Trump and Modi are two sides of the same coin (opinion)
While tens of thousands of Indian Americans are expected to welcome the prime minister inside the NRG stadium alongside local officials, members of Congress, and other politicians, I’ll be outside protesting with many others as we bid adios to Modi.
I’m a third-generation Indian American raised in Houston’s Indian Christian community. My ammachis, or my grandmothers, immigrated to Texas from Kerala, India, in search of nursing jobs in the 1970s and established their lives in this city alongside other Indian immigrant families.
Instead of embracing Modi, we should be holding him accountable for the horrific human rights abuses happening all across India, and especially in Kashmir right now.
All of this is consistent with Modi’s far-right Hindu nationalist agenda, which seeks to prioritize the rights of Hindus and diminish the rights of others. Modi and his ruling party have incited hate, violence and discrimination against religious minorities and marginalized people across India, including Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians.
This strategy should sound familiar, because Hindu nationalism is similar to another form of hate that we have long been confronting here in the United States: white supremacy. White supremacists in this country wish to exclude Black, Native, Muslim, and non-white immigrant communities from the United States. President Trump‘s rhetoric and policies, from the border wall to the Muslim ban, are rooted in white supremacist ideology.
That is why we must oppose Modi and Trump and reject both Hindu nationalism and white supremacy. Indian Americans, in particular, cannot on the one hand protest the family separation policy and the Muslim ban under the Trump administration, while supporting the Modi government’s anti-Muslim, or anti-Dalit rhetoric in India. Indeed, the “Howdy Modi” event has reaffirmed the hypocrisy in my own community. If we were truly committed to acceptance and liberation, then we could not possibly celebrate a leader who supports Islamophobia and caste apartheid.
This weekend, South Asians in Houston will not be silent and simply accept the spectacle of Modi and Trump together on a stage. We will join protesters of all backgrounds and faiths to send a message to people around the world, including the people of Kashmir, that we will not celebrate or welcome those who violate human rights here at home or in our countries of origin. We offer a different narrative: one based in the liberation of all people, from Houston to Kashmir.