- So what did this so-called conference achieve? Nothing. They couldn't convince Hindus of their iconoclastic attempt to dismantle one of the world's oldest philosophies.
On September 11, 2021, the United States mourned and remembered victims of 9/11 on its 20th anniversary. Every 9/11 anniversary has become remembrance day and an undeclared day of reflection of the fateful day in the history of the United States. On this specific date but during different eras, America and the world saw three unique events. It will be worth pondering and understanding what they achieved then and what they sustained.
September 11, 1893
It was the day of Swami Vivekananda’s famous Chicago address in the Parliament of World Religions. He represented Hindu Dharma and philosophy. Despite several challenges he faced to attend the conference, he finally got to talk only for a few minutes. He thanked the august assembly on behalf of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.
While talking about Hindu Dharma, he said, “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.” Then he brought to the attention of common evils for humanity– “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, and fanaticism.”
Swami ji’s subsequent speeches, writings, and actions reflect that he encouraged modernity for Hindu society while sharing the best Hindu philosophy and practices with the West. It was his long-term action plan to eliminate the fanaticism while preserving the best. Today, America has active 36 Vedanta Centers, an order established by Swami Vivekananda. Nothing dismantled but built – buildings and philosophical platforms to bring Universal acceptance and tolerance.
September 11, 2001
“Violence is the last refuge of incompetent” – Isaac Asimov
A memory of 9/11 makes everyone recalls the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, photos of the damaged Pentagon, and the civilian heroes of Flight United 93. The passengers and flight attendants of United 93 fought on air with the terrorists despite knowing that they wouldn’t be surviving. Still, they ensured that the most potent symbol of democracy – the White House or the U.S. Capitol will remain unharmed, and it did remain so. We should eternally thank these fallen heroes of United 93.
A lot has been said and documented about this fateful day in the history of the United States. However, it shows two distinct traits of humankind. One shows that the terrorists dismantled the physical infrastructure and killed innocent lives. Apart from spreading hate, being incompetent, they couldn’t develop something constructive for their country, before or after.
The other trait showed the commitment of values to the free world. Fallen heroes of United 93 ensured that the importance and the symbols (Capitol or White House) they cherished would not be dismantled and would sustain beyond their lifetime. Their value was to preserve, not to destruct what the American society follows.
September 11, 2021
By and large, anti-Hindu activists, including some of them from the Communist Party of India (Lenin-Marxist), organized a virtual conference titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva.” They garnered support from a few individuals and departments from some of the American Universities. They falsified such support as the universities’ support, only to fall flat on the face and remove all university logos. While exploiting the benefits of the free world, this conference was like a close secret behind the iron wall of the communist regime.
Despite claiming to be an academic meeting, they didn’t publish details other than hate-filled negativity towards Hindus and a violent title coupled with a violent depiction of uprooting Hindus by a hammer. Almost until the day of the event, no organizers and sponsors were announced. Even later, there was only an ad-hoc organizing committee published on the website. However, they made sure to “religiously” use their propaganda machinery to falsely blame anyone who opposed them. There were no research papers, no opposite views to discuss, nor reference to the original writings on the topic as suggested reading.
The false and vicious portrayal of Hinduism was not well received by practicing Hindus regardless of their personal political or social ideology. For these Hindus, their practice adheres close to the word Hinduness or a phrase with Sanskrit suffix “-tva” thus “Hindutva.” However, for the conference organizers, what is known as “the way of life” of billion people was not meaningful. For them, signature support of some intellectuals’ misinterpreting thoughts was enough to validate their anti-Hindu activist-ideological stand.
In the spirit of Evelyn Hall’s famous quote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” Hindus exercised their right to ask universities for their institutional involvement against such anti-Hindu conferences. But individually or organizationally, Hindus publicly maintained their faith in freedom of speech. While opposing intellectually such a conference, they asked their supporters to follow tolerance and respect.
So what did this so-called conference achieve? Indeed, nothing other than a failed attempt… They couldn’t convince Hindus of their iconoclastic attempt to dismantle one of the world’s oldest philosophies.
Simply put, they couldn’t damage Hindutva by their smear tactics, just like terrorists couldn’t dismantle the White House or Capitol on 9/11. But unfortunately, these activists dismantled the academic standards and values that the eminent universities cherished for years. Or, with due respect to Asimov, it can be said, “Intellectual incompetence brings intellectual violence.”
Vikas Deshpande lives in Boston, Massachusetts, area. He writes on social and political topics in Marathi and English. He actively volunteers within the Indian American and American Hindu community, organizations in the field of religion, culture, language, and entrepreneurship. He is on the boards of directors for nonprofits working for the environment and yoga and meditation.