Ms Gibson’s book shows no evidence of research

Stabroek News

October 13, 2003

Related Links: Letters on 'Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana' death
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Dear Editor,

I refer to Ras Dalgetty’s letter captioned “Dr Gibson’s book should be discussed, not banned. [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] ” (SN 9-10-2003)

Ras Dalgetty reads Ms Gibson’s booklet “Cycle of racial oppression in Guyana” from a layman’s standpoint and not from that of the well-informed specialist. Ms Gibson’s book has many of the failings of poor research and this has opened the publication to serious questionings. This is in particular true when she attempts to write about Hinduism in Guyana and even about verbal stereotypes over the centuries. Some of the failings of Ms Gibson’s booklet:- 1) She equates Hinduism to a monolith with one dogma as occurs in the Semitic Faiths, one of which, Christianity, Ms Gibson was brought up in and conditioned by. Hinduism is no monolith and has no one dogma. Hinduism is something which has changed from age to age in its long span stretching over many millennia. Gibson makes the error of referring to one or two Hindu texts as if they have the supreme authority of the Bible or the Koran.

2) She speaks of the “Laws of Manu” which is something little known to the Hindus of Guyana and for most Hindus has no more than antiquarian interest. The Hindu scriptures used in Guyana are the Ramayana and the Bhagwad Gita.

3) She speaks of Hinduism being “dualistic”. This is quite absurd. Dualism as she describes it refers to Middle Eastern Faiths and not to East Asian ones like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism or Shinto. Much of her thesis is based on this error which does not occur in the six schools of Hindu Philosophy.

4) The Hindu caste system as described in the Bhagwad Gita and Ramayana, the scriptures of the Hindus of Guyana, is very different from what Gibson imagines it to be. It would seem to me that Gibson had some kind of paradigm in her mind and she has had to fit everything into it whether it was factual or not. In my visits to India I have seen light-skinned persons belonging to the Sudra caste and dark-skinned ones belonging to the Brahmin caste. And there are so-called Untouchables everywhere in all kinds of high positions. The writer of the Indian Constitution, Dr Ambedkar, for example, was an Untouchable and so was Mr Narayanan, a recent President of India. Even one of our Indian High Commissioners was of that caste.

5) In Guyana, Hindu caste had long disappeared and Indians of any shade regard themselves as Indians. This is not merely an observation found in numerous sociological studies but it is quite clear in all Hindu places of worship. Ms Gibson’s claim of the sudden and unprecedented resurgence of the Hindu caste system is a sociological impossibility, especially when she claims that Africans have been taken into the Hindu caste system! This is very far-fetched and astonishing and defies all principles of sociology and anthropology.

6) The teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest influence on Hinduism over the last century, and the numerous Western Hindu sects such as Hari Krishnas, Self-Realisation Fellowship, Yogas, Aryas, Transcendental Meditationists, etc, would regard Ms Gibson’s writings about caste with astonished incomprehension.

Ms Gibson should also realize that one can’t be subjectively selective to prove one’s point. Research needs a far tougher intellect to try to wrestle and find the truth. Thus verbal stereotypes of various races changed from time to time and sometimes contradictory stereotypes occurred at the same time. She needs to be far less facile and simplistic in her presentations and assessments.

There is a great deal of validity in the criticisms of Ms Gibson’s booklet and I am sure she has taken note of them and would try to do better next time. What has helped to give her booklet the notoriety it has in some circles is her association with media which are widely regarded as racist and politically partisan and which have used her writings as supportive of their racist and other anti-social positions and which she appears to condone and has failed to reject.

Yours faithfully,

W. Griffith