Bobby Jindal is such a brainy man, you have to wonder why he says and does such silly things. No, really. He is so clever that he is probably one of the few people in the world who was admitted to both Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School but turned them down to attend Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. Who else do you know did that?
He’s also been such a whiz kid, he headed Louisiana’s state Department of Health and Hospitals aged just 24, moved on to a series of high-level government jobs, was elected to Congress at 33 and now, 10 years later, is completing his second and final term as governor of Louisiana.
Mr Jindal should be the sort of person that India (and Indians) would proudly own. Instead, they’re mocking him for being a brown racist, a coconut, who’s brown on the outside and white on the inside.
The #bobbyjindalissowhite hashtag pokes fun at Mr Jindal’s delusion that he could play down his Indian ethnicity.
The comments are sharp, very cutting. They’re the sort of things we Indians say amongst ourselves when we want to indicate that someone has become overly Anglicized, de-racinated, an apologist for one’s origins. Here’s a sample:
#BobbyJindalisSoWhite he mispronounces his own name.
#BobbyJindalisSoWhite that he’ll outsource his presidential campaign execution to a company in Bangalore.
#BobbyJindalisSoWhite that he couldn’t win a spelling bee if he tried.
The Indian equivalent to “Uncle Tom” will now be “Uncle Bobby.” #bobbyjindalissowhite
What are these tweets really saying? Don’t suggest you’re not something that you are. You can’t disown your ethnicity.
Despite being so clever, Mr Jindal seems entirely unaware of how silly it sounds to say he’s not Indian-American, just American.
First, because it sounds poncey and affected.
Second, it can’t possibly be true that he really believes this, considering Mr Jindal seems to have a vivid mental picture of his parents’ departure from India for the US. And he wasn’t even there at the time! (He was born later, in the US).
When he announced that he was entering the Republican presidential race, he began his speech with the words: “Forty-four years ago, a young couple who had never been on an airplane before left their home on the other side of the world to come to a place called America.”
Clearly, Mr Jindal is acutely aware – at every possible turn – that he’s an American of Indian ethnicity. What’s wrong with saying so?
Could the Louisiana governor and presidential hopeful simply mean that he’s tired of divisive labels and wants to weld all Americans together? Consider the words that have sparked such ridicule: “We are not Indian-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans, rich Americans, or poor Americans. We are all Americans”.
Not much wrong with one-nation, inclusive sentiments but if only Mr Jindal’s politics had been along those lines. Instead, he has plumped for a socially conservative, Bible Belt-pleasing, often Muslim-baiting line that seeks to penalize, among others, women seeking an abortion and gay people who love each other.
And back in 2005, he voted yes on making the Patriot Act and its vast surveillance powers permanent.
So one has to ask if Mr Jindal says the things he does out of conviction? Why else would he, a supremely intelligent man, be so willing to lump himself with the herd and make himself totally inauthentic at a time that the Republican Party wants to burnish its diversity credentials?