An Example of Racial and Religious Prejudice

Hinduwebsite editorial

From The Editor's Desk

(Hinduwebsite Editorial - Exploring Truth Amidst Illusions and Distortions)

This editorial is in response to the racial and religious prejudice against Hindus and Hinduism by two American Diplomats who lived in India, working for the American Embassy, and their irrational comments about poverty, rape and vegetarianism.

It was reported in the news (Jan, 2014) that an American diplomat, Wayne May, who was posted as the head of security in New Delhi and his wife, Alicia Muller May made rather racially biased and undiplomatic comments about their three-year term in India, calling it “bizarre” and comparing it to a “zoo.”

Alicia May crossed the line of diplomacy and when she irrationally alleged in the Facebook, “It’s the vegetarians that are doing the raping, not the meat-eaters.” In doing so she ignored that many rapes in India were committed by non-Hindus and at times people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds indulged in gang rapes.

It is appalling that being a diplomat and the wife of the head of security in the American embassy, she was so ignorant about the country where they lived for three years, and the opportunity to see it from a broader perspective. It appears that the couple lived in a bubble of their own, saw what they wanted to see and felt justified in perpetuating their delusional myths, prejudice and aversion to people of a different culture and religion.

Apart from venting her anger against India and throwing a childish tantrum for not being able to eat beef and Hindus’ veneration for cows, she complained about the poverty and the poor sanitation and felt that her dog was better fed than the gardener who worked for them in their garden. Alicia May not only showed little empathy for the poor people but also more disgust for their poor living conditions.

The diplomat and his wife, who were expelled by the Indian Government also became involved in the controversy surrounding the Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade. The comments made by them betrays their own ignorance, cultural and religious bias and lack of sensitivity. It is not that they are alone in holding such extreme opinions about India or Indians. Many Americans hold erroneous views about India because of the biased and selective portrayal of the country in the Media as a poor nation.

We can understand the ignorance of people who may have never visited India, who have never personally interacted with its people or who know little about the country, its people and culture. However, these bigoted diplomats lived in India, enjoyed a privileged life at the expense of American taxpayers and Indian hospitality, and had a firsthand experience of the country. They should have known better about the country where they lived, unless they were just cooped up in the embassy and never ventured out to see the rich diversity of the world’s largest democracy and its historical and cultural value to the progress of human civilization, science and technology.

While living there they must have seen the country, traveled to different places, met people of diverse, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, attended parties, and probably visited several restaurants and eating places. They might have not only seen its poverty and poor sanitation but also its rich diversity, cultural heritage. They must have seen and interacted with many educated people who live better lives and know much better about the world and its people than most Americans. Yet, it looks as if they never lived there.

It is true India that has many problems. Just as USA had many problems about sixty or seventy years after it got its independence, India has been going through a transformative and consolidating phase after 300 years of British rule. In its formative years, the USA was notorious for slavery, inequality, indentured labor, racial prejudice, and criminal enterprise. Every country goes through turbulent phases and deplorable conditions in its long history. It is wrong to make sweeping judgments about it based on selective information.

The diplomats must be aware that the USA has its own share of problems and deplorable conditions, and not everything is perfect. The country is rich, but not without poverty and suffering of people. There are many poor and homeless people in the USA also, who live in awful conditions, without a shelter and livelihood.

Many people are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Many children suffer from abuse or parental neglect. Millions of people depend upon government welfare or charities for survival. The cities are ridden with drug dealers, crimes and criminal gangs, while the poorest of the poor make their living by begging, stealing or scrounging the garbage bins for scrapes of food. It would be improper to judge any country solely by these factors. Poverty, crime, hunger, poor sanitation are global phenomena. No country is entirely free from them.

The poor in India do not have opportunities to prosper. Compared to them, the poor in America have better opportunities. Yet, they make wrong choices and suffer from the consequences. However, just because they are poor or made foolish choices, you cannot compare them to your dog and say your dog lives a better life.

If the diplomat couple made a little effort and tried to know the country, where they lived for a few years, they would have at least realized the following.

1. Indians probably consume twice the amount of meat consumed by the Americans on any given day.

2. Indian cooks excel in cooking the best meat dishes the world has ever tasted.

3. A majority of Indians eat meat on a regular basis.

4. There is no connection whatsoever between vegetarianism and rape. However, there is a clear connection between obesity and the kind of food most Americans eat in the restaurants. There is also clear proof that pork and red meat cause several diseases including heart disease.

5. The problems of rape in India can be attributed to the falling, religious and moral values in which alcohol, western movies, and western culture play no small role. Indian youth are corrupted by the X-rated movies, and videos found on the websites hosted in the USA and Europe. The rapists and criminals in India have a lot in common with the criminals in other countries.

They come from different social, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Most of them eat meat, drink liquor and do not practice any faith. Many people watch English movies and  obscene videos and form very low opinions about women in general and women from the West in particular. This is the reality. The rapists are found in all countries, cultures and religions, not just India or among vegetarians only.

Let us hope that in future the government selects well informed and educated people for foreign postings abroad who create a positive image of the country while they serve it. The diplomat couple owe an apology to all Indians and vegetarians for the comments they made.

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