New York Times Editors – Another Example of Their Bias Against Hindu Ethos?

Editor’s Note: We have written other articles about what we see as a bias against Hindu Ethos in the New York Times Editorial Board. This the reason for the word “Another” in the title of this article. We have respect for reporters of the New York Times and our disdain is reserved for the practices of the NYT Editorial Board. For easy reference, two previous and popular articles in this context are:

We read the New York Times regularly. We find it to be a newspaper that is consistent in its treatment of issues and countries.

  • The New York Times features many articles about Israel, a country with Jewish ethos and a sizable Arab Muslim minority. We have yet to see an article, let alone a series of articles, by an Israeli Muslim writing authoritatively and definitively about the Jewish ethos in Israel. We have never seen an article in NYT by an Israeli Muslim disparaging fundamental tenets of Judaism or denigrating the Israel’s Jewish society as a whole.
  • Europe is a predominating Christian continent with a sizable minority of Muslims. We have yet to see an authoritative, definitive NYT article by an European Muslim that claims to speak for Christian Europe, let alone an article that disparages fundamental tenets of Christianity or laughs at the entire European Christian community.
  • Many countries in the Middle East are predominantly Muslim with Christian minorities. We don’t recall a single NYT article by an Arab Christian who claims to write authoritatively about Arab Muslims, a single article that disparages fundamental tenets of Islam and makes fun of Arab Muslim society.
  • South East Asia is predominantly Buddhist with sizable Muslim and Christian populations. Again, we cannot recall any NYT article by an Asian Christian or Muslim that writes authoritatively on behalf of Asian countries and disparages Buddhist ethos.
Rightly so, we think. Printing an article by a writer of a minority religion who claims to speak on behalf of the majority religion while disparaging the majority’s tenets would be biased to say the least. We applaud the Editorial Board of the New York Times for prohibiting such prejudiced articles against Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Muslims.

But therein lies the reason for this article. The New York Times Editorial Board has been publishing a series of articles by a Mr. Joseph, a Christian writer from India, a writer who writes authoritatively and definitively about India’s Hindu majority, a Christian writer who disparages Indian society and heaps scorn on Hindus.

The New York Times Editorial Board accepts such writings of a Christian writer as the voice of India and prints these articles under the banner Letters from India. This banner lends an authoritative all-Indian standing to these articles even though they disparage almost everything that is core Indian.

About 80% of India’s billion people are “Hindu”. Yet, the New York Times Editorial Board could not find a single writer from India’s 800 million Hindus to write Letters from India, not one writer from a prominent newspaper, publication who could speak on behalf of core India. Instead, they chose a relatively obscure Christian writer who revels in disparaging the tenets and beliefs of core India. The NYT did not print his articles under banners like A Minority Viewpoint from India or a different viewpoint. Instead, the New York Times elevated this minority Christian writer to a status of an Indian oracle writing on behalf of all of India.

Why does the New York Times Editorial Board treat “Hindus” so differently? Why do they single out “Hindus” for treatment that they do not apply to Buddhists, Christians, Jews or Muslims?

Perhaps the answer lies in a quote by Mr. Joseph, the NYT’s chosen authority on Hindus. In his NYT article, Indian Spiritualism Made For the Modern Age, Mr. Joseph writes:

  • These exotic gurus emerge because Hinduism is not a structured faith with a central authority or a chain of command. So there is more room for spiritual freelancers. (Mr. Joseph includes Ravindranath Tagore among these “exotic gurus”)
 Ah! There it is. The unique tenet of Hindu Dharma that distinguishes it from all uni-iconic religions.

We are simple folk with simple & universal beliefs. To us, the forced restriction of following a single Icon, a single Word and a single Book to the exclusion of all others seems rather stultifying, misguided and at least a tad intolerant. Mr. Joseph disapproves of this freedom of thought and seeks a central chain of command of faith for India’s 800 million Hindus.

And the New York Times Editorial Board elevates this sort of “philosophy” and this sort of a writer to the exalted status of one chosen to write on behalf of India in the New York Times.

We recall that President Ahemadinejad of Iran wrote a letter to President Bush a few years ago praising Christians and Jews as fellow believers of a chosen Word, as people of A Book.  We Hindus would never rank high in Ahemadinejad’s estimation because we refuse to be people of one chosen Word, of one chosen Book.

Until now, we never realized how akin the NYT Editorial Board was to Ahemadinejad and his approach to religion. Guess, we learn something new every day!

One thing seems clear to us. The treatment of Hindus by the New York Times Editorial Board is radically different from the way the NYT treats Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Muslims.

