How and Why Tulsi Gabbard Was Held to a Higher Standard (Part 3)
How and Why Tulsi Gabbard Was Held to a Higher Standard (Part 3)
Modi, Islamophobia, and Cult Smears
Smear: Tulsi is associated with Hindu nationalists and “supports Modi”
Reality: 5 days before Tulsi announced her intention to run in her appearance with Van Jones, the Intercept published an article titled, “TULSI GABBARD IS A RISING PROGRESSIVE STAR, DESPITE HER SUPPORT FOR HINDU NATIONALISTS”.
The article uses guilt by association and an onslaught of loose, and some outright meaningless or moot connections that depend on Hinduphobia, along with falsely equating Hindu association with hindu nationalism at certain points.
Lets go straight to the horses mouth and listen to Tulsi respond to Glenn Greenwald, cofounder of the Intercept, the outlet that published the aforementioned hit piece on Tulsi, months after the hit piece was published. Glenn Greenwald prompted,
“a 2016 interview with Quartz, for example, you said after describing the benefits of the United States and India as growing friendship, you said ‘Modi impressed me as a person who cares deeply about these issues and as a leader whose example and dedication to the people he serves should be an inspiration to elected officials everywhere.’ That seems to be pretty strong praise for Modi as a leader as opposed to simply saying we should try and get along well with India. Do you believe — you said earlier that you have a problem with Muslim governments that are exclusionary or discriminatory or who persecute minorities —
Do you believe the government of India persecutes Muslims and other religious minorities in India?”
to which she responded,
“I would have, first of all, on that quote, I'd have to go back and look at the context of the conversation to comment on that specifically..
There are things that are happening within the Indian government that I disagree with. I don't pretend to support or approve of or endorse all the practices of the ruling party in India. As we look at different governments around the world again I think my approach is serving what is in the best interest for the American people. Being willing to sit with others, whether they be friends or adversaries or potential adversaries, always keeping at the forefront who I work for and who I serve.”
Glenn Greenwald responded -
“Right, and I’ve heard you say before, and I think there is an element of truth to it, that your ability to say things about the Indian government that non-hindus say gets more attention, and its a form of religious bigotry - which I do agree with.”
Gabbard interjects -“It is.”-
“At the same time, I’m interested in understanding a little bit better what your view of the government of India is, because you have spoken a lot about it and you’ve met with the prime minister and that quote that I read, and theres others like it, seem to suggest you view him as a positive leader. So I just wanted to ask you:
In 2018, an Indian journalist Rana Ayyub wrote in The Guardian under the title, ‘Mobs are killing Muslims in India. Why is no one stopping them?’ …
And then Human Rights Report in 2018 has a long list of human rights abuses that it says have been perpetrated by the Modi government, primarily against the Muslim minority, so my question to you is: Do you agree that that's happening, or dispute that It’s happening, or do you admire Modi despite all of this?”
“I don't dispute that these things are occurring and I've been very consistent over the years in calling out this kind of religious persecution and bigotry based on religion wherever it may take place. I think that's important for all of us to do, whether it's happening here in the United States, or it's happening in other parts of the world.”
In the initial Intercept article that this section opened on, there is no mention of Joe Biden’s much cozier relationship with Modi. And this is the “higher standard" in full display. Jacobin published a piece titled , “Joe Biden’s Fascist Friends Should Worry Us More Than Tulsi’s” that exclusively focuses on the links between Biden’s campaign team and Modi. Additionally, Biden is no non-interventionist, and asking him to police the world is more likely to result in compliance than requesting, expecting, or demanding Tulsi to deny communicative diplomacy so that she can do a 180 degree turn on her approach to diplomacy and start burning bridges with nations instead of building them. After all, one of the central themes of Gabbard's campaign was to challenge the country to reject the USA's self-appointed role as the world’s police.
In 2014, after being invited by Obama to the White House, Modi met with Joe Biden at the State Department. As Jacobin noted, Joe Biden in 2015 would claim that “Our goal is to become India’s best friend”. In 2015, Obama wrote for Time Magazine what has been called the op-ed equivalent of love letter for Modi. Obama would write that,
“When he came to Washington, Narendra and I visited the memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We reflected on the teachings of King and Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is a strength we have to protect. Prime Minister Modi recognizes that more than 1 billion Indians living and succeeding together can be an inspiring model for the world.”
