Chakra Discussions

VNN publishes anti-Semitic editorials

by Jan Brzezinski

Posted September 16, 2003

I was recently directed to the VNN website by the following post, from "Darwin", on a public forum: "When VNN had a forum, they would allow anti-Semitic topics and posts. They had a pretty much hands-off moderation policy, so I never believed that VNN was actually racist. But now they have published an openly anti-Semitic editorial: Repetition of History.

I took a look at this editorial by Srivatsa Das of Vienna and was disheartened to find it to be a rehashing of age-old anti-Semitic drivel collected from various sources -- primarily Biblical prophecy and the Christian collective condemnation of Jews for all eternity for their part in the crucifixion of Jesus. Jews are further accused of being "cursed to strive for control over material wealth" and the article concludes with stupid assertions like "almost 98 percent of the currencies, media and energy companies are controlled and owned presently by the Jews."

After a little research, I discovered that the same Srivatsa Das had been published before on VNN, on August 3, 2003: Talmud and Shulchan Aruch. Here again we find more of the same: "It seems to be obvious that a world government is the ultimate goal." Again, "The final goal of the Zionists is a world government under control of the Zionists and the Zionistic-aligned Jewish international bankers." Along with that, we find the Jews blamed for the Bolshevik revolution. Rockefeller and Castro, Jews marching in step! He quotes American president (sic) Benjamin Franklin's warning against the "insidious influence" of the Jews. It all comes to a very Krishna-conscious conclusion -- Jews also like to eat cows.

Most of these ideas will be familiar to anyone who has even the most superficial knowledge of anti-Semitism. On reading Srivatsa's articles, it is clear that his source is one Des Griffin, whom he has probably read in German translation. Indeed, I suspect him of having used a computer-generated translation, not only for his terrible syntax, but for the fact that "Des" Griffin has become "The" Griffin, a mistake for which only a computer could be forgiven.

I have often complained to the editors of VNN for not correcting the texts they publish, which I feel is a terrible dereliction of duty. If the object of their site is to make Krishna consciousness widely known and respected, they shoot themselves in the foot by their constant neglect of the rules of English grammar, syntax and orthography. They have taken a great amount of trouble to create a website; why cannot they take a few more minutes to look over the articles they publish, instead of posting them "as is"?

Though they could still be forgiven for publishing sloppily edited articles, by allowing sloppy ideas like these to find a place on their site, they have gone further than making the Krishna consciousness movement look like a haven for the uneducated; they give it the look of an insidious cult.

We have long known that there is a strong lunatic fringe in the Krishna consciousness movement. Holocaust-deniers, conspiracy theorists, hollow-earth believers, moon-landing hoaxers, anti-evolutionists, flat-earthers, sun-around-the-earthers and a host of other kinds of true believers seem to have found a refuge here. Some of these ideas have been given a degree of acceptability by intelligent and educated devotees like Drutakarma and Sadaputa, whose books dress them in some sort of rational accoutrement. For the most part, however, these ideas are swallowed wholesale, without even the semblance of discriminating thought. If devotees are so gullible in these matters, one may well ask, is their belief in Krishna not further proof of their dupability?

If the Krishna consciousness movement has any wish to achieve respectability and status in the social mainstream, it has to be careful about giving too much credence to extreme ideas. Our main idea is extreme enough in itself: we hold that the purpose of life is to revive our eternal relationship with Krishna, to become his servants. That we (at least nominally) choose to eschew the consumerist lifestyle of Western society for nobler goals is sufficient extremism.

If on top of this we choose to have a few eccentric ideas, like not believing anyone set foot on the moon, the problem is not too serious. If, on the other hand, we throw in our lot with notions such as the "international Zionist conspiracy" -- ideas that have the bloodiest and most wicked history of the past century -- then we are irreparably blackening the name of the Krishna consciousness movement as a whole. This is not just ignorance; it is willful maliciousness. Worse, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the spiritual goals that led us to Krishna.

As the Krishna consciousness movement grows, devotees will hold political opinions on all sides of the spectrum. Those who see the compassion of Radharani as the most meaningful factor in devotional life may tend to a politics of compassion; those who see the discipline of the Gita as most meaningful may promote law and order. A successful society must allow a wide variety of opinion. At the same time, in order to be successful, it must guard against extremism.

In this particular case, we really have to ask, "What on earth does any of this have to do with Krishna?" If Jews are to blame for Christ's death, what does that have to do with serving Lord Chaitanya's lotus feet?

One meshuggenah on an open forum said, "Jews killed Jesus and a Jew (Tamal Krishna) killed Prabhupada." Please excuse me for even repeating this kind of verbal diarrhoea, but I have a point: we have to be careful of very real dangers that are omnipresent. Our movement needs theological, philosophical, social and psychological maturity, not farfetched conspiracy theories and paranoid ramblings.

VNN has had an admirable policy of openness to Vaishnavas regardless of their institutional affiliation, but they cannot allow freedom of speech to be an excuse for speech that puts the Krishna consciousness movement as a whole into disrepute. I hope this has only been a foolish oversight, and not, as "Darwin" suggested above, a deliberate policy decision.

I call on everyone to write to VNN to vociferously protest against the editorial policy that permitted Srivatsa's articles to be posted and to ask that they be immediately removed.