Death Threats Beg Question of Why Vivek Wadhwa Is a Lightning Rod for Hate

Don Tennant

Earlier this month, when I wrote the post, “Vivek Wadhwa’s Seven Fixes to the Problems Underlying the Immigrant Exodus,” I was prepared to take some flak for having the nerve to communicate with Wadhwa, and the gall to share some of his views.

“So now you are hitching yourself up to Wadhwa's dirty little bandwagon of lies,” wrote a reader who identified himself only as “unemployed in detroit.” “You will always be nothing more than a shill, Don.”

Wadhwa, a Silicon Valley-based advocate for entrepreneurship, innovation and immigration reform, and author of The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent,” for years has been a lightning rod for hate in this country. In his book, he wrote about how the speakers at the Sept. 2010 ImmigrationWorks conference in Seattle received death threats prior to the event. I asked Wadhwa if he considered not attending, and he said he was indeed worried, because while he was used to receiving hateful emails, this went a step further, and resulted in an FBI investigation. He said his wife was “worried to death about it,” and tried to convince him not to attend.

“She also tried to get me to not be so vocal because of all the threats we were getting and so on,” Wadhwa said. “But I have to do what I have to do. I have to speak my mind and say what’s right.”

I went on to ask Wadhwa if there had been other occasions when he had received death threats. His response:

Yeah, but what happens is, they don’t use the words, “We’re going to kill you.” It’s like, “Your days are numbered” and “We are watching you.” Any reasonable person reading them would take them as pretty extreme and scary. Every time I write an article, very often the editors have to weed out the [threatening comments]. BusinessWeek, in one case, got the FBI involved. They deleted the comments—these were threats posted on BusinessWeek’s website.

I asked Wadhwa if he ever fears for his safety, and he replied by recounting a near-death experience he had written about in the book:

I had a massive heart attack when I was 45. When you’ve been through all that, you become a little more thick-skinned. I could just as easily get hit by a truck. You never know. So I’m not worried about these things. This is why I’m so fearless in my writings on several topics. It’s not only the anti-immigrant groups — I’ve been taking on everyone on a whole host of topics. I’ve been taking on Silicon Valley for not being a meritocracy, because it leaves out women, Hispanics and Blacks. So I’m vocal on a number of topics, and I’m used to speaking my mind. I mean, taking on some of the people I’ve taken on in Silicon Valley, I’ll tell you, no one else does it, because you’re taking on the establishment, the most powerful people in the Valley.

But from what I’ve seen, it’s the immigration debate that really triggers the hatred and the death threats. Personally, I’m just glad that people from other countries still want to come here despite the mindless incivility that is so often displayed in this country.

