Why identitarians can’t handle the Hindus

Their unwillingness to play the victim does not go down well with the woke left.

Frank Furedi

Topics Politics UK World

‘How did British Indians become so prominent in the Conservative Party?’, asked Neha Shah in the Guardian. It is a question many on the identitarian left like to ask. It is based on the assumption that something serious has gone wrong when 15 per cent of the cabinet of the ‘racist’ Tory Party is made up of an ethnic-minority group. It also assumes that there must therefore be something a little suspect about said ethnic-minority group.

According to this identitarian worldview, the British Indian community is refusing to act as it should. It is refusing to play the role assigned to it by the authors of the victim narrative of multiculturalism. So the likes of Shah, and other identity entrepreneurs, cast Hindus, like home secretary Priti Patel, in a new role — that of the race traitor.

Shah makes little attempt to distinguish between different sections and groups within the British Indian community. Instead, through a tendentious analysis of the role of East Asian Indians in the colonisation of East Africa during the late 19th and early 20th century, she portrays them as the craven patsies of British imperialism. Shah even calls Indians in Africa a ‘subordinate ruling class’, willing to take unfair advantage of their power to dispossess the African population of their resources and wealth. Here, Shah unwittingly echoes the vicious invective hurled at East Asian Indians by cynical African politicians, such as the Ugandan president Idi Amin, who demonised Indians in order to justify their brutal expropriation.

Unsurprisingly, Shah passes over the nasty and often violent expulsion of the Asian community from East Africa. It doesn’t fit her simple-minded tale. Instead, she argues that Indians were economically powerful, entitled and, of course, racist. She writes that not only did they bring to the UK ‘the considerable wealth they had accrued’; they also brought ‘a hostility towards black Africans’. Apparently, these ‘advantages virtually guaranteed the economic success of East African Indians in Britain’.

It is a remarkably myopic and distorted account. It ignores the other reasons for the achievements of the Hindu community in Britain. These include hard work, a robust family system of mutual help, an orientation towards entrepreneurship, and a willingness to take education seriously. None of this matters to Shah. According to her, the British Indian community’s position in British society is all down to its dubiously gained wealth from Africa and, accompanying this, its racism. And, as Shah hints, British Indians’ racism explains why they feel so at home in the supposedly racist Tory party.

One reason I find Shah’s commentary and analysis particularly disturbing is because it echoes sentiments I heard from African political demagogues in Kenya in the early 1970s, while I was doing research in the Great Rift Valley. After Kenya gained its independence in 1963, Asians had become a target of a hate campaign led by unscrupulous politicians willing to blame them for Kenya’s economic woes. And I was continually confronted with politicians’ ferocious hate and prejudice directed at Asian people.

I remember going to a political meeting of the Kenya Africa National Union – the leading nationalist party in Kenya – in the town of Nakuru. Mark Mwithaga, the local MP, gave a speech that both insulted and blamed Asians for Kenya’s economic problems. Later, I recall Mwithaga opening a dance in aid of the Kenyan Olympic fund, on 29 January 1972. He declared:

‘Look at the Olympic team today. A Singh here and a Patel there – even in the East African Car Safari it’s all Singhs. I look forward to the day when there will be no more Singhs in the Olympic team, only Africans.’

Before they were expelled from East Africa, the Asian community was relatively prosperous. But, contrary to Shah’s assertion, they did not hold the positions and resources one usually associates with a ‘subordinate ruling class’. What struck me at the time were Indians’ isolation, their lack of political power and influence. Their subsequent expulsion from East Africa, and the ease with which much of their wealth was expropriated by the emerging African oligarchy, highlighted their precarious existence. Indeed, it is important to underline one crucial feature of the African experience of the East African Asian communities: they felt persecuted and, unsurprisingly, many of them felt insecure about their place in the world.

Whatever the explanation for the remarkable achievements of the British Indian community, the legacy of their East African experience represents only a very small part of its story. Hindu immigrants have proved to be both resourceful and successful throughout the world. Arguably, the Hindu community is one of America’s most successful immigrant groups, too. Hindus have the highest education and income levels of all religious groups in the US. And they are successful for the same cultural reason as their counterparts in the UK. They value hard work, take education very seriously, have strong family and community bonds, and therefore possess considerable social capital.

In many ways, the precarious position of the Indian community in East Asia strongly resembled that of the Jews in Eastern Europe. The East European Jewish community was frequently used by the local aristocracy to collect taxes and carry out administrative duties that directly affected the lives of people. Jewish merchants and businessmen were often envied by their Christian neighbours, and were constantly accused of gaining their wealth through dishonest means. And like the Indian communities in East Africa, Jews faced the resentment and animosity of their less well-off neighbours.

There is a further parallel between the two groups. Like Hindus today, Jews have also fallen out of favour with the identitarian left. It seems that in the hierarchy of identity groups, some are less deserving of sympathy than others.

