Staying true to every Right Wing propaganda, issues seemed to have been strategically mixed and convoluted to serve the sole purpose of rabble rousing. For instance, while the matter of displaced Kashmiri Pundits is old, legitimate and complex, the term "Hindu Refugees", placed right next to it, makes the two look related, which is far from true. But if said in the same vein, it has the potential of unearthing painful memories, from more than 25 years ago. The Hindu Refugees mentioned above are indeed the refugees from Bangladesh (in some cases, from Pakistan) which the Modi government has decided to grant citizenship. For the common public, especially the Diaspora, to realize such nuances is hard.
The dangerous cocktail of dreadful memories and little known facts, served along with, misplaced emotions, and bingo, you have an agitated crowd. That's Politics 101 which RHC probably learned at the Trump University!
What could be the common denominator between Donald Trump and an American Hindu fringe? Or between the displaced Kashmiri Pundits from 1989 and the Bangladeshi Hindu Refugees from today?
Yes, as accomplished as American Indians are, there is a fringe that harbors communal hatred against the Muslims. Some afflictions die hard! Distance and nostalgia may just aggravate that. The political activism among Indians in USA, since the "Hindu Hriday Samrat" (roughly: Emperor of the Hindu Hearts), Narendra Modi came to the national political forefront, has increased manifolds. The "academically inclined" and "humble" Indian Diaspora has since then, roughed up journalists and thrown members of the LGBT communities at his rallies, in USA. The community has conveniently also ignored that the aforementioned citizenship program for the Hindu Refugees is religion based, conveniently ignoring the Muslim refugees who are also escaping the same terrorism in those countries.
All Trump had to do to pander to this rich fringe, was just to be, well, Trump! He equated Indians to Hindus, insulting the rich and complicated communal fiber that connects the country. He proclaimed that, if elected, he would be a great friend of India, and famously, in his signature incoherence, that he is a big fan of "The Hindu" (not the newspaper, I assume)!
|Via @SchrekReports on Twitter|
For Trump, it was not hard to win over the communally charged crowd. As most of the expat Hindus, the crowd was pro-Modi. And if there's one thing that will appeal to them is their leader being not related to the infamous Godhra incident and the Gujarat riots. As ridiculous as it may sound, flyers accusing Hillary Clinton for framing Modi were distributed at the event.
Though the Indian Americans are not expected to deviate from their traditional stance of voting Democratic, because of Trump, such coalition of two extreme nationalistic ideologies is dangerous. The chaos of the Right Wing is contagious. They appeal to the primal fear of the masses and are reluctant to the New World Order.
Most dangerously, it eventually makes obscene, palatable!
Donald Trump is obscene and the Indian American community must not contribute in him becoming palatable.
Since this event, Trump has allegedly, appeared in a #AbKiBaarModiSarkar kind of video, speaking Hindi, on the pretext of #Diwali wishes!
Now, I have seen it all!