Although 99% of Hindus are Indian by nationality, this week we saw three separate cases of Hinduphobia against politicians, none of whom were Indian by nationality. The first was in Australian Parliament where Josh Frydenberg ridiculed another parliamentarian, a non-Hindu, by mocking him using mala beads, chanting and doing yoga about a proposed ‘wellbeing’ policy.
It was a straw man by association of well being, yoga, superstition and Hinduism, including taunts about ‘coming down from the Himalayas’ linking the attack to the land of Lord Shiva and Parvati in India. In the US, Tulsi Gabbard, the last female candidate in the primaries was excluded by former and current candidates, who said there were no women left and only two in the race. Her campaign has included media blackouts, the appropriation of her own identity as indigenous woman of colour by a white candidate, and the denial of her woman-hood, her voice on debates stage, and even her existence.
The latest example is a cartoon in the Guardian depicting Priti Patel and Boris Johnson as cows. The discourse around that is a classic example of medieval ‘witch hunting’ where an accusation of the ‘blasphemy’ of her ‘being a bully’ was made and out came the stereotype of a ‘bull’. The bull is an ancient and sacred symbol of Hinduism, prevalent throughout Hindu iconography as Nandi. It is depicted on the helm of Vedic sea vessels.
It links Hinduism to its origins of indigenous, ‘heathen’ worship. Social media comments have compared the depiction as similar to anti-Semitic portrayal of Jews by Nazis. Hinduphobic attacks frequently utilise the worship of cows to diminish indigenous traditional knowledge, whilst distributing the blame for isolated accounts of cow protection gangs across the entire community as ‘violent’. In reverse, it is not politically correct for any other culture, to use guilt by association, by universally distributing the values, activities or ideology of single person or sub-set, be it a citizen, Prime Minister, their church or their religious beliefs, to every person that voted for them or belongs to the same class. The patterns of discourse here are as Vandana Shiva and other Ecofeminist philosophers have stated for decades. Man is to woman as nature is to culture, and all that is associated with nature, including indigenous traditional knowledge is effeminised, negated and silenced.