...Where was the outrage then?
Why do the overwhelming majority of those who attacked Gabbard for her relationship with Modi give no criticism to Biden for his relationship with Modi?
However, should we be concerned that Biden, Tulsi and Obama met Modi in a diplomatic fashion?... Or should we be concerned at the purity tests being given to diplomats for doing their jobs and attempting to restore relations with the world's largest democracy?
Or should we be concerned that said purity tests seem to only be applied to the diplomats that rub the establishment the wrong way?
Pieter Friedich, who was identified by Naomi Allen for starting the “RSS affiliated” smear, had been a vehement proponent of this angle of attack, by writing online as well as appearing at public events that Tulsi was speaking at and shouting smears at her in a room where people were gathered to listen to Tulsi Gabbard speak(not Pieter Friedich) - smears that many in the room had most likely already heard as a result of Friedich’s smears being amplified and echoed by many blue-checked bad actors on social media as well as by supporters of candidates who see Tulsi as a threat to the campaign they were behind.
Questioning #TulsiGabbard’s #RSS financing/relationship. Why is she so close to violent/fascist paramilitary? #Tulsi2020 #TulsiGottaGo #rssfunded #rsscollaborator #foreigninterference #indiagate #Chowkidar @SaffronWatch @ExposeHindutva @ashoswai @India_Resists @RSSorg pic.twitter.com/g8EXA8un8ePieter Friedrich (@FriedrichPieter) March 31, 2019
When prominent journalists who cover Gabbard ask for proof of his allegation, he replies weakly,
See how much outrage there is at the mere allegation? Just wait till the documentation is public.Pieter Friedrich (@FriedrichPieter) March 31, 2019
Months later Friedrich would finally offer his version of "proof" by tweeting an article he gotten published by Caravan Magazine titled, "TAll in The Family: The American Sangh’s affair with Tulsi Gabbard"
As Mcnulty wrote in "[Debunking Pieter Friedrich’s Tulsi Narrative](Pieter Friedrich’s Tulsi Narrative)",
“Friedrich’s article titled “All in the Family” was published by The Caravan political journal which, we’ll see, either did not research Friedrich’s sources, who are political rivals of Tulsi Gabbard, or they didn’t care. …
In an attempt to paint Gabbard as some kind of pro-India partisan, Friedrich writes: “And yet, before she was even elected to office, she promised to be ‘a strong voice in Congress for improving India–US relations.’” This quote is taken from an interview with Aziz Haniffa. Friedrich conveniently leaves out the following from that interview:
‘As an elected official, I will work towards defending fundamental constitutional rights of free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state and adopt legislation that promotes a message of inclusiveness for Americans of all faith traditions. I will uphold federal policies that support the religious accommodation of minority faiths in a variety of settings and preclude religious discrimination against any group.’ — Tulsi Gabbard
Friedrich wants to tie Tulsi Gabbard’s own Hindu faith with what he considers far-right Hindu extremism in India. He fails to do that but, along the way, he takes a laughable detour into Gabbard’s upbringing among Hare Krishnas in Hawaii. “Her parents oversaw a Hare Krishna splinter group called the Science of Identity Foundation,” Friedrich writes. This is a fabrication. Tulsi Gabbard’s parents never ran SIF. So much for The Caravan’s fact-checking.”
Friedrich attacks Tulsi for a partial quote that was expressing a desire to improve relations with India, a quote that was said well before Biden's now-famous quote expressing desire to be "best friends" with India. So why focus on Gabbard's campaign instead of Biden's, who was a front runner at the time - Now the only candidate left in the race?
