Thomas Sowell

If facts carried some weight with those who are politically correct, the recent outbreak of savage and lethal violence in India's state of Gujarat might cause some reassessments of both India and "diversity."

This is only the latest round in a cycle of violence and revenge between the Hindus and the Moslems in that country. The death toll has reached at least 489 people in a few days. That includes the Hindu activists firebombed on a train returning from the site of a razed mosque, where they planned to build a Hindu temple, and many Moslems then slaughtered by Indian mobs in retaliation.

These mobs have burned Moslem women and children alive in their homes. Nor is such savagery new in India or limited to clashes between Hindus and Moslems. At other times and places, it has been one caste against another, locals versus outsiders, or the storm trooper organization Shiv Sena against anybody who gets in their way. In some places, thugs resentful of Western influence have attacked shops that sell Valentine cards.

None of this fits the pious picture of peaceful and spiritual India that so captivates many Americans. India has served as one of the foreign Edens to which those Americans turn, in order to show their disdain for the United States.

At one time, the Soviet Union played that role, then China, then Cuba, and for some, India. What happens in the real India doesn't matter. It is the symbolic India of their dreams to which they impute all the virtues they declare to be lacking in the USA.

It is not India's fault that some fatuous Americans want to put Indians up on a pedestal, in order to score points against their fellow Americans. But we need to be aware of the truth as well.

Those who are constantly gushing about the supposed benefits of "diversity" never want to put their beliefs to the test of looking at the facts about countries where people are divided by language, culture, religion, and in other ways, such as caste in India. Such countries are all too often riddled with strife and violence.

India is one of the most diverse nations on earth. No more than one-third of its people speak any given language, and the population is divided innumerable ways by caste, ethnicity, religion and numerous localisms. Lethal riots have marked its history from the beginning.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate