Opinion: "Inviting Hindus to Play the Victim Card" by Neil Davenport

July 14, 2006

Source: spiked


On July 14, 2006 spiked ran an opinion piece by Neil Davenport, a writer and lecturer based in London. He writes, "Hindus in the UK feel that not enough effort is being made to include them in anti-racist initiatives, says a report from the Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB)... [But] It seems such reports are less about tackling genuine social grievances than encouraging petty ones. Apparently, what Hindus objected to was being described as ‘Asian’ instead of ‘Hindu’ or ‘Indian’. No matter what the government’s prejudices are, this is hardly a sign of being under siege from a hostile, wider community. The Hindus interviewed for the report are probably rehearsing lines from the official multicultural script. Indeed, for over 20 years minority groups in the UK have been encouraged to define themselves exclusively along religious or cultural lines... A popular misconception of multiculturalism is that it promotes ‘understanding’ of other people’s cultures and thus creates social harmony. Yet the process of absorbing and adopting different cultural expressions has long been a feature of human existence. It’s not something we need instructions for from well-appointed academics. Besides, what official multiculturalism seeks to engineer is ‘recognition’ of suffering rather than any meaningful cultural engagement. It is fundamentally about recognition that someone’s ethnic genealogy has suffered persecution in the past or been excluded from centres of power, or both. Not surprisingly, the consequence has been an explosion of groups competing in a hierarchy of suffering and exclusion. This doesn’t just include representatives of Muslims and Jewish organisations; anyone with a Welsh, Scottish or Irish-Catholic heritage can claim victim status, too. Hindus are simply the latest group – but they probably won’t be the last – to be encouraged to play the victim card."