Regarding the Caravan not checking Friedrich's sources, and in relation to the answer on that last question, Mcnulty had written that "Friedrich then cites an article from The Intercept which was retracted for Hinduphobia, in order to complain that Gabbard called him out for being a Hinduphobe. #irony"
Mcnulty continues to tear Friedrich’s paper to shreds, which takes into account his previous “activism”, writing, “He’s also infamous for trying to associate Mahatma Gandhi with Adolf Hitler in order to get Gandhi statues torn down in the US.” . Naomi Allen, who actually knows how to do a hit piece, does a good job of outing Friedrich for the lying propagandist he is, among other dirt such as potential terrorist activities(read her article and cited sources and decide for yourself).
When Gabbard was asked, “How important do you believe is the Indo-US Strategic Partnership, particularly since you are close to Prime Minister Modi?” by Rediff, her response was,
“It is very important that the world’s two largest democracies — India and America — have good relations. That is why I was very happy to visit India at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi. I wanted to do whatever I could to strengthen the relationship between our countries.
Working together on everything from fighting terrorism to combating climate change to promoting renewable energy, and much more, India and the US can make the world a better place.
In my attempt to strengthen the relationship between India and America, I have no interest in siding with or favouring one Indian political party over another.
As a member of the US Congress, my interest is in helping cultivate a closer relationship between the US and India, not just between the US and one political party of India.
Both in India and here in the US, I have held meetings with members of both the BJP and the Congress party. I am known in America for being nonpartisan — I successfully work with Democrats and Republicans alike to get things done for the people.
My feeling about politics in India is similarly nonpartisan.
Tulsi is the co-chair of the House Congressional Caucus on India & Indian Americans.Christopher Tishlias 🌺⌛️🔮 (@Cheese12987) February 27, 2020
Tulsi does not "support" Modi or his party over the opposition, or have anything to do with the RSS. She conducts diplomacy with India. That's it.
Here’s Tulsi with Modi’s opposition pic.twitter.com/LMdqPwRvaf
To repeat for emphasis, Should we be concerned that Biden, Tulsi and Obama met Modi in a diplomatic fashion? Or should we be concerned at the purity tests being given to diplomats for doing their jobs and attempting to restore relations with the world's largest superpower? Or should we be concerned that said purity tests seem to only be applied to the diplomats that rub the establishment the wrong way? Or ontop of all that, should we be concerned that the basis of many of these purity tests are flawed to begin with?
Unfortunately, Hinduphobia is very real. I've experienced it directly in each of my campaigns for Congress & in this presidential race. Here's just one example of what Hindus face every day in our country. Sadly, our political leaders & media not only tolerate it, but foment it. https://t.co/60MDtszQHfTulsi Gabbard 🌺 (@TulsiGabbard) March 5, 2020
Smear: Gabbard is Islamaphobic
Reality: This smear is largely unfounded and usually coupled with the Modi smear. Once again, lets go straight to the horse’s mouth.
When Tulsi was asked, “What is your response to social media attacks against you, including by groups alleging that you are Islamophobic? Of fomenting fear or hatred against someone based upon religion?”
Her response was as follows:
I am a very firm believer in the Aloha spirit — respect and love for everyone, irrespective of their religion, race, gender, or any other external differences.
In my view, the essence of religion means love for God and trying to serve God by working for the well-being of others.
The essence of the Hinduism that I practice is Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, which means to love God and all of His children, regardless of their race, religion, etc, and to use my life working for the well-being of everyone.
I do not see religion as something that involves different teams or an ‘us versus them’ mentality.
Whether we are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, any other faith, or atheists, we are all children of God and we should love and respect each other as brothers and sisters.”
As pointed out by the Hari in the last cited article, Tulsi publicly rejected Ben Carson’s notion that a Muslim could not be president. Hari would go on to list other points that shows her support of the Islamic community
-Tulsi condemned violence, bigotry, and hateful rhetoric towards Muslims in the United States by cosponsoring H.Res.5694
- She spoke at the Reason Rally regarding promoting religious freedom and pluralism
- She’s spoken multiple times, including on the House floor in favor of vetted refugees from Muslim-majority Iraq and Afganistan.
- She endorsed Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US House, for DNC chair”
- She was the keynote speaker at a Muslims 4 Peace event where she said, “The sectarian spirit that fuels enmity and violence between members of different religions has been described by the great saint Bhaktivinode Thakur as 'the greatest enemy of mankind.'
