Martha Nussbaum’s Doublespeak

In response to Penguin Books voluntarily withdrawing a book by Wendy Doniger, the Indian Express has provided a platform to a professor at the University of Chicago named Martha Nussbaum to attack Hindus and give a sermon to Indians about free speech. However, Martha Nussbaum lacks the qualifications to write on the topic as she has been a staunch opponent of free speech rights for several years. Like most leftists, she is for laws banning hate speech and not for laws protecting free speech.

In the ‘Offensive Internet,‘ a book she co-edited and contributed to, she has argued for banning anonymous posts on the internet that is offensive to others. Targeting a site named which focuses on law schools, she has claimed that “the behavior of the anonymous AutoAdmit writers is best understood as a gender-based hate crime” and that “my analysis suggests the importance of requiring identification as a condition of posting.”

Another contributor to this book is the controversial Cass Sunstein who Nussbaum’s partner and who now serves as the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama Administration. His proposal that the government should control information by infiltrating chat rooms generated a furore among free speech advocates and many of his suggestions were so outrageous that even writers on the far-left outfit,, were upset. Sunstein has also suggested that false rumors be banned, a proposal that should remind Indians of Indira Gandhi’s chilling Emergency era regulations.

Apart from rooting for the squelching of free expression of ideas, Nussbaum reveals a sense of entitlement in the book when she writes that people like her should be protected from attacks by others while her usual targets do not deserve such protection. 

“More generally, my analysis suggests that we should be much less deferential to this sort of anonymous speech in close-knit communities (such as law schools) than in the broader public sphere.”

Even more jarring is the fact that one of the grounds for Nussbaum’s objection to the posts on is identical to a charge made against Wendy Doniger in the ongoing controversy: that the content is offensive due to the pornographic nature of descriptions in the posts made on the website. 

Such hypocrisy and sense of entitlement is visible in her other writings as well. One of her papers contains a revealing example of her Orwellian doublespeak and she even manages to support both free speech laws and hate speech laws in the same sentence. 

“The US tradition, which is extremely protective of hate speech, is not appropriate for all nations; Germany, in light of its history, has a much more restrictive attitude toward anti-Semitic speech than does America, and it seems to me that both nations are right.”

Such support is of course reserved for people of her race and would not apply to Indians. Author Carlin Romano writes that Nussbaum’s father, George Craven, held racist views but also makes the assertion that Nussbaum (she has taken on the last name of her ex-husband) repudiated these views. Romano does not present any evidence for the assertion that Nussbaum opposed her father’s views and her writings are consistent with the thoughts of those who would hold racist views. In the days of her father, racist views meant support for lynching Blacks, hanging them on trees, and terrorizing them by marching with like minded people (who typically supported the Democratic Party) while wearing cloaks made of white sheets and carrying burning crosses.

Another pertinent point in Nussbaum’s article is the use of the word ‘thug.’ Unlike in India where the word ‘thug’ is used interchangeably with ‘strongman,’ it is a racial slur in the US as pointed out by two Black professional sportspersons.

Nussbaum’s last name camouflages her true heritage and she has claimed to be a “Reform Jew.” This is a strange claim as a convert into a religion can lay claim to its heritage only by completely embracing it. Reform Judaism is a movement among Jews who criticize many aspects of traditional Judaism and seek to distance themselves from many beliefs and practices. Like similar movements that label themselves ‘reformist,’ this one too consists of dissenters. While an insider can be a dissenter, an outsider cannot join the dissenters and claim to be an insider. In other settings, such a person would be labeled either a deceiver or an infiltrator. 

Martha Nussbaum also makes a fantastic claim in her Indian Express piece that needs sorting out. She has alleged that Hindus threatened violence against the employees of Harvard University Press in order to prevent the publication of her book. A phone call to the number listed on the website of Harvard University Press in order to verify this charge resulted in the veracity of her claim quickly evaporating. The person who answered the phone repeatedly denied that any such incident had taken place and even laughed at it and brushed off the claim. 

