You may have heard recently that Mahatma Gandhi, the famous guru of peace, was in fact a racist and anti-Semite. Sadly, much evidence does indeed point to the guru of world peace not having much of a heart for Jews and other ethnic minorities.
Gandhi was once quoted by a biographer as saying, "The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions."
There was never much offered in the way of context surrounding the quote, or what exactly Gandhi meant when he said it, but the quote has found its way around the internet and failed to reinforce or uphold the well-known, warm and peaceful reputation of Gandhi.
In their book, The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer Of Empire, Ashwin Desai and Goolem Vahed argue that Gandhi exhibited and promoted the segregation of Indians from Africans and the racial superiority of Indians over other ethnic and indigenous people around the world. The authors also highlight Gandhi's close work with British colonialists in their efforts to segregate racial minorities and Africans.
In an interview with the writers, the BBC's Soutik Biswas writes:
Historians have generally portrayed Mahatma Gandhi positively, but more writers and researchers of late have gone against the grain when writing about Gandhi's life and work. More writers and biographers like Desai have attempted to shed light on Gandhi's less savoury opinions and world views, while casting doubt on the guru's global reputation for peace and racial harmony.
However, even writers like Ashwin Desai have publicly acknowledged that Mahatma Gandhi did, in fact, do a lot of good in promoting racial equality and that he alone did raise the demands around the world for peace, equality and racial harmony... particularly in countries like South Africa, where apartheid has destroyed lives.
Gandhi may not have been perfect and his world views may have contradicted his actions, but even those who doubt his wholehearted dedication to racial equality can agree that his actions helped push the world toward accepting equality and rejecting apartheid.
You be the judge.
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