Hinduphobia on Campus: Rutgers University backs Professor Audrey Truschke even as students allege hate-mongering towards Hindus; calls it ‘Academic Freedom’

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Several Hindu students of Rutgers University, Newark US had recently started an online petition against controversial Historian and Professor of South Asian History Audrey Truschke for her penchant for demonizing Hindus and propagating hate and misinformation about the community.

The Petition:

According to the petition shared on Twitter by ‘Hindus on Campus’, Professor Audrey Truschke’s statements had time and again reflected a clear and demonstrable pattern of deep Hinduphobia with the motive of creating a mistrust of Hinduism and Hindus.

In 2018, Audrey had casually tweeted that Sita had called Lord Rama ‘uncouth and a misogynist pig’. She had also juxtapositioned the Swastika and Nazism trying to incite fear by suggesting the Hinduism has some connection with Nazism.

In an interview with The Print, Truschke had normalized the many historical atrocities against Hindus by claiming that “Aurangzeb destroyed some Hindu temples but protected most of them”.

She also dismissed the Genocide against Hindus during Aurangzeb’s regime. At least 4.6 million are reported to have been killed during his reign. He is also responsible for the demolition of some of the holiest Hindu temples, out of religious supremacy.

In yet another instance in 2019, Truschke had aligned herself with Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI) – a body whose members have a history of attacking Hindus and of openly supporting violent political agenda and even terrorism.

As per the petition, one of the coalition partners of the CAFI – the Alliance for Secular and Democratic South Asia (ASDSA) has openly supported violent Maoist terrorism in India.

“Would Rutgers administration fail to address a professor on campus characterizing the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, or another central religious figure in a similarly ghastly, bigoted way? Why is it considered permissible when it is about Hinduism?”

questioned the students of Rutgers University.

They also pointed out that such misleading characterizations from a known Professor could create a hostile environment for Hindu students in the University.

“New Jersey already has a history of Hinduphobic crimes and someone from a reputed University creating open animosity against Hindus in the state has left the community deeply concerned about its safety”, the petition added.

“Professor Truschke not only represents but is a leader of fear-mongering of the worst kind: she is engaging in academic and activist spaces, deploying intentional misinformation and cherry-picking facts in order to justify hatred and disgust for Hindus and Hinduism.”

“In an environment where minorities are facing threats, Hindu temples have been vandalized, such pejorative depictions of our faith can lead to serious consequences for our community”, the students said, demanding that the University takes action against Truschke for her bigoted and racist claims.

They asked the authorities to disallow Truschke from teaching courses related to Hinduism. They also asked Rutgers University to take sufficient measures to ensure that Hindu students feel safe on campus and that non-Hindu students are aware that they have been made to feel unsafe by Professor Truschke’s social media and activist presence.

Rutgers University ’emphatically supports’ Hinduphobic Professor

Far from condemning or even addressing the Hinduphobic remarks, the University in its statement defended Professor Truschke and referred to her racist rhetoric as ‘Academic Freedom’. “Rutgers emphatically supports Professor Truschke, academic freedom in pursuing her scholarship, abhors the vile messages end threats that are being directed at her, and calls for an immediate end to them.”

“Scholarship is sometimes controversial, especially when at the interface of history and religion, but the freedom to pursue such scholarship is at the heart of the academic enterprise”, it went on to say.

The disturbing incident has once again brought to light the deeply ingrained Hinduphobic narrative and its propagation in the guise of ‘critical analysis’. It is also worth questioning whether the University would grant the same ‘academic freedom’ to someone who questions the Holocaust or speaks against Islam.

While this incident of Hinduphobia has gained limelight with people tweeting #RacistRutgers to bring attention to the issue, there are many others that go unnoticed. Hindus have since years now lived in an ecosystem where even people of their own faith monger hate towards the culture, which the community puts up with owing to its very vital value of tolerance.

Nonetheless, when this Hinduphobic narrative hampers someone’s identity, safety or freedom – it is most definitely time to speak up.

Amisha Singh

Gurgaon | Chandigarh. Engineering Undergraduate, Panjab University.

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