Stop the Carleton University Gandhi Statue

Education, Not Propagation

An Open Letter to Carleton University

An open letter sent on September 7, 2011:

Dear Chancellor Gray and all other Carleton University administration:

Plans by the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Council of Ottawa to erect a statue of Mohandas Gandhi on the Carleton University campus on October 2 of this year sadly threaten to internationally besmirch the university’s hitherto sterling reputation.

Gandhi is a hero only to a select group of upper-caste Hindu Indians. To others, he remains a man who unashamedly and unapologetically constructed a legacy of racism against blacks, support for racial segregation in South Africa, cheerleading and participation in British colonial wars of conquest, insensitive and anti-Semitic remarks about the Jewish Holocaust, disturbing amiability towards Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, shocking disregard for the psychological well-being of his grandnieces and consistent belittlement of Indian minorities such as Dalits and Sikhs.

Mainstream Western media has recently delved into the reality that Gandhi was more than just a friendly old Indian man ever ready with a pat proverb. In a March 26, 2011 Wall Street Journal article, journalist Andrew Roberts reviewed Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Lelyveld’s “Great Soul,” revealing:

When he was in his 70s and close to leading India to independence, [Gandhi] encouraged his 17-year-old great-niece, Manu, to be naked during her “nightly cuddles” with him…. He told a woman on one occasion: “Despite my best efforts, the organ remained aroused. It was an altogether strange and shameful experience.” [1]

This bizarre practice was justified by Gandhi as necessary to “test” his own vow of celibacy, though no consideration was made for preserving Manu’s mental health in the process. An article published in The Independent on April 7, 2010 shows that Gandhi was not content with sexually abusing just one of his grandnieces, stating:

Gandhi called for his 18-year-old grandniece Manu to join him – and sleep with him. ‘We both may be killed by the Muslims,’ he told her, ‘and must put our purity to the ultimate test, so that we know that we are offering the purest of sacrifices, and we should now both start sleeping naked.

Eighteen-year-old Abha, the wife of Gandhi’s grandnephew Kanu Gandhi, rejoined Gandhi’s entourage in the run-up to independence in 1947 and by the end of August he was sleeping with both Manu and Abha at the same time. [2]

Needless to say, an old man who pressures his young female relatives (who most likely felt they had no choice but to cooperate) into an incestuous relationship is deeply distasteful to virtually everyone of both Western and Eastern backgrounds. This indisputable fact of Gandhi’s life seems enough to warrant not honoring him with a statue anywhere in the world, yet it represents only the tip of the iceberg.

Public celebrations of Gandhi, especially the installation of new statues, are sparking spirited protests throughout North America. On October 2 of 2010, which marked Gandhi’s 141st birth anniversary, separate groups protested for the removal of a Gandhi statue in San Francisco and against the installation of a new statue at University of Michigan-Flint. An article in The Flint Journal covered the objections of a coalition of Dalit groups, stating:

Not all, however, were happy about the statue.

“He does not represent peace. We want to show people his dark side,” said protester Surendra Wanked, 37, of Sterling Heights during the unveiling of the Mahatma Gandhi statue at Wilson Park on Saturday, October 2, 2010.

A group of at least 20 protesters, some who traveled from Canada to voice their opinion, carried signs questioning historical accounts of Gandhi’s efforts against inequality.

“He was not the right person,” said Ajit Lear of Toronto who believes Gandhi supported India’s caste system.

“He was a racist person,” said Lear, who comes from one of India’s “untouchable” castes. [3]

Meanwhile, an alliance of Indian minorities in San Francisco presented a letter to the San Francisco Arts Commission insisting the city remove its statue of Gandhi. The letter was followed by a Saturday morning protest during which the heavily trafficked Embarcadero listened as several dozen Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Sikhs and Muslims of Indian origin expressed their unrelenting opposition to the statue. A press release issued by Organization for Minorities of India on October 3 summarized one of their objections, explaining:

The group claimed that their evidence was mostly taken directly from Gandhi’s own writings, compiled by the Indian government in the 100-volume “Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi.” While living in South Africa, they say that Gandhi regularly wrote diatribes against the black natives, describing them to his Indian readers as lazy, incompetent, sex-obsessed and a danger to Indian society. He lobbied political and social bodies to expand segregation by removing the blacks from proximity to the Indian population.

