The Hindu American Foundation has long said that the answer to opinions, viewpoints, scholarship, and speech we don’t agree with is not to prohibit them, but rather counter them with speech of our own.
We’ve even gone so far to assert that hate speech is free speech. (Defamation isn’t protected speech though, a principle well-established in law in the United States.)
Which is why rather than try to stop the upcoming Dismantling Global Hindutva conference, we have explained why we think this conference is about demeaning Hinduism as much as Hindutva.
To do so we have:
- Written a number of articles, appeared on podcasts and television shows;
- Organized Hindu Americans to write to universities listed as co-sponsors to seek clarification on whether the event is officially endorsed by them and what support they will provide to Hindu students and faculty fearing or facing censorship or retaliation as a result of institutional support of a partisan event;
- Encouraged students, parents, alumni, and faculty at these universities to do the same.
What we haven’t done — and will never do, unequivocally — is to encourage opponents of the DGH conference to make violent threats against the organizers, speakers, or any supporters of this conference.
We are aware of threatening and harassing messages on social media targeting organizers of the event and some of those who are promoting the conference, and even their family members. Some report receiving violent threats and menacing phone calls.
We emphatically condemn all such actions.
Such harassment and threats of violence are never acceptable and are against dharma.
We are also countering threats, intimidation and doxxing attempts focusing on leaders at HAF, Hindu college students, and members of other leading Hindu organizations.
Over the last few days, following instructions from a social media handle that we have reason to believe is based in Pakistan, an organized campaign has targeted employers, television stations and news media where Hindu leaders work and live, attempting to spread false allegations and charges.
Violent threats have been received at the offices of HAF in the recent past that were reported to the FBI.
We are working with law enforcement to address ongoing safety issues and ask college administrators to do the same on their campuses to ensure DGH organizers and Hindu students are protected during the lead up to this conference.
We truly regret that the DGH conference has unleashed such hate and vitriol.
We reiterate that when the threat to Hindus and dharmic values comes in the form of anti-Hindu and anti-dharmic sentiment and speech, the counter must come in more words and forms of dissent, and disapproval must be rooted in satya (truth), viveka (discernment), and vairagya (objectivity).