Readers know that we have been waging a sustained campaign to identify and describe the deep prejudice and bigotry resident within the New York Times against “Hindu” Dharma and Indian culture. Our efforts have been both public via this Blog and private. Readers have supported our efforts with words of kind and positive support.
This week we received a very pleasant surprise. A reader wrote to the New York Times Executive Editor expressing his disgust about the prejudiced reporting of the New York Times. This reader has a stellar global background. He has an advanced scientific degree; he has worked at the most elite intellectual firm in the world and he is now an entrepreneur, precisely the type of a reader New York Times covets.
He was kind enough to forward us a copy of his letter after sending it to the Executive Editor of the New York Times. We reproduce it below with his gracious permission.
This email is in reference to your article “Campaign for Prime minister off to a violent start” (URL: www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/world/asia/indian-vote-off-to-a-violent-start.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& )
I have been reading the NYT for a while now for your strong narratives an reportage. I was dismayed to see, with this article, that you have created a new niche: fact-free, bigoted, racist fabricated narratives.
It is quite clear that the journalists and their supervising editors have not checked their facts. There is no case against Narendra Modi in any court of law for “mass murder” (sic). The Supreme Court of India’s own Special Investigative Tribunal has cleared him or all wrongdoing. Similarly, the claim that elections in India are a “blood soaked affair” is also factually incorrect.
While lapses in facts are one matter, it is quite another when your newspaper passes off prejudice as opinion. One swallow does not a summer make, and using one potholed road to draw a conclusion of religious segregation is pure bigotry. The same claim may be leveled to New York, where the chance of finding a run down home is higher in Harlem or Brooklyn than it is in the Upper east side. I doubt then that the NYT would call the NYC administration racist! That is the standard of bigotry and racism: treating a comparable situation differently based upon race and identity.
Your reporters who wrote this piece of libel (all of whom need to be fired, by the way) also make the malicious claim that the campaign has led to riots when in fact the latter pre-date the former!
I am horrified at what the NYT has become. Instead of being the standard bearer for the values of America the world admires and respects, it is apparent that the NYT now represents ignorance, bigotry and racism. The same ignorance, bigotry and racism that was on ample display when a woman of Indian origin became Miss America.
I do hope the NYT is not irreparably damaged. The appropriate thing to do would be to issue a public apology and terminate the services of the writers and their supervising editor.
Others were also outraged by the article mentioned in the above email. We saw a few tweets from Indian Americans and Indians resident in India. But their outrage was shared through personal exclamations and in a couple of cases with tweets to Basharat Peer, the Indian editor of NYT India Ink. We asked them whether they had written to the Executive Editor of the New York Times. Their response – an ashamed silence.
That is typical of Indians regardless of where they live & work. They are so afraid to speak up and so accustomed to fuming in private while keeping a public “what does it matter” attitude. Their favorite expression is “someone should do something”. Of course, that someone is always expected to be someone else. Perhaps this comes from a 1,000 year history of living under occupation of different Afghan tribes, and invaders from Mogulistan, Portugal and Britain. Perhaps it comes from a sense of helplessness and perhaps from a desire to simply focus on personal life given the number of problems that face them.
The author of the above email is hopefully a member of a new generation of global Indians – confident, articulate, proud of who they are, and utterly intolerant of the prejudice & bigotry of New York Times reporters. If this author is joined by thousands of other Indians who feel the same way, then New York Times will change. They are not stupid. Bigots are rarely stupid. Like predatory animals, they only bite the weak and back away from those who will fight back. Just look at what the global Islamic community has achieved in the past decade.
Gardiner Harris of the New York Times
The above-mentioned article was written by Gardiner Harris of the NYT. We have followed Mr. Harris since he arrived to “cover” India on behalf of the New York Times. He can be a good factual reporter when he wants to. Unfortunately, he rarely wants to when it comes to writing about Indian Religion, Culture or interests. In one case that we researched, Harris misquoted a source to defame MahaBharat and Ramayan, great Indian epics that have shaped Indian minds over millennia, texts that have no parallel in intellectual depth and sophistication in the rest of the world.
Harris came to India steeped in the Religious Caste System practiced by New York Times and by much of American media. That is why we saw Harris focus exclusively on the troubles faced by Muslims in Kashmir without ever writing about religious cleansing of Hindus and Sikhs from Muslim majority areas of Kashmir and of NPak-occupied Kashmir.
But that is the NYT Religious Caste System which ranks Christians & Jews at the top, Muslims in the middle and Asian religions at the lowest caste. This is why Declan Walsh of the NYT has written frequently about the persecution of Christians under the Islamabad regime but never about persecution of Hindus and Sikhs by the same regime. This is why the NYT has gone to war against attacks on Muslims by Buddhists in Myanmar while completely ignoring attacks on Buddhists and Hindus in neighboring BanglaDesh.
And Hindus are, of course, the lowest and most untouchable in the Religious Caste System of the New York Times.
(Ganesh procession – src NYT)
Enter Ellen Barry
Recently, Ellen Barry moved to India as the Bureau Chief of the New York Times. Her twitter profile tells us that she was a “longtime Moscow correspondent”. There is nothing in her profile to suggest any knowledge or even familiarity with Indian culture or with In
dian religious thought.
Students of any scientific or any reason-oriented field realize that they need to study a topic before opining about it. But not Ms. Barry, bureau chief of the New York Times. Guess she feels knowledge of Russia and America is enough to sit in judgement of Indian philosophical thought. This deep sense of superiority comes through even when she is trying to write a sensible article.
