Sunday, April 23, 2006

[Fwd: Witzel takes his Aryan invasion to Pakistan: NS Rajaram]

apr 23

rajaram on witzel's saga. the honorable witzel is hardly a shining
example of academic integrity. he is the new william shockley, whose
theories about the inferiority of blacks was laughed out of academia.
(in fairness to shockley, he was a pretty good physicist, in fact a
nobel prize winner, and so it is grossly unfair to compare him to
witzel, whose sole claim to fame is that n. ram plucked him out of total
obscurity and made him a star.)

of course, anybody who disses blacks will be in trouble. but if you diss
hindus, you will have plenty of people supporting you because hindus are
the flavor of the month (year, decade, century) target for semites. a
lot of the windfall money mohammedans are making out of outrageous oil
prices is going to anti-hindu propagandists, no wonder witzel is sucking
up to pakistanis.

both witzel and farmer, just based on their racist taunting of hindus,
have forfeited any claims to 'academic objectiveness'. they are simply
racist bigots with an agenda.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Witzel takes his Aryan invasion to Pakistan: NS Rajaram
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2006 10:43:22 -0400
From: S. Kalyanaraman
To: S. Kalyanaraman

April 30, 2006
<http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=128>

*Witzel takes his Aryan Invasion to Pakistan
California textbook controversy*
/By N.S. Rajaram/

A few months ago, California education authorities accepted
recommendations to make changes to the depiction of Hinduism and India
in textbooks to be used in the state. Uninvited, Harvard Sanskrit
Professor Michael Witzel went on a lobbying spree to stop the proposed
changes. But here is a curious fact: while he seemed to be campaigning
against what he called 'Hindutva-inspired changes' his real agenda was
to save his pet Aryan invasion theory from being axed.

Michael Witzel and a small group of his followers, mainly Europeans and
the usual Indian hangers-on like Romila Thapar, are almost the last
holdouts for the foreign origin theory of the Vedas and Sanskrit as
products of the Aryan invasion. Their academic reputation, what is left
of it, rests on the survival of their Aryan theories.

Though largely ignored by the Indian media, two major developments have
sounded the death knell of the Aryan invasion theory. These are: (1)
genetic evidence showing that the Indian population is almost entirely
indigenous with negligible input from outsiders going back to the last
Ice Age (more than 10,000 years); and (2) British admission that the
Aryan invasion theory was concocted to serve imperial interests,
because, "it gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status
of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India
for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of
years earlier."

In 1929, the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin stated in the House
of Commons: "Now, after ages, …the two branches of the great Aryan
ancestry have again been brought together by Providence… By establishing
British rule in India, God said to the British, I have brought you and
the Indians together after a long separation, …it is your duty to raise
them to their own level as quickly as possible …brothers as you are…"
Need we say more?

*Disgraced at Harvard*
It is obvious that these revelations are devastating to Witzel's
academic reputation. This goes to explain his desperate lobbying in
California schools, begging education authorities to keep his Aryan
theories in the books. He made several trips, spending hours waiting in
the outer offices of California bureaucrats and arguing with his
opponents. This is not the kind of undignified behavior that one expects
from an elderly professor at a prestigious university like Harvard.

Even before the California scandal, Witzel's reputation had taken a
severe beating at Harvard. Recently, he had started an Internet e-group
called Indo-Eurasian Research that was little more than a hate group
that repeatedly attacked those who disagreed with him in violent and
abusive language. This was brought to the notice of Harvard authorities.

Ten years ago, Witzel had to step down as chairman of the Sanskrit
Department because of professional irregularities and personal
misconduct. He was charged with misusing his position to bring
unqualified people to Harvard and also threatening one of his students
(possibly more) with a lawsuit for disagreeing with him.

One of his favorites, Enrica Garzelli, was expelled by Harvard and sued
the university. His latest favorite is one Steve Farmer who claims that
DNA research discrediting Witzel's theories is an international
conspiracy! So far Witzel's troubles had been confined to Harvard.
Thanks to his political meddling, what was Harvard's embarrassment is
now an international scandal.

