Progressive Hindu Response to HAF Statement Against Keith Ellison

Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus is disturbed by the Hindu American Foundation’s (HAF) statement yesterday expressing concerns about Congressman Keith Ellison’s (D-MN) bid to head the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The basis for HAF‘s concerns is their contention that Rep. Ellison has been vocal on the oppression and discrimination faced by Muslims and other minorities in India, but not against the oppression faced by Hindus in Muslim-majority regions like Kashmir, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Sadhana refrains from taking a specific position on Ellison’s bid for the head of the DNC. However, Ellison has a been a leader for progressive politics and policies that make the lives of all Americans—including Hindu Americans—better. Among these are his voting record against escalation of the Iraq War, raising minimum wage, LGBTQ rights and abortion rights. It is certainly true that Ellison stands for many of the same progressive and inclusive values that we in Sadhana embrace.

Thus, as a progressive Hindu organization, we feel it is imperative to state unequivocally that HAF does not speak for all Hindus, and they certainly do not speak for us.

The tone of HAF's statement is extremely dangerous. In the accusation that Ellison is indifferent to the plight of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other regions, HAF reveals a stunning indifference to the clearly documented oppression of Muslims and other minorities in India. It is HAF’s prerogative to insist that elected officials give attention to any violence perpetrated against Hindus; but to say that an elected official should not bring attention to violence perpetrated against Muslims betrays an Islamophobia and a sympathy with Hindutva ideology which we cannot condone.

Sadhana believes fervently that injustice against ANY community of people is wrong and against the Divine will and presence of Divine love in the world. Our core principles of ekatva, or oneness with all beings, and ahimsa, or peaceful, non-violent relations with all beings, are not sectarian values. We offer the righteous seva, or service, of co-creating justice with all peoples deserving of such justice.

We at Sadhana defend and express our Hinduism as a vessel of justice for ALL marginalized peoples; never one at the expense of another. In addition, we commit to engaging Rep. Ellison and his office on Hindu American issues, including religious discrimination/bias, racial justice, and environmental justice.

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