The Writings of Mr. Joseph

Mr. Joseph is so contemptuous of Hindus that a fellow Christian from France chided him about his intolerance. Francois Gauthier, an ex-reporter at La Figaro and now editor of La Revue de l’Inde, wrote to Mr. Joseph in July 2011:

  • “What you have indeed shown is that your Christian identity takes precedence over the impartiality you should show as a journalist…..You have used the power of the Word, to slander your own culture, that too in such a prestigious publication as the New York Times, taking advantage of the innocence and ignorance of India of most of its readers.”
Is the Editorial Board of the New York Times innocent or ignorant? We doubt it. Their selection of Mr. Joseph as NYT’s chosen Voice of India seems conscious and deliberate to us.

What does Mr. Joseph think of India?

Mr. Joseph is not content with disparaging fundamental tenets of Hindu Dharma. He disapproves of India as a whole.

In June 2011, Mr. Joseph wrote an article in the New York Times titled Searching for Something Good to Say About India. Mr. Joseph apparently found nothing good in his “search”. So he heaped contempt on all the good things others say about India. For example:

  • It is not as if Indians have not had good reasons to puff their chests in recent times. But, sometimes what makes a country proud is actually a poignant indicator of how far behind it lags.
  • …that the economic progress of India, as in most of the third world, is chiefly the consequence of the wealth of affluent countries’ successfully seeking markets that are so poor that they have the space to expand..
  • ..India’s status as a software giant has long been a happy story. But it is an exaggeration. India is a not a software giant. In your computer, there is probably not a single piece of software whose license is held by an Indian company..
  • What India is, in reality, is a giant back office. There was a time when Indian software companies confidently stated that there were so many talented educated Indians available to them that they would be able to swiftly “move up the value chain.” That was the refrain.
We have no wish to discuss this jaundiced bilge. So we direct Mr. Joseph to an article by Vikas Bajaj in the New York Times titled Manufactured Goods Lead Surge in Indian Exports. In this NYT article, Mr. Bajaj describes how “India has largely skipped the first step and gone straight to producing capital-intensive items“. In other words, how India has swiftly moved “up the value chain”.

Mr. Joseph also dismisses the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare that has now gone nationwide. All across India, people from all groups and social strata proudly proclaim ” I am Anna”.
How does Mr. Joseph describe it?

  • The anti-corruption movement has the simplicity of a third-rate fable.
While Mr. Joseph finds nothing good to say about India, he does worship at the altar of the British. He ends his article with a story of an “English literary agent in Norwich who covers the phone and complains to a friend, with an expletive: “I’m connected to an Indian call center.””

Mr. Joseph’s conclusion “There are happy Indian stories. As long as they are not fully told.

And this is the writer chosen by the New York Times to write “Letters from India”!

Mr. Joseph’s Real Target – India’s Rising Middle Class

In virtually every single NYT article, Mr. Joseph rages against India’s rising Middle class. He denigrates their achievements, he despises their beliefs. The intensity of his vitriol seems so rabid that it points to a deep seated anger. Why? We wondered.

One key to this puzzle came from a comment we read in an Washington Post article. The comment from an Indian NGOite is a plaintive complaint that India’s rising Middle Class is going back to its Hindu roots

This complaint sheds some light on why some ‘educated’ Christians in India are so upset. Since the British days, India’s Christians, mainly converted from Hindus, were given a special place. They were treated as superior to India’s “backward Hindus” by the British.  Under Nehru and under his successors, the label of ‘modernity’ was based on going to Christian schools and looking down on Hindu thinking.  The bureaucrats that managed the socialist society were also anglicized and looked down on their own religion.

Since the liberalization of Indian economy, the most of the progress has been made by Hindus. They are the Scholars, the Scientists, the CEOs, the Venture Capitalists. They are the ones feted in America.  These people are self confident in their own religion and the universal greatness of Hindu thought. And their roots are from India’s Middle Class. The middle class is to a large extent Hindu and proud of Hindu ideals.

All of sudden, some Christian Indians, treated as superior by the British and Indian Anglophiles, find themselves lost in this Indian rejuvenation. So among some Christian and Anglophile writers in India, especially those who did not study hard sciences, there is deep anger towards these upstart Hindus who are usurping the European Christian socialist mantle of modernity.

We know what we see. And we see the same deep anger in the writings of Mr. Joseph. But we do not know whether the antipathy we see towards Indian Middle Class is what he believes in his heart or whether it is a veneer to satisfy the New York Times Editorial Board.

We respect the right of Mr. Joseph to voice his opinions, however despicable they seem to us. And Mr. Joseph lives in a free country in which, like America in the 1960s-1970s, it is politically chic to denigrate the middle class and their religious spirituality.

The New York Times & Mr. Joseph

But we are remain confused about the alliance between Mr. Joseph and NYT’s Editorial Board. And we do have a problem with NYT’s Editorial Board choosing Mr. Joseph as the most prominent, indeed the only writer, for the Letters from India series in the NYT.

Is the selection of Mr. Joseph an indication of NYT’s deep seated bias against Hindu Ethos? We think so. 

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