Saturday, September 2, 2017

How and why I started "Hindus For Trump"

By Vincent Bruno


Now that the inauguration is over, and Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, it is time for me to explain how and why I started "Hindus For Trump", an explanation many Hindus have been looking for since the campaign began. I have to say that for the most part, Hindus were rather civil during this election. Some sided with Hillary, some sided with Bernie Sanders, obviously many sided with Trump, however we did not cannibalize each other as many other groups did.  We all saw how the Cruz-Trump feud tore apart the Republican party, we all witnessed how vicious it got in the DNC between Sanders and Hillary, we all know how friends and even families were torn apart during the election, however I think we also all noticed that we Hindus for the most part avoided these turbulent seas. There was no tempest in the Hindu community, only ripples in the pond. I am happy to say I don't think I lost any friends during this election, and I think the same is true for most Hindus. However, it is time for me to explain why I did what I did, many have asked and it is a legitimate question. As Hindus we are always looking at the higher order, the question above the moment, how will current events effect the future, and so like many other Hindus, I got involved in this election cycle with the future in mind. 


So how and why did I get started in this rather controversial movement of "Hindus For Trump"? Obviously everyone within the Hindu community, and outside of it, knows by now that the movement garnered a great deal of attention both in the USA and India. Our "Hindus For Trump" internet poster was widely circulated through major news outlets, and we were even interviewed by the New York Times. Many have credited us as being the catalyst which activated groups like the Hindu Sena to support Trump in India and the eventual endorsement of Trump by the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC). Some loved what we did and were very supportive, others hated it and derided the movement, but everyone kept asking me... why?.... how?... and so here it is.



Before this 2016 presidential election, I had never gotten involved in politics in any meaningful way. Yes I had held opinions about candidates and platforms, but I never really voiced these opinions to others nor did I ever endorse any candidate.  While I was always interested in politics and knew how important they were to our daily lives, I could never find a good reason to support anyone. The candidates agendas seemed so detached from my reality, I could not find a good enough reason to expend my energy.  This sentiment stayed with me even at the beginning of the 2016 elections cycle, the candidates lined up, I took notice but didn't support anyone. I carried on with my Hindu work as usual, knowing that Hinduism is the bigger answer, the larger quest, and no one seemed to fit into this quest at all.  I heard people talking about Trump running for president, some thought it was a joke, others thought it was funny, no one took it seriously, and I didn't take it that seriously either.



The summer of 2015 went by and nothing had stirred me to get involved in the election, but then something happened, something unexpected.  I had been invited by the "Indian American Intellectuals Forum" (IAIF) to attend the India Day Parade in Manhattan. The founder of the group, Narain Kataria, who has since passed on, had dedicated his life to saving the Hindus of Pakistan from Islamic tyranny and genocide, he also wanted to warn the West of the dangers of Radical Islamic terrorism.  When I first began my work as a Hindu activist and started "Justice For Hindus", Narain Kataria was my first supporter and mentor, he gave me much of his time and energy. I was asked to help distribute the IAIF's newly published newspaper "India World Geopolitics", a collection of articles written by Hindu activists highlighting the plight of Hindus living under Islamic regimes in Bangladesh and Pakistan.  Upon my arrival I was surprised with the fact that an article I had written about another activist friend of mine had been put on the front cover along with our pictures. I was very honored and shocked as my image was spread to the crowds by the thousands. 



As I thumbed through the newspaper I read the horrific headlines of persecution and misery brought on by Radical Islamic regimes in South Asia, yet as a Hindu activist myself, these facts and stories had become so familiar to me that I almost didn't flinch.  But then there was something that did catch my eye. On the back cover of the newspaper was a full page advertisement endorsing Donald Trump for president of the United States.  Now remember that at this time, in August of 2015, Donald Trump had not made many scandalous statements and his candidacy was viewed by most with amusement. I remember looking over the endorsement, Trump's face, Trump proclaimed as "America's Last Best Hope", because the world was facing unprecedented problems, and Trump needed "no favor from any quarter". 

This endorsement struck me, and not because it was Trump. Like most others at this time I had no strong opinions about Trump's presidency, he was a larger than life TV personality and real estate mogul, rude but funny, powerful but seemingly uninvolved.  No, it was not that the endorsement was for Trump, but that he was said to be "America's Last Best Hope"... BEST hope. Here Trump was not idealized, his platform not presented as some panacea to cure the ills of the days, he was no savior or divinely inspired hero, he was simply American's BEST hope for the future, and only because he was independent and would be less beholden by the current power structures.  Like most young Americans these days I could not be swept up by pure patriotism, our nation's nefarious international intrigues over the past several decades has taken much of the shine off of "Americanism", yet I was looking for a "secure world" and the "best hope" for the future possible. After skimming the horrific headlines in the newspaper, after seeing all the cries for security and help from Hindus, a cause which I have dedicated much of my life to, I came to this advertisement, not a promise of a glorious future, only a best direction to take in order to secure the world; and the endorsement was coming from men I held with great respect.  The advocacy was typically Hindu, nuanced, and so I was impressed, pleased by another Hindu insight, but still at the end of the day I was not moved, and I continued on with my work and life, sans politics.


My friends and I began realizing we needed to find a way to tie the Hindu cause and the Western cause together. The West was swiftly beginning to notice the dangers of Islamism, yet their response was confused and sluggish. We Hindus know how late the hour is, we understand the real danger, we are racing to save lives, and so we were looking for a way to hasten the West's inevitable conclusion, that Radical Islam is a deadly threat.  Then came the first of a series of major Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe.  In November of 2015 a stint of suicide attacks in Paris had left 130 people dead in one evening. The world shuttered and took attention. What had once been a fringe idea, that Islam is dangerous, was now at least entertained by many minds in America.  We moved as swiftly as we could to tie together the Western and Hindu agendas, we attempted "A HINDU-WESTERN ALLIANCE AGAINST ISLAM" campaign, it was perhaps a little too abrupt to gain traction. 


It was around this time that Trump began his controversial campaign promise of banning all Islamic immigration into the United States.  All of a sudden Trump's campaign was transformed from a comedy into a terror by much of the media and public. Trump was now a racist and a bigot, a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. Trump also began making other comments which could have double meaning. Were there rapists and drugs dealers illegally entering the USA from Mexico, yes... was Trump saying that all Mexicans were rapists and drug dealers, who knew? Trump's hard line stance on Radical Islam seemed to jive with the Hindu activist scene, but many were also concerned that this was a prelude to an attack on all non-Christians and non-Whites.  I had no plan to get involved in the election or endorse anyone, and while I did see potential in Hindu support for Trump, I also understood the possibility of danger, and so as it had always been I didn't get involved.  

But then there began a constant murmuring in the Hindu community: should we support Trump, is he a racist, is he a Christian supremacist, does he really mean only Islam, what does he think about Hindus, should we support Trump? It was also around this time that the Republican Hindu Coalition was launched, this was no small event since Hindus in America had always traditionally voted Democrat. The arrival of the RHC at this very moment seemed to be a signal, a sign of our future direction. In early December a friend and I held a political Hindu book club in our New Jersey apartment. Prominent Hindu activists attended, afterward we had dinner and talked about current events. Of course talk turned to the election, and every single person still present at the time said they were supporting Trump.  Everyone believed that he was not a racist, that when he said Islamic immigration and Illegal immigration, that was what he meant, not non-Christians and non-Whites. No one believed that Trump was a fundamentalist Christian, but a reasonable nationalist who saw threats to the nation, threats which Hindus already understood; everyone suggested endorsing him. A few days later I received calls and words urging me to find a way to rally Hindus for Trump, and so I did. 

