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« Practicing the positive | Main | Crossing the line »

March 04, 2009

A Desilu Production

Jindal Over at the Daily Beast, Keshni Kashyap assures us that the generally negative reaction to governor Jindal's reply to the president's address to Congress doesn't mean that "we’re a nation of racists." (Good to know.) No, if we felt uneasy with the Louisiana governor it's because we were "observing a man who seems to be uneasy with his own race."

What? I think I liked it better when it was our fault. Actually, after reading Kashnap's "reasoning" I know I liked it better.

Her proof of Jindal's "unease?"

He changed his Indian name during childhood and, against his father’s wishes, he converted from Hinduism to Christianity. When the Times-Picayune tried to go to India to cover his Punjabi roots, his family did not cooperate.

Add this to the fact that the Jindals do not maintain many "Indian traditions" in their home, and no wonder that "Bobby Jindal creates confusion in the minds of Americans who watch him: they sense self-deception."

A condensed version of Keshni Kashyap: a South Asian who converts to Christianity is a self-loathing Desi. She quotes Varun Soni of the University of Southern California: "By changing his name from Piyush to Bobby and by converting from Hinduism to Christianity, Jindal has repeatedly distanced himself from his Indian ethnicity and his family's Hindu faith . . ."

What we have here is a kind of bush-league Hindutva. In the American version, like the far more lethal Indian version, conversions from Hinduism to Christianity (or in India, Islam, as well) are never done out of sincere and well-considered motives. They are either the product of self-loathing or, as in Orissa, the result of missionary deception.  

If the two are as intertwined as Soni suggests, why would you expect a Catholic family to maintain "Indian traditions?" What "traditions" do you have in mind?

I don't know what Jindal makes of his heritage. I do know that communalism has been the bane of South Asian politics since before Independence. Why anyone would want to import it from the "distant land" is beyond me.

(Image © AP)

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Christianity has been in India for nearly 2,000 years. . .

500 years longer than the Germans and 1,000 years longer than the Russians.

What is racist, is the notion that your race dictates what you must believe.

FWIW, Indians from the sub-continent are considered Caucasians just like the Europeans, and speak one of many closely related Indo-European languages.

Roberto Rivera

The only thing I would add to your comments is that the people of South India speak Dravidian, not Indo-European languages.

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