Thursday, June 16, 2016

India's Donald Trump, Aravindan Neelakandan, and Tragedy in Orlando

Even as the nation was barely coming to terms with an unfolding tragedy in Orlando, where a Muslim man shot dead 49 at a night club frequented by gays, Donald Trump tweeted self-congratulatory notes about being correct on terrorism. India's own Donald Trump, Aravindan Neelakandan, was not to be left behind. Neelakandan wrote a hate filled screed that is shameful, bigoted and plain nonsense, dangerous nonsense.

On June 12th Omar Mateen walked into 'Pulse', a gay nightclub, and mowed down 49 victims with a semi-automatic gun. Several are in grave condition in hospitals around Orlando. Mateen was shot and killed by a SWAT team. Donald Trump, a shameful bigoted nominee of the Republican party, trafficked innuendos that included alluding to Mateen being an immigrant, Mateen was born in US. America. To America's credit, Trump's innuendos are inviting a backlash.

It is complete idiocy to act as if Mateen, a Muslim, was singularly homophobic due to his religion. America has its fair share of homophobia that has nothing to do with Islam. Violence against homosexuals has a sordid history in America. From Matthew Shepard (1998) to Tyler Clementi (2010) gays have paid a very tragic price for their sexuality. Notably, Shepard was killed by Christians, Clementi was driven to suicide by Asians, a Chinese and a Tamil Hindu, at Rutgers University.

Aravindan Neelakandan (Photo Courtesy

Trump and many Americans, and Neelakandan, are screaming 'terrorism', 'radical islam' for what Mateen did. Yes, it is terrorism. But what do we call the massacre of blacks in a church by white supremacist Dylan Roof? Why is the latter only grudgingly called 'racism' or more politely 'gun violence' but not terrorism? Yes, the duo of San Bernardino who killed office goers are terrorists. But what do we call a guy who opens fire on movie goers in a theater? America has a gun problem. To pretend that a guy who attributes his killing to a religion is somehow more dangerous than others is dodging a key problem. Sure, let's not dodge radicalization but let's not dodge other sicknesses too that result in such loss of life.

If Mateen's homophobia is to be blamed on radical Islam, or just Islam, what do we call the Evangelicals of America who froth at their mouth against marriage equality? Incidentally, homosexuality remains criminalized in Aravindan Neelakandan's India.

Neelakandan's Islamophobia turns him into an apologist for even the LTTE, a murderous terrorist organization that was known for ruthless assassinations with complete disregard for human life. In order to satisfy the itch of his Islamophobia Neelakandan nonchalantly states that LTTE even while carrying out assassinations takes care to "minimize human losses"with "meticulously planned attacks". This viper which spews hatred argues that if only the attack against Rajeev Gandhi had gone according to plan only Rajiv and the suicide bomber would've died. This is nonsense. The assassin had a belt bomb that used ball bearings and projectiles designed to kill not just the intended victim but anybody in the radius so effectively that Rajiv could not have escaped death. The LTTE stood exposed as a murderous outfit when it used the very people that it was supposed to liberate as human shields and even started shooting at the same people when they sought to escape to the safety of the Sri Lankan troops. Why am I surprised at the mendacity of Neelakandan, after all, he swears by the organization that was an inspiration to the assassin of Gandhi.

Neelakandan details gruesome acts by terrorists, including a pregnant woman being shot dead. He happily forgets that Hindus in Gujarat unleashed equally murderous and similar grotesque deeds against Muslims. While he plays psychologist diagnosing that even if one escapes a terrorist attack the "trauma" of the killers eyes that singled you out for your faith will leave an indelible mark, he cooly forgets that it was a marauding band of Hindu politicians who embarked on an unprecedented genocide in nowhere but the very capital of the nation against hapless individuals whose only fault was that they were Sikhs. We would do well to remember that one of the worst airline related tragedies was courtesy the Sikhs in Canada. Hindu policemen murdered in cold blood youth, whose only mistake was that they were Muslim, in Hashimpura and not a single one was convicted. Thousands of Muslims were massacred in Nellie and the report is still classified secret. When Muslims perpetrate terror attacks the perpetrators, and many times several innocents too, face the iron hand of Indian law but more often than not when it is Muslims who have faced attacks the Indian state, both Congress and BJP governments, have done little to bring the guilty to book.

