For the last two decades, and especially in the years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, American media outlets have been running a very successful campaign against Muslims and other people of color.
By using titles like “Islamic extremists” and “radical Islamic terrorism,” the media divided American society and created an environment of fear and hate.
The RHC took a popular slogan from Indian Prime Minister Modi’s campaign, “Ab ki Baar Modi Sarkar,” and made a commercial featuring Trump saying, “Ab ki BaarTrump Sarkar,
African-Americans are regularly described as “thugs” and their crimes are listed in news articles serving as their obituaries. Hispanic people are often called “lazy” and “rapists,” often by the same people complaining about them stealing jobs from white Americans.
During his campaign and after his election, President Trump has repeatedly used the same descriptions for people of color and Muslims in America that the media has been using for years.
Incidents of physical violence
His use of derogatory descriptors for Muslims and people of color, and the recent travel ban against people from Muslim-majority countries has given his supporters tacit permission to not only use the same language against people of color, but also perpetrate physical violence against these groups.
For instance, in Kansas last week, Adam Purinton shot two Indian IT engineers, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, both 32, because he thought they were from the Middle East.
The RHC took a popular slogan from Indian Prime Minister Modi’s campaign, “Ab ki Baar Modi Sarkar,” and made a commercial featuring Trump saying, “Ab ki BaarTrump Sarkar, It is possibly the first casualty of the religious, racial, and ethnic division spreading across the United States following Trump’s election, but it may not be the only one: minorities are reporting an increase in attacks on them and their institutions.
In the past week alone, Jewish schools and community centers in eleven states have received bomb threats, and headstones in a Jewish cemetery were overturned. Teachers in American schools have reported that their minority students are being increasingly verbally and physically abused by white students, some as young as seven or eight years old.
Republican Hindu Coalition
Unfortunately, Muslims are also being attacked by other people of color in the U.S. The Indian Hindu community in the U.S. formed the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) as their main political platform, ignoring their fellow Indians who belong to other religions–like Indian Muslims.
RHC leader, billionaire Shalibh Kumar, ran an effective campaign for Trump in battleground states and generated big donations to make Trump’s victory possible.
The RHC took a popular slogan from Indian Prime Minister Modi’s campaign, “Ab ki Baar Modi Sarkar,” and made a commercial featuring Trump saying, “Ab ki BaarTrump Sarkar,” or “Next time, [a] Trump government.”
According to a story published in The Hill on July 19,2016, during their meeting, “Shalibh Kumar was especially won over by Trump’s tough words for Pakistan, India’s neighbor and nemesis; and the businessman praised Trump’s views on Muslim profiling.
‘The way the Muslim religion is being practiced today — it’s not the religion but the way it is being practiced today — there’s something wrong,’Kumar said.
A government that will not promote diversity and inclusion for Muslims in U.S. religious culture will certainly not include Hindus.
“The policy setting is that we need to have a lot of scrutiny. I totally agree with [former Speaker] Newt Gingrich [R-Ga.]: Mosques should be monitored completely, vetting should be taking place…. I am totally for profiling. If you need to profile, what is the fuss?”
Furthermore, “Trump told Kumar in their meeting that Pakistan cannot be trusted as a U.S. ally, and he talked about how Osama bin Laden was housed on Pakistani soil when he was found and killed by U.S. forces.”
But in their hate for Muslims and Pakistan, the RHC forgot one very important point: Indian Hindus are not only a racial minority but also a religious minority in the United States. A government that will not promote diversity and inclusion for Muslims in U.S. religious culture will certainly not include Hindus.
Similarities between Pakistanis and Indians
And Pakistani people look very similar to Indian nationals. Any environment that is hostile towards Pakistani people or Indian Muslims because of their skin color or style of clothing will never be an ideal environment for Indian Hindus. The recent shooting in Kansas shows us the consequences of this hateful environment created in the U.S.
2016 campaign and election by the mainstream media and the RHC: people who discriminate against a person of color who is Muslim will not fail to discriminate against a person of color who may or may not be Muslim.
The RHC took a popular slogan from Indian Prime Minister Modi’s campaign, “Ab ki Baar Modi Sarkar,” and made a commercial featuring Trump saying, “Ab ki BaarTrump Sarkar”
The U.S. media created the environment of division and laid the groundwork that spread hate. This, in turn, provided an ideal opportunity for the rise of a Republican candidate who could fuel the bigotry of some white Americans. And now the same media that built Trump is facing Trump’s contempt when he calls them “fake media” and “fake news.”
The RHC supported a campaign that solidified this environment of hate in the Hindu Community; this, ironically, contributed to the death of an innocent young man in the Hindu Community of the U.S.
We all need to reflect on and reconsider our own behaviors that may have contributed to the hate, division, and violence. We must focus on similarities instead of differences. And finally, we need to build and repair communities instead of destroying the very core of our social values.
Dr. Shahbaz Gill, is Professor at Institute of South Asia & Middle Eastern Studies at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweets at @SSGill80