Nikunj Trivedi, president of the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), has written to the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal calling them out for spreading Hinduphobia and going out of their way to target the Brahmin community. The article in question was penned by Dr. Zaid Jilani and was published on the 29th of November. It was titled “Canceling Student Debt Will Be a Brahmin Bailout”.
In a scathing criticism of the WSJ, Trivedi said, “It is a telling sign of our times that an Op-Ed lacking erudition and factual accuracy while reinforcing Hinduphobia and stereotypes of Hindus, is part of a newspaper such as the WSJ.” The letter states, “The callous usage of the word “Brahmin” amounts to blatant propaganda and a thinly veiled attack on the Hindu community and will promote hatred and animosity towards Hindus in the United States and worldwide.”
The WSJ was also slammed for addressing the elites of American society as ‘Brahmins’. “Mr. Jilani pejoratively uses words such as “Brahmin Left” and “Brahmin Bailout” to describe certain policies being considered by the Democratic party, deeming these policies as benefiting the elitist “upper class” of the American society. By using “Brahmin” as a disparaging label, Mr. Jilani falsely paints an entire community (completely unrelated to the issue being discussed) as greedy, elitist and oppressive and furthers a colonial and racist narrative even as he launches a hostile and prejudicial attack against Hindus.”
The letter also emphasised that “Describing the Brahmin Hindu community as part of the economic elites of the world is a cunning and malicious fairy tale that has no basis in reality and which leads to a reinforcement of colonial and racist prejudices against Hindus.” The letter also slammed the author himself and called him out on his biases.
Trivedi said that Jilani had targeted US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard as well due to her Hindu identity and maliciously accused Indian American organisations and community members of colluding with the Indian government. The letter also pointed out that “the paper would not tolerate devious characterizations of other religious and ethnic communities to drive across a political point.”
The CoHNA demanded that the word ‘Brahmin’ be removed from the OpEd immediately and an apology be issued to the global Hindu Community for straying away from “responsible journalism”.
What did the WSJ OpEd say?
The focus of the OpEd itself was not caste. It discussed the economic policies that are likely to be adopted by the Democratic party and the incoming Joe Biden administration. On that note, it provided a commentary on the proposal to cancel student loans and what it says about the changing face of the Democrat Party.
The message that Jilani essentially wanted to convey is that the Democrat was moving away from its traditional working class vote-base and becoming a party of the elites. It is a development that has not gone down too well with the progressive wing of the party. It is in this context that Jilani uses the term ‘Brahmin Left’ and ‘Brahmin Bailout’.
In recent times, caste has been discussed a lot in the USA. A book on the matter titled “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” was recommended by Oprah Winfrey herself.