In November of 2022, the Hindu American Foundation wrote the following letter to Oxford University Press regarding several false allegations and outright lies about HAF published in an article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, American History, authored by Professor Audrey Truschke.
As of July 2023, we have not received a reply to our concerns about lies spread about our two decade-old organization.
Dear Prof. Butler and Editors at Oxford Research Encyclopedia:
We are writing in regards to an article that recently appeared in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, American History.
This article, authored by Prof. Audrey Truschke of Rutgers University-Newark, contains multiple derogatory mentions of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).
These mentions misrepresent HAF and also offer actual false statements.
The article begins by placing HAF within an artificial construct, the “Hindu Right”, though HAF’s policy positions are entirely within what is considered the political left in the United States — from abortion to gun ownership to religious liberty to climate change.
Truschke then makes the claim “The HAF’s founders in the early 2000s had well-documented ties to the VHPA, HSS, HSC, BJP, and even the RSS.”
This statement is categorically untrue as three of HAF’s co-founders, Suhag Shukla, Aseem Shukla, and Nikhil Joshi, have never been a member of any of these American organizations. Not a single HAF member has ever been a member of HSS or RSS.
She then states “The Hindu American Foundation is unthinkable, even in name, without the wider Sangh Parivar context.”
This is another untrue statement as all of the HAF co-founders are the children of immigrants born in the United States, and most were not even conversant in what the “Sangh Parivar” actually connotes. To posit that HAF’s name is tied to the “Sangh Parivar” is historically inaccurate and ignorant of the milieu and context under which the organization was founded.
Then there are absolute false statements that were published in this article.
Truschke states, “For instance, some staff members at the HAF—which prioritized attacks on higher education in 2021—have links with the Koch network, perhaps the most common American source of threats to academic freedom.
We were flummoxed by this statement that HAF has “links” to the Koch network. We have perused the book offered as a reference and there is no mention of HAF nor to any HAF staff member. This statement appears to be a lie.
Truschke writes about one of the HAF Board members, Rishi Bhutada, serving as an organizer of the “Howdy Modi” event in Houston, Texas.
She mentions that the event was attended by the then President Trump and Senator Cruz, and states that Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat, attended only because he has “financial links” to Hindu nationalist groups. Yet she does not mention that senior Democratic party leaders from House Whip Steny Hoyer, Senior Democratic leader Sheila Jackson Lee and many others were present.
There are several more references to HAF that we would like to contest, formally, given the opportunity. As a minoritized community, Hindu Americans are already targeted — anti-Hindu hate crimes are at a record high this year — and painting every major Hindu American organization in this manner is absurd.
Please let us know whether the encyclopedia will publish a Letter to the Editor, or offer the Foundation space for a formal rebuttal. We eagerly await your positive reply as to the avenues available to the Foundation.