On Tuesday, February 20th, the Hindu American Foundation sent the following letter to the editor to the Seattle Times.

‘In Naomi Ishisaka’s latest column activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan states the Hindu American Foundation’s opposition to the proposed inclusion of caste in Seattle non-discrimination policy is “rooted in fragility and fear mongering,” noting “the only people that are impacted by this are people that discriminate or bigots.”

As executive director and legal counsel of HAF, my response is a resounding “No!”

Our objections to this unlawful proposition are rooted in the US Constitution and its guarantee of equal protection and due process for all people of all backgrounds.

HAF opposes caste discrimination and in prosecuting any rare incidents — the only authoritative survey on the subject, by the Carnegie Endowment, shows caste discrimination is rare in the US — existing categories, such as national origin or ethnicity, should be used.

Adding ‘caste’ runs counter to the basic principles of facially neutral, generally applicable laws. This proposal violates the policies it seeks to amend, targeting for disparate treatment an entire community on the basis of national origin, ethnicity and ancestry.

As Councilmember Sawant ends her term on the City Council in disgrace, she seems intent on leaving Seattle in a legal morass, institutionalizing false stereotypes about South Asians. We hope her colleagues Vote NO.


Suhag Shukla, Esq.
910 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006′