Muslims, was the "PC" Card

Frank Conlon conlon at
Sat Dec 9 18:33:07 UTC 1995

With the deepest respect to the colleagues who have been trying to sort 
out the "issues" on this thread, I am struck that no one has commented, 
perhaps because of lack of experience, upon what it means to be a 
Muslim in India.  Although most of my research has focussed upon topics 
which might be related to what we now are all calling "Hinduism" (a very 
artificial and misleading term that contains within it enormous 
varieties of belief and objective condition), it has been my good fortune 
to also know a fairly wide variety of Indians who are labelled Muslim 
(yes, usually self-labelled, but objectively often more distinct from 
other "Muslims" than from other "Hindus").

Many of these people have shared with me their experiences of personal 
humiliation and discrimination at the hands of the "majority"--and at the 
hands of the Congress-dominated "secular state".  And one or two have 
read a bit about American history, and recognize that the ironic 
similarities of the ideas about "mixed loyalties" and "breeding like 
bunnies" applied to them when compared to the racist and nativist ideas 
that some white protestant Americans have routinely applied to immigrants 
from Ireland, from Southern and Eastern Europe, from Mexico, from the "third 
world", and, of course to African-Americans.  

Hate and fear and discrimination do not exist in abstract, reified 
conditions--their reality can only be refracted in the thoughts and 
actions of individual human beings.  It is unavoidable, and it is 
necessary, that we discourse about "Hindus" and "Muslims" etc., but that 
ought not be the only perspective we keep in our vision.

Frank F. Conlon
University of Washington
Department of History
Seattle WA 98195
Co-editor of H-ASIA
<conlon at>

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