Chakra Discussions

What racism?

by Prema Bhakti dasa

Posted August 10, 2004

I will confess I have never heard of Kenan Malik or his book Meaning of Race. Further, I did not see an actual reference to a passage or a theme in this book or a connection being made in Mr. Melbiksis' letter as it relates to Kirtanananda, prior to Mr. Melbiksis accusing ISKCON of following "exactly this pattern of particularism." Of course I am ill suited to discuss advanced spiritual matters, but I do take issue with a person stating that it is not their business to criticise ISKCON but then going ahead, while proclaiming humility, to do exactly that.

Perhaps Mr.Melbiksis should read Bhaktin Miriam's recent article on this website pertaining to abuses of authority. Mr. Melbiksis claims that ISKCON is acting like "some finger pointing madman from Texas,... demonstrating spiritual racism." He proceeds to question repeatedly ISKCON's conduct and motives. It is the same old, lets again throw the entire kitchen sink at ISKCON and in the process lose complete focus on the very simple issue at hand.

Incidentally as often happens, when there are broadsided, ill defined attacks on ISKCON, they themselves provide the answer to the burning issue(s) presented by the humble individuals making the attacks. Mr. Melbiksis provides that ISKCON applies "some really demoniac and unjust ideas (like judging individual people or groups of people instead of their actions)?" If Mr. Melbiksis read the ISKCON statement pertaining to Kirtananda, he would know that it provided that it was his actions, that prevent him from entering ISKCON property. It is not because he is white, short, old, handicapped, male, American, homosexual, southern, baptist, or because he belongs to some group-it is simply beacuse of his actions. The ISKCON statement also provides that Kirtananda is not forever banned-but that he must take steps to rectify his past actions prior to being allowed unto ISKCON property.

This action against Kirtananda was not taken in contradiction to the well known principle of a person being innocent until his guilt is proven (which can have catastrophic effects when applied in abuse cases) as Mr. Milbiksis might have you believe. In fact Kirtananda's abuses are well known, documented and even admitted to. Again let me refer you to Bhaktin Miriam's article; why should those who suffered greatly by Kirtananda's actions be put in a position, where their tormentor's conduct is of no consequence and he is rightfully placed before them as they pursue their spiritual lives, without any regard for the effect this has on their mental and or physical state of being.

It seems that free rein given to abusers would demonstrate great insensitivity to their victims. And I am still unclear how this would be "lying in the heart of all racial thinking." It is safe to assume that those who have suffered genuine racial discrimination because of their individual or group make up, and not by their actions, would take issue with anyone equating their pain with an admitted abuser's restricted privileges.

Kirtananda is not a victim. He has not been singled out for any reason other than his pattern of conduct which has been detrimental to the mental, physical, social and spiritual well being of numerous individuals.