Racist killings in US, RSS death threats form trend of hate presently characterising American, Indian politics

In the span of under a month, three Indians have been attacked — two of them fatally — in different parts of the US. Two days after Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a technology worker from Hyderabad, was shot dead in Kansas city, Harnish Patel, a convenience store owner of Indian origin, was found dead outside his residence in South Carolina. "Lancaster County police received calls from people saying they had heard screaming and gunshots near White Oak Manor, a nursing centre... When the police arrived at the spot, they found Patel dead," reported AP.

Much has been made of the fact that US president Donald Trump, in his first address to a joint session of Congress last Tuesday, condemned the attack on Kuchibhotla. But given that Trump himself had ratcheted up politics of hate during his presidential campaign, his words are devoid of any serious intent. Regardless of the presidential condemnation, attacks on non-white communities, are continuing across America.

 Racist killings in US, RSS death threats form trend of hate presently characterising American, Indian politics

File image of US president Donald Trump. AP

In the latest case, a 39-year-old Sikh man Deep Rai has been shot this Friday by a white gunman, telling the Indian "go back to your own country". According to The Seattle Times, the gunman shot the victim in the arm. "We're early on in our investigation," said the police chief Ken Thomas on Saturday. He told a local television station that the attack was being considered a possible hate crime. Recall that before shooting him dead, Kuchibhotla’s assailant, too, screamed: "Get out of my country". The shooter, a US Navy veteran, was harassing the techie and his friend Alok Reddy Madasani (who survived a gunshot) over their immigration status while both were having a drink in a bar.

There is a common thread binding the these attacks. The sentiment behind such renewed aggression seems to draw sustenance from the US president’s deeply controversial immigration policies, his relentless rhetoric that builds on public fear of 'others'. Its important here to contextualise the recent attacks on Indians within a broader framework of similar attacks on other communities.
Citing police statistics, a report in the UK–based Independent has said, hate crimes in New York City have shot up by 55 percent compared to the same time last year . "The New York Police Department (NYPD) said the spike was driven by a 94 percent surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes." Images of swastikas have surfaced on subways while bomb threats have been issued at the Manhattan Anti-Defamation League. "A total of 56 hate crimes were reported in the city as of 12 February this year, up from 31 over the same period last year," stated the report. Topping the list of hate crimes are 28 cases of anti-Semitic attacks. Paradoxically, such attacks have escalated even when there has been an overall decline in crimes across New York.

The recent surge in hate crimes can best be explained by Trump’s intemperate rhetoric levelled against communities that he and his followers perceive as being 'outsiders'. The genie of hatred that was let out during the presidential campaign has now moved into autopilot mode. What Trump has achieved with his 'Make America Great Again' campaign is to tap into the reservoir of popular resentment against the immigrant. That subterranean resentment is now articulating itself in a cultural projection of hate.

The swaggering and publicly vocal white supremacists as well as silently resentful have been emboldened with the installation of a friendly government in power. Trump no longer needs to publicly issue a rallying call to such forces, all this while biding their time. He has achieved that objective during the course of his campaign. The White House administration is fully aware of unleashing and renewing a politics of hate, lying somewhat dormant till now; but something that has always been at the core of the Republican Party’s ideology.

It’s difficult to overlook the analogy marking the trend of hate presently characterising US and Indian politics.

The series of violent attacks by the different Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on dissidents of all hues, declaring their intention to eliminate the 'enemy' (the recent announcement of a bounty on the Kerala chief minister’s head by a RSS leader, for instance), are a fallout of the overt and covert politics of hate, practiced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for so long.

Like Trump, Narendra Modi’s delayed and tepid condemnation of attacks launched by the hate brigades, are part of the same sleight-of-hand political design, which is to promote a brand of nationalism stemming from a culture of hate of minority communities across the line.

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Updated Date: Mar 06, 2017 08:44:56 IST