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Oct 31, 2012 3:56 PM Wakjob Wakjob  says:
Don, why do you continue to cover for agents of FOREIGN POWERS? Fraudhwa as he is known is clearly on the payroll of some Indian IT company/lobby. He first came to light on Lou Dobbs' former TV show and said "I can assure you there is no shortage". NASSCOM probably saw that and freaked. How else can you explain a twice failed IT tech startup guy who goes into academia and goes nowhere until suddenly he begins getting writing gigs at every media outlet in the US? Obviously since he failed twice at tech, and lost all cred with his fake "52% foreign born startup" "study which actually turned out to be nothing more than a phone survey, the only way he could be getting writing positions in our media is if someone is buying him those spots. And that someone has to be NASSCOM. Fraudhwa is just the propaganda mouthpiece for India, Inc. that's all. Reply
Oct 31, 2012 6:30 PM Dolores Dolores  says:
Don, do you believe that the alleged Seattle incident actually happened as reported by Wadhwa? Because I don't. The story stank out loud from day one. ( Anybody else from that event weigh in? Any police report? Anything in the mainstream papers? Because it would have been news for sure. Perhaps Vivek really believes it or imagined it, but just saying something in print doesn't make it true. Just because the FBI was called in to investigate doesn't even mean any such thing actually happened as reported, as with many calls to local police (the term for such calls is 'unfounded' and it is a common case resolution). How did the FBI investigation turn out? To many of us, the story seemed as fictitious as an H-1B resume. Reply
Nov 1, 2012 12:52 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:
It really upsets me when people threaten political opponents or those with some other disagreement such as this. I believe that Jay Palmer received some threats. I have as well. Most people involved in this issue that "stick out" on either side of the debate probably have had some sort of threat or at the very least highly insulting language used against them. You've got to have tough skin - but you've also got to keep your guard up. I don't doubt what Wadhwa says in terms of the threats. I strongly disagree with some of his views, I question his integrity as a person - needless to say I just don't like him because of his below the belt tactics. But anyone who threatens him or anyone else over this issue needs to stop. That type of behavior only hurts what I believe is a just cause. I have some suspicions about someone who has been rather quiet lately (Tunnel Rat). I thought he may be a plant to make us all look like loonies. A tag line after each of his posts on his website is "THERE WILL BE RETRIBUTION". I consider that to be threatening and highly toxic language. The opposition loves that website because they can point to that and claim we are all extremists. Reply
Nov 1, 2012 1:15 PM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says:
Read the post by Dolores (link): Didn't realize that happened in 2010 - quite surprised because I follow this issue closely. It would be easy to prove Dolores. The article goes on to say: "speakers to this event received letters telling them that if they attended ‘the biggest gathering of traitors of the century,’ they would do this ‘at their own peril.’”. . . "Attached to the letters were M1 bullets" Simply find out who the speakers were, and ask if they got the letter with a bullet attached. Wondering if the letters were mailed. .. how were they delivered? If true, I find that to be very scary stuff. This is not how we engage in intellectual debate in America. Reply
Nov 1, 2012 3:42 PM Dolores Dolores  says:
Even if there really were letters with threats and bullets, how do we know where they really came from? Did anyone get arrested? Are there ANY real suspects, or is it all just finger pointing? Anybody talk to the Seattle PD? Wadhwa claims that a Senator was going to speak but backed off due to the threats. According to the Internet Wayback Machine, that would be Washington Senator Patty Murray, who was listed in July as a speaker, but who was described as having supplied taped remarks afterwards. Anybody ask her about this? But even if she believed there were threats, that doesn't mean that a) there really were, or that b) if there were that they came from "anti-immigrants." In order for Wadhwa or anybody to make a firm accusation against anyone, there needs to be more than hints and allegations. Too late for Wadhwa to put up or shut up - if he can't prove what he's saying, he owes a bunch of people on the other side of the aisle a big apology. The burden of proof is upon him. Reply
Nov 1, 2012 7:00 PM SealTeam6 SealTeam6  says:
Mr Wadhwa's problem is that he expects his inflammatory opinions to not elicit a sometimes ominous sounding response. He comes across like a sleazy oil company executive who blames environmentalists for wanting regulations that might cut into the oil business' profits. He wants an unregulated industry, no patent protection and free uncontrolled immigration all under the guise of "fostering business". This is his one note theme in all his public speeches. And he's surprised when he raises the hackles of people. I'm sorry, but his problems seem to be self created. Reply
Nov 2, 2012 1:34 PM Odumbo Odumbo  says:
The comments are very amusing. Looks like some folks from this shoot-first-ask-questions-later nation are in denial of their own capabilities when it comes to violence and threats of violence. Ofcourse this can't be true! We are very tolerant of differing opinions and why can't we respond with an, oh, let me see, "ominous sounding response" such as a death threat or threat of violence? It's just an "ominous sounding response" so why should anyone take it seriously. Reply
Nov 2, 2012 8:19 PM Drunken Economist Drunken Economist  says:
I think Mr. Wadhwa's problem is that he expects REAL journalists to just up and swallow his tall tales. Let's review what we know: 1/ Mr Wadhwa's 'heart attack'.. didn't it coincide with him being fired from Relativity Technology for questionable practices? 2/ Ah, the tired old "M1 Bullet Threat" again. Don, please tell Mr Wadhwa he needs to be more creative in his lying. OF COURSE nothing came of it because "M1 bullets" do not exist. They have an explicit caliber .. oh, and Law Enforcement professionals are not that ignorant. No cheating by going to Wikipedia! Seriously Don. All this territory has been covered before. It didn't work in 2007, why would it work now? Of course, Wadhwa, being the predictable charlatan with a very limited bag o' PR tricks that he is, my next prediction is another angry outburst of white racism on his part. No "innovation" on his end at all. Just the same old tired propaganda, this time, what? Codified in a book? -Drunken Economist Reply
