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Scholar David Shulman on the Gaza Bombings

crossing frontieres:

“Sound of silence” was sung by simon & garfunkel back in 1964. Whenever the song fills the air, a sense of serene and tranquility is imparted upon its listener although its lyrics talk about sadness. this ‘silence’ sung by the nightingale duo, is far from the deafening silence that the world is displaying on the Israeli palestinian tit-for-tat following the recent murders of 3 Israeli boys and the revenge killing of a Palestinian boy.

Professor shulman’s account of the death of one of his students struck an involuntary memory in my own mind of another Arab boy, whom I had in one of my French classes. a straight-A student, whose name I will not easily forget, not because he was smart as a whip, but because of the sad story he told the class the day I asked him, and all the other students: “d’ou venez-vous?” (Where do you come from?) followed by “Pourquoi est-ce que vous etes venu aux etats unis?” ( why did you come to the US?).

This is how we marry new vocabulary of nationalities with new verb conjugations in class. Students are eager to use the French language to tell others about their country and identity. And since my class is always multi cultural with lots of students either first generation-whatever-their-nationality or born here, it is always fun learning about the origins. We don’t only learn about the French and francophone worlds, but often enough about countries we have never had to wonder about, like Palestine.

these lessons give students (and us, professors), a platform on which to use/speak french, and by the end of the semester we know a good deal more about human geographies than we’d know otherwise. But this day the sound of silence uttered by my Palestinian student had a weighty sadness compared to his camarades de classe, who laughingly told the class why they were here.

This 18 or 19 year old student had been immediately sent to the US a few years prior following his brother’s murder: the brother was gunned down by Israeli police on the streets for not having ID right before my student’s young eyes.

In restless dream he walked alone
narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘neath the halo of a street lamp,
he turned his collar to the cold and damp
when his eyes were stabbed by the flash of a bullet light
that split the day
and touched the sound of silence!

the other students gasped in loud disbelief as the sound of his words trapped in silence struggled to find their way out of his memory and into the classroom.

His story finds an echo in Joachim prinz’ words: “…the most important thing that I learned in my life is that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful, and the most tragic problem is silence.”

Not the student’s silence nor his parents’ who sent him here for a safe life. But the silence of the world while this kid and his brother’s silence (and others’) is punctuated by sirens, rockets, explosions, and death. The tragic problem is the silence of the world which has put blinders on. The world which has become deaf because it prefers not to hear about the reality of the situation; the world hearing without listening, and not daring to disturb the sound of silence. A world too heavily drugged by propaganda and news spreaded by the powerful with deep convictions that all Muslims are bad. This silence of the human herd which has become the drug that keeps them pacified while hatred rages on between Palestine and israel, like a cancerous cell. The growth of this silence by watchers-by whose minds continue to be detonators of xenophobia, bigotry and senseless killing on both sides of the strip.

And when I see this cancerous silence broken with “there won’t be peace in the region until the palestinian’s love for their children is greater than their hatred of israel” I then wonder which is preferable:
Silence or speech?

I wonder what such people would say if they learned that Palestinians do love their children as much as any other country, much like this family forced to send their young son so he may live to be loved longer by his parents who fear that he may be shot down because of his identity or because he isn’t able to tell adult police his name; whose story that day filled the air of my classroom with more silence.

Originally posted on Kafila:

The following is a report from the indefatigable Prof David Shulman, who teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prof Shulman works on the history of religion in South India and poetry and poetics in Tamil, Telegu and Sanskrit. David Shulman writes as protests inside Israel increase, as do right-wing attacks on the protestors. This report has been circulated by Prof Louise Bethlehem of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Jews demonstrate in New York Against Bombings

Jews demonstrate in New York Against Bombings

July 12, 2014 Umm al-Ara’is, Susya, Bi’r al-‘Id, Ma’asara

Business as usual in the South Hebron hills. There’s a war on in Gaza, but that too is business as usual, the meaningless biannual ritual in which both sides gleefully smash one another before reverting to the status quo ante. The Israeli media are drowning us in words, a vast and raucous flood, and the government is putting out its familiar, mendacious statements; perhaps in…

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First world anxieties

we live in a diet culture. we diet. we’re on and off where food, info, relationships/partners and media are concerned. we binge on all of these.

finally, american technology is catching up to americans’ penchant for overdoing it and finding plenty of willing indulgers [teddy wayne in new york times 4 may 2014 in "life is streaming past you"].