One incident cited as proof of Gandhi’s racism against blacks was taken from an 1896 speech he gave boasting about getting a third door added to the Durban, South Africa post office. The building previously had two doors: one for whites and the other for non-whites, including Indians and black Africans. Offended at having to share a door with blacks, Gandhi successfully petitioned the authorities to allow a third door for use by upper-caste Indians only.

The San Francisco protest was covered by a number of media outlets. United Press International, for instance, reported: “Group wants Gandhi statue removed.” [4] In The San Francisco Chronicle, journalist John Coté explained that the protesting group “says Gandhi was a racist who harbored violent urges.” [5] Thalia Gigerenzer of The Bay Citizen reported:

A contingent of Sikhs recently met with Mariko Yamada, who is running for California’s 8th Assembly District, to protest talks of installing a Gandhi statue in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento. Members of the contingent were present at the Ferry Building protest, where the group filed a memorandum to the city’s Arts and Ports commission requesting the replacement of the Gandhi statue with either Martin Luther King, Jr., or the low-caste Indian hero Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. [6]

Further coverage of the protests was published by Silicon India, a leading online Indian news outlet, which stated:

“The popular image of Gandhi as an egalitarian pacifist is a myth,” Bhajan Singh, a member of the Organization for Minorities of India, said in a statement. “We plan to challenge that myth by disseminating Gandhi’s own words to expose his racism and sham nonviolence.” Singh and his colleagues say Gandhi’s political views are responsible for the oppression of Indian Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities. [7]

Other efforts to promote Gandhi with statues have faced sustained opposition in Dallas and Austin, Texas, in Charlotte, North Carolina, at James Madison University in Virginia, in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada and in Strasbourg, France. Even initiatives connected to Gandhi only through use of his name have met with protest, as during the Dandi March II in March of this year. A report in The Link Newspaper stated:

A group opposing corruption in India began a 240-mile protest march on Saturday. They were surprised, however, when counter-protesters braved the early morning chill to claim that Gandhi himself is a primary source of corruption.

The walk, called Dandi March II, began March 12 at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in San Diego, California and will conclude March 26 at the Gandhi statue in San Francisco…. Holding signs with slogans such as “Gandhi’s Corrupt Dandi March Caused 1.2 Million Dead and Displaced,” the counter-protesters distributed flyers with quotes from Gandhi’s Collected Works that appear to express support for war, the caste system and racial segregation. [8]

Gandhi’s racism towards non-Indians is another deeply troubling aspect of his legacy. In 2008, a young South African journalist named Sentletse Diakanyo concluded that, because of Gandhi’s promotion of racial segregation in his country, “to continue to honour and celebrate this man is to insult humanity.” Among Gandhi’s most noteworthy achievements in pursuit of racial segregation was his successful 1895 campaign to segregate blacks from Indians at the Durban post office. He bragged about this victory in a speech given in 1896 to a Bombay, India audience, claiming:

Ours is one continual struggle against a degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the Europeans, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir whose occupation is hunting, and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with and, then, pass his life in indolence and nakedness. [9]

Such foully prejudiced sentiments, combined with the fact that Gandhi spent his 21 years in South Africa actively promoting segregationist policies, agitating for war against black natives and insisting “the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race” [10] inspired Diakanyo to further conclude:

There is a growing tendency to try to portray Gandhi as some messiah who also advanced the cause of black people. He cared less about the plight of black people and his sole purpose was to see Indians receive preferential treatment and laws be amended to that effect; while laws governing black people remained in force. He endorsed the ridiculous notion of white supremacy probably in the hope and belief that it would assist his cause for Indians.