*Looking for money in Pakistan*
There also seems to be a mercenary angle to his campaign. Even before
the California controversy could be resolved, Witzel, along with Romila
Thapar, Emeritus Professor at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University,
announced the formation of The Academic Indology Advisory Council, and
Indian American Public Education Council.

According to Witzel and Thapar, their goal in forming these is "to
counteract this threat to the integrity of the material taught to our
children," to which end their group "will offer its expertise to any
school boards and publishers who may call on it, as a service to the
field of Indian Studies." ("Our children" sounds a bit strained since
neither Thapar nor Witzel is an American, much less parents of
school-going children in California.)

In other words, it is a consulting outfit that hopes to benefit from the
unprecedented media coverage that the controversy received. Given his
record, it is not surprising that Witzel's newfound business venture has
failed to takeoff. Publishers are avoiding him like the plague, having
incurred delay and losses due to his meddling in California school
curriculum. Some are facing lawsuits, as is the California State Board
of Education, for violating the civil rights of Hindu children.

His failure to attract money in America is what seems to have sent
Witzel to Pakistan looking for business as an anti-Hindu lobbyist. In
the March 12 issue of the Karachi newspaper Dawn (Internet edition),
Witzel proudly proclaimed Defeat for Hindutva revisionists, thanks to
his lobbying efforts in California.

The interesting thing about this advertisement masquerading as an
article on education is Witzel's identification of himself as "Professor
of South Asia Studies at Harvard." This conceals his real position as
Professor of Sanskrit. He no doubt sensed that Sanskrit is closely
associated with Hindu religion and culture. "South Asia Studies" may
sell better than Sanskrit in Pakistan.

While it is too early to say what all drove Witzel's plunge into
California school politics and form his business venture, it is hard to
take at face value his claim that it was to help school boards and
publishers maintain integrity in the field of Indian studies. Saving his
reputation and making some money to cover his growing legal and other
costs seems a more likely explanation.

All this places Witzel and his colleagues in their true place—not as
heroic fighters or larger than life demons, but pathetic figures trying
desperately to save themselves and their discredited discipline from
collapse.

(The writer is a former U.S. academic and historian of science. His book
Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization: History, Science and
Politics will be released this year.)

http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=128&page=10
<http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=128&page=10>

1 comments:

arunagiri said...

Steve Farmer's howl of triumph on the CEB issue where he also lampoons Rajaram. Seems the Witzel group got a favorable judge for the 2nd hearing (Steve mentions that in the second hearing they got a "different" judge and "this second Judge turned down the HAF's request for a Preliminary Injunction").

Note his scorn for accepting any glory for the "pre-modern" times- Does not help his Euro-centric views ofcourse. In his opinion even as such today textbooks glorify ancient India unreasonably. And note the utter lack of sensitivity or any pretense to schloarship adherence when he comments "Imagine the absurdity of a kid running home crying: "Mommy, Mommy! They taught me today that the 'Aryans' may have come from outside India 3500
years! I'm not going back to school...." That would sure be tough on any kid's self-esteem. :^)"

-----------------------------------

From: Steve Farmer
Date: Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:28 pm
Subject: California Case (Update)
Dear List,

I promised on Friday, after returning from the last court hearing in
Sacramento, that I'd provide the List with a more detailed update on
the California textbook case.

The fact is that there is so much to say at this point -- a lot has
happened since all this began in early November (I have over 4000 files and emails in my California folder, and Michael Witzel I know has at least an equal number) -- that I'll stick for now to a few bare facts about events in the last month. This summer, starting after the Beijing Roundtable (to be held May 11-13), Michael and I plan to finish writing a long article that attempts to cover every major side of the California case -- the links between the California Hindutva campaign
and attempts to rebuild the faltering Hindutva movement in India (with the May 2009 elections in mind); the enormous amounts of money and manpower that the Hindutva right pumped into their California plans, which included the production of massive documents and the use of
high-priced law firms; the internationally coordinated smear campaigns aimed at Michael, Madhav Deshpande, and many others who took a public stand against the Hindutva groups (there is no doubt that the smears did keep a lot of people who shouldn't have from speaking out); the role that the Internet is playing in facilitating the organization of
rightwing groups internationally, of which Hindutva groups are to my
mind the most notable example; the phony Websites (including phony
Dalit sites) planted by the Hindutva groups, which by itself suggests the scale of their financial operations; the financing of Hindutva
groups in the US, including the use of corporate facilities (like those of Medtronic, Inc.) to distribute defamatory materials; the slow process of educating the press on the links between the case and events in India -- and so on.

