NEW YORK – Mahatma Gandhi has been caught up in the anti-racism movement's campaign for removing statues and memorials and the White House has decried the targeting of the Father of India.
President Donald Trump's spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany said July 6, "What we're seeing across the nation is this vast cancel culture where we're going to tear down our monuments, we're going to tear down Gandhi..."
"Radical left-wing mobs seek to tear down our monuments and our memorials – everyone from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to Frederick Douglass, and even Gandhi," she said.
What began as an outgrowth of the national protests against police brutality targeting symbols of the Confederate states that unsuccessfully seceded from the U.S. in the 19th century to preserve slavery, has now spawned a Talibanesque statue destruction force defacing memorials to the Father of the Nation George Washington and Mahatma Gandhi and destroying statues of even those who campaigned against slavery and racism.
With the makings of a culture war pitting the left and the progressives against the mainstream, Trump has plunged into the controversy, opposing the taking down of monuments to even the leaders of the slavery-upholding Confederacy.
Last month he issued executive orders to prosecute those destroying monuments and to restore those destroyed.
In speeches commemorating Independence Day last week his attacks centered on those wanting some statues and memorials removed.
Against the backdrop of the gigantic busts of Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore, Trump said July 3, "Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children."
While Gandhi statues in Washington, D.C, and in Davis, California, were vandalized with personal insults against Gandhi last month during the protests against police brutality, there is also a campaign to remove his statues.
Riding on the coat-tails of the anti-racism protests sweeping the country, a petition backed by the Sikh youth organization Jakara Movement, with 5,000 signatures, demanded the removal of Gandhi's statue in the Peace Garden at Fresno State University in Fresno, California, according to the Fresno Bee newspaper.
But the university's president Joseph Castro rejected the demand in a statement on the university's web site.
A section of Sikhs and others, including African Americans, had held a demonstration near the vandalized statue of Gandhi in Davis asking for it to be removed, according to the Davis Vanguard.
Dillan Horton, an African American running for City Council, was quoted by the publication as calling Gandhi "an anti-black segregationist."
The Indian Association of Sacramento has, meanwhile, launched a petition on Change.org asking Davis to retain the statue and also protect it from vandals.
The petition signed by 3,428 people as of July 6 night pointed out that Martin Luther King, Jr., the African American icon of the U.S. civil rights movement, had said that the Gandhian philosophy was "the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom," and South Africa's anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela had acknowledged being inspired by his non-violent method to fight his country's racist regime.
The anti-racism movement behind the campaign against some memorials came out of the protests against the extra-judicial killing of an unarmed African American man by police in Minneapolis.