Frank Furedi’s How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century is published by Bloomsbury Press.

(1) ‘The development of anti-Asian opinion among Africans in Nakuru District, Kenya’, Frank Furedi,. African Affairs, 73(292), 1974, p347

Picture by: Getty.

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Ven Oods

3rd March 2020 at 10:32 am

‘How did British Indians become so prominent in the Conservative Party?’
The obvious answer would be that they have a better than average number of high-achievers. (And don’t need to be mollycoddled by the Grauniad.)

Sam Ford

3rd March 2020 at 8:44 am

Frank Furedi has removed this twice form his post..free speech anyone! Frank’s usual hallmark attitude, the it’s all down to hard work and the merit principle taking no account of any other Darwinian angle to succeed that looks less flattering or weak..Identity groups before the left weaponised them against all things traditionally European and previously admired often did earn their reputations.Its hardly admirable to be rulessly geared to push to the top in any way possible, it’s the bain of modern life the destroyer of previous British nobless oblige and decency..which matters little to families ferreting to survive together as if in diaspora that we all must somehow compete with today…the intrinsic qualities that were upheld now always attacked, yet this pushing still remains, even when archetypes that we traditional Brits used to rely on, to inspire the drive needed to keep ahead of all the competing identities have been removed replaced at every level..the demorolisation at work today may well benefit more ruthless groups ..not now the average native ..that legacy has been uprooted..the tightly knit desperation to succeed has reduced all previous Christian behaviourism and replaced them with diktats and guilt, never to uphold again..in this modern environment it’s very dubious to me that a celebration of being top or bottom of the identity pile is so sought for…the status quo has been so dismatled I rarely recognise those in the anti Christian hierarchy as anything to aspire to and to be a victim is not an option as the mass rapes have proven..who will defend the previous ethos from complete desecration in this free for all nonsense Frank seems to believe can become libertarian achievement, from positions where who we are doesn’t matter..of course it does…who can say it doesn’t other than god..people are desperate for identity beyond just the awful male and female pushing in gender groups for an allowed identity substitute to be dismatled next by trans..the desperate fight pushed by pushy families to achieve isn’t a good dream, the pushed,.planned, surplanted project kids of people who think like Frank are the last people I’d want ruling over the UK writing their articles etc..it’s nonsense, the hot housing leads to a complete disconnection from the intrinsic nature of people here, following through nowdays in our automated institutions..dreadful lack of real socialistion, exploring finding your real purpose, types and family, not Frank’s type of family outcome closely knit over confident! It’s the environment to grow in that’s changed and used to be our family, now at war with the real culture people seek to own only. Intrinsic identity used to flourished without jealousies that took over after the war when globalisation began to replace nation and payed it back like Babylon. I’m not sure Frank knows what he feels he should be celebrating with his like of keeping the country a place of pre existing bonds and culture like a field full of happy horses for the outsiders to enjoy the scenery of and feel safe or preside over, a dream of people growing in just dominance. My experience of identity group bias among those in the gang has opened my eyes to this love of dominance at the expense of what the pushers would devilshly call far too pure, It’s not always about success or failure but an environment that can create the divine by respecting and nurturing the living classical where art and beauty come from and wholesome.communities thrive, those environments are becoming rare, almost illegal..but then a Christian will expect a cultural end, and an era of cultural Marxist anti Christ..the biblical predictions are remarkably precise …read my book and find out.

Ven Oods

3rd March 2020 at 10:30 am

FF might just have objected to your happy-go-lucky approach to spelling: (bain, nobless oblige, demorolisation, surplanted …)
Why not ask Santa for an online spell-checker?

T Hauxwell

3rd March 2020 at 12:54 pm

If you would prefer your posts to endure perhaps you should invest in a guide to punctuation and grammar. Oh, and stop peddling your own poorly written e-books on someone else’s article.

Walter Cairns

4th March 2020 at 8:19 am

I tried Google Translate, but this still didn’t convert into English.

Jim Lawrie

2nd March 2020 at 10:53 pm

” cast Hindus” – no pun intended?

Ven Oods

3rd March 2020 at 10:34 am

Goes better with an ‘e’ – or so I’m assured by my young acquaintances who party.


2nd March 2020 at 9:04 pm

Any veneer of civility in the speech of certain politicians or interest groups has completely disappeared. However let anyone make a (justifiable) complaint against one of their interest groups and it is all screaming faux horror-oh you awful racist sexist beast . When and why did certain people get given this power to decide what is right or wrong ? Why has the discussion descended to this level ?

Sam Ford

3rd March 2020 at 9:41 am

This is how the conservatives became a hollow begrudging mess with no cultural connection to traditional Britain…Jewish and Hindus to be raised up , otherwise it’s envy..Hard to believe that Frank’s mother was forcebly removed from an event with Nazis where she wanted to party …yet he weakly supported similar to a survivor of PTSD ….history repeats..but with a more ridiculous cast

Julia Janki

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