What just happened in California was not a minor event, not even if
measured in crass financial terms, which involves hundreds of millions
of dollars in textbook allocations by the California state government.

Ignoring most of this for now, below I'll just give a minimal account of events since March 8th, the date of the last Board of Education meeting in Sacramento. Events at the March meeting have already been covered on the List -- specifically in Michael's post made immediately after the Board's decision was announced that day and in posts I made the next day, after returning from Sacramento:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/3228

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/3233

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/3234

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/3236

As noted in those posts, the Board approved a document on March 8th
(following an acrimonious hearing on February 27th) that stripped out
all the most egregious ideological materials that had been stuck in the books under Hindutva pressure in earlier months. The two Hindutva groups that proposed the edits -- the Vedic Foundation and the Hindu Education Foundation (the latter represented by prolific Hindutva propagandists like David Frawley and S. Kalyanaraman) -- and the
so-called Hindu American Foundation all demanded that the Board reject the February 27th edits (and the HAF threatened to file suit if they didn't). The forces on our side by this time included a wide spectrum
of Dalit groups, S. Asian religious groups, non-Hindutva Hindus, and a wide range of S. Asian scholars. All of us that day -- the speakers' list was a long one -- asked the Board to accept the February 27th
document and to move the edits on to the final "Edits and Corrections" meeting, where any final inaccuracies and inconsistencies could be
removed from the books following accepted scholarly standards (or at
least those appropriate to 6th grade texts).

To make a long story short, the Board accepted our point of view on March 8th and the texts were passed onto the next stage. The final (closed) Edits and Corrections meetings between the publishers and Department of Education staff were eventually held on March 23-24.

Within a few days after the Board meeting, HAF made good its threat
(ignored by the Board at the March 8th meeting) to sue the State of
California, using a high-priced Sacramento law firm (Olson, Hagel, & Fishburn LLP) to try to force the State to reverse its actions. The three attorneys assigned to the case by the firm were Deborah Caplan (who argued the case on Friday, and also spoke at previous Board meetings), N. Eugene Hill, and Richard C. Miadich. These guys don't come cheap.

(I always thought it rather odd that HAF didn't use Indian attorneys. The lawyers on our side are Meetali Jain, Ajai Mathew, and Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, which says legions about the HAF's phony claims that it represents all Indian Americans. Isn't the HAF's claim that the State of California is using their [beautiful!] new textbooks to discriminate against Indians?)

To again make a long story short, the HAF lawsuit came in with the
proverbial Bang and is quickly disintegrating, as I predicted on March 9th, with an equally proverbial Whimper. Since March 21st there have been two hearings, and the HAF's high-priced US lawyers have lost every single motion they have introduced in Court -- due not to their
professional incompetence but to the inherent weakness of their case.

If they continue the case -- and we hope very much that they do so,
since it will allow us to further probe the rightwing connections of
their clients -- things will only get worse.

In sum:

-- On March 21st, the HAF went to Court and asked one Judge for a
Temporary Restraining Order to stop the texts from going on to the
final Edits and Corrections meetings. The Court denied the motion.

-- Again on March 21st, after their first motion was denied, HAF asked the Court to allow it to attend the closed Edits and Corrections Meeting. The Court again denied the motion.

-- On April 21st (two days ago) a far more important hearing before a *different* Judge was held on HAF's motion to get a Preliminary
Injunction to stop the textbook adoption process from proceeding until the case is decided. It is important to note that standards of evidence in getting Preliminary Injunctions are far lower than those needed to actually win a case. In general, Preliminary Injunctions are granted if
petitioners can demonstrate that there is any likelihoo* that they will win the case on its merits and if the possibility exists of irreparable damage if the Injunction is not granted -- the damage in this case
supposedly lying in the damage to school children that would result if the textbooks were to be released.

