A few days ago, ice cream merchants in Robert Lindsay’s favorite punching bag, India, inspired outrage when they launched a new brand of ice cream cones bearing Hitler’s name and image. The good white liberals of Germany, in a display that would make Abe Foxman proud, voiced their disgust over this transgression. Of course, this is hardly the first time that Indians have demonstrated affection for history’s most notorious racist. In the realm of television, the decision by India’s Zee TV to retain the title of Hitler Didi for one its soap operas was deemed “unfortunate and disturbing” by the ADL.
The article in the Daily Mail asserts that Indians are simply ignorant of the true horrors of the holocaust; the implication is that the noble brown people of South Asia would never endorse Hitler if they knew what he really stood for. This argument is patently absurd for the obvious reason that if Indians know enough about Hitler to attach his name to T.V. shows and ice cream crones, then they should have at least some idea of why he’s so infamous. Even in a country as destitute as India, information is readily available, especially to educated members of the middle class who have long comprised the bulk of Hindutva supporters.
Speaking of Hindutva, if one peruses the writings of famous Hindutva architects such as Vinayak Savarkar and Madhav Golwalkar, these educated Indians unambiguously praise Nazi Germany. Such attitudes have trickled down to regular Indians, who admire Hitler precisely because they embrace his intense nationalism, chauvinism, and strongman rule. Despite their high illiteracy rates, Indians are not stupid. They certainly don’t subscribe to Hitler’s beliefs regarding non-white inferiority. Rather, many apply Hitler’s exclusive and aggressive nationalism to their own context. Instead of promoting Aryan domination and anti-Semitism, they champion Hindutva and the demonization of Muslims.
Such logic also applies to other countries. Back in high school, I read Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, whose primary antagonist is a Hitler admiring, Pashtun-German mix named Assef. At the time, I was nonplussed that someone of mixed background – who would have been sent to the wall had Nazism triumphed – consciously heaped praise upon an Aryan supremacist. However, knowing what I know now about the non-Western world, it doesn’t seem as surprising. Like Indians, Assef simply applies Hitler’s racist logic to his own ethnic and cultural context. As a dominant Pashtun in Afghanistan, Hazaras are the Jews in his eyes. One could easily find similar patterns in various other countries.
When Western liberals act shocked or wax indignant over incidents such as the latest ice cream controversy in India, they betray their ignorance of the non-Western world. They regard non-whites as innocent children, tolerant and benevolent by default. If and when they ever engage in offensive behavior, it is only because they lack knowledge or have had their immaculate selves contaminated by white peoples’ pernicious influence. These colored children simply aren’t held up to any moral standards. Contrast that with the punishment meted out to a Greek soccer player for performing a Nazi salute. Despite his assertion that he was unaware of what the salute meant, his ignorance was no excuse. As a white European, he should have known better.
As human beings with agency, non-whites also know better. Most are simply much more socially conservative and passionately nationalistic than white Westerners. Learning more about Hitler’s misdeeds won’t provoke revulsion or compel Indians to embrace left-wing anti-racism. If anything, such knowledge could inspire greater fervor among the more hateful ones. Hindutva chauvinists have already displayed their propensity for brutal violence, which makes David Duke look like Morris Dees by comparison. The popularity of ultranationalistic figures such as Bal Thackeray and Narendra Modi – who like Hitler were/are fascist and charismatic figures – demonstrates that Indians who romanticize Hitler know precisely what they are doing.
Non-whites are not white people who just happen to be melanin enriched. Their cultures, values, and unwavering tribalism distinguish them from the bulk of Westerners. Naive whites underestimate these differences at their own peril.