Friday, June 26, 2009

Dharma and the Issue of Racism in Guyana

Dear Editor,

Guyana is in the middle of a silent, deadly, social upheaval, one aspect being referred to by a leading Caribbean economist as the “insertion of criminal enterprise into the interstices of the state”. The recent extraordinary outbursts against Christianity by two government ministers in Parliament (for which they have not apologized; and which still remain part of the official record of that session) illustrates the religious implication (“These Ministers Should Apologise In Parliament Similar sentiments about Hinduism or Islam would have evinced a storm of protest! But the Caribbean, and the regional media, remains strangely silent.

It is not now very popular to defend Blacks in Guyana, the majority of whom happen to be Christians, but in a fledgling democracy we have a duty to address racism wherever it rears its ugly head. Christianity is the only religion that does not currently tolerate racism and/or slavery.

We thought that we had comprehensively addressed the issue of covert and overt racism under “Hindu Nationalism” as evidenced in Guyana in our copious submissions to the Ethnic Relations Commission when looking at Kean Gibson’s “Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana”, but the recent spate of hate-mail against the author demands that all citizens should now take another look at her latest book “Sacred Duty: Hinduism and Violence in Guyana”, as I will.

History will vindicate Gibson as one of the great iconoclastic thinker of this generation, and misinformation specialists are falling over themselves trying to confront the ugly truth that her books somehow elicit. Her book “Sacred Duty …” is the latest instalment of her brutally frank expose’ of racism, lawlessness and death in Guyana, and so the attack dogs of the letter-writing brigade are out in force to try to discredit her.

The latest in these adventures into scholastic confusion is Luthchman Gossai (SN 2/22/07: “Dharma teaches that one should obey the laws”), John Da Silva (SN 2/20/07: “Why does Ms. Gibson suggest that this is a Hindu Government?”) and one “R. Williams” (SN 2/22/07: “Caste is almost absent from the consciousness of Indians in Guyana”). These three gentlemen have reduced a remarkable proposition by a fine scholastic mind to an inane semantic symposium.

We have addressed many of their tactics, and inadequacies, before at “The Case for Scholarship in Kean Gibson’s Book The arguments still hold.

In contrast, the predictable arguments offered by these gentlemen are as remarkable in their inattention to detail as they are in their portent of the real role of a Hindu “presidential advisor” (Shri Prakash Gossai) … to the total exclusion of additional “Muslim” or “Christian” counterparts. The President is hiding his intentions in plain sight, and to the extent that his actions/defences have represented a thesis for “Hindu Nationalism”, it should like (Lutchman)Gossai says be “thrown into the garbage”.

(The latter) Gossai, whom we have met before, accuses Gibson of misinterpreting a “universal standard” for the interpretation of “dharma”, ignoring the fact that in traditional Hindu society with its caste structure, “Dharma” constituted the religious and moral doctrine of the rights and duties of each individual. We have already pointed out the pathological and destructive propensity of Hinduism to differentiate its subjects and objects into racial and social classes, and to relegate to them specific “duties and roles”. This has fuelled a horrible racism in India itself, and led to its partition at one time. To deny this fundamental is to engage in criminal misrepresentation. To encourage the advent or growth of Hindu Nationalism in Guyana or the Caribbean is political irresponsibility.

It gets worse. According to Dr. Pandurang Vaman Kane, the word "Dharma" acquired a sense of "the privileges, duties and obligations of a man, his standard of conduct as a member of the Aryan community, as a member of the caste and as a person in a particular state of life." Aryan? Caste? Reminds you of Nazism? This should settle the issue of Gibson’s “knowledge of Sanskrit”. So the question: Who else would the president have given $200 million of the taxpayers’ money … for the sake of “national pride”?

Then “R. Williams” concludes that native Indians are “not worried” about the caste system, oblivious in his recklessness to the plight of three hundred million black-skinned Dalits who represent the apartheid-dilemma of the largest racial minority on the planet. He blissfully cites three of four classes of honorific Dalit appointees, completely disregarding the Human Rights Watch position at and His arguments are almost as ridiculous as Evan Radhay Persaud’s contention to the ERC that Minister Clinton Collymore is Guyana’s best example of a “black Hindu” in Guyana.

“R. Williams’” contention that caste is “almost absent” from Hindu consciousness is misinformation masquerading as scholarship, or else monumental intellectual delusion. Caste is fundamental to Hinduism. Hinduism is meaningless without caste. If there is a “casteless Hinduism” in Guyana (we have been waiting since 2003 for Persaud’s and Kissoon’s “conference papers” on this), then this would be truly revolutionary, since it would not be Hinduism (Ed Vishwanathan maintains that “nothing ever changes” in Hinduism).

To the extent that this is true, Vishal Mangalwadi (a native Indian) makes the point that “Hindu Nationalism” is opposed to democracy. The one spells the death of the other. What advice, then, can Prakash Gossai offer the President that others cannot?

And we don’t need the indiscriminate arming of thousands of ethnic government supporters to make this point (“30,012 Gun Licences”, Guyana Review June 1999", pages 31-32). The Review article has never been rebutted. Requests to the ERC to specify the ethnicity and political affiliation of those persons armed have fallen of deaf ears. The 30,012 weapons may have doubled by now.

Then we have Sir Michael Davies’ treatment of the destruction of democratic institutions like parliament (“Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly”; ) and its equally damning sequel (“Addendum to the Needs Assessment of the Guyana National Assembly”; ).

And that, I believe, is what Gibson is warning us about! We ignore her at our peril!

Yours faithfully
Roger Williams
16th October 2007

1 comment:

  1. Caste is a Portuguese word and they were Christian slave traders as yoy should know...