Prof. Phyllis CheslerThe writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of sixteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman's Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has written four studies about honor killing, Her latest books are An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan) and Living History: On The Front Lines for Israel and the Jews.Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com
(Ed. Note: Prof. Chesler will be lecturing by Skype in Prune, India on January 8th about the Hindu struggle to reclaim their roots in Kashmir, which they compare to the Jewish diaspora and the Jews return to their roots)
Professor Diana L. Eck is a supporter of smooth-talking radical Islamist Tariq Ramadan, whom she describes as “one of Europe’s deepest and most articulate Muslim thinkers… one of the most powerful exponents of a reformist, self-critical, spiritual and dialogical Islam.”
She is also a defender of Boston’s notorious Roxbury Mosque (whose former and current trustees, mullahs, and congregants have known ties to terrorism and to preaching violence). Now she has successfully led the pack against Professor Subramanian Swamy.
Last year, in December, he was dismissed after twenty years at the summer school on the basis of an op-ed piece he wrote in an Indian newspaper about the obvious and growing danger of Islamic terrorism in India, including the 2008 and 2011 jihadic massacres in Mumbai.
Eck is a professor of comparative religion at Harvard’s Divinity School as well as a professor of law and psychiatry. She is known for her interfaith work. She, other professors, and some students decided that Swamy’s piece was racist, Islamophobic, nationalistic, religiously intolerant, and in favor of violence and, as such, should be treated as unprotected hate speech. Eck and the students do not believe that Harvard should be associated with anyone who holds such views.
Who is Swamy? His biography is very distinguished. In 1964, as a full scholarship student, Swamy obtained his Ph.D at Harvard. He worked with Nobel laureate Simon Kuznets, and jointly authored papers with Nobel laureate Paul. A Samuelson. He has subsequently served in the Indian parliament for five terms and was also a cabinet minister for Commerce, Law & Justice. Swamy, the president of the Janata Party, is also a linguist and is proficient in Tamil, Hindi, English and Chinese.
Swamy is the author of many acclaimed books and papers. In 1971 Swamy published Indian Economic Planning—An Alternative Approach; in 1973 he released Economic Growth in China and India 1952-1970: A Comparative Appraisal; in 1989 he published an updated Comparative Appraisal of China and India (1870-1986). In addition, he has published numerous papers, including one with Paul A. Samuelson in the American Economic Review.
In addition, Swamy is also something of a swashbuckling hero. In 1976, Swamy exposed and challenged corruption in Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s “emergency authoritarian” rule in India and had to flee the country twice as a result. However, due to his campaign Gandhi allowed long overdue elections. In 1972, Swamy lost his professorship at the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, due to his crusade for both academic freedom and for the union rights of non-teaching Institute employees.
After twenty years of litigation, the courts reinstated Swamy with full honors.
Between 1978-1985, Swamy visited China nine times. This led to the normalization of relations between India and China. In 1982, Swamy became the first Indian political leader to make a trip to Israel. Due to his efforts, India opened embassies in both China and Israel; these countries reciprocated..
In 1987, Swamy undertook a fast unto death to demand an inquiry into the illegal killing of Muslim youth by the police in Hashimpura, Meerut. The government finally yielded to his demand for which Swamy was hailed by India’s minorities. (For the record: Swamy’s wife is a Parsi; he has a Jewish brother-in-law, a Christian sister-in-law, and a Muslim son-in-law. He himself is a Hindu.)
In 1994, Swamy was appointed as chairman of Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade, with a cabinet minister’s rank. “This was perhaps the first time that a Opposition Party member was given a Cabinet rank post by the ruling party.”
Professor Swamy is also the president of the Janata Party in India and has been for the last 20 years. This party is an anti-Left, anti-socialist party which believes in limited government and opposes authoritarianism at the top and serfdom at the bottom. It is anti-caste and anti-language-based differences which divide Hindus. The party also stands for “the elimination of gender discrimination.”According to its website:
Atrocities and violence against women are on the increase throughout the country, more particularly against women (in) the weaker sections of society and the Minorities and Scheduled castes and Tribes. The instruments of the state for enforcement of law and order and giving protection to women like the police, the Judiciary and the Bureaucracy have themselves become indifferent to the cause of women.
