You probably have heard of the California textbook controversy where a bunch of Americans are teaching Hindus about Hinduism. The controversy is over what should be taught in a sixth grade textbook on religion. Should it talk about all evils of Hinduism or should it present a sanitised version?
Rajeev Malhotra in an article with Vidhi Jhunjunwala argues that if other religions like Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are allowed to present sanitised versions of their religion, Hindus should also be allowed the same rights.
For instance, the textbooks say that Hinduism considers women to be inferior to men, but ignore biases against women in Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The textbooks focus on “Hindu atrocities” against certain groups, but do not point out that Islamic, Christian and Jewish societies have similar issues. The clergy in Islam, Christianity and Judaism are treated as credible experts and their religious texts are assumed to be stating historical facts, while Hindu texts are depicted through the pejorative lenses of critics and called “myths.”
While attempts are being made to teach about “Hindu horrors” against minorities, the same academicians are not lobbying to add textbook sections on “Islamic genocides” in South Asia, “Islamic terrorism” worldwide, or “Christian holocausts” of Native Americans: The non-Hindu religions are coddled with political correctness and “sensitivity.” In order to be true to their field of study, academicians should apply the same “human rights” criteria to all religions equally.
The controversy of the Mohammed cartoons should compel concerned citizens everywhere to balance intellectual freedom with intellectual responsibility. Whatever may be one’s position in this debate, it must be equally applied to all religions or else it would be hypocrisy[Academic Hinduphobia]