media entertainment has given consumers far more freedom to watch, listen to, read. at any time, night or day. at breakfast, lunchtime, dinner. with or without friends and family present.

the paradox of choice (barry schwartz 2004) however argues that we surfeit our choices which engenders anxiety, dissatisfaction and even paralysis sometimes. this refers to the profusion of choices within a single set like picking out a salad dressing out of 175 varieties. or as one American noticed when he visited my ‘developing’ country for the first time: “no wonder you guys have good teeth! white teeth!” i’ll add to that the fact that people may be overweight, but not obese. ‘overweight’ like the caribbean or spanish men we see in photos, where only a protruding belly is evident, but the rest of the body, normal sized. this friend – who visited my country – upon walking the grocery isles, discovered that only one chocolate cookie could be found on the shelves, and not shelffuls of cookies. in america, there are shelffuls of all kinds of cookies, not just plain chocolate chip, but chocolate with pecan, chocolate chip with walnuts, chocolate chip with snicker doodles, and other cookies, too like butter cookies. and these butter cookies with as many variations as their chocolate chip counterparts. imagine a kid in a candy shop, swelling with desire to taste everything! think temper tantrums, vomiting, parents shouting ‘stop!’ or “no” or…

here in america, there are 62 episodes of “breaking bad” much like the shelvefuls of cookies or salad dressings adorning the isles. colorfully and plentifully. binge eating and binge watching. but just because we “can” watch all the time doesn’t mean we have to. daily lives become like food. anorexic, info rexic and now digitally bingerexic. if adults are bingeing and plugging up, who will tell [their] kids to unplug and consume slowly? the kid in the candy shop metaphor is in full force here!

many years ago, we didn’t see obesity coming nor lung cancer. we had food in plenty and cigarettes to match food’s abundance, and today we have mega problems on both, including death. in this millennium, we are witnessing the obsessive compulsive behaviors of kids and students shooting and murdering others. in this millennium, we are medicating kids for restlessness. why? one reason is that sedentary kids have sacrificed playing for sitting in their rooms and surfing, posting, chatting etc. valuable skills and weight losing measures are sacrificed from the lack of playing which entails movement and building social skills that kids have in other cultures which don’t medicate for ADHD. kids are supposed to be active. but here in america, we medicate kids to calm them dow and we even run short of drugs to medicate them because other bigger kids are taking these prescription drugs as recreation drugs in elite shcools and other places.

granted we don’t always know why some kids turn out shooters, but lately, we have been finding out too late on the kid-shooters’ Facebook page that there were clues to their developing personality. who was looking or monitoring these kids-who-turned-their-action-hero-game-figures? their personality was emerging from their bingeing on games, media but no one noticed and sometimes if they did, precious little was done as we learnt from adam lanza’s mother. or from klebold’s and harris’ penchant for goth subculture, metal music and violent video games. chickens coming home to roost. today, 90% of kids play video games, and 90% of games often include mature content and/or some form of violence. or parents have two or three jobs to make ends meet so they are not available to supervise kids. these kids’ patterns of likes, dislikes were emerging from you tubing, receiving news, tv, gamification [new word on webster dictionary. i wonder why?] posting and deleting friends and messages and photos. the constant sweet rush of info on kids and adults alike.

yesterday, I saw a child at the subway platform asking his mother and father what something was. we were at an outside platform with birds flying around, trees humming in the cool spring winds, people bustling about their way, litter flying everywhere as trains whirled past the station. the kid was pointing to some object, asking the father and mother something, but they were connected to their device and repeatedly ignored that child’s need and quest for learning, and instead modeling behaviors to that child to become ‘plugged’. nature, which provides vital learning steps for kids, was forfeited by these plugged-up parents and adults. and as i sat in the train towards home i see parents on netflix, iPad, iPhones, smartphones while kids ‘misbehave’.

but, if kids must binge in our bingeing culture, maybe parents could give them books or educational articles to binge on. that way they would be getting the same info we did as kids, but on devices. let them binge on binge-worthy stuff like the great works of prose and poetry, math, science, and NOT on violent games such as mortal combat ; dead space; medal of honor; call of duty black opps; castlevania; assassins, creed brotherhood; deadrising etc. all are for 18 years and older and include mature content. there are tons more. and there are many games that benefit an emerging mind and personality. strategy games like the kind we see in ender’s game where the kid is more adept at strategizing than adults. there are digital building blocks games. lego is great, but isn’t the only creativity tool.

so where does that leave people of free choice?

