Group says Gandhi racist, plans to protest statue
San Francisco Chronicle October 2, 2010
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2010/10/02/BAMM1FN429.DTL#ixzz11OjXY14L
It doesn't take much to whip up a protest in San Francisco - two
people and a bad idea will do - but Gandhi? Really?
A group billing itself as the Organization for Minorities of India
plans to protest today to demand the removal of the bronze statue of
Mohandas Gandhi that has sat in the plaza behind the Ferry Building
Up until this point, about the only adversity the statue has faced has
been people swiping the trademark circle-rimmed eyeglasses (at least
four times) and the indignity of a roosting seagull or pigeon.
But the group - which says it was formed four years ago to publicize
the oppression of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs and
other Indian minorities considered to be on the lowest rungs of the
Hindu caste system - says Gandhi was a racist who harbored violent
"The popular image of Gandhi as an egalitarian pacifist is a myth,"
Bhajan Singh, one of the organizers, said in a statement. "We plan to
challenge that myth by disseminating Gandhi's own words to expose his
racism and sham nonviolence."
The group plans to present Ferry Building management with a demand to
remove the statue and ask for it to be replaced with one of either
Martin Luther King Jr. or low-caste Dalit leader B.R. Ambedkar.
The statue is on port property but is actually under the purview of
the Arts Commission.
"I suppose Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela must have their
critics as well," Arts Commission President P.J. Johnston said. "These
folks are free to lodge their protest, but I doubt that our commission
will move to take down the statue."
Johnston, whose day job is crisis management, added: "I would just say
that in my professional career, I've had no greater honor than having
to defend Gandhi."
- John Coté