VHP and United Way (fwd)

Fri Nov 4 20:50:03 UTC 1994

        I agree strongly with Peter  Claus's recent posting, and most
especially his comment that:

> Given the history of the
>discipline, many members of the LIST, I suspect, are ... concerned
>with the collective damage silent association with conservative
>groups can do to the discipline...

        I think we might go farther, and say that as scholars and therefore
-- at least in theory! -- potentially voices of authority in our local
communities and in the world community, there are many areas in which we
must, as responsible members of society, speak out.  I would modify Claus's
statement, however, and suggest that it is not only association with (some)
conservative groups that might be problematic, but with various groups of
all sorts of stripes and colors.
        Not to be extreme, but if we are honest we must, I think, recall
the stands taken by many Indologists in Hitler's Europe, and in post-war
Germany, Austria, etc. -- and recall this with shame if not with outright
anger and indignation.  (I hasten to add that I do NOT mean to claim that
the VHP should be compared to the Nazi party or any such thing; I am
entirely ignorant of the nature of the VHP, its stands, history, etc.  My
point has only to do with the necessity of scholars informing themselves
and, once informed, taking public and visible stands on issues of concern
not only to us as scholars who -- concentrating our lives on classical
India -- to some extent live in a distant past , but also as individuals
who live very much in the present and will (we hope) live in a future -- a
future that it is up to us to shape.
        I am sorry if this sounds too much like a civics lecture or a
sermon, but I cannot fathom how it should be possible for us, as putative
specialists in the culture and civilization of India, to say "it is none of
our business."

(By the same token, as my posting of earlier today suggested, I hope we
also do not forget that we are here *also* for the purposes of scholarly
exchange, which has been sorely lacking of late.)

Jonathan Silk


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