putting off responsibilities, procrastinating, forming bad habits? consuming media doesn’t help weak inclinations. there’s little discipline for the weak at heart, especially children left to do their own thing. how does a child know to piecemeal if adults can’t? why would a child in a proverbial candy shop stop and not gorge? why do we set age limits as a country and as parents if they weren’t needed?

but, there are some who recoil from this abundance of bingeing. some foreigners new to this culture can feel ‘left out of the conversation’ given all this bingeing. I remember reading an article by mira hair [monsoon wedding, kamasutra, namesake, reluctant fundamentalist, perez family, vanity fair etc] where she spoke about feeling left out in america. she spoke of the mania of spending tons of money to buy gifts at christmas which her culture didn’t do. she felt sad and lonely and missed ‘home’ because she couldn’t fit in into that bingeing lifestyle and it made it harder for her to assimilate into her host culture.

this ‘bingeing-on-free-choice’ world we inhabit is good for the rare kid who knows when and how to use and stop. but what about that kid who’s not disciplined which is a large sector of kids? who will supervise children left to their own ‘devices’? and who will supervise the adults [of those kids] left to their own “DEVICES”?

Grammatical sloth

“I, like, had this amazing time this weekend”.
“like, he didn’t know how to do a simple thing…”.
” this is, like, the only way to do it. Lol”.
” she’s totally going to call you!”.
” I just studied for 2 hours lol”.
” he’s going to call you in total fashion”.
“idk becoz it’s like that!”.
“Is she/he like, for real?”.

‘like’, ‘lmao’, ‘idk’, ‘totally’, ‘yolo’, ‘lol’, ‘lmfao’ and an increase in salty language and/or public profanity assume we’re all in this together since they’ve become casual.
time was when ‘damn’, ‘hell’ or ‘shit’ couldn’t be found in the dictionary except for its literal meaning. even today when I write the word ‘rape’ the spell check changes it to ‘tape’ every time. it simply refuses to type ‘rape’. and forget about the word ‘negro.’ when I was writing about 12 years a slave or the role of history in some races, spell check refused to type ‘negro’. spellcheck also refuses to type words like slut, giving me smut instead, and I must constantly double and triple check before publishing anything.

our culture is very forward thinking compared to most, and not only in langauge. we have taken first place in cinema from the french, italians, and russians who turned out great masters of directing and great cinema. we’ve included same sex in our equality values. we’ve embraced differences like no other country would: we don’t ban or make laws preventing others from donning hijabs, saris, yarmulkes, crosses etc or freedom of speech, and on top of all of that we have affirmative action should any of the aforementioned right be threatened or violated.

still, spellcheck doesn’t recognize rape, slut, negro because they’ve become offensive epithets and also politically incorrect, voiding them of their original racist sting. spellcheck is quite politically correct!

we rule in celebrating our openness to language and culture because a keystone of education in the US is to foster awareness of, and respect for, diversity of opinions and attire and beliefs.
but as forward thinking as we are in so much, we are backward thinking when it comes to language, especially grammar and spelling.

“like” seems to be a sloppy substitute for a precise word or a word, period! this language is employed by a certain age group who text at the speed of perhaps light, and whose mode of conversation has become textual [ and I don't mean from a text, but texting]. but when confronted with a paper to write these same folks don’t know how to spell and compose sentences. my students didn’t know that “i.e.” means ‘that is’ so they read it as the actual letters “i.e.” and not ‘that is’ when I asked them to read aloud.
spell check is there to help, but does your computer always know the difference between ‘new’ and ‘knew’ or ‘their’ and ‘there’ if the writer doesn’t?

the latest word now is ‘literally’. i no longer use that word. millenials have wiped that word clean out of my dictionary! and just as I hesitate to use ‘like’ even as a simile, in its correct form, I now hesitate on ‘literally’. I have begun to wince if ‘like’ or ‘literally’ enter my head. I stop them short of falling off my tongue and becoming language!

what happens when words like ‘lol’ or ‘like’ or ‘totally’ or ‘literally’ take on different meanings and enter the urban, Oxford or Webster dictionaries? will programs be written to enlarge meanings of words previously taken to have a precise meaning? and will machines know what we wish to write?

enlarging one’s vocabulary is always good. a friend recently taught me 2 new words: zinger and trifecta. i quite like them. but abbreviating vocabulary in the way it’s done today by millennials and wanna-be millenials poses another problem: it decreases one’s vocabulary skills in writing. these days students write the same way they talk. they – and even teachers – don’t know that ‘a lot’ is two words or that ‘your’ is different from ‘you’re’.

where are the meaty words such as [not like] “dissendium” or “apparate” or “disapparate” or “obliviate” or ‘inglorious’, which all sound so very powerful and real?

