One of the keys to identifying, surviving and dealing with Hinduphobic attacks is recognizing common arguments and strategies.

Note: This list is not exhaustive and each of the items is not mutually exclusive. Western news media and social justice spaces regularly norm many of these arguments. 

Hinduphobia doesn’t exist. The argument here is that Hinduphobia is a modern invention created by political extremists to mask or even justify Islamophobia. 

Stereotyping. The danger of a stereotype about a community is not that it’s a lie, but that it is often a sliver of fact that is plucked out of context. Its significance or role is then exaggerated, and it is repeated so often by people in positions of power that it comes to be understood by the general public as representative of the entire truth about that community. These stereotypes are never positive, as they erase and reduce people. Because the stereotype becomes the common understanding of the truth, when anyone articulates context or a counterexample, it is interpreted as an attempt to silence “the truth” or mocked as “out of touch with reality.” 

“I’m criticizing Hindutva, not Hinduism.”  This argument has little do with any complex, authentic understanding of Hindutva, but typically uses a caricature of religious extremism that is premised on cherry-picked quotes and misrepresentations. As we have seen repeatedly, this inevitably ends up being an attack on Hinduism itself and is rarely just a discussion of politics. 

Claiming the moral high ground. Hinduphobes often position themselves and their claims as having a claim on morality, creating a false dichotomy. “Either you agree with my assessment of Hinduism, or you believe in oppressing people.”  This argument prevents any kind of rational, civil discourse.

Gaslighting. There are several ways that Hindus are gaslit by Hinduphobes, including:

  • Erasing Hindu history under the pretense of fighting  “Islamophobia.” (This is, of course, a false dichotomy.)
  • Claiming that violent Hindu political extremists are posing as Hindu (American) students.
  • Claiming that Hindus have never experienced discrimination for being Hindus in the West. 
  • Claiming that Western academia isn’t biased against Hinduism. 

Reducing Hinduism to caste and/or gender oppression. It’s important to note that these aren’t critiques of Hindu society; they accuse Sanatana Dharma itself as being premised on discrimination and oppression. 

Amplifying only certain Hindu voices to demonstrate legitimacy. The “I have a Hindu friend” argument.  Any Hindu who disagrees is silenced or, worse, accused of being “fascist” or “fundamentalist.” 

Repetition. Words (i.e. fascism, Nazi, pogrom, genocide) and ideas (i.e. Hinduism is Brahmanism) are repeated so frequently that they become “fact” in describing Hindus and Hinduism. 

Conflation. Issues related to both contemporary and historical Hinduism are falsely compared with issues related to the  US/Global North. This creates a kind of moral shorthand – if you understand how white supremacy works, then you know exactly how “Brahminical supremacy” works and why both whiteness and Brahmanism are social constructs designed for the purpose of oppressing others. This moral shorthand makes it easy and enticing for people to latch onto idea that Hinduism is morally corrupt without appearing discriminatory. Of course, this is nothing but a contemporary reinvention of the savior mentality that rationalized colonization. This argument often reinscribes Aryan Invasion Theory.