In fact, the textbooks rather *glorify* ancient India -- maybe even a bit unreasonably, in my opinion (there was very little from a purely human point of view that was glorious about ancient history, as I see it: premodern life was mainly gruesome, bloody, short). The vast majority of the Hindutva proposed edits in any event have nothing
whatsoever to do with issues that touch on any sixth grader's
self-esteem, as was fatuously claimed by the Hindutva groups; #1 on the List of course included the so-called Aryan issue.

Imagine the absurdity of a kid running home crying: "Mommy, Mommy! They
taught me today that the 'Aryans' may have come from outside India 3500
years! I'm not going back to school...."

That would sure be tough on any kid's self-esteem. :^)

In opposition to the motion on Friday were not only the Department of
Education, but as well a large coalition of other groups. Among these, a strong Declaration against the HAF motion was filed by Stephen Driesler, Executive Director of the Association of American Publishers.
Idiotically -- this is how weak the HAF's case is -- the HAF's
attorneys tried to convince the Judge that Driesler isn't qualified to speak of publication issues. The Judge noted deadpan that perhaps Driesler's title might indicate otherwise?

A detailed Amicus Curiae ('Friend of the Court') brief was also filed
against HAF by the same group of community and academic organizations that convinced the Board on March 8th to reject the Hindutva edits. These groups, quite large and very diverse, included Dalit organizations like the Ambedkar Center for Justice & Peace; religious groups like the Guru Ravidass Gurdwaras of California; progressive
secular organizations of S. Asians, including the Friends of South Asia (FOSA, which has worked tirelessly on this project for months), the Campaign to Stop Funding Hate, the Coalition against Communalism, and
EKTA; and the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North California (FeTNA).

Hmm, all Indian Americans -- and surely not one of them who feels they are represented by the so-called Hindu American Foundation.

A separate declaration of support for the Amicus brief on Friday was
also signed by 126 South Asian Scholars and other specialists in
premodern history -- including of course a large number of
international researchers on this List, including DN Jha, current
General President of the Indian History Congress.

All these forces were unleashed after we first announced in this forum,
way back on the weekend of November 5-6, that something was amiss in
California. That led to the original petition that we submitted to the
Board of Education on November 8th, which stopped the textbook adoption
process in its tracks -- one day (!) before the Hindutva-infected
textbooks were to be adopted by the State.

To again make a long story short, at the end of a 1 1/2 hour hearing on
Friday, this second Judge turned down the HAF's request for a
Preliminary Injunction. As noted yesterday, the Judge made it
absolutely clear that HAF attorneys -- who were given time yesterday to
go over their case in detail (the Judge gave them 15 minutes and then
listened patiently to them speak perhaps three times as long) -- had
not convinced him that they were likely to succeed in winning the case
on its merits, especially in respect to the substantive (rather than
purely procedural) issues involved in the case.

The Judge also added, counter to HAF claims earlier in the day, that
any decision concerning those substantive issues would obviously take a
long time -- with the discussion of dates that he gave clearly
indicating that no ruling could be made before the books were in the
classroom.

The fact that standards or evidence to receive a Preliminary Injunction
are much lower than those needed to win a case is a strong indication
of the way the judicial winds are blowing.

The legitimate chances that the Hindutva groups have at this point in
pulling the books out of the school: effectively zero. There is a
separate Federal case in the works, but it is so amateurish (we've read
the petition along with attorneys, and this is their opinion) that even
the HAF attorneys on Friday appeared to distance themselves from it.
(HAF is not involved in any way with that case.)

At this point, several things can happen. One is that HAF could try to
drag things on for pure show -- but at great expense -- strictly for
the benefit of their constituency (and as a fund-raising technique).
That would be interesting, since it might give us a chance to probe in
court into how this whole campaign was organized and financed. Another
is that the Department of Education could move to have the whole thing
dropped at some point.

