It was the best of times, it was the worst of times! In the two thousandth and thirteenth year of our lord Oprah, a man with a small jaw and a plain face took to the virtual pages of the journalistic version of a flaming-bag-of-dog-poo called Politico, to declare that since he had dominion over the state of Louisiana and a ‘dark skinned man’ called Barack Hussein Obama was the ruler of all of the United States, her colonies, her allies and the heart of the current British Prime Minister, racism was finally over. This man was none other than undiagnosed village simpleton, Bobby Jindal.
It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity! That he wrote his screed in the same week when a jury in Florida declared that the murderer of an innocent black teenager – whose only fault was taking a shortcut while heading home – was not guilty of any crime, did not give him any pause. That he wrote his screed in the same month that a federal judge declared that the New York Police Department’s policy of ‘Stop & Frisk’ unfairly targeted the city’s minority residents and mentioned in her judgement that most targets of this policy were “blacks and hispanics who would not have been stopped were they white,” did not make him reconsider. That he wrote his screed in the same year that the conservative majority of the US Supreme court struck down one of the major provisions of the historic voting rights act, allowing the states with Republican-majority legislatures to start the process of purging of minority citizens from the voter rolls under silly pretexts, did not help him reconcile his cognitive dissonance.
It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness! In his piece, he also asked all minorities to stop being so different and try to be more, you know, white. Yes, why can’t all of you forget something that is such an integral part of who you are! We should all be same, like a mass-market trouser, where even one out-of-place thread will make sure you’re kept away from the others. We should all be like Bobby Jindal, the poster boy of trying too hard. Bobby lives his life like he orders food in a restaurant - he walks in, sees what the white couple at the next table are ordering, and tells the waiter that he’ll have what they’re having. Bobby has spent a lifetime keeping up appearances. All he has ever wanted to do was fit in. Just be like everyone else! And he wants all you idiots who insist on being different to do the same.
It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair! Earlier this month, millions of Americans watched as history was made when Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America, becoming the first American of Indian origin to win the pageant. She didn’t actually run away from being part Indian! This angered a lot of racists who took to twitter to lament for the good old days, when all these outsiders knew their place. They can take our spelling bee contests, our petrol pump mini-supermarkets, become handsome surgeons on CNN, but letting an immigrant participate in the Miss America pageant is going too far! As the inscription on the Statue of Liberty says, keep your filthy masses and don’t you dare send us your beauty queens.
It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness! Since the internet abuse against Nina became the racial slur heard around the world, this also angered a lot of people living in India. How dare does any American say racist things about a person of Indian origin. Who do they think they are, Indian? Which is why Bobby Jindal’s assertion about the end of racism is even more ironical. There is nothing more Indian than denying the existence of an actual problem that affects millions of people. Bobby loves to tell people that they shouldn’t bother with being who they are, they should think about what they can be. There is nothing more Indian than hating who you are!
We had everything before us, we had nothing before us! Bobby extrapolated his own experience to portray it as a general norm. He made assumptions about the experiences of others. He passive aggressively ‘explained’ to other people what they should be doing with their life. He gave a clean chit to people who were guilty of a crime. Bobby Jindal is as Indian as a song sequence in a Sooraj Bharjatiya movie. Bobby Jindal is as Indian as the ‘VIP’ section in a place of worship. Bobby Jindal is as Indian as a historical monument defaced by declarations of puppy love.
Your identity is like a quicksand. The more you try to escape it, the more you sink in.
If only there were a country famous for helping people find themselves that Bobby Jindal could visit.
(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)