Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Hitler Store

Last year some Jews objected to the title of a TV serial Hitler Didi. Some Indians who generally support freedom of speech and expression supported the Jews. I wrote in favour of the title. The producers held on to the title.

This time a store in Ahmedabad is under attack for its name, Hitler men’s garment store. The proprietors said they decided to change the name due to political pressure and it may take a few days to change the shop’s board.

Israeli Consul General Orna Sagiv was in Ahmedabad on 3/9/2012. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had received many e-mails demanding a change of name. Employees of AMC visited the shop and showed the copies of e-mails to proprietors. Proprietors used to get at least 10 calls daily from USA, UK, Dubai, Germany and Israel, many at odd hours.

Americans make fun of many things. Sometimes some Indians get hurt. Jay Leno once showed the picture of Golden Temple as Mitt Romney’s summer palace. Sikhs were offended. Indian government protested. American government spoke of freedom of speech and expression. When after Assam riots Indian government shut down some sites and pages because they were posting misleading and provocative content with morphed pictures that led to threats and attacks of people of North-East and demanded to know the ownership of miscreants from Facebook and Twitter, American government spoke of internet freedom. Here AMC instead of defending freedom of speech and expression succumbed to pressure.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson had at least six children from a slave, Sally Hemings. Abraham Lincoln ordered terrorist activities against Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Harry Truman ordered dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is no demand to change the names of Washington DC, Washington State, and many places and institutes named after George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman.

White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) immigrants to USA killed “Indians” and conquered their lands. Surviving Indians were confined to reservations. These Wasps are heroes for their descendants. Hitler was like Wasps. The difference was that Wasps kept their conquered territories, Hitler lost.

Many in USA and Europe defended Danish cartoons. When there were protests more newspapers published the cartoons. Hitler has admirers even in Russia. AMC should permit the name Hitler and tell protestors India has freedom of speech and expression.

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