If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em: Ayesha Kidwai

crossing frontieres:

“It is clear that for Joseph, there is only one set of victims here — Tejpal and his family. It is he who has been “destroyed” and it is his family who has been “evicted” from their home, as his wife suffers the “indignity” of defending her husband’s “consensual” relationship”.

why is it that the complainant has not suffered in the same way: though she has had to move as well, it is only to a “new home on the outskirts of Delhi”?
why is there no mention of her mother at all?
why no mention of the fact that her father cannot be told that Tejpal raped her because of his ill-health?
and why no grieving kin or friends?
why no mention of her state of mind?

-it is not because of the assault she was subjected to, but because she is “consumed by the intense fear” that her character will soon be put on trial.

as the article says “details of her past are already in the air” i.e. she has a past that needs some worrying about!”

these reported words are severely disturbing, but completely natural in a land where it is the rapist’s family’s feeling on trial, and not the victim’s family, who suffer all sorts of losses: loss of honor in a society that predicates honor on women’s chastity and silence; loss of freedom to do one’s job [the young women raped]; loss of a life in some cases, or at any rate loss of self [for those raped].

recently, the new York times had an article about the three men sentenced to death for the rape of the Mumbai journalist. in the court, the mother of one of the rapists burst out: “My son is being hanged because he made the wrong friends. It is also the woman’s fault. Who asked her to go to an abandoned area? Why don’t you hang her, too?”

she was gang raped, and the mother is asking for her neck, too!

comments like these show the extent to which women have been socially and culturally conditioned to look at other women thru men’s eyes, thru patriarchal eyes, and not as women or sisters in need of solidarity.

but the lawyer Nikam said it well when he said:
“This offense leaves a permanent scar not only on the body of the victim but also on her mind, self-honor and chastity. We have to send out the right signal to society. It is necessary that the lives of the accused come to an end. They must die.”

Originally posted on Kafila:

AYESHA KIDWAI on FeministsIndia

Ayesha Kidwai on the need for Left-Secular people to take sexual harassment seriously when it comes home to “us”.

The burning question is why Mustafa and Joseph have done this? Are they misogynistic ‘supporters’ of Tejpal or fearless worshippers of fact and intrepid journalism? While the latter question may be good for an author’s self-image, and the former one can be dismissed as presupposing too tidy a critique, the real issue is a general failure amongst the professionals to come up with an adequate response to what the changed mood in the middle class demands. Mustafa and Joseph’s failures are just repeats of ones that we have witnessed over and over again, and each profession has plunged into a crisis when a colleague has been accused: How does a ‘senior’ professional approach the fact that some young woman has gone and complained about something that wasn’t…

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Love and death in the time of social media

recently, I came across an article in the new york times which has me questioning the way things are evolving. how could bereavement and loss occur in a very public forum without people or hugs or kind words?

according to the article, bereavement and loss have now come into a very public forum. generation Y-ers and millennials have begun projecting their own sensibilities onto rituals and discussions surrounding death. this first generation of digital natives are starting blogs, YouTube series and Instagram feeds about grief, loss and even the macabre.

modern loss in fact is a company geared to people of a younger age to address their many permutations of loss, from bereavement to miscarriage to a parent’s death. it was formed by 2 young women who didn’t have anyone of ‘their’ age to grieve the parents’ death. one of them didn’t have anyone who’d lost both parents.

when did it become necessary to have someone of the same age group to mourn or grieve a loved one? what did this same age group of yesteryear do when faced with death and mourning? have we not done it well enough that it has to be bettered?

the generation known for broadcasting internal monologues across the internet are eager to encode not just good things, but painful things, too. they get online and send condolences or share grief then ‘delete’ their mother. you’re supposed to ‘like’ a death. isn’t that verging on ‘creepiness’ as you could accumulate hundreds of likes for losing a lost one? and isn’t sharing someone’s death like killing that person over and over again? how is that decreasing the pain or loss of a loved one when you have many reminders from sharing?

the article said that one person went to see a shaman, every therapist in NYC, healer, and swears that the only thing which helped her was talking to people of her age who had also had some devastating news. the key here is she had ‘real people’ to dissipate her grief. not a post, share, tweet, image on a computer.

