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‘Zulus will deal with your curry relatives’: What I learned from speaking out against racist attacks on Indians in South Africa

As most Indians do, I always felt a connection to the people of South Africa while growing up. I used to think it was all warm and fuzzy between us; Indians and the people of South Africa. Until now.

As a kid, I remember being so excited when Nelson Mandela visited India. This was the first time I had heard the expression “world leader.” In my innocence, I thought Nelson Mandela was literally the president of the world.

As most Indians do, I always felt a connection to the people of South Africa while growing up. We learned that the Mahatma had spent his formative years over there. Our history books mentioned places like Durban, Natal and Pretoria. In essays in school, we wrote about the experience of Gandhi being thrown out of a first-class railway carriage in Pietermaritzburg. We learned about apartheid and India’s role in ending it. I used to think it was all warm and fuzzy between us; Indians and the people of South Africa.

Until now. Yesterday, I chose to tweet about disturbing stories of Indians and their businesses being targeted in South Africa. I demanded to know why the world was being so silent about it. Where is the global elite of CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and BBC? Where is the conscience of Justin Trudeau? And where is the army of woke activists, from Trevor Noah to “first niece” Meena Harris and John Oliver? They were all so quick to seize upon the use of water cannon during “farmer” protests in India. Dear Rihanna, why aren’t we talking about the hatred that Indians are facing in South Africa?

Then, the attacks began. As South African Twitter discovered my tweet, my timeline was flooded with racist poison. Many said the Indians should go “home” so Africa could belong to Africans. I was told to go eat curry or smoke spices. I was hit with every possible racist stereotype and many users insisted on calling me “Rajesh.” This surprised me initially until I realized it was a reference to the character of Rajesh Koothrapalli on The Big Bang Theory. And yes, I was asked if I drink cow piss for fun. And then there was the one who told me that Zulus would deal with my “curry relatives.”

Unlike global opinion writers at the Washington Post, I don’t make a living bashing anonymous handles on Twitter. I want to ask deeper questions. I want to know where this anti-Indian hatred comes from. This may seem like a localized incident in South Africa, but anti-Indian hatred has been rising worldwide. The other day, I watched in horror as this Vice News video explained that Indians in London were “incubating the virus.” I watched a video of British police torment a homeless Indian man, find a screw on the ground beside him and accuse him of keeping it as a weapon. All this, under the approving eye of Vice News, covering “crime and covid in London’s Little India.” This is cutting edge liberalism in times of great upheaval against police overreach in the West.

It appears as if they apply the rules of humanity to everyone except Indians. In 2020, Tulsi Gabbard made history as the only Democratic Presidential candidate ever not to be invited to her party convention despite winning delegates. In a year when racial and gender justice was the number one plank of the Democrats, they consciously decided to exclude a woman of colour. She was a Hindu after all.

How was this hate atmosphere against Indians created?

Over the last three years, India’s reputation has been stormed like never before, on the front pages of global publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. They were joined by allies such as Al Jazeera and the newly formed TRT world (funded by Turkey). Our internal matters were projected onto the world stage with the harshest possible anti-Hindu commentary. Even channels in faraway South America began using the F-word for Sardar Patel, describing him as a Hindu fundamentalist who took over Muslim kingdoms.

Old smears were dug up, connecting Hindus to Nazism. This was mixed in with racist colonial stereotypes and “cow piss drinker” became a global rallying cry of the Hinduphobes, from Pulwama’s suicide bomber to alleged journalists, academics and thinkers. Every possible thing about India, from sarees to rasam to earthen lamps and even the word “Bharat” was stuck with labels such as supremacist and Nazi.

In the US, it was all hands on deck. While think tanks rallied the intellectual class against us, late-night comedians were firing up American audiences against the evil of Indians. On US campuses, where liberals run everything, they began protest marches, taught seminars and research courses on how bad Indian society is. US Consulates in India now speak of “Bengali Americans.” Or they take a wider view and speak of the “South Asian” community. In polite company, it is now considered unacceptable to utter the word “India.”

In fact, in recent times, the only thing that was described as “Indian” was the so-called “Indian variant” of the Coronavirus. The colonial BBC came up with an absolute gem of a headline on this: “The Indian variant explained in five South Asian languages.” The languages are South Asian. The virus is Indian.

But why? Why do they hate India?

Indeed, what did we ever do to them? The answer is distressingly simple. Anti-India hatred is part of the age-old prejudice against pagan cultures. Across the world, there are three hegemonic forces. One is Christianity, another is Communism and the third one is so peaceful that it is too risky to name them directly. These three forces appear to be at odds with each other, but they are really not. The elephants are fighting. We, pagans, are the grass. We are the ones who really suffer.