…. Gandhi, the phony non-violence activist was a decorated Sergeant Major on the side of the British during the Anglo-Boer War and supported the British during the Bambatha Rebellion in 1906 where Zulu impis and chiefs were massacred. His image as a peace-loving activist, champion of civil rights and an anti-racism activist is fallacious. Mahatma Gandhi was a pathetic racist who supported wars that maimed and left thousands dead and openly expressed his admiration for the mass murderer, Adolf Hitler, to whom he wrote, “We have no doubt about your bravery or devotion to your fatherland, nor do we believe that you are the monster described by your opponents.” [11]

Although he was nominated for a nobel peace prize five times — in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948 — Gandhi never received that award. Aside from his racism, one reason for this was probably because he supported every single major war of his lifetime, even volunteering to serve in two of them. Citing another reason in 1937, Norwegian professor turned politician Jacob Worm-Müller remarked: “It is significant that [Gandhi’s] well-known struggle in South Africa was on behalf of the Indians only, and not of the blacks whose living conditions were even worse.” [12]

The Hindu leader remains a highly divisive figure within the Indian community, which is far more diverse than 2 handful of upper-caste Hindu enthusiasts. Mayawati, the Dalit Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (a northern Indian state), was listed in Forbes as number 59 on a list of “The 100 Most Powerful Women.” [13] She said of Gandhi in 2007 that “he divided Indian society into two categories – the weaker sections and upper castes” [14] and in 2009 called him a “natakbaaz” or “fake” who “did nothing substantial to improve the condition of the Dalits.” [15] Beloved Dalit leader Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a contemporary of Gandhi who is credited with authoring India’s Constitution, believed the Hindu leader promoted a dangerously double-minded view of peace, warning: “If a man with God’s name on his tongue and sword under his armpit deserved the appellation of a Mahatma, then Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a Mahatma.” [16]

As a result of protests against the University of Michigan-Flint statue, the university agreed to offer a balance of views by inviting Gandhi historian Dr. G. B. Singh to present a lecture. The leading expert on critical study of Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Singh has spent over 27 years studying Gandhi, with a particular emphasis on the Indian leader’s prejudices against minorities. His most recent work is Gandhi Under Cross-Examination (Sovereign Star, 2009), a copy of which was mailed to every member of Carleton’s Board of Governors in 2010.

Dr. Singh’s book investigates Gandhi’s claim to have been thrown off a South African train for refusing to give up his first-class seat to a white man. Singh also delves into Gandhi’s adverse relationship with indigenous South Africans, his participation in a war to suppress them and other issues regarding his unsavory treatment of various minority communities. His earlier book, Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity (Prometheus, 2004), first introduced the issue of Gandhi’s overarching racism into the public forum.

A university should be a forum for education rather than propagation. Academic integrity demands open dialogue and consideration of all sides of an issue. As such, we want Carleton University to provide Dr. Singh with an opportunity to present his own historical evidences and conclusions about Gandhi. If the university can erect a statue of the man, certainly they should be willing to also talk about him. Please respond to this request at your earliest convenience. We will cover all costs associated with travel and lodging — and provide all other assistance possible — to allow Dr. Singh to speak at Carleton University.

An effort is already underway to educate the public about Carleton’s irresponsible commitment to installing a Gandhi statue. The website http://www.StopGandhiStatue.com explains that “rather than combatting supremacism by espousing true equality, Gandhi simply spouted his own version of cultural superiority” and demands suspension of Carleton’s installation plans. An associated Facebook page entitled “Stop the Carleton University Gandhi Statue” is currently supported by 167 people, many of them CU students, and growing daily.

Please engage in an open discussion with us about this issue as others have already done. In Austin, Texas, city officials quickly responded to our inquiry about news of a planned Gandhi statue. Austin Director of Parks and Recreation Sara Hensley wrote on September 22, 2010:

Please know that the Mayor and City Council have not approved this effort. There is no approval at this time. As a matter of fact, we are just in the research phase of this idea. There is no indication that this will ultimately be approved.