is the public posting of death a display instead of distress?

letters of condolences or cards are more thoughtful when hand written. but the young are itchy to connect virtually because internet and technology are ubiquitous to their existence. people are even taking selfies at funerals when they do go. one person posted on tumblr : “love my hair today. hate the reason why i’m dressed up # funeral.”

is this the modern way of mourning ?
doesn’t that kind of mourning signify that it’s NOT about the dead or those immediately affected, but the one facebooking or instagramming etc?

the idea of mourning- whether via facebook or twitter etc- is displeasing to older relatives, but it is especially disrespectful, for it lacks real communication. and real soul.

people no longer want to attend funerals, which to me spells the death of funerals. and soon, people will no longer want to attend weddings either, and will send their virtual presence instead. people will fall in love with computers more and more: spike jonze’s her isn’t the only movie to relate such a romance between an OS system [Samantha] and man. see also electric dreams, a 1984 british-american science fiction romantic comedy-drama film set in san francisco, that depicts a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a home computer. another film by andrew niccol in 2002, simone, [derived from simulation one] is the story of al pacino who’s created the 3-D simone and the world has no clue that simone is a computer generated woman. or in print, try eve future, an end of the nineteenth century novel by vilier de l’isle adam which tells the story of man so obsessed with perfection that he builds his own statue of a woman, a mechanical woman, a ‘computer’ really, fashioned after venus- before the computer or internet age, of course!- and prays that the gods imbue it with life.

how lonely does one have to be to fall in love with a statue or soulless computer? and how strange to want to mourn with a soulless computer! would the tears be fake or real? would the period of necessary mourning be forfeited in favor of…? how would that dead be mourned in a real way?

flesh-and-blood mourning is required to get over a loss. not distant posts or selfies or brief or abridged condolences.

dead or alive, celebrating, romancing and mourning require presence, in flesh-and-blood!

india’s deep rooted malaise

recently, siddharth shanghvi wrote in new york times about a party that he’d hosted in bollywood town mumbai, with the who’s who of indian society: photographers, models, artists, art collectors, designers, publishers, venture capitalists, writers et al.

discussions overheard included the recent sexual assault against a junior female colleague by a writer who’s been the poster boy for public morality – tarun tejpal – which made headlines and which tejpal tried to keep hush-hush, and jyoti singh’s rape and death in december 2012, which, if we remember, brought throngs of people manifesting on the streets everywhere in india against sexual violence towards women.

this duplicity and institutionalized fraudulence overheard at this party seems widespread in india, and the host wonders why the partygoers are so surprised and shocked by such epic scams.

scam has been an ongoing problem for india, not that other countries don’t have similar scandals and corruptions. berlusconi’s sexual politics caused his resignation as did elliot spitzer’s and others from public office. people take stances against corruption and force the corrupted to reevaluate their situation and quit office.

in the past, some indians have also taken a stance against corruption. IAC – india against corruption- came into existence to offer and manage a set of platforms and tools to empower individuals who share a common dream that someday corruption will be eliminated in India by whatever means required.

in 2011 and 2012: IAC sought – under Team Anna [anna hazare who led a hunger strike]- to mobilize masses in support of demands for a less corrupt society via the lokpal creation [the right to arrest and charge government officials accused of corruption], but internal divisions spawned and split it into AAP [Aam aadmi party with kejriwal as chief minister] and jantantra morcha [a new 'bharat' and true democracy where dalits, adivasis, landless, muslim and other marginalized communities could devote energies towards a second freedom struggle].

kejriwal promoted the right to information and the lokpal bill in the AAP, but resigned on valentine’s day this year after failing to pass the lokpal bill in the delhi assembly. then there was kiran bedi, an outstanding activist who is a woman and who holds law, masters and doctorate degrees, is a nehru fellow, a national & asian tennis champion, recipient of the asian nobel prize [ramon magsayay award], anchors radio and TV shows, is a columnist and author of several books, is head of indian police service for more than 35years, a prison reformist, outreaching to underrepresented women, children and men in many areas, and who has been in the vanguard of a nationwide india against corruption movement led by hazare. but, she also left the group in 2013, and now supports modi as prime minister for 2014.

each time someone comes forward and announces change, efforts fall and NRIs wonder if it is legit. arudhathi roy slammed hazare’s actions as ‘props’ and ‘choreography’ like the world cup victory parade by urban middle class.