That the false claim was carried by Indian Express without verification should raise a lot of eyebrows. A look at the leaked documents of Stratfor, the global intelligence firm with alleged CIA links, shows that the group cut deals with various media outlets. Nussbaum’s name seems to carry some weight with Stratfor and Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta has been named as one of their agents. So this is a case of various interests converging and the manner in which Nussbaum’s disinformation was placed in Indian Express merits further investigation.

This is not the first time that Martha Nussbaum has exhibited dishonesty. In the past, she was accused of committing perjury by lying in a court in Colorado. So the possibility of her conjuring up a “witness” who received threats from Hindus should not be ruled out, but it is too late for such theatrics and any such action should be considered the result of the expose in this article. The US is no banana Republic that people who make violent threats can roam free. Law enforcement in the US is one of the most effective in the world and unless Martha Nussbaum can prove that someone was arrested for threatening violence, her claims are just tall claims.

There is also much at fault on the side of Hindus for the current state of affairs as they seek approval from American institutions. Hindus have completely misunderstood the American system and erroneously view universities in the US primarily as centers of learning. In reality, universities, along with the media, so-called think-tanks, so-called non-profit organizations, and trade unions, are part of the power structure in America and serve as conduits for massive amounts of taxpayer money to be funneled into political machines, typically the Democratic Party. Billions of dollars in the name of student loans and research grants are transferred to universities every year making them one of the biggest recipients of welfare payments. Quite a bit of that money makes its way into the political system and one can search the contributions made by specific individuals on the website of the Federal Election Commission. (Individual states too maintain their own databases for state level contributions.)

While science, medicine and engineering departments still perform real research, the biggest culprits in the universities are the humanities departments. They confer degrees for completely frivolous stuff, and if we agree that psychobabble does not become scholarship because it includes footnotes and citations, there is absolutely no scholarship that comes out of humanities departments in USA. This fact is widely recognized in the US, which is why many reports lament the lack of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or what are collectively known as STEM fields.

Among Whites, women outnumber men in getting college degrees, but unlike Indian, Chinese or Jewish women, White women are almost unheard of in STEM fields indicating that they swarm the humanities departments in huge numbers. Yet, in a tacit acknowledgment that very little intellectual ability is needed to obtain a degree in one of the humanities subjects, there are no studies lamenting the underrepresentation of men in the humanities divisions.

Corruption is also rampant in American universities when it comes to the award of honorary degrees, which, at one time were recognitions for superlative work performed typically by people not connected to the academia. They are now routinely awarded to professors and are unwritten quid pro quo arrangements for placing students as faculty members who then nominate their professors for such titles. Such honorary degrees are similar to government bureaucrats in charge of scouting for nominees abusing their power and nominating each other for awards given by the government.

University professors, especially those aligned with the Democratic Party, are big on talk when it comes to ‘affirmative action’ (equivalent of reservations in Indian college admissions) for Blacks, but it is the privileged White leftist women who have benefited the most from this system. In a move that illustrates the sense of entitlement among women like Martha Nussbaum, White women are treated as “minorities” in USA and use this unfairly gained advantage to advance their careers or grant titles to themselves. Blacks are disproportionately kept out from humanities departments despite having the right qualifications.

Hindus need to stop feeding on information supplied to them by the mainstream media in USA which is operated by the extreme left and should instead form their own opinions based on first hand experiences. They will then realize that the left in the USA is not worthy of support as it is merely a conglomeration of every racist force in the world. The Democratic Party seeks to be the Pied Piper that leads the people of various races while singing tunes accusing their political opponents of racism. The American academia is a manifestation of this fact which is why there is an unending attack on Hindus. The people in this system do not deserve any respect and Hindus need to work towards eradicating this system instead of seeking to join it.

[The author can be reached at [email protected].]