Governor Bobby Jindal Wants Indian Americans to Assimilate

 

Bobby Jindal, the current Republican governor of Louisiana, has been making lots of headlines in the political world lately because, as he recently told ABC, he’s “seriously looking at” a 2016 White House bid.

For those unfamiliar, Gov. Bobby Jindal became the first American of Indian descent to be a state governor 2008. If you notice, we did not use “Indian American” to describe Gov. Jindal. That’s because he recently commented that he doesn’t like the term and gave an interview expressing his opinions on immigrants and assimilation.

“My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans. Not Indian-Americans, simply Americans,” Jindal explained. “If we wanted to be Indians, we would have stayed in India. It’s not that they are embarrassed to be from India, they love India. But they came to America because they were looking for greater opportunity and freedom.”

It seems there are a number of immigrants who agree with this sentiment, but  it’s what he says below that is more troubling:

I do not believe in hyphenated Americans. This view gets me into some trouble with the media back home. They like to refer to Indian-Americans, Irish-Americans, African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and all the rest. To be clear – I am not suggesting for one second that people should be shy or embarrassed about their ethnic heritage. I am explicitly saying that it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within. It is completely reasonable and even necessary for a sovereign nation to discriminate between people who want to join them and people who want to divide them. And immigration policy should have nothing at all to do with the colour of anyone’s skin. I find people who care about skin pigmentation to be the most dim-witted lot around.

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First of all, what is his definition of American culture? Is it apple pie, monster trucks and Duck Dynasty? In reality, the United States of America was founded by immigrants from European countries who made their way into America. These immigrants not only destroyed the cultures of Native Americans, but also wiped out a good amount of Native American populations. While I’m unsure how hyphenated Americans would go about “destroying American culture from within,” I do find it hypocritical for any American to be condemning immigrants and their descendants for wishing to “establish a separate culture within [America]” considering America’s history. After all, what is more harmful to Americans: 99 Ranch Markets and Patel Bros Groceries or the Choctaw Trail of Tears?

Furthermore, while I agree with Gov. Jindal that immigration policy should not discriminate on skin colour or country of origin, it’s difficult to expect black and brown people to not care about their skin pigmentation when it is their skin pigmentation that leads to increased racial profiling in stop and frisk searches, airport security checks and US border patrols. From the looks of things, it’s unlikely that the people in power will stop caring about skin pigmentation anytime soon, especially since racial biases tend to be subconscious. Is Jindal expecting the victims of racial profiling to stop caring about their skin pigmentation when it hurts their daily lives? There is a reason why the Black Lives Matter movement has to specify that “black lives” matter.

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Then there are his comments on “no-go” zones. According to Jindal, these are European cities, such as Birmingham, which are totally Muslim (apparently Birmingham’s 22% Muslim qualifies as “totally Muslim” to Jindal). Supposedly, in these cities, Shariah courts rule and only Muslims are allowed in.

Even after Fox News issued an apology for their report on “no-go” zones, Jindal insisted on their existence. In an awkward segment seen above, he found himself strongly condemning these “no-go” zones even though the text “BRITISH P.M. DISMISSES NO-GO ZONE COMMENTS” flashed across the screen.

Throughout the interview, Jindal repeatedly insisted that if non-assimilation is the norm, America would soon follow Europe and have “no-go” zones pop up. However, when interviewer Wolf Blizer asked Gov. Jindal to specify where a “no-go” zone existed, Gov. Jindal was unable to answer the question.

 

 

More recently, Gov. Jindal led an evangelical Christian rally called “The Response” where he spoke of a “spiritual revival to revive our country” and insisted “our God wins.” While he acknowledged in his ABC interview that America does allow religious freedom and is very proud of America for that, Gov. Jindal has made it clear who his target audience is.

 

 

How NOT To Deal With Racism: Bobby Jindal Talks ‘Hyphenated Americans’

Bobby Jindal, the current Governor of Louisiana and the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, recently wrote a story on race for Politico, an American political journalism organization.

“Scan the news on any given day in America, and you will invariably find multiple stories about race, racism, ethnicity, and race relations,” Jindal writes,  “We can’t seem to get enough of this topic, and correspondingly, the media appetite for all things race-related is unquenchable.” I nodded my head to this. After all, when you write for  an Asian-American Women’s Magazine Publication, how can you not pay attention to race?

He then continued to point out that we ought to be judged by our character instead of the color of our skin. He notes that humans are shallow to think of others in terms of their skin color. Again, I found myself nodding in agreement. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve found ourselves angry at being associated with stereotypes simply because we’re Asian.

But then his opinion piece starts taking an abrupt turn. “Yet we still place far too much emphasis on our “separateness,” our heritage, ethnic background, skin color, etc.” Jindal writes, “We live in the age of hyphenated Americans: Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Native Americans, to name just a few. Here’s an idea: How about just “Americans?” That has a nice ring to it, if you ask me. Placing undue emphasis on our “separateness” is a step backward.”

Wait, what?

He ends his piece by stating, “We are all created in the image of God — skinny, fat, tall, short, dark, light, whatever. Who cares? What does it matter? It’s time to get over it. It’s time for the end of race in America. Now that would be progress.”

This is the point where we shake our heads in a very frustrated no. Our culture is a very very big part of our identity and its most definitely something we can’t ignore. Yes, I consider myself an Asian-American, or according to Jindal a “hyphenated American”, because I choose not to lose any more of my already blurry cultural identity. I choose to be a “hyphenated American” because even if we wanted to go along with the unrealistic belief that all Americans are treated equally, how can we possibly ignore all the racial slurs and all the racial stereotyping? How is ignoring a problem the solution to solving it?

While I agree that in an ideal world, judgement would be based on character as oppose to the color of one’s skin, the idea of being completely “color-blind” is not the solution. Is it not better to keep our eyes open, and accept all the colors none-the-less? We can’t pretend to be colorblind because ultimately many people are indeed treated a certain way because of the color of their skin. It is only by looking at the issue full-on and realizing that inequality is present that we can hope to address the problem.