THE Alliance for Justice And Accountability (AJA), an umbrella coalition of progressive organizations across the United States, on Thursday announced the release of a letter signed by prominent organizations and intellectuals lauding Rutgers for defending Dr. Audrey Truschke in the face of a vicious campaign against her by organizations and individuals aligned with the Hindutva supremacist ideology.
Signatories to the letter include prominent rights organizations such as Amnesty International (Houston), Advocates for Human Rights (Minnesota), Council for American Islamic Relations (Dallas-Fort Worth), as well as academicians like Dr. Martha Nussbaum and Dr. Yasmin Saikia.
“This letter was originally written on behalf of the coalition, but has gathered support from other organizations and intellectuals outside the coalition, who have decided to rally around Dr. Truschke in the face of the brazen assault on her academic freedom, scholarship and integrity,” said Thenmozi Soundararajan, Executive Director of Equality Labs.
Dr. Audrey Truschke is assistant professor of history at Rutgers University, and author of two books on Aurangzeb, that largely challenge the caricature advanced by Hindu nationalist entities that reviles the Emperor as a Hindu hater, religious zealot and mass murderer. Since the publication of her books and articles, and her tenacity in upholding facts over ideologically driven revisionism of history, Dr. Truschke has been consistently attacked and threatened by these extremists.
Matters have taken a much more serious turn since Dr. Audrey Truschke came out publicly citing Hindutva’s roots in Nazism and Fascism. Faced with uncomfortable facts about the roots of their ideology, Hindutva entities have adopted the same tactics of threats and intimidation used to silence intellectuals and scholars in India. These tactics include online trolling using inflammatory rhetoric, a petition calling on the Government of India to revoke her Indian visa, and to “arrest” her, along with a “complaint” to Rutgers University, attacking her intellectual integrity. It is laudable that Rutgers has stood on the side of supporting the academic freedom of its scholars and has resolutely defended Dr. Truschke and her scholarship against these shocking and disturbing attacks.
“The intimidatory tactics used by Hindutva supremacists to silence Dr. Truschke, is an indication that they are not averse to deploying fascist methods in the US,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of the Indian American Muslim Council, an AJA constituent. “This is a wake up call for America on what further infiltration of Hindu extremists in this country will look like,” added Mr. Khan.
The letter, addressed to Dr. Robert Barchi (President of Rutgers University), defends Dr. Truschke’s recent commentary on Hindutva, while reaffirming that its roots in Nazism and Fascism are “existential links” that are “well-known and openly acknowledged by the RSS’s founding members in their writings.”
“Dr. Truschke is a rare historian and academic whose public facing scholarship is helping to challenge the narrative advanced by those espousing unprecedented hate and bigotry in India, and now in the US. It is important that Universities like Rutgers do not give in to mob rule and rally around their Professors who are contributing to the vital debates of our time. The South Asian American Community stands with Dr. Trushcke and Rutgers for their commitment to intellectual debate and scholarship during such a difficult time, ” added Ms. Soundararajan.
“The letter is a demonstration of the wide support for Dr. Truschke from organizations, intellectuals and people of conscience,” said Sonia Joseph of South Asia Solidarity Initiative.
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability has pledged to work with people of all faiths to defend India from the onslaught of hate and divisiveness.