On Saturday (January 15), the Indian correspondent of US-based, non-profit media organisation National Public Radio (NPR), Lauren Frayer, deleted her racist tweet, wherein she arbitrarily presumed that an incident of train burglary in Los Angeles was from India.
“I have deleted this tweet because it was insensitive,” wrote the NPR journalist on the micro-blogging platform after netizens called out her racist attitude towards India. In this tweet she attached a screenshot of her deleted tweet and ensured that her contentious tweet remained on the social media site.
A day earlier (January 14), Lauren Frayer had shared a ground report of a train burglary incident in Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles and claimed, “At first glance, I thought this was India.” The video, shot by photojournalist John Schreiber, showed how looted packages of UPS boxes, Amazon packages and unused Covid tests were lying around the train tracks.
As per reports, California has been witnessing a rise in smash-and-grab-thefts in recent months. Cargo theft in freight trains had turned train tracks in Los Angeles into garbage dumps. This was caused primarily due to the disposal of packaging material and scrapped cardboard by thieves after the loot.
Freight company Union Pacific acknowledged the incidents of thefts and said, “These rail crimes pose a serious safety threat to the public, our employees and local law enforcement officers. We have increased the number of Union Pacific special agents on patrol, and we have utilized and explored additional technologies to help us combat this criminal activity.”
Netizens slammed Lauren Frayer over her insensitive tweet
Despite being privy to the facts of the case, NPR journalist Lauren Frayer went ahead and suggested that the filthy tracks and incidents of train loot were reminiscent of India. The gross generalisation, with a malicious intent to portray India as a ‘litter-filled garbage dump’ to a global audience, did not go well with Indian netizens.
Twitter user (@SimiBGood) wrote, “I’ve been living in India for almost 8 years now and never ever had any parcel stolen or anything else for that matter. And I’ve seen worse looking and smelling places right in the middle of SF than anywhere around here. Let’s not even start of LA.”
Another user, Venkatesh, pointed out, “I think this attitude of casting aspersions of India being underbelly impoverished untidy looking place need a change. Westerners, colonial rulers, their medias have done enough damage to us, and we are not in a position to take it any further.”
“How come? These kind of narratives are welded to your brain? By whom? How?It is so difficult to imagine these things in your own country?” wrote one SB Shetty.
NPR and the racist rhetorics of Western media
Lauren Frayer is not new to peddling anti-India narrative. Popular Twitter user, The Hawk Eye, had pointed out how her Covid-19 reportage was heavily biased and relied on cherry-picking to tarnish India’s global image. She was also seen creating hysteria among the public by sharing pictures of burning pyres.
“All of her articles will give glimpse of any typical left media houses. e.g. Frayer observed that Protesters that carried out 26/1 riots at Red Fort is “storm in capital” and “overshadowed traditional military parade,” wrote The Hawk Eye.
All of her articles will give glimpse of any typical left media houses. e.g. Frayer observed that Protesters that carried out 26/1 riots at Red Fort is “storm in capital” and “overshadowed traditional military parade”. Check her other articles, just headlines are good enough!— The Hawk Eye (@thehawkeyex) January 15, 2022
This is however not the first time that a NPR journalist had chosen to malign India. In September 2019, producer Furkan Khan took to Twitter to assert that if Indians give up Hinduism, they will be solving most of their problems ‘what with all the piss drinking and dung worshipping’.
When caught on the wrong foot, Furkan first defended herself by chalking up her tweet to ‘sarcasm’ and also said that ‘trolls’ were missing the context. Concerned social media users wrote to NPR asking whether the media house endorsed such behaviour. In response, NPR replied to them stating that she has resigned from NPR.
Calling Hindus ‘cow piss drinkers’ or ‘dung worshippers’ is a common insult used by Islamists to deride Hinduism. In the video released by the Jaish-e-Muhammad terror outfit following the attack on the CRPF convoy that killed 40 CRPF personnel, expressing his unmitigated hatred for Hindus, Dar had justified their killings by calling them ‘infidels’ and ‘cow piss drinkers‘.
Similarly, NYTimes has also had a history of racist reportage against India.
For instance, anti-India media New York Times has always been dismissive about the leaps India is taking in the global economy. One recalls the racist cartoon by NYT after the country’s ambitious space program and had even apologised for it.
After Indian Armed Forces carried out the surgical strike on terror camps based in Pakistan in aftermath of Pulwama terror attack, NYTimes peddled anti-India narrative. In an article titled, “After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its ‘Vintage’ Military”, the writer Maria Abi-Habib has carefully omitted some facts and indulged in pushing a false narrative that projects Indian Armed Forces in a poor light. Interestingly, Congress leader MP Gaurav Gogoi has also played his part in pushing a narrative that portrays India’s Armed forces as ‘vintage’. Maria Abi-Habib has also deliberately ignored that Pakistani Armed Forces flip-flop over its statements regarding the number of Indian pilots that they had captured. The New York Times reporter has shown no eagerness to state facts in her reportage rather she has just cherry-picked the facts which suited her bias against the Indian armed forces.
After that, in one article, NYT claimed that as the 2019 general elections were closing in, Modi’s popularity was on a low and the “rejuvenated opposition was landing punch after punch with corruption allegations. But one bombing in Kashmir, and weeks of military brinkmanship with Pakistan afterward, appears to have interrupted Mr. Modi’s slump.” The alleged newspaper was forced to change its newspaper after outrage on social media. And right after the 2019 General Elections when PM Modi was elected again with a thumping majority, NYTimes referred to PM Modi as ‘one of the most divisive leaders India has produced in decades’.