Subramanian Swamy is an Indian politician that has been waging an incessant battle against corruption, especially against the infamous USD 40 billion 2G Spectrum telecom license scam orchestrated by the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and to prosecute the Indian politicians who have hidden away their ill-gotten wealth in secret Swiss bank accounts. Not surprisingly, Swamy remains a high-profile target of the corrupt and the powerful. Ironically, the ones to fire the first shots at him have been the secular leftists of the famed Harvard University, where Swami has once been an associate professor of economics, and where he continued to teach summer courses until last year.
On July 16, 2011, Swami wrote an op-ed in the online newspaper, DNA India, where he addressed the threat of Islamic terrorism directed at the Hindus and India. He predicted a Taliban takeover of Pakistan which would be followed by an escalation of terrorism directed at India since the successor to Osama bin Laden has already announced that India is the top priority. Swamy rubbished the “bleeding heart liberal” claim that “terrorists are born or bred because of illiteracy, poverty, oppression, and discrimination,” and the liberal advocacy “that instead of eliminating terrorists, the root cause of these four disabilities in society should be removed,” by pointing out that “Osama bin laden was a billionaire,” and that “in the failed Times Square episode, failed terrorist Shahzad was from a highly placed family in Pakistan and had an MBA from a reputed US university.” Swamy also ridiculed the argument that “terrorists cannot be deterred because they are irrational and willing to die” by pointing out that “terrorist masterminds have political goals and a method in their madness. An effective strategy to deter terrorism is to defeat those political goals and to rubbish them by counter-terrorist action.”
Swamy proposed means to deal with Islamic terrorism by pointing out that every goal of terrorists must be strategically defeated. Some of his advocacies are:
1. Abrogate special privileges such as governance by Islamic Hadiths in civil cases that Muslims enjoy in India and enforce uniform civil code of law; abrogate Article 370 that grants Kashmir special status and sustains Islamic terrorism.
2. If Pakistan continues to back terrorists, India should assist the Baluchis and Sindhis to become independent of Pakistan.
3. Remove the mosques that were built after forcibly demolishing the Hindu temples, and rebuild Hindu temples in their sites.
4. Mandate every Indian to sing the national song Vande Mataram, which personifies India as the mother goddess, and which song many Indian Muslims refuse to sing under the pretext that praising the motherland in sacred feminine terms is against Islam. Every Indian should also learn the Sanskrit language as it embodies India’s heritage.
5. Hindus as well as non-Hindus can vote provided they all acknowledge their heritage as descendants of Hindus.
6. A ban on proselytizing of the Hindus.
Swamy’s op-ed was opposed by Islamists and leftists, who also petitioned Harvard to have his summer courses removed, under the pretext that his op-ed was inflammatory towards Muslims, while his powerful political opponents in India whom Swamy has been prosecuting for scams clamored for his arrest using the same op-ed as the pretext. Initially, Harvard refused to capitulate, and vowed to defend Swamy’s right of freedom of speech only to make an eventual u-turn to remove Swamy’s summer courses. It is as if freedom of had been abrogated by a cabal of leftists!
Diana Eck, who advocated issuing a fatwa against Swamy’s courses said that “Swamy’s op-ed clearly crosses the line by demonizing an entire (Muslim) religious community and calling for violence against their sacred places,” and reminded that “Harvard has a moral responsibility not to affiliate itself with anyone who expresses hatred towards a minority group.” Sugata Bose, who also favored the fatwa, stated that “Swamy’s position on disenfranchisement (of the Muslims) is like saying Jewish Americans and African Americans should not be allowed to vote unless they acknowledge the supremacy of white Anglo Saxon Protestants.”
This is extremely troubling for numerous reasons which we will discuss next.
1. One may very well disagree with Swamy’s views but freedom of speech is not contingent upon the acceptability of what is spoken. If an academic fatwa may be issued against a faculty for expressing certain opinions it is tantamount to, citing Harvard professor James Russell’s words, “Stalinism without Stalin” because it forces academics to conform.
2. Swamy only called for legally removing 300 mosques that were built by Islamic rulers after demolishing the Hindu temples that stood there earlier. If Diana Eck thinks this is a “call for violence,” would she agree that the earlier demolition of the Hindu temples is actually an instance of organized violence? Is it her expectation that the Hindus can never ask for the restoration of their most sacred places that were violently razed?
3. Since Diana Eck thinks that “demonizing a religious community” is sufficient grounds to remove a faculty, I would like to know whether she supports a fatwa against her Harvard counterpart Michael Witzel who too demonized all American Hindus that asked for a fair portrayal of Hinduism in California textbooks by portraying them as extremists. Not that I support any such fatwa but Eck may want to be consistent lest she should be perceived as wearing her mullah’s mantle only against those that do not fit the proverbial mould of Gunga Din.
4. Quite contrary to what Bose claims, Swamy did not ask for an acknowledgment of Hindu supremacy. He asked every Indian to acknowledge that their ancestors were Hindus. I see this as a meaningless exercise but the fact is that dar-ul-Islam requires pan-Islamic brotherhood, and this sometimes means that an Indian Muslim bonds with his counterparts in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and sometimes even wages jihad against India, as evident from terrorist attacks such as 11/26 which could not have happened without local accomplices. Every nation requires loyalty to itself first, and since Islam is a political ideology, the only way India can secure the loyalty of Muslims is by having them relate to their Hindu legacy and by severing their imaginary link with the worldwide umma. The ways for accomplishing this transformation of the Muslim mindset can be debated but Swamy’s is hardly a call for Hindu supremacy.
