The Obama administration felt embarrassed to entertain a petition on its website “We the People” about reassessing Mohandas K Gandhi’s credentials as pseudo icon of peace and harmony. As soon as the petition appeared on the White House website, several dozen Americans signed it. When a large number of people were in the process of endorsing the petition on Thursday, February 14, 2013, it suddenly disappeared from the White House Website. South Asian American community leaders who endorsed the petition said they were deeply dejected in the administration’s resort to censoring free speech.
The community felt that the White House is a symbol of equality, liberty and fraternity; therefore, nothing should be endorsed from its rampart that violates the founding principles of American liberty. President Obama’s endorsement of Gandhi from the White House has serious implications for Americans as his hero has highly controversial beliefs about class, race and gender. According to Michael Connellan of the Guradian, U.K., “Gandhi believed Indian women who were raped lost their value as human beings. He argued that fathers could be justified in killing daughters who had been sexually assaulted for the sake of family and community honor.”
“This is a slap in the face on Valentine’s Day from a president who promised to be the most transparent in American history,” said Bhajan Singh, Founding Director of Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). “Gandhi's racism, gender bias, and caste discrimination are recorded in his own writings. His shameless sexual exploitation of his teenage nieces and other young women is well-documented and it turned even his own sons against him. The content of the petition to the White House was based on strong evidence proving Gandhi, by any stretch of imagination, doesn't deserve to be mentioned by the leader of the most powerful nation of the world.”
The petition, begun on February 10, stated: “Gandhi rejected essential human ideals that all are created equal with right to life and liberty.” The petition asserted that Gandhi pioneered racial segregation in pre-apartheid South Africa, pushed for war on South African blacks, and volunteered in the British Army to help kill Zulus. It further said Gandhi sexually abused his grandnieces, Manu and Abha, defending the “fundamental divisions” of the Hindu caste system, and spread violence against non-Hindus. A million deaths during partition of India in 1947 could have been stopped, had his Indian National Congress not passed a resolution to create Pakistan. Gandhi observed no fast to stop violence against minorities. Gandhi, it also said, was a “five-time Nobel Peace Prize reject.” He was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948, but turned down every time.
President Obama often cites Mohandas Gandhi as his role model, calling him “an inspiration” and “a real hero of mine.” In 2008, he claimed Gandhi’s “spirit and example... extinguished apartheid in South Africa.” When asked in 2009 what person he would most like to dine with, whether dead or alive, he named Gandhi. “The President of the United States can’t afford to be so much misinformed about people and their sickening ideologies,” said Dr. Muni Subramani.
“The myth of Gandhi has found entry in our school textbooks,” said Dr. Subramani, International Human Rights Relations Advisor to OFMI. “His statues adorn our squares. His followers preach caste divisions in American communities. When the president adores Gandhi without reason, the American people are misled. We have a right to urge our president to disassociate from such an anti-American personality.”
Arvin Valmuci, Communications Director of OFMI, remarked, “In good faith, we petitioned the White House to publicly reassess Mohandas Gandhi after our president has extolled him to an extent that can't be supported by any historical evidence. As conscientious Americans, we believe our president should not fall for an historical myth. We will not be stopped. We have started a new petition at Change.org, we will gather 100,000 signatures, we will make our voices heard.”
Similar petitions censored recently include one for Obama to return his Nobel Peace Prize. In both cases, no explanation was offered for removal other than the non-specific claim that “the petition was outside the scope of We the People.”