Gandhi Festival Challenged With Gandhi’s Racism

Gandhi Festival Challenged With Gandhi’s Racism

Reno, NV – On Saturday, July 26, a group volunteered to distribute information about Gandhi outside the Reno River School’s “Gandhi Festival.” The event was intended to “celebrate peace, love, freedom, non-violence, self-power and conscious living” and was key-noted by local Hindu chaplain, Rajan Zed.

The volunteers were a diverse crowd, including local Indian-Americans, other concerned Reno citizens, and college students from Nevada and California. They erected a number of signs and distributed literature detailing Gandhi’s extensive history of anti-minority discrimination.

Signs included slogans such as “Don’t be fooled by Gandhi propaganda – Side with truth!” One sign displayed a timeline of Gandhi’s life, demonstrating his consistent, long-term dedication to anti-minority beliefs. The timeline read:

1869: Gandhi born as a high-caste Hindu

1895: Promotes segregation in South Africa

1906: Joins British Army to fight blacks

1931: Opposes rights for low-caste Untouchables

1940s: Defends and supports Hitler

Organizers at the River School offered a hostile response. Tom Stille, founder of the school, initiated contact with some volunteers, raising his voice, saying, “I live here” and that he was being embarrassed. He also demanded to know why they were “defaming a great man.” James Pariyar, a volunteer at the event, said: “How does it defame Gandhi to tell the whole truth? ‘Defamation’ implies spreading lies, but all of our information is taken straight from Gandhi’s own writings!” Later, Mr. Stille took several photographs of volunteers in an intimidating manner.

Kim Swearingen, general manager for Interpretive Gardens, which is the River School’s parent organization, became very angry at the peaceful volunteers. She told people who were calmly distributing flyers on public property near the event entrance: “I want you out of my sight.” Meanwhile, volunteers politely and amicably distributed information to Gandhi Festival attendees, even offering directions to lost patrons.

Without exception attendees said they were previously unaware of Gandhi’s racist, anti-minority activities. Mr. Stille even admitted to Gandhi’s racism in South Africa, but argued Gandhi was immature and later changed. This argument holds little weight, however, considering several factors. First, Gandhi’s anti-black activities occurred consistently from the age of 26 to the age of 45. Second, he never apologized for his prejudice and only stopped publishing anti-black writings when he left South Africa and returned to India. At that point, he simply began publishing anti-Indian minority writings and even lied about his racist activities in Africa! Third, without an apology or public condemnation of his racist beliefs, there is no evidence to prove that Gandhi’s opinion ever changed.

As Peter Flanigan of said, “Whether people ultimately support Gandhi or not, they deserve to know the complete truth.” This attitude was echoed by many Gandhi Festival attendees, who thanked the volunteers for publicizing the “other side of Gandhi” while disagreeing with their conclusions. Other attendees were not so willing to overlook Gandhi’s racism, however.

One young woman called Gandhi’s quotes “pretty crazy” as she pointed them out to her companions. Another man was so angry to learn about Gandhi’s racism that he refused to even enter the River School and drove home. And one group of young people were so convinced that they even posed for a picture with a banner reading: “We shall overcome Gandhism!”

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