California CRD’s Baseless Caste Discrimination Lawsuit Against Cisco Perpetuates Fake News Narrative Around Hindus
By Jonathan Gomez
(Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect that the baseless and xenophobic caste lawsuit filed by the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) on behalf of a self-identifying Dalit against two Cisco employees (Sundar Iyer and Ramana Kompella) has been dismissed, leaving the employees vindicated. The case lacked factual support and relied on a debunked report by Equality Labs to bolster its claims of widespread caste discrimination in the tech sector, including at Cisco. The judge's refusal to accept the report as evidence in February 2021 proves that the State of California violated civil rights and attempted to attribute wrongdoing to Hindus and Indian Americans based on their religion or ethnicity.)
In a world full of misinformation and the perpetuation of false narratives, it is more important than even before that the media upholds its responsibility to truthfully report on events and issues. Journalists have the power to shape public opinion and influence societal norms, making it essential that they do their due diligence and thoroughly investigate stories before publishing them. Failing to uphold these standards can result in the perpetuation of harmful narratives and a lack of accountability for those in positions of power.
Such is the case with the narrative around the frivolous lawsuit filed by the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) -- which was the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) until July 2022 – on behalf of a self-assigned Dalit “John Doe” against Cisco Systems and two of its employees, perpetuating a fake news narrative about Hindus and caste discrimination. This lawsuit falsely alleges that Cisco discriminated against Doe based on his caste and has since contributed to a rise in anti-Hindu sentiment across the United States and North America. The media has been complicit in perpetuating this false narrative, publishing over 30 opinion pieces citing these unfounded allegations as facts.
What the media has accomplished in doing this is create an environment of hostility for Indian Americans who are seeking employment in the tech industry and beyond, especially when policies are created that target Hindus it has a direct effect on the rise of violence and hate crimes against the diaspora.
Specifically, the CRD's radical and unwarranted emphasis on caste in this lawsuit has raised serious questions about their motives and intentions towards Hindu Americans. Despite ample evidence proving that caste played no role in Doe’s inability to secure a head engineering position, the mainstream media and the CRD continue to push this false narrative. Additionally, this is a blatant violation of Hindu Americans' First Amendment rights and has contributed to an increase in attacks against Indian Americans across North America. It's time for the CRD and the media to stop perpetuating this false narrative and focus on real issues of discrimination in our society.
Unfortunately, a brief walk down history lane shows several instances where false reporting by the media has resulted in violence and animosity towards ethnic groups. Here are some examples:
The Rwandan Genocide: In 1994, a Hutu-dominated radio station, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), broadcasted false news reports blaming Tutsis for the death of the Rwandan president. This false reporting ignited violence, leading to the Rwandan Genocide, where around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
Anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar: In 2012, a newspaper called The Voice published a false report claiming that a Buddhist woman was raped by a group of Muslim men. This news led to anti-Muslim violence, resulting in the death of several Muslims and displacement of over 140,000 people.
Anti-Sikh violence in India: In 1984, after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, the media spread false news reports accusing Sikhs of being responsible for the assassination. This led to anti-Sikh violence, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of India.
Anti-Japanese sentiment in China: In 2012, a territorial dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands led to widespread anti-Japanese protests in China. Some Chinese media outlets falsely reported that Japanese citizens were attacking Chinese citizens in Japan, which further fueled the protests.
The Central Park Five case: In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman in Central Park, New York City. The media at the time falsely reported on the case, portraying the teenagers as guilty before they were even tried in court. This led to racial tensions and animosity towards the teenagers and their communities.
Anti-Semitic violence in Germany: In 1933, a German newspaper called Der Stürmer published false news reports blaming Jews for Germany's economic problems. This propaganda fueled anti-Semitic sentiments, leading to violence against Jews and the Holocaust.
Anti-Semitic Violence in Europe: In recent years, false reports about Jews and Israel have led to an increase in anti-Semitic violence in Europe. Media outlets have fueled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, leading to incidents such as the 2015 terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris.
Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: In 2017, the media's coverage of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar resulted in violence and animosity towards the Rohingya Muslim minority. Some media outlets portrayed the Rohingya as terrorists and as a threat to Myanmar's Buddhist majority, leading to widespread discrimination, violence, and displacement.
Unfortunately, the CRD’s misleading lawsuit and the media’s complicity in reporting this fake narrative is the crucible in which anti-Hindu and South Asian sentiment has been brewing and which has resulted in an unsurprising rise in violence and targeted attacks against South Asians throughout North America. This is concerning, given that Hindu Americans are among the most educated and successful immigrant groups in the United States and have made significant contributions to the tech industry while serving as an integral part of the Silicon Valley community. The media has a duty and responsibility to investigate each story and ensure they are reporting the truth. Without it, countless communities will face a dire and unjust fate.