This tract is buttressed by rumours unworthy of the National Enquirer

Stabroek News

October 23, 2003

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Dear Editor,

With reference to Ras Tom Dalgetty’s letter captioned “Dr Gibson’s book should be discussed, not banned” [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] (SN10/9/2003) let me state that I consider Dr. Gibson’s “A Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana,” to be one of the most blatant cases of race hate I have ever encountered in Guyana. The premise of her tract is baseless, her method buttressed by hearsay and rumours unworthy of even the National Enquirer, and her conclusion perverted to the extreme. Scholarship and research which imply rigorousness have been given a bad name. Yet I have never called for the book to be banned.

Till now I have not written anything about the book. Prior to this along with Pandit Crishna Persaud of the Maha Sabha, I discussed some of Ms. Gibson’s sensationalist anti-Hindu pronouncements in it on my TV programme “Explaining Hindu Dharma” on CNS 6. Again on the same programme on September 17, last I demonstrated the fallacy and race-baiting danger when I did call on all Hindu organizations and their leaders, including Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud to come out with a statement, as I found their silence then, and now, to be disturbing. I still urge the Hindu religious organizations, particularly Pandit Reepu Daman Persaud’s Hindu Dharmic Sabha. A tape of the September 17 programme was replayed two Wednesdays later on October 1. At no time have I called for the book to be banned. I plan a detailed response to “A Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana.”

For now suffice it to say that Dr. Gibson’s characterisation of Hinduism is so shallow that it is difficult for me to reconcile it with the information that she actually holds a PhD, this obviously deliberate simple-minded approach being surpassed only by her fervour to demonise. It is also clear that having spoken about the evils of linguistic and other forms of demonisation, she now considers herself morally excused and authorised to engage in demonisation of her own. This has been amply demonstrated in Ravi Dev’s analysis. Freddie Kissoon too has exposed the true nature of this blatant hate tract.

There is an amazing amount of ignorance Africans in general of this society have of Hindus and Hinduism, and far from contracting this area of darkness is expanding and being compensated for by ridicule, fantasy and myth-making, a fact that Mr. Dalgetty renowned for his own inveterate animosity towards Indians never fails to confirm. Ignorance produces myths which can have devastating and lethal effects as we have seen in Guyana especially since January 12, 1998.

Ms. Gibson’s case is different. She dons the robes of a PhD, sanctifying her “A Cycle of Racial Oppression...” with the aura of scholarship and research. Her myth-making cannot go unchallenged, for it not only excuses but invites further ethnic violence against Indians.

Both Ms. Gibson and Mr. Dalgetty refer to Hindu/ Indian dualism as though they cracked the code of some kind of deep and dark mystery buried in the recesses of the Hindu/Indian mind, which according to them explains Hindu attitudes towards Africans. If the dualism they speak of has to do with the binary of good and evil then every known culture has some notions of it with the exception that in Hinduism good and evil are not so much irreconcilable opposites as they are manifestations in a single continuum.

Further, regarding the meaning and relevance of the Hindu/Indian colour schemes, I direct both Ms. Gibson and Mr. Dalgetty to the Ndembu of northwestern Zambia and their detailed and fascinating colour schemes where black and white are the proverbial opposites, black being evil and white good. We are also informed that in ancient Egyptian art a four-colour scheme was often used. Here Egyptians show themselves as red, Asians as yellow, northerners as white, and Africans as black. All autochthonous, nothing foreign, and what’s more, nothing Hindu.

Why do we need to go to India to see how fair-skinned Indians oppress their “mattie” black-skinned Indians? Let us look at African life here in Guyana and the Caribbean, and we will see that it is not exactly bliss and harmony among the “red-skinned” Blacks and “jet-black” Blacks. Mr. Dalgetty should look at the bevies of beauty queens that the many Black Beauty Contests are churning out. What standard of Blackness do they emulate? Guyana is still waiting for that broad and flat-nosed, thick lipped, rounded and well contoured Black beauty. All that we have so far are poor imitations of whiteness. After all, they still have to fit their bodies and aspirations in a white man’s world.

In conclusion let me make these points. If Amerindians, Africans, Chinese, and Europeans exercise their right not to worship in Hindu temples, is it because they are invisible to Hindus, or it’s the Hindus who are invisible to them?

Since when one may ask has proselytisation become a virtue to Mr. Dalgetty? Is it not a demonstration of singular magnanimity on the part of Hindus that they have never sought to tamper with the faiths of others in the society by seeking to convert them? Is it not enough that Hindus have always recognized the inherent worth and divinity of others and that we have never demonized them as sinners, heathens, pagans, infidels, and unbelievers, the kind of labels that serve as precursors to violence?

India is a vast land of continental proportions, a diversity and a unity all wrapped together. It is a land of diverse cultures, languages, and religions that are thousands of years old and its population is now beyond a billion. Is it fair for a man who visited India twice in his lifetime, as Mr. Dalgetty claims to have done to make such sweeping and, at the same time, dogmatic statements on India? Those who have chosen to make the study of India a life’s work have always cautioned against the precipitous judgments such as Mr Dalgetty’s freely indulges in.

I am told that there are many in the African community who are outraged and offended by Ms. Gibson’s book. If this is indeed so, then we need to hear their voices. As it has been the case when it took a long time for a few to stir against the prolonged violence against Indians, silence and neutrality are not options.

If Ms. Gibson’s book is a symbol of African intellectual heritage then I would have been tempted to say: “God help the African people in Guyana.” But I know differently. I know that her work cannot in any way be considered even a reflection of African intellectual heritage. All the same, let’s discuss the book.

Yours faithfully,

Swami Aksharananda