Now what went through my mind as I prepared to introduce the "Hindus For Trump" campaign to the Hindu community and the world?  This was December of 2015, Trump was now a shock and an outrage in much of the public square. To align with him was radical and dangerous, there seemed to be little hope of him winning the election.  Yet I did not think about winning or losing, I thought about perceptions and alliances.  How many Americans knew the difference between Muslims and Hindus?  Wouldn't many people assume that Hindus voted along minority/racial lines, that they were a granted vote to the democrats, the powers that be, the Clintons?  These perceptions in the minds of the American public were to myself and many of my friends, dangerous.  We wanted the world to know that Hindus are independent, critical and long term thinkers, that we are an ally against Radical Islam, that we had seen through the corruption of the current power structures and could be allies in forging a new way.  Even if Trump were to lose the election, if we made a determined effort to raise ourselves above the fray, we could attract the much needed attention and allies we had been looking for.  We designed our now famous internet poster, we began our campaign. 


This was December, we launched, and nothing.  Most were too afraid to publicly align themselves with such a contentious cause, the non-Hindu community, as usual, was not even looking our way. We posted articles about Islamic terrorism and tyranny in South Asia, we tried to show that Hindus were the natural social and economic allies of America, but the movement seemed flat, dead in the water. In January a group started the "Indian Americans For Trump" political action committee, and this gained some media attention. Then we remembered the Indian American Intellectual Forum's original endorsement of Trump in their newspaper. These newspapers had been distributed by the thousands to the American Hindu community and so we knew that many must have been aware of the endorsement.  IAIF President Narain Kataria was a well known and respected man, he had arranged for the arrival of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Madison Square Garden the previous summer, his funeral in September of 2015 was well attended by prominent members of the community; his endorsement of Trump would carry some weight. And now we had the formation of the Republican Hindu Coalition and Indian Americans For Trump, so we wrote a blog on American Hindu support for Trump, and this is when we got attention, negative attention. 

Our blog post was picked up by a reporter working for Huffington Post India. Adrija Bose, the reporter living in India, tried to very cleverly undermine our movement by falsely accusing us of deifying Trump, placing him on a Lotus like Lord Vishnu.  Many other news outlets followed Bose's lead, defaming "Hindus For Trump" for supposedly desecrating Hindu iconography. All of a sudden we had a bad name, we were cheapening the Hindu gods!  We had to fight back, we had never ever even thought that our poster could be misconstrued in such a fashion, we had simply borrowed similar iconography from Modi's campaign, him seated inside a lotus. We wrote back to Adrija Bose and Huffington Post India. We explained our true intention with the artwork and also turned the question around on them, why didn't they report on real desecration of Hinduism, such as the insulting portrayal of Shiva in a bathroom in the Indian movie PK, staring a Muslim actor? We didn't hear back from Adrija, but she had made the internet poster famous and it began making the rounds on the internet.  This is how we got our New York Times interview, the reporter said she had followed leads on the "infamous" poster!


Now the movement really began to take off. In India, the pronounced Hindu Sena began conducting havans (fire rituals) for Trump's victory. These publicity events garnered much media attention and helped snowball the "Hindus For Trump" movement into the mainstream. For months "Hindus For Trump" became a topic of discussion on blogs, internet forums and media, then finally the Republican Hindu Coalition officially endorsed Trump, with the group's founder, Shali Kumar, donating nearly $1 million dollars to Trump's campaign, and all this by the early summer of 2016. As the summer continued, Trump's poll numbers began to climb, and after the Republican National Convention, his prospects seemed promising.  But then his campaign was rocked by scandals, extremely lewd comments he had made about women surfaced, he also did very poorly in the first presidential debate. By this time, Hillary Clinton had snatched the Democratic nomination from Bernie Sanders, she was inching up in the polls, and it eventually began to look like she would win.



