I’m here at the California Department of Education for the meeting, the final meeting, to vote to approve or disapprove this new History and Social Sciences curriculum.
I’m still here at the CA Department of Education. It is not even 8 am in the morning. But as you can see — as you can see around me — the place is packed out. The place is packed out. People were bussed in.
So, I’m standing outside of the Department of Education. We’re telling them, don’t erase caste from the History and Social Sciences Curriculum. Don’t erase the truth and the facts about the oppression of people by the subjugating system of caste in India by giving in to the lobbyists who are demanding an inaccurate, a factless, a partisan, and a mythological portrayal and who want to suppress the truth about caste oppression.
Man 1: “This is in response to what?”
This is response to the inaccurate and biased, partisan portrayal in new California textbooks for History and Social Sciences which erases the reality and the truth of what the caste system in South Asia has done to the most downtrodden and the most poor people there.
Man 1: “Really?”
Yeah. It erases the reality of the subjugation of people by the caste system. As you can see, caste is being erased from History and Social Sciences curriculum textbooks today by the California Board of Education.
I’m here today, this morning, outside of the CA Department of Education, where the Hindu nationalist lobby, which massacres Christians, Sikhs, and Muslims, and subjugates Dalits — people historically treated as low-caste or outcaste in India — has turned masses of people out onto the streets.
What they are really demanding is that there should be no portrayal of the reality — the factual, accurate truth — of the historical subjugation, the ongoing subjugation of people according to their caste in India today. And they’re demanding that history textbooks in CA for 6th and 7th grade kids should not tell the truth, should conceal the truth about how Hinduism is connected to caste, about how caste is practiced in India today, about how people are murdered, beaten, raped because of their caste.
If their demands are accepted, caste will be portrayed as creating social stability, which is kind of like saying that apartheid creating social stability. They also are demanding that caste be portrayed as [though] outcaste or “Untouchable” people who, historically, have been compelled, coerced, forced to be trash collectors, for instance, they’re demanding that they be portrayed as having picked this profession because they were good at it, which is kind of like saying that somebody chose, that the African people who were enslaved in the Southern plantations, chose to pick cotton because they were good at it.
And so, this mob is attempting to coerce and intimidate the Department of Education of California to portray a mythologized, inaccurate, and biased perspective on caste, which conceals the ongoing reality of the subjugation of people according to their caste in India today. And they say, “Instill mutual respect, not hate,” which is true, but the truth, the truth is love.
Excuse me, do you support the RSS?
Man 2: “What is RSS?”
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh? Do you support them?
Man 2: “I don’t know what it is.”
Do you support the BJP? Do you support Modi?
Man 2: “Who is Modi?”
Who is Modi? You’re an Indian! You don’t know?
Excuse me, do you support the RSS?
Man 3: “What?”
Modi? Do you support Modi?
Man 3: “Yes.”
Yeah, you support Modi?
Man 3. “Yes.”
Excuse me, do you support Modi?
Woman 1: “Yes.”
Do you support Modi?
Man 4: “Do we support Modi?”
Man 4: “Yes.”
Man 5: “Modi is — big fan of Modi!”
You’re a big fan of Modi!
Man 5: “Modi has done amazing job for India!”
Excuse me, do you support Modi?
Man 6: “Yeah.”
Do you support Modi, sir?
Man 7: “Yeah.”
Yeah? You support Modi?
Man 7: “Yeah”
Well, the Hindu nationalist lobby has turned out people en masse in front of the CA Department of Education in order to support erasing the truth about caste subjugation in India and the way that it has harmed and continues to harm the most downtrodden and the poorest people in India. They’re trying to influence the textbooks in CA by mob rule, they’re trying to revise the history of South Asia by mob rule, and use the power of their numbers in order to intimidate the CA State Board of Education into lying about the reality of how caste continues to harm and subjugate people in India today, how the Shudras and Ati-Shudras today in India are oppressed, they are discriminated against, they’re beaten, raped, and killed on a daily basis. Their argument is that caste should be silenced when the history of South Asia and the history of Hinduism is taught to 6th and 7th grade children in CA.
Basically, it’s kind of like somebody trying to silence the history of apartheid, or the history of slavery, or the history of other forms of racism, and the history of other forms of oppression and structures of power which have subjugated people around the world and continue to subjugate them to this day.
I’ve studied Gandhi for a decade. These people apparently have not read Gandhi himself. Gandhi himself said, “To abolish caste is to demolish Hinduism.”
So, the chief saint of the modern world, the leading Hindu of the modern world himself said that caste is inseparable from Hinduism. Manusmriti, Rig Veda, all of the Hindu Shastras teach the existence and the practice of caste in the Hindu religion. Read your Shastras, read the Hindu scriptures if you doubt that caste is linked to Hinduism.
Read Rig Veda. Rig Veda says that the god, Brahma, that humanity was created from the separation of the god Brahma into four parts. His head became the Brahman. His shoulders became the Kshatriya. His thighs became the Vaishya. And his feet — his feet — became the Shudra.
Why does Rig Veda teach that the Shudra came from God’s feet? And if you believe in equality, then how can you believe in caste? And if you believe in equality, then how can you believe in Rig Veda?
Caste is foundational to the Hindu religion. So either you have to practice caste, and embrace it as a Hindu, and be open about it, or you have to switch your religion if you don’t want to practice caste.
Once again, Gandhi said, the caste system is the foundation of Hinduism. Gandhi said that caste is a scientific system. Gandhi said reason does not revolt against the practice of caste
Caste is apartheid. There is a caste apartheid in India today.
What you’re seeing today is a mob rule attempt to revise history, to tell history from a biased, partisan, mythological perspective, and to use numbers, and crowds, and mob rule to intimidate the Department of Education in California into telling lies and factually incorrect information to schoolchildren in this state.
Pieter Friedrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org