But why now? First, because India got big enough to the point that we began demanding an actual place at the global power table. Nobody likes that, even those who share the same culture and values. Even the British were outraged when Americans began to claim their rightful place in the world towards the beginning of the last century. So you can imagine the heartburn when India became the fifth largest economy in the world in 2019. As long as India was playing in the little leagues, it was kind of cute. We heard some nice things about being a democracy and all that. But then, India became the world’s fifth-largest economy. That’s when George Soros declared a $1 billion initiative to destabilize India. The big guys are coming for us. Don’t worry, the big guys just want the best for us…

Second, while India got big, China got bigger and much faster. It was only in 2010 that China became the second-largest economy in the world. A decade since then, China has learned to truly leverage its diplomatic and economic power. That is why a day after the Galwan clash in Jun 2020, “experts” told the New York Times that the reason for the clash was Amit Shah’s aggressive posturing during his speech on Article 370 in Parliament in Aug 2019. In fact, there was a year-long campaign in Western media to portray India as a dictatorship and an occupier in Jammu & Kashmir. After bashing up India’s democratic image, the Chinese came knocking.

Why is India such a convenient enemy for the global elite?

Every movement needs an enemy. For the global elite to truly control the world, they have to give the masses an enemy. And there are several reasons Indians are uniquely suited to be that enemy.

First, India is a country that everyone has heard of, but hardly anyone knows about. You can’t make an enemy out of say Germany or Brazil. Everyone has heard of them and everyone knows about them. Their culture is far too similar to the dominant culture in Europe and America. On the other hand, you cannot make an enemy out of say Swaziland or Mozambique. A lot of people haven’t even heard of them.

We Indians are unique. Everyone has heard of us, but our culture is strange and different. Our reverence for cows, for instance, can easily be mocked. We have our elephant gods and monkey gods and so on. Now, you could say, all religious beliefs and symbols could be mocked. Sure, but their beliefs are the “norm.” That’s why cat and dog meat is banned by federal law in the United States, but beef bans in India are undemocratic. That’s why the British Embassy can pressure the government of South Korea to ban dog meat. Would you confront the British with dog piss jokes? Of course not, because whatever the Christian West believes is the “norm” and must always be the norm.

Second, in order to incite mass hysteria, you need an enemy with a large and distinctive cultural footprint. Like the Jews in Europe in the 1930s, Indians are everywhere. And what is more, Indians are disproportionately well off in all the countries where they live. The conditions are ideal to smear Indians the way the Nazis smeared the Jews. Not just today, India and its cultural footprint have always been there. India is older than history itself. Like the Nazis, the global elite is tapping into the prejudice that is thousands of years old.

Finally, the designated enemy needs to be just strong enough to be hated, but just weak enough that it cannot hit back with sufficient force. India is a big power, but it’s not a superpower. People don’t want to feel like bullies, hating on some country far too weak, like say Colombia or Indonesia. Conversely, they don’t want to hate on someone too strong, such as China, or there might be severe consequences.

The masses are intellectually lazy. The global elite is giving them an enemy that they can hate at the end of a long hard day, with a beer and their feet up. Ultimately, hatred is a drug, that the global elite serves for entertainment. Which American would want to hear that China has captured the American elite? That’s why late-night comedians in America go after India. Yes, the Indians are evil, but America could crush them if they really wanted. The average American can go to sleep after hearing this.

What role have Indian liberals played in creating the current situation?

Even at its peak, the British Empire never had more than 30,000 officers in India. Usually, it was more like ten thousand British officers “against” thirty crore Indians. And the former remained in charge for 200 years. Let that sink in.

The other day I watched BBC toss a (rhetorical?) question to a journalist based in India. Do you think the Western media is biased against India, they asked. The journalist dismissed the possibility outright. Of course, the Western media isn’t biased, she said. The BBC used her as a prop to deny white privilege. Whatever the BBC paid her, if any, I am sure they got their money’s worth.

In the last few years, there has been a great convergence of interests between the global liberal looking to buy and the Indian liberal looking to sell. Something fundamental has changed among the Indian masses. With the political establishment changed, the Indian liberal is forced to sell overseas as the domestic market dries up. You can reel off the names easily. Journalists, academics, think tanks and the like. Everyone seems to be in the market for some international prize or honour.

The second wave of Covid was a stark example of this phenomenon. Remember how they flew drones over crematoriums? The Hindu practice of burning the dead is an international curiosity. Always a hit.

What do Indians need to realize here?

That we have no real friends. We have to understand that the liberal world has no place for us. And being an Indian
“liberal” will not offer you any protection nor advantages. If you are among the handful of Indian liberals actually getting paychecks from global publications, that’s different. But if you are among common people in the audience who sustain and sympathize with the Indian liberal ecosystem, they are taking you for a ride.

In the eyes of the global elite, you are just an Indian and they hate you for it. Whether you make cow urine jokes or say “Hindutva ki kabr khudegi” matters little. Did you see how the Indian liberals were so animated about Gaza a few days back? Did you see any of these people worry about the fate of Indians in Durban? What’s the general political affiliation of Indians in Durban? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?

So better join up with the only group that will have you. There is security in numbers. You may not like everyone on this side. You may loathe most of them. Suck it up, because life isn’t easy, fair nor perfect. The struggle for survival isn’t over. Just ask yourself why the liberals care more about Gaza than they do about Durban.

Liberal values are for the liberal elite. They make these values sound universal, but they are not. If these values were universal, they wouldn’t accuse a homeless Indian man in London of “incubating the virus,” would they?

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Abhishek Banerjeehttps://dynastycrooks.wordpress.com/
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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