Likewise, our questions about another statue proposed for Dallas, Texas by an Indian government sponsored organization elicited a quick and transparent response from Dallas City Councilmember Ron Natinsky, who wrote on September 22 of last year:

The City of Dallas has not authorized the installation of any statue for the Indian American Friendship Council. We have had inquires as to the possibility of such a statue, but at this point they remain in the discussion stages only. I am not sure where you received the information but if you could provide me with the source I would appreciate it as we would like to correct any misinformation.

Should the university’s administration decide to continue with the installation of a Gandhi statue, regardless of the feelings of the Indian diaspora, we cannot ensure such action will not be met with peaceful yet unrelenting protest. To honor a man known to so many for his racism, sexual perversion and hatred of minorities is an ill-judged decision. The sensitive nature of the charges leveled against Gandhi means those aware of the truth of said charges are highly sensitive to attempts to propagate his twisted life.

Consequently, we humbly request the administration of Carleton University to halt any and all plans to install a Gandhi statue. Furthermore, we insist a platform be provided for academics such as Dr. G. B. Singh who offer an alternative view. Otherwise, the repercussions of public opinion cannot be predicted.

Sincerely,

Arvin Valmuci
Global Coordinator
Organization for Minorities of India

_______________________________________________

List of endorsing organizations:

Organization for Minorities of India
Arvin Valmuci, Global Coordinator, 209-275-5838, arvin@ofmi.org
Ambedkar Association of North America
Mahesh Wasnik, aanausa@gmail.com
Ambedkar Times
Prem K. Chumber, Editor, 510-219-8920, premchumber@yahoo.com
American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee
Bhajan Singh, General Secretary, 888-551-7454, info@agpcusa.org
BAMCEF International (Backward And Minority Communities Employees Federation)
M. R. Paul, International Coordinator, mohan.ram00@yahoo.com
Desi Trucking Association
Raman Singh, dtjunction@gmail.com
Gandhism.net
Peter Flanigan, webmaster@gandhism.net
International Pentecostal Church
Rev. Daniel Masih, 562-274-8257, danielmattu@gmail.com
Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society
Manjit Singh Uppal, President, 209-649-2767, stocktonsikhtemple@gmail.com
Punjab Star News
Daniel Mattu, Editor in chief, 951-531-8631, editor@punjabstarnews.com
Sikh Information Centre
Pieter Singh, pieter@sikhinformationcentre.org
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha
Jassie Banga, jlbanga1@yahoo.com

Sources:
[1] Roberts, Andrew. “Book Review: Great Soul.” Wall Street Journal. March 26, 2011.
[2] “Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi’s sex life.” The Independent. April 7, 2010.
[3] AlHajal, Khalil. “Gandhi statue unveiled at UM-Flint peace garden in Willson Park.” The Flint Journal, October 2, 2010.
[4] “Group wants Gandhi statue removed.” UPI, October 2, 2010.
[5] “Group wants Gandhi statue removed.” UPI, October 2, 2010.
[6] Gigerenzer, Thalia. “To Some Indians, Gandhi No Hero.” The Bay Citizen. Oct. 7, 2010.
[7] Anbalagan, T. Job. “Non-violence preacher Gandhi a racist?” Silicon India News, Oct. 4, 2010.
[8] “Indian Diaspora Divided By Gandhi-Inspired Dandi March Against Corruption In India.” The Link Newspaper, March 19, 2011.
[9] Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 1, pp. 409-410.
[10] Ibid., Vol. 3, p. 256.
[11] Diakanyo, Sentletse. “On Mahatma Gandhi, his pathetic racism and advancement of segregation of black people.” The Mail & Guardian, October 18, 2008.
[12] Tønnesson, Øyvind. “Mahatma Gandhi, the Missing Laureate,” NobelPrize.org. December 1, 1999.
[13] Egan, Mary Ellen and Chana R. Schoenberger. “The 100 Most Powerful Women.” Forbes. August 27, 2008.
[14] Mahatma Gandhi divided India: Mayawati.” DNA India. October 27, 2007.
[15] “Mayawati targets Congress, calls Mahatma natakbaaz.” DNA India. June 15, 2009.
[16] Ambedkar, Dr. B. R. Gandhi and Gandhism.