Please note: Swamy is indeed “politically incorrect.” Why? Because he believes that Muslim terrorists do not have the right to take over Hindu temples, to forcibly convert, or to genocidally exterminate Hindus. Or to exist illegally in hostile, parallel societies harboring terrorists. Like Israel, Swamy is asserting the right of self-defense and the right to a national identity. Today, such sentiments are viewed as unacceptable, prejudiced, and primitive by Western intellectuals and activists.
And now let us pause. Who is Professor Diana L. Eck? She, too, has a distinguished resume. She has published many books, including her 1982 work Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India; her 1999 work Banaras: City of Light; her 2001 A New Religious America: How a Christian Country has become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation; and at least two other works about India. She heads the Pluralism Project. Harvard suggests that press inquiries be directed to her in the following areas: gay and lesbian issues, Islam, America, multiculturalism, Hinduism, ordination of women, pluralism, Southeast and Southern Asia. She is married to the Reverend Dorothy Austin.
However, Eck has not risked danger or death by going against the “popular” or politically correct view. She represents, perfectly, the “mindset” of the intellectual Ivy League elite in terms of Islam. Here are her own words on the Roxbury Mosque (also known as the Islamic Cultural Center of Boston):
At the heart of Boston in Roxbury Crossing stands the magnificent shell of what will eventually be the Islamic Society of Boston’s landmark mosque, as yet incomplete. Progress is swamped by the well-publicized accusations of the David Project, a Jewish advocacy group, about the mosque’s funding and leadership and the ensuing litigation against the David Project by the Islamic Society of Boston. (The David Project won this litigation). Meanwhile, Jewish-Muslim relations in Boston have become tense, undermining honest and difficult dialogue at the very time we need it most. Last month, as I stood under the great dome of the mosque at Roxbury Crossing, I prayed, as a Christian, for its speedy completion… Boston is part of the Islamic world. Looking to the future, the vision of an Islamic Center dedicated to interfaith outreach and education at the crossroads of Boston is worth the commitment of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
Swamy is trying to deal with the real but still incredible history of the Muslim genocidal persecution of Hindus. Eighty million Hindus were slaughtered over a five century period and many were forcibly converted to Islam. Eck has probably never focused on Islam’s long and ugly history of imperialism, racism, colonialism, forced conversion, slavery, and gender and religious apartheid.
Swamy and his people lived through it and now see that a new and barbarous jihad is upon them again. Thus, Swamy identifies the ongoing Muslim terrorism in India as well as the illegal Muslim immigration which has meant increased criminal activity, including the kidnapping, raping, and forcible marriage of Hindu girls by Muslim men.
Eck is apparently not concerned with this. Rather, she is trying to teach Americans to be “sensitive” and “tolerant,” which to her now means we must understand that not all Muslims are terrorists. Swamy would agree with this and has not only said so — he wrote as much in the very op-ed piece which became grounds for his dismissal. He wrote:
We need a collective mindset as Hindus to stand against the Islamic terrorist. 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.
Strong words — yes. But not anti-Muslim words. He is calling upon Muslims in India to support their Hindu brethren. He is not calling for their extermination or their exile.
Also, Swamy clearly states that “Islamic terrorism is India’s number one national security problem….and already the successor to Osama bin Laden as the al-Qaeda leader has declared that India is the priority target for that terrorist organization and not the USA.” Do Eck and her followers expect Swamy to pretend that this is not the case?
In addition, Swamy is dealing with the continuous Islamic terrorist attacks on Hindu temples. Historically, literally thousands of Hindu temples were destroyed to build mosques or Muslims used the material as foot stones for new mosques. As they have done all over the formerly Pagan, Jewish, and Christian Middle East and central Asia, Muslim kings built Masjids (places of prayer) right in the holiest of Hindu temples. Swamy has not called for the destruction of mosques but for the restoration of temples — where now Masjids stand.