The murder of Kashmiri Pandits, by Muslim Kashmiri separatists, is indeed a blood soaked chapter in the history of Kashmir. While Neelakandan weeps for them he happily forgets how Muslims evacuated villages as the juggernaut of Advani's Rath Yatra rolled inexorably towards Ayodhya.

Hinduism is "inherently pluralist, democratic and inherently secular" claims Neelakandan. This is absolute myth. No religion is inherently pluralist or democratic or secular. Pluralism and secularism, the corner stones of a liberal nation-state, are modern ideas that were enshrined in Indian constitution by not just Nehru but including other men who were far greater than Neelakandan, or me.The women and children who were burned in Keezhvenmani will completely disagree with Neelakandan's Goebbelsian propaganda. Neelakandan claims that the RSS, a neo-nazi organization, supports decriminilazing homosexuality and extends his fantasy claim to assert that even those who disagree with that sexuality "concede that it is a personal matter" and then chides Islam as being uncomfortable with such pluralism. Narendra Modi, Neelakandan's political idol, rules with a brute majority in the Parliament, pray, why has he not then moved a legislation to decriminalize homosexuality in India? How many rallies or agitations has RSS undertaken to further the cause of LGBT community? Compare that to how many times RSS supporters and office holders speak about Hindu causes.

Supporting Israel is another bogey for the Hindutva brigade. While I support Israel I'd say that it is hideous to whitewash what happened to Palestinians over the decades. I wish Palestinians had had better leaders but that said the tears shed by Neelakandan for Israel are just crocodile tears. Reducing the hatred of Palestinians towards Israel as "more to do with the theological hatred Islamism bears towards Jews than land issues" is sheer mendacity.

An interesting news that caught my eye recently was Hindus in India praying for the election of Donald Trump as America's president because they believe that Trump will defend America from what they consider as the menace of Islam. The Hindutva far right, of whom quite a few live in US too, is cheering Trump without realizing that the bigotry and xenophobia that Trump is unleashing will affect Indians too. America, I hope, will defeat Trump.

The hypocrisies of the Hindutva group in US needs mention. Neelakandan's co-author of a recently published book is a US resident and complete supporter of everything he dishes out. Recently she had shared on her Facebook page an anti-Islamic rant by a white American asking why should America accommodate the beliefs of Muslim immigrants. I asked her does she, a Hindu and therefore a minority in US, realize that she expects US to accommodate her beliefs? Indians take immense pride when the White House celebrates Diwali and even schools in Hindu majority neighborhoods in US declare Diwali a holiday. Corporations now celebrate Diwali and one should see Hindu workers turn out in all their finery and lecture to wide eyed Americans about the greatness of Indian culture.

Despite all the Trump related noise there is hope in America. The Lt. Governor of Utah, a deeply conservative state, gave a moving speech in the wake of the Orlando shooting. He recounted how growing up in a small town he used to mock gays in his school days and apologized for not having known better. People like Spencer Cox and Barack Obama, yes I mean that, will leave America a better place. I know there are sensible people in India too and they fight the good fight against the Neelakandans who are trying to destroy India. May the will of good people prevail over the hate mongers.


  1. Orlando Tragedy
  2. Neelakandan's article
  3. Matthew Shepard -- Gay student beaten, tortured and left to die for being gay --
  4. Tyler Clementi -- Gay student at Rutgers University, committed suicide after being outed by a Chinese and an Indian student --
  5. Utah governor's apology for mistreating gays in school days


Anonymous said...

The only problem is that one man's good is another man's evil.

Ashok Kumar said...

//An interesting news that caught my eye recently was Hindus in India praying for the election of Donald Trump as America's president because they believe that Trump will defend America from what they consider as the menace of Islam. //

Aravind , From your articles I believe you know India better than any NRI.

Then how come a dozen of right wing activists insane act be called as act of whole Hindus . Very disappointing.

kuttygnanam said...

Well written article with solid and logical thinking.