this veiling of problems has grand scales and repercussions. BJP and Congress blocked Kejriwal’s move to introduce the anti-corruption bill; rapes continue to occur to women and girls of all ages which take an eternity to punish, and while they keep recurring and accumulating, the world outside india hears about them. the world hears about indian women still being blamed, harassed, acid washed in some places, forced into marriage that they don’t want, about unfit politicians in power whose corruption continues to poison india at every level. when an article comes out in the nyt about the corruption and unsafe rules on drugs produced in india, it is not difficult to disbelieve.

people feel outrage at problems, and some act: gandhi, kejriwal, bedi, hazare etc. however, if little can be done, the incredible india we see on taxi ads and walls in the western world give the impression that india is an awfully pretty country from a distance, while the same lens and eye of that guest who posted and instgrammed the photo of bombay as impressionist ignores the side of bombay which is 70% slums [which makes up mumbai]. it ignores the dirty side of mumbai, just as politicians etc ignore india’s problems.

expressing moral outrage at india’s current problems takes on the scale of a ‘parallel economy’. and those talking about the problems – like tejpal -are guilty of the same dodgy brokering they revile: wheeling, dealing, fooling, fabricating which are cloaked in this new india’s urbane cool. apology parties may expose what’s on people’s minds, but it will take more than talk and even action to fix bribery, embezzlement, nepotism, largesse, police corruption, extortions, caste-ism, untouchability and equality for genders and classes that plague indian society.

there is an anti corruption party since 1924, and it keeps failing or splitting. 92 years later, in 2014, and that day hasn’t yet come: IAC is still fighting to fight corruption. an anti corruption party continues to exist because there’s corruption, because the law isn’t on the side of justice. perhaps if religion and cinema are strongholds in india, it’s time they take the lead role in modeling that corruption is not glamorous. it could be only a drop in the bucket, but eventually the several drops can fill up the bucket.

Statement by Scholars in North American Universities on Withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book

crossing frontieres:

Comments to this doniger article are very interesting. The condemnation that the book “presents a threat to the orthodox brahminical interpretations of Hinduism” jolts me into thinking about deepa mehta’s film water and jha’s film matrubhumi. In water we see that women are blamed for their husbands’ death then stripped off their Jewelry or colorful saris Then made to do penance in a human prison, like living dead, condemned to begging and praying for food and therefore their existence. These same women who are the scourge of the earth are sexually exploited by Brahmin priests to satisfy their carnal desires because they think that these women can be “less” sinful by sleeping with these Hindu priests. Is this Hindu scripture? Is it Hindu scripture also for priests to rape pre pubescent girls when they think they’re going to hit puberty? AND this literal yet scriptural rape with the child’s parents’ consent? How can rape be of god? How can being sequestered away in an ashram be god-ordained for widows, who are worshipped when married, but cursed when widowed? Is that why women continue to be raped without indemnity in India?

Someone makes an excellent comment in asking if the book was against Islam or Christianity if Hindus would feel the same. That point is a very valid one, particularly for those who criticize Islam and Christianity for their unchanging and unevolving take.

But, finally if one interpretation holds for Hindu scriptures and cannot be challenged, how will India Escape it’s third world moniker? While I don’t like the term ‘third world’ we all know what it signifies and we all should know that ALL third world countries have one thing in common: they keep women subservient and voiceless. These countries are “forever developing” and never reach ‘developed’ status, because other voices can’t be heard. The Hindu right opposes any reading. The right will have theaters burn down for a deepa Mehta film because it is an alternative reading of what Hindu scriptures say, or what people think they say, but never will it dawn on those condemning to ask why something is thought of differently. Pulling doniger’s book is only attesting to this “forever developing” status of India. Doniger may not be a subaltern woman, for she speaks, but she sure isn’t going to be heard!

Originally posted on Kafila:

This statement expresses the views of the individuals listed below and does not represent the views of the University of Chicago or any of its departments.

We, the undersigned, as students of South Asia, strongly condemn the withdrawal by Penguin Press India of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History from distribution in India. We believe that this work has been attacked because it presents a threat to orthodox Brahminical interpretations of Hinduism. We believe that this attack is part of ongoing attempts by upper-caste extremist Hindu forces to stifle any alternative understandings of Hinduism. As students in the United States, we are acutely aware that North American organizations of the Hindu right initiated the protests against Wendy Doniger’s scholarship. Hindu right wing organisations in India have worked in tandem with their North American counterparts to suppress alternative voices in India and too often violently. We are deeply concerned about…

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