City Council in Irving, TX Approves Statue of Hindu Preacher Gandhi Despite Past Protests
IRVING, TX: April 22, 2014 – Two years ago, a life-size statue of Hindu religious icon Mohandas Gandhi was quietly approved for installation this October at Thomas Jefferson Park in Irving, TX, yet on Monday an association of Indian minorities sent a letter to the city council requesting they reconsider their decision, describing Gandhi as a “segregationist” who molested his grandnieces, was pen-pals with Adolf Hitler, and preached a doctrine of Hindu supremacism.
The statue was approved in a 6-2 vote by Irving City Council on September 10, 2012. Groundbreaking begins on May 3 and the statue is scheduled for unveiling on October 2, Gandhi’s birthday. Installation was solicited by the Indian American Friendship Council (IAFC), a group that lobbies for closer relations between India and the U.S. In a letter protesting the decision, Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) noted: “IAFC represents only a narrow segment of the South Asian American community; their support for a Gandhi statue does not reflect the feelings of a broad spectrum of other communities, particularly most minority groups of Indian origin.”
Those feelings are apparently strong enough to generate repeated protests against Gandhi statues throughout the country. Speaking of Gandhi’s “controversial nature,” the letter states his statue “will undoubtedly prompt protest, incite division within the community, and serve as a black mark on the City of Irving’s state, national, and international reputation.” News reports reveal past protests occurred at Gandhi statues in California in 2013 in the cities of Fresno and Cerritos, in San Francisco in 2011 and 2010, in Flint, Michigan in 2010, and in 2003 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Gandhi lived for 21 years.
Dr. Muni Subramani is a Buddhist and neuroscientist who spoke at a September 14, 2013 demonstration for removal of a Gandhi statue in Cerritos, CA. Contrasting Gandhi with Jefferson, in whose park the statue is scheduled to be installed, he said: “What a slap in the face it is to the American who wrote that all men are created equal to place a Gandhi statue in Thomas Jefferson Park. Gandhi is a symbol of segregation who taught that all men are born unequal and promoted caste division of society. He did this first in South Africa, where he worked to separate blacks from whites and Indians, and later in India, where he called the caste system ‘scientific’ and said he supported its ‘fundamental divisions’ of society.”
Commenting on the protests, OFMI Communications Coordinator Arvin Valmuci said, “Our efforts to educate people about the real Gandhi, whose time in South Africa was spent campaigning to segregate blacks from Indians and joining the British Army to war against black freedom fighters, have resulted in proposed statues being stopped in Reno in 2008 and in Sacramento, Austin, and Dallas in 2010. Former Dallas City Councillor Ron Natinsky told us that his city rejected the IAFC’s proposal for a Gandhi statue, while we were assured by Austin Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensley that, although the city was approached, in her words, ‘There is no indication that this will ultimately be approved.’ We hope the City of Irving will prove similarly open-minded in hearing our concerns regarding the Gandhi statue.”
Other evidences invoked as reasons OFMI believes a reconsideration of the Gandhi statue is in order include Gandhi’s sexual abuse of his grandnieces and his correspondence with Nazi dictator Hitler during WWII.
Referencing news reports from The Independent, the letter states Gandhi compelled his 17-year-old grandniece Manu and 18-year-old grandniece Abha to sleep naked with him on a nightly basis as a test of his celibacy. The letter quotes Indian feminist Rita Banerji, who wrote last year: “I saw Gandhi as a classic example of a sexual predator – a man who uses his position of power to manipulate and sexually exploit the people he directly controls.” In one of his letters to Hitler, written in December 1940, after Germany had occupied Denmark, Norway, and France that year, Gandhi wrote: “We have no doubt about your bravery or devotion to your fatherland, nor do we believe that you are the monster described by your opponents.”
OFMI’s letter particularly emphasizes Gandhi’s status as a religious figure, citing his presence on multiple lists of major religious leaders, quoting TIME Magazine, which termed him a “religious leader,” and referencing the Unitarian Universalist Association’s description of him as a “spiritual leader.” The City of Irving reportedly adopted a policy in conjunction with its approval of the Gandhi statue in which it forbade the installation of any monuments “which have the purpose of promoting, favoring, or opposing any religion.” Dr. G.B. Singh, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and author of two biographies of Gandhi, suggested the city is blatantly violating its own directives, insisting that Gandhi was a Hindu preacher who promoted the takeover of the world by Hinduism.
“Behind Gandhi’s mask of divinity lies a master manipulator who publicly embraced the language of pacifism while privately participating in every major war of his lifetime and sanctioning several aggressive Indian military actions after that country gained independence,” remarked Dr. Singh. “The story about Gandhi known by the Western World is a construct, a fabrication, a myth developed by people who benefit from hiding behind it. As it turns out, he never said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’ and he never said, ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,’ but he actually did say, ‘My life is my message.’ His life was one of a Hindu preacher who declared that Hinduism ‘can absorb Islam and Christianity and all the other religions and only then can it become an ocean.’”
Dr. Subramani concurred with Dr. Singh, saying, “Gandhi’s own writings are riddled with hatred of humanity. He was anti-democratic, practicing caste in Africa and India, he was a pedophile, sleeping with his own teenage grandnieces, he was a racist, promoting segregation. There is nothing about Gandhi which deserves to be honored in our American society. In fact, the U.S. represents the exact opposite of everything Gandhi stood for and installing his statue on American soil is a real insult. Who is paying for this statue, anyways? Is this IAFC getting money from the Indian government to pay for the Gandhi statue in Texas?”
At least 9 statues of Gandhi placed in North America since 2001 were paid for by India, according to the country’s Ministry of External Affairs, which admitted in 2010 to funding production and transportation of 65 Gandhi statues around the globe.