- They have put up digital billiards in several parts of the state urging the Democrats “to stop its bigotry” against the community.
The Hindu American community in New Jersey has put up billboards in several parts of the state, urging the Democratic Party “to stop its bigotry” against the community. The 10 billboards, which have been put up in five countries in the north and central New Jersey, will be displayed for 10 days.
Hindu activist Satya Dosapati, the brain behind the billboard initiative and one of the main organizers, told American Kahani that the move is “a retaliation against the rise of anti-Indian and anti-Hindu hate speech and hate crimes across the country, triggered by a resolution passed by the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee (TDMC), which sent shockwaves in the community.”
(This story has been updated with additional information)
Noting that “people are in very difficult situations,” Dosapati said he’s “deeply concerned about the community,” and aims to raise awareness through these billboards. On the website — https://stopdemocratsbigotry.com — he and his fellow organizers call out Democrats for allegedly being “consistently anti-Hindu” and having “a long history of bigotry.”
The Teaneck resolution, which was passed under the leadership of municipal chairman Alexandra Soriano-Taveras, on Sept. 12, categorizes several Hindu American groups as extremist hate groups, adding that all Indian Americans that are members of these groups are potential terrorists on U.S. soil that need to be investigated. It names several organizations including the Hindu American Foundation, Sewa International, Infinity Foundation, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, among others. In the resolution, the Teaneck Democrats urged Sens. Bob Melendez and Cory Booker, Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Gov. Phil Murphy “to request the FBI and CIA to step up its research on foreign hate groups which have domestic branches with tax-exempt status, and to review the thousands of emails that were sent to academic institutions and scholars regarding the Dismantling Hindutva conference.”
Several Hindu American individuals and groups reacted to the resolution, calling it “a defamatory resolution demonizing the entire Hindu American community promoting hatred and violence against a minority community particularly when it is facing unprecedented violence across the nation,” according to the ‘Stop Democrats’ website.
Few lawmakers including Senate Majority Conference Leader Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), the only South Asian American in New Jersey State Senate, condemned Teaneck Democrats for rhetoric that “unfairly declares almost every major Hindu American organization in the United States to be an organization which promotes hate and terrorism,” the New Jersey Globe reported. “Every religion and every organization has extremist elements in it,” Gopal said. “This is a time of promoting diversity and inclusion, and it is for this reason that I stand with the Hindu American community in condemning this anti-Hindu resolution and calling for its immediate rescission.” Gopal is also in talks with a few Hindu American groups about the billboards, Dosapti said, but did not elaborate on the nature of the discussions.
In a Sept. 28 statement posted on his website, Rep. Gottheimer wrote he’s “deeply disappointed by the anti-Hindu resolution in Teaneck. Jersey Values are about bringing people together and celebrating diversity, and decrying extremism wherever we see it, because that’s what makes our communities strong. I am committed to tackling racism, bigotry, and all forms of hate.”
While the Teaneck resolution raised a lot of concern in the community, it is “not an isolated attack” on Hindu Americans, Dosapati noted, “but a continuation of a pattern by the Democratic establishment during the last few years that is putting a small minority community in a very dangerous situation.” He mentioned the recent wake of anti-Hindu attacks in the last few days in Fremont, California; Dallas, Texas; and South Richmond Hills, New York.
“During the past few years city councils controlled by the Democratic party have been attacking Hindus and even opposed asylum provided by India to Hindus who fled the Taliban,” he says on the website. The party “created bogus caste discrimination theory equating this to critical race theory to shed Hinduism in poor light and even instituting caste sensitivity training in the corporations and caste discrimination policies in academia,” he adds. “Less than 1% of Hindu Americans identify as Dalit and more than 40% of Hindu Americans even marry outside their religion,” he notes.
Speaking to American Kahani, he mentioned recent incidents like anti-CAA resolutions (against India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill ) passed in the “heavily blue” cities of San Francisco, Seattle, Albany, St. Paul, Hamtramck and Cambridge. “What business does a city council have in passing a resumption for something that’s going on in India,” he questioned. He gave examples of how the party has been “trying to outlaw Hindu holy symbols (Swastika) by trying to pass laws declaring Hindu holy symbols as symbols of hatred,” in New York, Maryland, Maryland and California.
