Posted by Curt on 26 June, 2015 at 9:58 am. 1 comment.


Kevin D. Williamson:

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is, we are informed by all the best people, insufficiently ethnic. Governor Jindal, born in Baton Rouge, is Punjabi in the sense that your average Philadelphian with a surname ending in a vowel is Italian: ancestrally, trivially. Governor Jindal’s speech, culture, mannerisms, politics, religion, habits, and affect are as far removed from Chandigarh, the north Indian city where his parents met, as they are from Bogota or Stuttgart. The governor insistently rejects the tossed salad model in favor of the melting pot: an American is an American is an American, in his view.

For his political conservatism Governor Jindal, like Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina and conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza, also Republicans of Indian origin, is savaged as an Uncle Tamas — an Indian guilty of acting white. The charge has been led by The New Republic, the former political journal turned vanity press owned by Facebook millionaire Chris Hughes, one of the whitest white men in the history of whiteness, an argyle sock of a man. One cannot delegate ethnic-purity policing to the likes of Elspeth Reeve or Gabriel Snyder, but Jeet Heer was, blessedly, ready for duty. Heer is a Canadian of Indian background. He is an expert on comic books.

His analysis is appropriately cartoonish. He argues that the Indian-Americans in his crosshairs — D’Souza especially — are racists, and adds: “Anti-black racism, I’ve often thought, is one of the more unwholesome manifestations of assimilation.” One wonders if he has ever been to India, where anti-black racism is quite common: Africans traveling in India or living there routinely are denied accommodations in hotels; the culture minister of the state of Goa recently described Nigerians (about 50,000 of whom live in India) as a “cancer,” and they are habitually blamed for India’s illegal drug trade. (Here is a sign reading: “No to Nigerians, No to drugs.”) There has been talk of mass expulsion.

Africans to one side, color-based discrimination within and between Indian communities is intense. It is the usual story of action and reaction: Governor Jindal not only stands accused of acting white, but of having an official portrait that is literally too white. Mockers on Twitter abuse him under the hash-tag #BobbyJindalIsSoWhite. The governor, asked about the portrait controversy, gave a masterly performance: “You mean I’m not white?” he asked, innocently. “I’m shocked at this revelation.”

Jindal is the product of Baton Rouge public schools, Brown, the Rhodes scholarship, the McKinsey consultancy, Capitol Hill, and any number of other influences, but the ethnicity police expect him to enter the 2016 Republican National Convention wearing a turban and performing a choreographed Bollywood number to the tune of Selfie Le Le Re. It isn’t that the governor hasn’t ever done anything that we might think of as typically Indian-American — he certainly has, having been a standout student who started a few businesses as a young man, who was admitted to both the Harvard and Yale medical schools, and who surely broke his parents’ hearts by accepting neither. It is that he is in a position that perplexes and enrages the Left: He is a minority within a minority. “The vast majority of American South Asians identify as Democrats,” sniffs Heer. How dare these American South Asians act as if they can simply follow their own hearts and their own minds?

That is how progressives say: “Mind your place, darkie.”

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