Written by stopgandhistatue

August 30, 2011 at 18:50

Posted in Uncategorized

Say “NO” To Carleton’s Gandhi Statue

In 2008, a statue of Mohandas Gandhi was scheduled to be unveiled in the Strathcona Park (Sandy Hill) area of Ottawa. Strong opposition from the the local community of Sandy Hill prevented that statue from ever being installed. The same group that originally supported the Ottawa statue refocused its efforts on getting a statue placed at Carleton University.

That group, called the “Mahatma Gandhi Peace Council of Ottawa,” is on the verge of success. According to their website, the High Commission of India and Carleton University will jointly unveil a life-size statue of Mohandas Gandhi in front of the university’s new Canada-India Centre of Excellence building on October 2, 2011. The date marks Gandhi’s 142nd birthday, which his enthusiasts celebrate as “Gandhi Jayanti.”

Does Carleton University know who it will honor?

When word first surfaced that a statue would be placed at Carleton University instead of Sandy Hill, each and every one of CU’s Board of Governors was mailed a copy of Gandhi Under Cross-Examination. The book, accompanied by a package containing the same information found on this website, investigates the Hindu politician’s life in South Africa. If members of the Board of Governors heeded the package, they are well aware of who Gandhi was and how his actions insulted and impeded non-whites and non-Hindus in both South Africa and India.

Mohandas was made in South Africa, where he lived from 1893 to 1914. During his 21 years there, he laid the groundwork for Apartheid. His extensive writings, typically published in his newspaper The Indian Opinion, revealed his deep hatred for black Africans. He promoted their segregation from the rest of society, both in theory and in practice, and even volunteered to fight Zulus who resisted foreign occupation by the British Empire.

Gandhi’s famous Brahmacharya vow of celibacy and poverty was supposedly made in 1906, immediately after he returned from the battlefield where he helped suppress the Bambatha Rebellion of the Zulus. His commitment to celibacy, however, became an excuse for him to implement a long series of bizarre sexual experiments. The most repulsive of these was his insistence that his teenaged grandnieces, Manu and Abha, sleep naked with him in his bed every night.

Although he was nominated for a nobel peace prize five times — in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948 — Gandhi never received that award. One reason for this was probably because he supported every single major war of his lifetime, even serving in two of them. Citing another reason in 1937, Norwegian professor turned politician Jacob Worm-Müller remarked: “It is significant that [Gandhi’s] well-known struggle in South Africa was on behalf of the Indians only, and not of the blacks whose living conditions were even worse.”

No doubt another reason that Gandhi never earned the Peace Prize was the violence associated with his supposedly nonviolent life. He even helped cover up the murder by his followers of an American engineer named William Doherty. In a sworn deposition recorded in Los Angeles, his wife Annette told how a mob of Gandhi enthusiasts set upon husband as he peacefully walked the streets of Bombay. Rioters gouged out his eyes before beating him to death. Annette Doherty stated:

Within three days following this killing of my husband, word was brought me from Gandhi that he greatly desired an interview with me… [He] stressed the point that Americans, because they were so much in sympathy with him in his political views, must on no account learn the details of the murder of my husband lest it hurt the success of his movement in America.

Gandhi’s comments made to and about the German führer during the Second World War similarly illustrate the contradictions inherent in his philosophy. Among his various remarks was one made on May 15, just five days after the unprovoked Nazi invasion of France began. That bloody action stole the lives of approximately 80,000 Frenchmen, yet Gandhi stated: “I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing and he seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed.” His stunningly insensitive remarks about Jews expose his refusal to confess common cause with any other victims of supremacism.

Rather than combatting supremacism by espousing true equality, Gandhi simply spouted his own version of cultural superiority. As you delve through the information on this website, we are confident you will likewise agree that Mohandas Gandhi should not be honored with a statue anywhere in the world. In the words of South African journalist Sentletse Diakanyo, “To continue to honour and celebrate this man is to insult humanity!”

Written by stopgandhistatue

August 3, 2011 at 21:41

Posted in Uncategorized

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