5. In the recently concluded American Academy of Religions (AAR) conference, many leftist academics, while discussing freedom of speech in the context of the Danish cartoon controversy, always qualified their support for freedom of speech with the caveat that it cannot offend Muslim sensibilities. It seems that leftist academics accord freedom of religion a higher precedence over freedom of speech. Well, votaries of this thought such as Eck, who is also a lesbian, must remember that in an Islamic state she would receive death penalty for marrying her lesbian partner. Islam is intolerant of the lifestyle Eck espouses just as it is intolerant of the “idolatrous” ways of the Hindus. I can understand why a Hindu such as Swamy would not want to tolerate the intolerant religion but I fail to understand Eck’s suicidal tolerance, and even advocacy, of Islam.
6. Eck’s warning that Harvard should not associate itself with any intolerant agency is commendable. Is it not true that the Saudi prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz in 2005 donated USD 20 million to found an Islamic Studies Center at Harvard? Eck surely knows that these Saudi rulers are the same ones that award death penalty to women for adultery (or even for getting raped), whip them for revealing a strand of hair, and who certainly do not allow the immigrant Hindu workers to carry any images of their divinities. Eck should fervently argue that Harvard return the money to the Saudis and call for the center to be shut down unless she wants us to conclude that in her worldview USD 20 million transforms the “intolerant” into “tolerant.”
One should not make the mistake of assuming that the Harvard fatwa is an isolated incident. Recently, Government of India, in an undisguised effort to suppress all news regarding political corruption, initiated measures to shut down Internet portals that disseminate news exposing corrupt politicians. It is against these politicians that Swamy has been waging a courageous and honorable battle. DNA India was forced to remove the op-ed from its website clearly indicating the involvement of a powerful political hand. Is it the same hand that is behind the Harvard leftists’ concerted effort against Swamy?
Leftists proclaim that freedom of religion is an inviolable right, and this assertion must be accepted as an axiomatic truth claim even though the same leftists do not value freedom of speech as much, especially when what is spoken is not to their liking. This proclamation should not prevent others from asking the legitimate question: Is freedom of religion a right or a privilege? If a religion is intolerant, and seeks to conquer everything in its way, why should society tolerate it? A tolerant society and an intolerant religion are as incompatible as a peaceful woman and her rapist. Islam seeks to conquer the world through jihad and demographic warfare. Non-Muslims have every right to discuss this threat and propose legitimate and reasonable means to deal with it.
A call for a Hindu state where Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, as well as other Indian tribal traditions would be protected by the state is legitimate considering that these religions are the collective target of Islam and Christianity for the purposes of conquest through proselytizing. If that were to happen, India would not be the first religious state. The UK, Germany, and many European states are religious states that accord special status to Christianity and even fund the church. These states regularly enact laws to constrain and disenfranchise Eastern religions, the case of the Christian Hungary proposing a new law to suppress Eastern religions being a recent example. America is secular (and secularism itself favors Christianity – but that is a different topic) but the American government funds the church extensively. Many Arab countries are Islamic theocracies and do not tolerate Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism in their land. One never comes across these leftists defending Hindu rights yet they are the first to pontificate to us about the need to be tolerant of Islam or Christianity.
It would be an act of utmost stupidity on the part of the Hindus to be blindly tolerant towards intolerant religions. A few Gunga Dins amidst us might wear the secular hat because it brings them rewards but the rest of us cannot afford to ignore reality. Let us not forget that that these leftists who want to silence Swamy are the same ones who were silent when the church, in collusion with the Indian government, banned the Da Vinci Code in India.
Harvard should pay heed to what one of its own professors, James Russell, wrote about freedom of expression:
“As I understand it, liberalism has to do with freedom. As a boy I marched for civil rights: that meant equal opportunity and integration, not affirmative action, Black separatism, and the licentious advocacy of violence. When as a college student I fought for gay rights, I wanted homosexuals to be able to express the love we naturally feel without fear of violence, ridicule, or condemnation; (…) It has been distressing to witness the Left's misguided take on foreign affairs morph into full-blown, murderous anti-Semitism, coupled with an utterly illogical worship of political Islam, which is anti-homosexual and misogynist just for starters. But the Left has always flirted with totalitarian violence and has indulged in an easy demonization of America that relieves one of the need to think with greater complexity and depth about the problems of our world. Most of the 101 academic rogues of Horowitz's list would probably describe themselves as liberals, but nothing could be more illiberal that their censorious intolerance. They abuse their position of authority and the captive audience of the classroom to impose their views on students (…) They abuse academic standards to hire and promote those who think as they do.”
I thank Swamy for not being a conformist idiot (using that word in the sense Nietzsche did) like Eck or Bose and for daring to think with clarity. The issues he has raised are pertinent. I may disagree with some of his methods but I do support his right to freedom of expression. Unlike the Harvard leftists, I am confident that the might of my pen is capable of challenging Swamy where I disagree with his methods, and that I do not have to resort to censorship.Shame on you Harvard mullahs!