Reconsider Invitation to Swamy and Malhotra

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Reconsider Invitation to Swamy and Malhotra

This petition had 347 supporters

Oxford Students started this petition to Oxford India Society

The Muslims of India can join us if they genuinely feel for the Hindu. That they do I will not believe unless they acknowledge with pride that though they may be Muslims, their ancestors were Hindus. If any Muslim acknowledges his or her Hindu legacy, then we Hindus can accept him or her as a part of the Brihad Hindu Samaj (greater Hindu society) which is Hindustan. India that is Bharat that is Hindustan is a nation of Hindus and others whose ancestors were Hindus. Others, who refuse to acknowledge this, or those foreigners who become Indian citizens by registration, can remain in India but should not have voting rights (which means they cannot be elected representatives) - How to Wipe Out Islamic Terror by Subramanian Swamy

We, the undersigned, wish to express our anguish at the invitation extended to Subramnian Swamy and Rajiv Malhotra by the Oxford India Society.

In defence of invitations such as these, we are often confronted with the “free speech” argument. We are reminded that speakers like Subramanian Swamy, Rajiv Malhotra, Marine Le Pen, men against abortion, have a right to air their views, no matter how repugnant. This argument is misplaced since it collapses the significant distinction between persons being allowed to air their views, and their being provided with a platform to do so. While we must grudgingly bear morally repugnant views, we do not feel we have a duty to invite persons to air them at a platform which bears respect. Moral abstinence cannot lapse into abetment.

Further, even if we were to accept the OIS’s contention that these speakers must be heard, there remain significant concerns about the manner in which this talk is being held. Swamy been described as an “ex-Harvard Professor and previous union minister” who shall speak on reforms. No reference is made to his vitriol against Muslims, and his demand for their disenfranchisement conditional upon acceptance of their “Hindu ancestry”. Mr.Malhotra has been described as 'Indian-American activist'. This individual is known for his patently fanatic blogs and the book 'Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines'. The latter can at best be described as hate speech against all scholars who have ever attempted to criticize the caste system or other forms of social hierarchies and discriminations in India. His targeted vilification campaign against most American scholars, not to mention several Indians as well, especially Wendy Doniger, has breached the limits of propriety. His obsession with undivided nation with all its inequities intact, now being divided by scholars and 'activists' discussing and fighting them has only resulted in intemperate and bigoted rants that reveals a great deal of religious orthodoxy and fundamentalism.

You are right to say we should question these individuals. But then they ought to be questioned and presented as they are—as bigots with extremist views—rather than exclusively qua professor, historian, or activist, speaking on “reforms”.

Finally, for all concerns about free speech and lively debate, and the OIS’s presentation of this talk as one involving “contrarians”, it is intriguing that it has chosen to invite speakers on the same end of the political spectrum. A similar platform has not been extended to those affected by their vitriol, by their vision of Hinduism, or a unified nation.

We, therefore, urge reconsideration of the invitation extended to Subramanian Swamy and Rajiv Malhotra to speak at the University of Oxford. We remain optimistic that the organizers shall demonstrate better sense and civility than has been demonstrated by the individuals they have chosen to invite.

Petition Closed

This petition had 347 supporters