Whatever happens, it is clear that the HAF attorneys sounded anything
but confident at the end of Friday's hearing. When the ruling was
announced (at about noon on Friday), and the Judge was starting to
leave the bench, Deborah Caplan (HAF's top attorney) stopped him and
asked him (rather oddly, I thought) whether they should be talking to
the Board at this time. I'll have to doublecheck the transcript -- it
was hard to hear as the court was breaking up -- but it certainly
sounded very much like an admission to defeat to me.

There were lots of oddities at the hearing on Friday that also
indicated defeat on the part of the Hindutva groups. The most striking
of these involved who attended the hearing. In every other event I've
attended or spoken in over the case, the meetings were packed with
Hindutva supporters, Hindutva reporters (_Hinduism Today_ has been at
most of the events), top officials from the Vedic Foundation and Hindu
Education Foundation and so-called Hindu American Foundation, etc.

At this hearing, despite its importance, not a single representative
from the Hindutva groups was in the court room -- besides the white
lawyers, that is. Everyone whom I know of importance from the
Department of Education staff was there; I was there as an informal
representative of the Amicus Curiae groups; the Association of American
Publishers had their main lobbyist in attendance, Dale Shimasaki (who
is an attorney himself); there were also representatives there from
individual publishers, who I talked to briefly.

But on the side of the Hindutva groups there was no one at the hearing
but three very white, very high-priced, and very embarrassed looking
lawyers.

A rather inauspicious ending for the Hindu right in California, which
threw many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars into the California
pot -- and now are trying to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars
they say for their (obviously failed) legal case.

There are lots of lessons to be learned here, but the most important is
that these extreme rightwing groups *can* be stopped -- and it doesn't
require a lot of financial resources either (all our lawyers are
working totally pro bono, which is certainly NOT the case on the other
side). We were almost caught napping this time, but that won't happen
again: the California case has allowed us to organize our forces in a
way that will prevent this from happening next time (e.g., in the
textbook adoption coming up in Texas in the next few years).

**************

One addendum, which explains why I didn't write this little update
yesterday, despite my best intentions. Yesterday morning, as I sat down
to write it, I first opened up an email that contained an article dated
April 30, 2006 from the idiotic RSS newspaper, the Organiser. The
article was written by none other than NS Rajaram, whom many of you
will recall from the famous "horse seal" fraud that Michael and I
uncovered in 2000. (The RSS by the way is the parent organization,
through the HSS, of the Hindu Education Foundation, and has been deeply
involved in the whole case.)

In the article, entitled "Witzel Takes his Aryan Invasion to Pakistan:
California Textbook Controversy," Rajaram whips up another series of
his famous fantasies. The whole California textbook controversy, as he
sees it, was instigated by Michael Witzel and "the usual Indian
hangers-on like Romila Thapar" to build a future "consulting outfit
that hopes to benefit from the unprecedented coverage that the
controversy received."

According to Rajaram, what was really at stake here was Michael Witzel
and his "favorites" trying to attract anti-Hindu Pakistani dollars.

My role as one of these "favorites", Rajarm continues, has been to
propogate the claim that "DNA research discrediting Witzel's theories
is an international conspiracy!" Hmm, I must have missed myself making
that claim.

Rajaram concludes:

"While it is too early to say what all drove Witzel's plunge into
California school politics and form his business venture, it is hard to take at face value his claim that it was to help school boards and publishers maintain integrity in the field of Indian studies. Saving his reputation and making some money to cover his growing legal and other costs seems a more likely explanation".

Upset that Michael has never mentioned all this money to me -- where's
my cut, Michael! -- I decided that I needed at least one day off from
Hindutva, for my mental sanity, and went hiking all day instead. :^)

Nothing stops idiots like Kalyanaraman or Rajaram from inventing their
stories, but all of us sticking together have proven that we can stop
them dead in their tracks when it really counts.

We'll keep everyone up to date if there are any new developments in
California or related matters. For now, it will be a relief getting
back to scholarship for a while.

Best,
Steve