Nov 2, 2012 9:23 PM Wakjob Wakjob  says:
Nothing Fraudhwa says can be trusted. This is a guy who got fired from tech twice, then sued the company he was running after he almost ran it into the ground and got fired for wasting all its VC. We already KNOW NASSCOM/Wipro ahem "mentored" Tom Friedman to write his 2 books on India, Inc. How do we know they are not paying Fraudhwa to write this one? All this stuff is just India, Inc. PR to convince us to let more of them in so they can recover the "wealth" that Brits allegedly "stole" from them 200 years. Guest worker visas and H-1B are nothing more than India, Inc. Wealth Recovery Program with all its disguised lies and propaganda against the west. Fraudhwa has just been enlisted to shill for them since every American by now knows how destructive India, Inc. is to our economy. Reply
Nov 2, 2012 9:53 PM jake_leone jake_leone  says:
I think the reason is that their are immature, nutty, and plain violent people in the world. For example, I think (and most sane people would agree) Barack Obama is pretty decent guy, yet I am sure he has received many death threats. The internet is a bus-stop, not first-class on an airline, and you can expect a lot of bad behavior. It isn't right, but you should expect it. But for most of the sane people, who pose no threat to Wadwha (his counterpoint is appreciated), these issues hit home. Whether it's the guy threatening to dress the statue of liberty in a saree or the guy who regularly uses derogatory words on the other side, its a sign that this is an issue people care about and are willing to fight hard for/against their respective opinions. These charged opinions are not a sign of violent - "Xenophobia", but are just a sign that there is still a debate (and will be for many years) about sovereignty versus free world-trade. As surely as I (not an Indian citizen) cannot vote, own property, or are entitled to a job in India, people in India (who are not U.S. citizens) are not entitled to vote or have a job in the U.S. No matter how rich it makes a outsourcing CEO. Reply
Nov 3, 2012 10:43 AM Don Tennant Fan Don Tennant Fan  says:
Don, you have officially "jumped the shark". This article is ridiculous. Reply
Nov 4, 2012 10:51 AM Why Why  says:
Why is America still even having this discussion, regarding the job-robbing/profesion-destroying/economy-ruining replacement/visa workers? It's pretty clear to everyone at this point that this is a bad idea/doesn't work - except for those that have an agenda of exporting india's unemployment to the U.S. ( ie. Vivek )/who have a financial interest in taking what American citizens have paid for with their tax-dollars - what was NOT paid for by imported guest scab workers ( guest worker NOT THE SAME AS an immigrant ). The system we have now is heavily corrupted, and is not doing what is was intended to do, that's obvious to everyone. Companies want to operate in the U.S., but import in workers from india, how does that make economic sense? So, they complain that there's "no talent" in the U.S., when what they really mean is that there's "not enough cheap desperate labor in the U.S."...go open up shop in Mumbai or Hydberbad...have at it!!! At this point, the whole facade of the NASSCOM paid schills is pretty much a parody of itself... What's really amazing, is that anyone at any point ever believed this garbage and pack of lies...that this was a valid plan... Reply
Nov 4, 2012 6:05 PM Wayne Wayne  says:
He is a "catalyst" for hate because he's a fraud, a shyster and a liar who is a figurehead for perpetuating this myth that the US will collapse unless we keep bringing in more and more immigrants when we have THOUSANDS of unemployed US citizens here. Wadhwa and people like him continually push this crap about how amazing immigrants are and how badly our corporations need them, while these same corporations fire their US workers in favor of immigrants, visa holders, or even sending the jobs overseas. This man is not a friend to anyone. He's a liar and a con-artist who pushes his own agenda. Reply
Nov 6, 2012 9:31 AM gripper gripper  says:
Don, to be fair, please contact Professor Ron Hira at RIT and do a fair and biased interview with him as well. I'm sure he has also received many death threats from pro-NASSCOM supporters. Reply
Nov 6, 2012 9:40 AM SeaLTeam6 SeaLTeam6  says: in response to Odumbo
@Odumbo Nobody condoned the threats. But you must be a fool if you think that anything and everything you say will be accepted by everyone. Sometimes it can be a cartoon or a video that incites some people. You just have to be aware that despite what you may have in mind, how people react to what you claim you want to say and exercise your free speech may elicit a negative response. Mr Wadhwa can say anything he likes on any forum. It is his reponsibility to exercise tact and diplomacy, given the nature of the subject. Reply
Nov 7, 2012 8:33 AM R. Lawson R. Lawson  says: in response to Drunken Economist
I've read Spy the Lie. CIA isn't recruiting me yet and I haven't honed my interviewing skills ;-) but that was a great book. As a non-expert (read the book) I think that Wadhwa's approach to making everyone feel he is the victim could fall under “dressing up the lie”. Often people use religion in that strategy, but I think gaining sympathy may be another form of the same thing. I can't prove that's what Wadhwa is doing and I could be taking things out of context (plus, I bring a bias), but I'd like to see the transcripts of the entire interview and see if I can find deceptive behavior. Buy Don's book Spy the Lie. Very applicable to daily life. Also, it may be true that he has been on the receiving in of death threats. But bringing that up as a supporting argument for his views could also fall under "Attacking" - so people aren't thinking critically about what he is saying and instead focusing negative attention on those who he is vilifying - guilt by association. I think the H-1b is bad for a variety of reasons. Someone else who lodged a death threat thinks it is bad. I must be bad also. Reply
Nov 29, 2012 12:49 PM Drunken Economist Drunken Economist  says:
Yeah, I'm a junkie for psyc books, and actually picked up Don's little book on the Amazons. Aside from pic credits by a "Dan Tennant" not in the author credits (see it seems to be a rehash of old content with some CIA glitter thrown on. Don's "methods" don't work with the printed word, scripted interviews, or 'true believers'. Here's some BETTER more sophisticated authors on what Don & his ilk are pulling: PR as "news". Try Ryan Holiday's new book ("Trust Me I'm Lying"), or any of Robert Greene's books. Oh, and Don: Fix your typos, please-- and you could unblock me on the Twitters. :D. -Uncle Drunky Reply

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