HAF Writes to Christian Science Monitor on California Textbook Issue
On January 24, 2006, the Christian Science Monitor published India history spat hits US regarding the representation of Hinduism in California textbooks. HAF wrote to the editor to stress the importance of a fair representation of Hinduism in textbooks.
January 26, 2006
Your January 24, 2006 article by Mr. Baldauf “India history spat hits US” does not accurately convey the reasons Hindu Americans are upset.
In post-911 America, it is imperative that various religions be portrayed fairly, considering the repercussions of prejudice on young minds. The textbooks treat other religions sympathetically while Hinduism is portrayed in the most negative manner. The social studies textbooks in question are for middle school, when students are most susceptible to stereotyping.
The majority of American children will not meet Hindus while in school and will miss out on opportunities to learn from Hindus themselves. Therefore it is even more important for Hinduism that textbooks are sensitive in their portrayal as they will form lasting impressions on student minds.
Otherwise, generations of Hindu American youth will continue to face the common stereotype that their 5,000 year old culture and heritage is nothing but a history of cows, caste and curry, and that they are sinners destined for hell because they worship demonic gods.
Portraying the textbook controversy as a battle of Hindu nationalists against academics does not do justice to the hundreds of thousands of Hindu students in this country facing daily prejudice and does not reveal that the few Indians opposing the changes of the Hindu organizations come from communist ideologies and have a history of opposing Hindu initiatives.
Mihir Meghani, M.D.
President, Hindu American Foundation