[Note: For photos/videos of protests across US at NYC, Atlanta, Houston, DC, California, London and other cities on weekend of March 11th, 2017 can be found on twitter handle #HinduLivesMatter ]
LETTER TO CNN PRESIDENT Mr. JEFF ZUCKER
Dear Mr. Zucker,
You must have heard the outrage on CNN Believer show aired on CNN last Sunday prompting rallies against CNN in coming days across several cities and many leaders speak against portrayal of ancient Hindu religion followed by nearly one billion people and known to be older than 5000 BC, as a disgusting, filthy and discriminating religion consisting of ascetics who eat human flesh, drink urine and even behead.
The show pictured the most sacred place of Hindus, Varanasi, India as a giant toilet. No matter what words are chosen the graphics are shown to propagate stereotypes by showing extremities of few hundred people as a religion of 1 billion known for non-violence, yoga, meditation. This is like focusing cameras at drug and crime infested Chicago areas and say this is United States? A detailed analysis of the show received 168K views in just few days https://www.facebook.com/RajivMalhotra.Official/videos/801624583324214/.
You chose to show this in spite of recent racial attacks and death of one person in Kansas and contributed to increase in attacks against Indian and Hindu Americans since the show has started. I do no know if you have children or grand children, when history teachers are using this show to learn more about religions they are not familiar with, what impressions would this give to our children? How would non-Hindu children and teachers treat Hindu American children? Do you recognize how they will be bullied based on these stereotypes which we are seeing numerous times where children are constantly being harassed? Will you take responsibility if children take drastic actions such as suicides or discard their religion? What kind of society we are building with children ingrained with such stereotypes? If you are really interested in showing religion, like National Geographic did in their recent show with Morgan Freeman, you would have consulted true religious experts and get their opinions and input.
In your pursuit for profit and sensationalism, you have chosen to ignore the truth, fairness and societal responsibility and showed racist, bigoted show during a prime time before millions of viewers, Do you recognize 20 years after Indiana Jones movie, non-Hindu Americans still ask Hindu Americans whether Hindus eat monkey brains (even today 70% of Hindus are vegetarians). You know very well these are powerful imagery and portrayal of stereotypes is very dangerous. It is sad that CNN fake news has extended now beyond politics, to religion and other areas.
Sadly, this is not the first time and this will not be last time. The racist, bigoted and profit pursuing at any cost can only be addressed only when people raise up and expose this. In the coming days, I understand there will be rallies not just in United States, India but also other parts of the world with calls to close down CNN.
Hinduism is a very peaceful religion and Mahatma Gandhi is product of his deep rooted Hinduism. It is deeply pluralistic in thinking with respect to all religions and constantly evolving and in today’s world we can all learn something from it. There is so much ignorance about the religion and we all will benefit from a objective analysis and study of it. It does not need lectures on caste discrimination and instead it is best to use our energies on racism, drugs, single parenthood and many other issues that is plaguing our society.
What world needs today is leaders that bring people together, to respect each other religion, to become better human beings. The least CNN can now do is to have a meaningful debate on Hindu religion with true religious leaders and not the so called leftist and perverted leaders who are today masquerading as experts on religions. I sincerely hope you want to be remembered as a decent rational human being long after you are gone.
Satya D, New Jersey, USA