“We want to tell them that Hindu Americans are fed up with the Democratic party,” chimed in co-organizer Arvind Kumar, founder and president of CAPEEM (California Parents for the Equalization of Educational Materials). “They are targeting us because the brown man doesn’t go and die for white man’s war,” he added.
Kumar believes that “this war-mongering” attitude of the Democrats is what drove Tulsi Gabbard, former Hawaii congresswoman, a 2020 presidential candidate and the first Hindu American in Congress, out of the party. “She blamed the party for being completely in control of an elitist cabal of warmongers and their wokeness.”
Hindus for Human Rights Responds
However, representatives of the Indian American Muslim Council and Hindus for Human Rights said the advertising campaign alleging Hinduphobia in the TDMC resolution was both false and disingenuous. “The TDMC resolution speaks only about Hindu nationalist groups and does not comment on Hindu religion,” said Sunita Viswanath, executive director, Hindus for Human Rights. “That resolution is not Hinduphobic. It rightly points out to the dangers being spread in the US by groups that support Hindu supremacist ideologies. As a Hindu, I support the TDMC’s concerns about the dangers posed by Hindu nationalists.”
Former IAMC president Shaheen Khateeb, who is a resident of Teaneck, added: “India’s Muslims have always respected Hinduism. But Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, is a political ideology that is 100 years old and advocates that India belongs only to Hindus and that Christians and Muslims must not even have citizenship rights in the country. Instead of maligning TDM, the organizations named in its resolution — the HAF, SEWA, VHPA, Infinity Foundation and Ekal Vidyalaya — should come out and deny they have no connection with the RSS and that they do not support Hindutva. Why don’t they do that?” Khateeb said there is full historical evidence that the RSS’s ideology of Hindutva was supportive of Nazism and Fascism, as reflected in the writings of its leaders and patrons such as Vinayak Savarkar, K. B. Hedgewar, M. S. Golwalkar and Dr. Moonje.
Groups such as IAMC have maintained that Hindu American groups named in the TDMC resolution as well as the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) are connected with India’s RSS and support the Hindu supremacist ideology that is currently dominant in India. Genocide Watch, a U.S.-based watchdog, has said India’s Muslims are at imminent risk of a genocide at the hands of Hindu extremists.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, too, has come out openly in support of the TDMC resolution which demands investigations by federal agencies, the FBI and the CIA, into the workings of these groups.
Meanwhile, with the billboards displayed just a few weeks before the election, Dosapati insists, somewhat unconvincingly, that the move is not politically motivated. “Hindu Americans are innocent and most have gone with the Democrats,” he said. But both he and Kumar believe that the perception that Indian Americans generally vote with Democrats doesn’t hold true anymore. [The billboards] are going to hurt them [Democrats], whether it is intended or not,” he said “Only the liberal Indian Americans and the educated will vote in favor of Democrats,” Dosapti added.
Dosapati hopes that the billboards send a clear message to the Democratic Party. “Hindu Americans want them off this bandwagon of targeting India for geopolitical goals, and urge city councils to stop passing resolutions on what’s happening in India,” he said. Additionally, he wants the lawmakers named in the Teaneck resolution to condemn it and dissolve its Democratic Municipal Committee.
Below are 10 locations in some of the busiest parts of New Jersey where these electronic boards are playing.
1) Rutherford, Bergen County: Westbound Route 3 traffic
2) East Rutherford, Bergen County: Eastbound route 3 traffic
3) Newark, Essex County, Southbound Broad Street
4) Jersey City, Hudson County, Eastbound Traffic on Route 1 & 9
5) Secaucus, Hudson County, Eastbound route 3 traffic
6) Secaucus, Hudson County, Westbound I-495 traffic
7) Little Falls, Passaic County, Westbound Route 46 traffic
8) Edison, Middlesex, Southbound NJ Turnpike
9) Edison, Middlesex, Northbound NJ Turnpike
10) Sayreville, Middlesex, Southbound Rt 9/35