In advance of today’s self-described “free speech” rally in Boston, a coalition of South Asian American groups released a statement condemning one of the event’s speakers, U.S. Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai. Boston’s mayor and police have spoken out regarding the “repugnant” views and the need to counter “hate and bigotry” in connection with the “free speech” event. The event will be attended by the Ku Klux Klan and features speakers with ties to extremist elements. The rally has Boston bracing for one of the first large demonstrations following violence in Charlottesville last weekend, where a car rammed into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing one and injuring 19.
Ayyadurai, notable for his controversial claim that he invented email and for his former marriage to The Nanny’s Fran Drescher, is one of the Republicans running for the senate seat held by Democrat Elizbeth Warren. His campaign website’s “About Shiva” page states, “I stand before you as someone who is a personification of the American Dream. My parents and I left the caste system of India in 1970 where we were considered low caste ‘Untouchables’ and ‘Deplorables.’”
The coalition of South Asian American groups condemning his participation as a noted speaker includes The Dalit American Coalition, The Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI), and Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA). They are “outraged by Ayyadurai’s complicit endorsement of Nazi hate speech and want to clearly reaffirm that he in no way speaks for the larger Dalit American, Indian American, South Asian American, or Asian American communities.”
In its statement, the coalition affirms solidarity with “all those in Boston who will be facing Nazis and Klan members on August 19,” and stands “unequivocally with our black, brown, indigenous, queer, white ally, trans, and gender non-conforming folks who will bravely be protesting and protecting our communities.” In condemning Ayyadurai’s support of and presence at the rally, describing him as at worst, a “complicit supporter of Nazism,” the statement also addresses his outspokenness regarding his oppressed caste identity.
At a time when fascism and racist violence is on the upswing, White nationalism directly threatens South Asian Americans, as evidenced by the murders of Muslim, Sikh, and other South Asian Americans, as well as attacks on religious and community spaces, in the wake of the election of Donald Trump.
Shiva Ayyadurai has also been vocal about his oppressed caste identity. While we do not doubt that his identity has exposed him to discrimination based on caste, we do not believe that gives him license to support bigots and Nazis.
Read the full statement online.