When a person thinks, I am a Christian, this other person is a Muslim, therefore he is my enemy, or I am a Muslim, this other person is a Hindu, therefore she is my enemy, they reveal their own lack of spiritual depth. No religion teaches this, and any understanding of any religion that adopts this divisive attitude proves itself false by doing so.
As a Vaishnava Hindu, a devotee of Sri Krishna, I recognize and respect both Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed as messengers of God, messengers of love, peace, and universal brotherhood. ”
And the list goes on and on. Many who propagate the Islamophobe smear use hinduphobia coupled with the Modi smear. If Tulsi Gabbard were really an Islamaphobe, would she have risked her life traveling war-torn Syria in the middle of a civil war, speaking to both sides? This, as many of the other smears, are quickly debunked by simply listening to her speak about her views, and looking at her actions on the issues instead of listening to what others say she believes or thinks.
Smear: Tulsi was part of a Cult
Reality: This smear was started by a writer named Gralow, who had convinced Naomi Allen, a Hawaiian native, of this narrative before she admittedly actually fact-checked Gralow’s sources.
This section really shouldn’t be necessary, but the smear has frequently popped up in replies to Tulsi’s tweets and trending tweets regarding her. Naomi reported in “The Truth about Tulsi Gabbard’s ‘Cult’” that,
“The Honolulu Civil Beat previously investigated allegations posted in the internet forum Gralow admits to using as a source.
[25MAR2019 Note: GRALOW personally confirmed her use of the internet forum, when she wrote to inform me that it was not her only source, and berated me for not contacting her to verify irrelevant documents.]
After exploring all avenues, searching official records, and conducting in-real-life interviews, the Honolulu Civil Beat debunked every controversial rumor about the so-called cult, and they found absolutely zero evidence that Tulsi was even a member of the Science of Identity Foundation."
Going on to discredit the smear, Allen writes,
“When I realized that the “cult leader” GRALOW writes about is Chris Butler, I knew that her secretive cult narrative was a total lie. There is no secret Butler Cult. Chris Butler’s organization has always been mainstream, and his weekly lectures (when he gave them) were so public that it aired on local TV.
Chris Butler is not a cult leader. He is a hippie who once ran a small meditation studio and a hippie farm, who later became a local religious celebrity. Today, he is simply an eccentric old man who lives a quiet life, with a small entourage who takes care of him.
Ask any of the locals who live in East Hawaii about the Kailua Cult that Tulsi Gabbard is supposedly mixed up with and you’ll get one of two (or both) reponses:
- 'Fricken Bredimus.' In reference to a resident of Kailua who has spent decades trying to convince people that SIF is a cult.
- 'That fricken Lanikai Cult.'In reference to an* actual cult in Kailua that is often misattributed to SIF and Chris Butler. In fact: A documentary about the Buddhafield is exactly what political opponents have used in smear campaigns against Tulsi.
The Rick Ross forum that GRALOW does all her research in is plagued with unreliable and disproven speculations that conflate “Krishna Cults” from around the world and the “Lanikai Cult” with Chris Butler and SIF.
A forum member who Christine GRALOW heavily relies upon for testimony is Rama RANSON. Besides testimony about overall cultiness, RANSON also alleges that SIF is tied to a drug smuggling ring and an unscrupulous land development project in New Zealand.
RANSON and others with similar claims have been successfully sued for slander and defamation. GRALOW is fully aware of the lawsuit lodged against RANSON, yet continues to use him.
The smears against Tulsi with a religious slant to them, whether it be concerning Modi, Islamaphobia, or the Cult are not only unfounded, but rely on prejudice themselves, namely hinduphobia. Those trying to force an ultimatum on Gabbard by implying she shouldn't be forming diplomatic relations with the world's largest democracy because of said democracy's internal ethnic and religious tensions and oppression is not only ignoring her campaign's central theme, but hypocritical in light of America's own oppression of ethnic and religious minorities.
Gabbard wants to end the policy of interventionism and the notion that the US needs to act as the world's police, she wants to build bridges instead of destroy them. That isn't intolerant, nor is it bigoted. That isn't what prejudice looks like - that is what progress looks like.