We speak of her recent article about Ganesh Utsav titled “Uncertain Times in India, but Not for a Deity“. It is a generally decent article. But the differential treatment of Hindus comes through loud and clear.
For example, Barry finishes her article with the case of a man whose “embroidery business had lost four big clients, he said, and he had spent the last year idle“. After spending the penultimate paragraph on this man, Barry ends her article with:
- “I don’t like Ganesh,” he said. “Maybe it’s random chance. But I think he is bad luck for me.”
We challenge you, Dear Readers. Find us one NYT article about a Christian festival that ends with a Christian man saying:
- “I don’t like Jesus; May be it’s random chance. But I think he is bad luck for me.”
Why restrict yourselves to Christianity? Show us one NYT article that features a similar quote about any non-Hindu Religious Icon. We bet you can’t. Because Christians, Jews and Muslims will not stand for it and NYT understands that.
Barry’s core sentiment seems to be that Indian beliefs are irrational, backward, and stupid. This innate contempt runs through her entire article. Remember, Barry is a veteran NYT reporter and she has been trained to convey her contempt via understated, sometimes subliminal, messages. Just a couple more examples:
- “… elephant-headed god Ganesh, who is believed to have the power to remove obstacles”
- “Social scientists have criticized lavish spending on temple rituals arguing that a relatively small percentage of donations reach the truly needy “
Take the second quote above. It is a reasonable statement and it sounds perfectly reasonable. Most of us would agree with it. Until we do a comparative analysis.
Europe is going through a depression-like recession. Youth unemployment in European, especially Catholic countries like Italy & Spain, is approaching crisis proportions. Social scientists are openly fearful about reemergence of Nazism in Europe. Contrast this with the pomp and opulence of ceremonies during this year’s appointment of the new Pope. Did any NYT article ever criticize that lavish spending and suggest that those monies should have instead reached the needy in Europe? Of course, not. Ellen Barry is presumably a Christian and a “longtime correspondent in Moscow”. Would she ever criticize spending on the Pope or even on the Church in Russia? What do you think, Dear Readers?
This is just one example. Organized and semi-organized religions have always spent lavishly on their religious ceremonies and appointments. Those expenditures are approved and cheered as necessary because faith & belief in religion are deemed a mental and physical positive by social scientists. But that is not applicable to Hindus, not according to NYT’s Ellen Barry.
Now take the first quote above. We first thank and congratulate Ellen Barry for adding the “Vighna-Harta” (remover of obstacles) attribute of Ganesh. That is a major step forward for the New York Times which used to only use the “elephant-headed” adjective. But Barry and NYT can only go so far.
We have been told that, according to Christian doctrine, Jesus is the Savior of humans. That is a “belief” is there was one. But we don’t recall a single NYT article that uses a sentence like “Jesus, who is believed to be a savior of men“. Why not? Because such a description is implicitly demeaning by raising the possibility that the Christian belief could be untrue or superstitious.
Christian teachings also state, from what we have read, that Jesus was convicted by the Roman administration and crucified. Now we ask, Dear Readers, have you ever read the following description of Jesus?
- “crucified Roman convict godson Jesus, who is believed to have the power to save souls“
Many would consider such a description demeaning, offensive, sacrilegious and rightly so. But what is the difference between this awful description and the NYT description of Ganesh:
- “elephant-headed god Ganesh, who is believed to have the power to remove obstacles”
The difference is simple. The first is demeaning and offensive because it hurts Christian feelings. The second is sensible and acceptable because it only hurts Hindu feelings. This, Dear Readers, is how the Religious Caste System works in the New York Times.
Finally, the most obvious, the most visible sign of contempt from Ellen Barry and the New York Times – “god Ganesh”. The ultimate put down of Hindu God as lower than Christian or Jewish God.
Ellen Barry defended this usage in a tweet on Friday, September 19:
Ellen Barry @EllenBarryNYT – Week’s best complaint goes to
Michigan reader, asks why we capitalize word “God” only 4 monotheists.
Questions “monopoly on the uppercase.”
This is the best evidence that Ellen Barry wrote about Bhagvan Ganesh without doing the slightest homework about what Ganesh represents and what is described in the Ganesh Atharva-Sheersham, the prayer of Ganesh that has been recited since the beginning of known culture.
- “You alone are Tatva or the Original/Prime Principle; You alone are the Creator; You alone the Preserver/Upholder; You alone are the Destroyer; You verily are the entire Brahman; You are the manifest Unchangeable Atman;”
- “Entire Universe is created from You; Entire Universe subsists due to You; Entire Universe fades into You; Entire Universe reverts back to You“
- “You are Brahmaa, You are Vishnu, You are Rudra, You are Indra, You are Fire, You are Wind, You are Sun, You are Moon, You are manifestation of Brahman on earth, atmosphere & the above beyond”
These days, translation of the Ganesh Atharva-Sheersham is distributed to every one during Ganesh Puja in Mumbai. So Ellen Barry could have easily obtained a copy if she had the slightest interest in learning about Ganesh. There is nothing polytheistic about Ganesh or Indian Dharma. The Dharma teaches that there is One Eternal Truth that is described differently by different seers.
So if Ellen Barry is honest about NYT’s standards of monothesism, they will begin using “God Ganesh” instead of the demeaning, offensive, and sacrilegious “god Ganesh”.
If they don’t, then we will all know what all of us believe to be true – that the New York Times is inherently, deliberately and contemptuously bigoted against Indian Dharma. And they will continue to be so until the majority of Indians, in India & around the world, begin writing in protest to the Executive Editor of the New York Times.
Thank you, Brave Reader, for your protest to the New York Times. This article is dedicated to you.
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