US Ambassador Atul Keshap Protested Over RSS Visit

As controversy continues to swirl around US Ambassador Atul Keshap’s meeting with the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a group protested him in Sacramento, CA on 15 September 2021, which is celebrated as the International Day of Democracy.

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“Keshap has got to go,” declared the protestors as they gathered outside the office of US Congressman Ami Bera, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who chairs the Subcommittee on Asia, which influences US foreign policy towards India. Marching through the corridor to stand outside Bera’s office, they displayed signs reading: “Atul Keshap, your RSS visit stained your hands with the blood of Indian minorities.”

After the symbolic but silent protest, they rallied outside to hear a speech and raise slogans.

“While we stand here, free and loud and fearless in America, the RSS in India is intimidating, brutalizing, and slaughtering Christian, and Muslim, and Sikh minorities, Dalits, and, honestly, any and all of its critics,” I said, speaking at the entrance to Bera’s building.US Ambassador Atul Keshap’s recent meeting with the RSS normalizes, legitimizes, and whitewashes a violent, fascist, Hindu nationalist paramilitary that is ideologically aligned with and historically inspired by the European fascist movements of Mussolini and Hitler…. Keshap’s meeting marks the moment that the Biden administration chose — with its eyes wide open, mind completely self-aware, and conscience fully informed — to step over the beaten, bruised, and bloodied corpses of the victims of fascism to instead shake the hand of the Fascist who sent those innocent souls to the graveyard.”

Keshap’s controversial 8 September 2021 visit has prompted harsh criticism and calls from six national Indian diaspora organizations for his resignation or removal. Social media is flooded with denunciations of what is perceived as his endorsement of the RSS. In Sacramento, around 10 people, including myself, were the first to stage a physical protest against Keshap’s action.

“Keshap, as the representative of the US to India, has enabled fascism, and the US stands guilty of empowering one of the greatest evils of the 21st century,” I said at the protest. “I demand, we demand, and you too should demand that Keshap resign or be removed and that the Biden administration answer to the American people for choosing to enable and empower the world’s largest fascist movement.”

CLICK TO VIEW SPEECH

These were my full remarks:

In the years before the Second World War, we saw nations of the Free World trying to appease the Nazis, even giving space within their own countries for Nazi groups to spring up, flourish, and push for fascism. Then they changed course, stood up to resist the Nazis, and stopped the greatest evil of the 20th century.

Well, now fascism has taken root, flowered, and spread far and wide across India under Modi’s RSS-controlled regime. Meanwhile, that Nazi-inspired paramilitary, the RSS, has spread its tentacles across the globe. The RSS draws much of its power from its support base here in the United States.

While we stand here, free and loud and fearless in America, the RSS in India is intimidating, brutalizing, and slaughtering Christian, and Muslim, and Sikh minorities, Dalits, and, honestly, any and all of its critics.

US Ambassador Atul Keshap’s recent meeting with the RSS normalizes, legitimizes, and whitewashes a violent, fascist, Hindu nationalist paramilitary that is ideologically aligned with and historically inspired by the European fascist movements of Mussolini and Hitler. Keshap’s RSS visit has stained his hands with the blood of Indian minorities. Keshap’s meeting marks the moment that the Biden administration chose — with its eyes wide open, mind completely self-aware, and conscience fully informed — to step over the beaten, bruised, and bloodied corpses of the victims of fascism to instead shake the hand of the Fascist who sent those innocent souls to the graveyard.

We got lazy. We got complacent. We thought that once we kicked Trump out, it would magically alter the US’s foreign policy towards Modi’s tyrannical regime. But it actually got worse.

Trump was bad enough. He platformed and promoted Modi, the butcher of Gujarat. But the real power behind Modi’s throne is the RSS. We were so thrilled to see Trump ousted that we never stopped to anticipate that, for all of Biden’s talk about human rights, it would be his administration that chose to platform and promote the RSS itself — the Nazi-inspired paramilitary which serves as the greatest enemy of religious freedom that Indian citizens face today.

To all those, listening, listen. If you have ears to hear, then hear. This is the moment. Are you anti-fascist? This is the moment. Do you support human rights? This is the moment. Do you despise the RSS? This is the moment.

If you oppose Hindu nationalism, if you’re concerned about Modi, if you understand and truly believe that the RSS is a fascist and terrorist organization, then this is the time to speak out. If not now, when? If not you, who?

Keshap, as the representative of the US to India, has enabled fascism, and the US stands guilty of empowering one of the greatest evils of the 21st century.

I demand, we demand, and you too should demand that Keshap resign or be removed and that the Biden administration answer to the American people for choosing to enable and empower the world’s largest fascist movement.

I call on you, if you care, to be bold, be courageous, and be outrageously outspoken because silence is consent.

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Pieter Friedrich

Pieter Friedrich

Friedrich is a freelance journalist and analyst of South Asian affairs. Learn more about him at www.PieterFriedrich.com.