Now this raises the obvious question, why were we not supporting Hillary Clinton?  Why didn't we support Bernie Sanders as many young Hindus did?  Remember our agenda was to make the BEST choice, the choice that would do the most to end the suffering of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the choice that would expose the true face of Radical Islam, the choice that would most propel Hindus into the American political limelight.  Bernie Sander demonstrated little to no understanding of the dangers posed by Islamism, he was preaching leftist populism, he didn't seem to see the bigger problem, he didn't notice the storm clouds on the horizon.  But by summertime Bernie's candidacy was no longer viable and so he was no longer a question.  Now it was between Trump and Hillary, which would it be?  Hillary Clinton was the establishment, she was the status quo, she refused to notice the threat of Radical Islam, she had no issue being funded by Islamic States like Saudi Arabia, she had no outspoken moral position on the discrimination and genocide faced by Hindus and non-Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh. But above all else she had proven herself to be an enemy of India's BEST hope, Narendra Modi.

Unbeknownst to the majority of the Hindu public, Hillary Clinton attempted to frame Narendra Modi for genocide.  As we all know, in 2002, when Modi was Minister of the Gujarat State, gangs of Muslims set fire to a train filled with women and children, killing dozens.  Because the crime was so heinous and targeted Hindus, spontaneous riots broke out across the state of Gujarat, many Muslims were killed during these riots. While any reasonable person could see that these riots were provoked by the act of terrorism, Hillary Clinton among others put in diligent efforts to try to frame Modi for the riots, seeing that he was set to become the next Prime Minister of India and it was believed that he would not be following the Western establishment's agenda. Hillary Clinton herself, as secretary of state, initiated the "Get Modi Plan", an attempt to find any evidence she could to bring Modi to trial. Hillary Clinton, using Scandinavian NGOs, found nothing save old buffalo bones in her vain search, and every agency in India cleared Modi of any crimes.  But still, the name of the plan, "Get Modi", shows that Hillary had obvious bias against India's BEST hope for security and prosperity. This along with other scandals of hers led our group to advertise her crimes using colorful posters and articles.






We did everything we could to expose Hillary's bias against Modi and India, as well as her funding from Islamic regimes like Sauid Arabia, but still she continued to rise in the polls.  There was no traction for the Hindu cause with Clinton We could not use her steam to advertise our plight, we could not compete with Saudi funding, we could not grab her heart or mind to see the travesty of Islamic governance in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Hillary was consumed with painting Islam as being benign, meanwhile she had done everything she could to bring down Modi who knew very well the hazard posed to India by unchecked illegal Islamic immigration, and the US backed Islamic regime of Pakistan on its borders.  Modi was the man Hillary wanted to take down, not the house or Saud, her loyalties were obvious, so were her "enemies". What could we do?  We just continued, hoping for something to happen, and then the break came. 

After all of the media hype, all the demonstrations and internet activity, "Hindus For Trump" was a subject of dispute, of mockery, of intrigue and confusion, but it was still a subject of discussion, we had met half of our goal.  This small roar of activity, the buzz, it was loud enough to make the impossible possible... the Republican Hindu Coalition arranged for Trump to give a speech at an event made specially for Hindus.  In late October, only weeks away from election day, when Trump had slumped in the polls, he came to Edison New Jersey to speak to a crowd of more than 5,000 Hindu supporters.  No presidential candidate in history had ever attended a purely Hindu event, Trump was the first.  He made it clear to the crowd that under his administration Hindus would have a true friend in the White House and that the USA and India would become "best friends".  The money raised during the event went to the Hindu victims of genocide in the Islamic State of Bangladesh. This was amazing!  The media reported and contorted and laughed and jeered, but they could not help but say the word "Hindu", a word we have rarely ever heard them say before.  Even if Trump didn't win, we had already brought the Hindu name and the Hindu cause for liberation to the forefront. For the first time Hindus were mainstream news, the world knew we were a power who commanded respect. Our group "Hindus For Trump" attended the event with large signs exposing Hillary, we also passed out newly printed information cards which became the topic of much discussion in the days before the election






Trump's poll numbers began rising once again, "Hindus For Trump" was a force to be taken seriously, Jimmy Kimmel derided us, the Republican Hindu Coalition began airing pro-Trump ads in battle grounds states targeting Hindu voters, Hindus who supported trump but had remained silent began openly showing their support.  Amazingly, Trump's daughter-in-law visited a Hindu temple for Diwali and his son Eric did aarti in a Hindu temple in Florida, all of this days before the election. Meanwhile our group traveled to Philadelphia to partake in a Black-Asian-Hindu coalition demonstration for Trump, I was also flown to Houston to give a pro-Trump speech to a Hindu group there, we kept up the momentum. Everyone knew by now that Hindus were supporting Trump, now they were asking themselves why, and that is exactly what we wanted. 


Election night came and went, Trump won, Hillary lost, but "Hindus For Trump" had won from the very beginning. Hinduism in politics is now something elected officials needed to think about, no one can take our vote for granted, we need to be courted, we need to be respected, we have money to spend, energy to spend, and reasons for doing so... but what are these reasons?  We took no time in using our victory and Trump's victory to our advantage.  only days after the election, on November 13th, Bangladeshi Hindus brought their grievances to the United Nations, begging for an international response to the ongoing targeted murders and persecution of Hindus living within the Islamic State of Bangladesh. Special appeals were made to President Trump, we now had a powerful man on our side, a name which got our cause attention, people began listening.  This was followed by demonstrations outside Trump Tower and finally the White House in December.  Each time we made it clear, we were invoking help from Trump himself, the now leader of the free world, a man who had said that he would be the best friend of Hindus. International media paid attention, our demonstrations made news in Bangladesh where they are usually ignored... we cannot be ignored anymore, our movement now has teeth, power, attention, all because we did our best to make the "BEST" choice. 




So then how did it all happen, why did it all happen?  It is strange to think that all of this may not have happened at all, since it was my initial inclination to not get involved in politics.  But it was that initial ad for Trump, the one in the newspaper where I was in the front and Trump was in the back, and all the horror of Islamic tyranny in between... yes that is what brought me here, the fight against Radical Islamic terrorism and oppression and the struggle to liberate Hindus and non-Muslims from the yoke of Islamic governance. Just like in the newspaper, you need to travel through the horror of Islamism to get from me to Trump.  However even that alone would not have brought me to support such a controversial candidate. It was the Hindu brand of political thinking that activated me, that made politics seem good and worthy of my time and energy.  Trump was introduced to me on the back page of the newspaper as the "BEST" hope, not THE hope.  As time went on, and we struggled to bind the Hindu cause and the Western cause, it became obvious that Trump was the BEST hope for this ambition, yet I did not come to this conclusion myself.  Every Hindu I knew and respected suggested Trump as the best course of action, he would ally with us against Islamic terrorism and make us an ally, our support for him would also gain us media attention and force the political establishment to recognize us.  And if Trump won, which he did, then we would have a name that would strike fear into the heart of our oppressors. Yes now the media in Bangladesh and Pakistan is worried about our protests, their leaders are threatening our organizers because they know "Hindus For Trump" has gravity, they know it is pulling the concerns of the West and Hindus together, they know this is an allegiance which cannot be undone, an allegiance between natural allies.  Yes of course I have my concerns about Trump and Pence, yes I can understand other people's concerns, however I see now for certain he is the BEST hope for a secure world and the BEST ally for the vitality of the Hindu cause. This here is how and why I supported Trump, and now I know to always look for the best course of actions, the one that will continue to propel our cause and religion forward into the future, a future where we are mighty and great, this has been my intention from the beginning.

P.S. - Hindus For Trump was specially invited to the Asian Pacific American Inaugural Galal and were provided with silver tickets to the inauguration itself!





2 comments:

  1. I am a Hindu and I don't support Trump.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another Hindu here, and f**k Trump and his divisive racist politics. Repeated sex offender, arrogant, doesn't know shit about anything, don't know how or why some people (apparently enough to make him the president) like him.

    ReplyDelete