Ad Calls Gandhi a Racist, Pedophile. Urges Removal of Fresno State Bust. - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Ad Calls Gandhi a Racist, Pedophile. Urges Removal of Fresno State Bust.

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A movement to remove a bust honoring Mahatma Gandhi from the Fresno State campus has grown from an online petition to a radio ad campaign.

Listen to the ad here or below.

However, Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro says the bust will remain in the university’s Peace Garden.

Commercials recently began airing on local radio stations, including KMJ (580 AM/105.9 FM), calling Gandhi — revered in popular culture as a non-violent activist for Indian self-determination — a racist and pedophile.

“Gandhi was undeniably racist towards Africans, dismissive of both the Armenians under the Ottoman Turks and Jews in Nazi Germany.”excerpt from radio advertisement

A male narrator reads:

President Castro, our beloved Fresno State is a jewel in the region. We honor excellence, inclusivity, hard work, and peace. The Gandhi bust represents none of these qualities. Gandhi was undeniably racist towards Africans, dismissive of both the Armenians under the Ottoman Turks and Jews in Nazi Germany. He disrespected Sikhs and held contempt towards oppressed Dalitz. His pedophilic ways are well-documented. We can do better. President Castro. Bring our community together and let’s unite against hypocrisy.”

The ad does not identify its sponsor. Sources tell GV Wire℠ that local physicians helped pay for the commercials.

Indian Club Member: You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About

Agratsant Saxena, a Fresno State business student from India and a member of the Indian Student Club, refuted the claims made in the ad.

“They have some wrong interpretations about Gandhi,” Saxena said. “As a person who was born to racism himself, how can he be racist? That is my question.”

Saxena, though, was not offended by the ad.

“There will be some people who have been in favor of Gandhi and there will be some people who will not,” Saxena said. “If you don’t know, then just keep (your) mouth shut. That is my opinion.”

A Complicated Legacy

“These sentiments are extremely well known. I think anybody that looks into the history of Gandhi, they may reach their own conclusion. But there is strong evidence for everything that was discussed in the ad.”Naindeep Singh, Jakara Movement

Naindeep Singh, the executive director of the Jakara Movement — a national Sikh community group based in Fresno, says Gandhi has a complicated legacy in the ethnic Sikh community.

“The complications are much more how he has been presented to wider, especially Western audiences. I think it’s most telling is within South Asia itself, and in India specifically, nobody really pays any attention to Gandhi,” said Singh — who is also a Central Unified School District trustee.

While some legendary American civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, publicly admired Gandhi, Singh says they may not have known the whole story.

“While these two figures are extremely laudatory, they were not scholars of Gandhi. So they only knew was what was popular, at least what was told or said about Gandhi,” Singh said.

Asked about the language of the ad, Singh said “these sentiments are extremely well known. I think anybody that looks into the history of Gandhi, they may reach their own conclusion. But there is strong evidence for everything that was discussed in the ad.”

Bust Stays, Castro Says

A petition circulating last month demanded that Fresno State remove the bust of Gandhi at the Peace Garden located near the Madden Library.

“All four individuals recognized in the Fresno State Peace Garden — Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Jane Addams — embodied the spirit of peaceful and constructive activism. This transcendent quality is what the garden memorializes. It does not necessarily honor every facet of their lives.” — Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro 

A Fresno State spokeswoman referred to a statement that Castro made on June 24 in response to the change.org petition.

“All four individuals recognized in the Fresno State Peace Garden — Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, and Jane Addams — embodied the spirit of peaceful and constructive activism. This transcendent quality is what the garden memorializes. It does not necessarily honor every facet of their lives,” Castro wrote.

Castro continued:

“We applaud those who call for a clear-eyed look at history and the individuals who shaped it. We also urge everyone to consider carefully the overall significance of each individual’s lasting contribution to a just and fair society. On that basis, we believe those we honor in the Fresno State Peace Garden occupy an important place in history and should continue to guide us in promoting courage, social justice, and tireless efforts to make the world a better place.”

Sudarshan Kapoor, Fresno State professor emeritus, a supporter of the Gandhi memorial and local civil rights activist, says he backs Castro’s position.

Worldwide Protests

The removal of Gandhi tributes is being widely debated all over the world.

Last month in Davis, about 50 from the Sikh community sought the removal of a Gandhi statue from the city’s Central Park.

There have also been movements in England to remove Gandhi statues.

The University of Ghana removed a Gandhi statue in 2018.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email