Islam has not historically been “tolerant.” Muslims have expected others to “tolerate” their views and their ways but they have not been and still are not reciprocal. Even as Muslims make demands on America and Europe for mosques — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan do not allow churches; Hindu, Buddhist or Bahai temples; or synagogues; in fact, Muslims are murdering Christians in these countries merely because they are Christians. The Arab and Muslim world is almost entirely “judenrein” except for Jewish Israel which Muslims obviously cannot abide.
Nevertheless, Eck wants Americans to feel that Islam is essentially “peaceful.” If Eck is at Harvard and is doing “interfaith” work then she wants such work to succeed. Unfortunately, she may be talking to all the wrong people. Eck should be talking to truly moderate and religious Muslims. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Dr. Bassam Tibi, Zainab Al-Suwaij, Zeyno Baran all come to mind but there are many others. She is not. Or, Eck should be talking to secular and former Muslims, like Ibn Warraq, Nonie Darwish, or Wafa Sultan, who stand against Islamism and for western democratic values, including tolerance and women’s rights.
Alas, like so many Americans, including those who work for the American government, Eck is misidentifying the Muslim Islamists/terrorists/jihadists as “moderates.” And turning her back on the genuinely moderate and anti-Islamist Muslims.
I interviewed Swamy about this shameful scandal. Here is our discussion.
PJM: What do you think of this turn of events?
Swamy: The turn of events is shocking for me since I have been a part of Harvard for over fifty years since 1962, first as a student and then as faculty. Last summer after the op-ed had appeared, the Harvard president issued a statement stating that “free speech is sacred for Harvard.” But now four months later it turns out to be “subject to majority opinion” of the faculty. I was judged behind my back and by deliberate distortion of what I wrote and without an opportunity to rebut the absurd and false charges. To me it seems like Harvard is now following the 21st century version Spanish inquisition or the procedures used in dealing with Galileo.
PJM: What effect does this have upon you?
Swamy: It has no effect on me personally since I live in India as a political leader. Just one week after the Harvard inquisition, I was nominated by a leading TV channel, CNN- IBN, as “Indian of the Year for Public Service.” In the last two weeks I have been the cover story for my crusades against corruption in leading magazines.
PJM: What does it say about Harvard and about the forces that threaten to undermine democratic and tolerant values?
Swamy: In 1976, when Harvard invited me to teach after I escaped Mrs Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian rule and had begun an aggressive campaign against it, Gandhi had sent the Indian ambassador to Dean/ Professor Henry Rosovsky to protest against me for what I was writing in the Indian underground media and to seek my sacking. The dean was dismissive. He told the emissary that Harvard only cares about my academic contribution and not about my campaigns outside the campus which are peaceful. The decline in free speech standards in Harvard today from then is truly sad.
Harvard may have fallen prey to narrow interest groups. The rise of appeasement of unacceptable Islamic militant interests in return for endowments in U.S. academia is quite alarming. It borders on the Stockholm Syndrome. I also believe that Harvard is looking for an endowment for its South Asian center from Ms. Sonia Gandhi, an Italian born former beneficiary of KGB funds and with long term association with the Habash Palestinian militants. She was also a recipient of slush funds from Saddam Hussein in the oil for food scam. Currently, I am trying through courts to send her to prison on corruption charges. I am given to believe that she took active interest in this sordid Harvard episode.
PJM: Did you ever have any personal dealings with Profesor Diana L. Eck? Or with any of the students who launched this petition against you?
Swamy: I do not know Eck. I remember her name from the sixties when someone asked me about her work on Hindu religion. Nor do I know any of the petitioners.
PJM: Did any of your students complain to you or about you?
Swamy: The Dept of Economics supported my continued teaching. They informed the faculty at the meeting that no student in his or her evaluation had complained about this op-ed. Only one student referred to it and (he) was favorable. I had six Muslim students in a class of 40, including two Pakistanis. None protested to me or in confidence in the course evaluation.
PJM: What would you like to see happen?
Swamy: One day Harvard will apologise to me for this. I shall await that day.