Secular Humanism

Indian Immigrants’ Dalliance with Conservatism in the United States

Note: This article was cross-posted in the author’s blog, “Oh, the humanity of it all!”.

I was born and brought up in India, and I love that country dearly. But for the past 10 odd years, my home has been the United States, where I live my life, work and pay taxes, as well as engage in social processes and participate in communities. One process I cannot – although I personally feel entitled to – participate in, yet, is the political process, because I am not a US Citizen or Permanent Resident. But that hasn’t stopped me from taking wholehearted interest in the local and Federal politics and government, because politics and policy affect lives, my life and those of my near and dear ones, and of millions of other people, seen and unseen.

Over the years, I find myself largely aligned with the ideologies of the Democratic party platform, which I see as pro-Civil Rights, pro-social justice, pro-Science, pro-education and pro-knowledge, pro-freedom of expression, pro-Choice, pro-economic and social responsibility, with a firm stance against racism, xenophobia and bigotry – in short, generally in favour of a value system that I consider not just American Values, but universal human values. Yes, I know a few would protest this characterization of the Democratic Party platform. I am not naïve enough to think that all members of the Democratic Party would espouse these ideals with equal fervour and passion in a monolithic manner; I understand that there is a whole spectrum of ideologies out there, that often offers issue-based, and more nuanced, support or opposition to the politics of the Democratic Party. But this is my impression of the Democratic ethos, based on an overall analysis of their politics and policies. (I am not going into the relative merits and demerits of a Two-Party system in this post.)

Dinesh D'Souza speaking at CPAC 2012

Dinesh D’Souza speaking at CPAC 2012. Image by Mark Taylor. (Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)


For more than two decades, Indian-Americans have viewed the Democratic Party with favour. Allow me to paraphrase a few pertinent points in an old article from the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit scholarly think tank. Historically, in contrast to the GOP, the Democratic Party has always made overtures to enlist the support of the Indian community in the US, starting from folks who came over as students in early 1960s-70s. In 1980s, and increasingly in 1990s and thereafter, people of Indian origin arrived in larger numbers to work in the US, accumulated wealth, and followed the example of other immigrant communities to assert themselves politically. Hari Sud, the author of the above-linked article, opined that at that time, the attitude of the Indian community towards any political party was dominated by narrow considerations. He wrote:

An average Indian immigrant or his next generation is a hard working, self-respecting and a docile person. For him political process does not offer much attraction. Occasionally international diplomacy and US Administration’s attitude towards India (his mother country) shape up his attitude towards one party or the other.

Hari went on to provide examples of how the Indian community felt hostile towards Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan for their pro-Pakistan views and policies; how it was initially distrustful of the first Clinton administration because of his overtures towards Pakistan; and how during the second term, Clinton managed to win over the Indian community by responding positively towards its sentiments for India. The Clinton era bypassed officials patently hostile to India while formulating policies, and welcomed Indians to political jobs and discussions as well as Democratic Party congregations. India-US relations dramatically changed and people of Indian origin in the US became supporters of the Democrats in general.

This was a time when the Indian immigrants to the US held minimal and restricted political views. More than a decade has passed since, with attendant political changes. A newer, younger generation of Indian-Americans – comprising both younger Indians who are more exposed to globalization and diversity, and America-born folks of Indian parentage – has stepped forward, and the Democratic Party, with its fairness doctrine, appears to enjoy a significant support amongst them.

That Indians in the US are largely pro-Democrat doesn’t surprise me. What does, instead, puzzle me is why, and how, amongst the Indian-Americans of an older generation, the Republican Party has garnered political support; specifically, why do many educated and wealthy Indian immigrants (naturalized US citizens) seem so enamoured of the Republican party? As mentioned in the above-linked BBC article, 18% of even the younger Indian-Americans favour Republicans. From hearsay – from within family and friends – I gather the impression that there is a substantial subset, the Indian-American conservatives, that silently contributes to GOP and votes Republican. Forget hearsay, let’s consider some of the more publicly-visible Indian-American Republicans:

  • Public intellectuals: Dinesh D’Souza, conservative political commentator and author of embarrassingly fact-free (nevertheless, best-selling) conservative screeds and tomes (and now a ‘documentary’, too!), as well as of Christian apologetics; Sampat Shivangi, a physician and national president of the Indian-American Forum for Political Education, who recently expressed his vocal support for Paul Ryan as the GOP vice-presidential nominee.
  • Politicians: Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, and Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina, both rising stars in the GOP and face of the Party’s pretensions to diversity; Yash Wadhwa, a businessman from Milwaukee with aspirations to a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly, who recently spoke at the Republican National Convention 2012, at Tampa, Florida; Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney and Chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, a woman who sees no existence of a Republican ‘war on women’ despite all the evidence to the contrary.
  • Public officials and media figures: Gopal Khanna, former Chief Information Officer in the state of Minnesota; Uma Pemmaraju, an anchor and host on the Fox News Channel cable network; Gopal TK Krishna, a conservative activist from Iowa and delegate to RNC 2012, who had a role in crafting the language of GOP platform towards India; Ramesh Ponnuru, a Washington DC-based columnist and a senior editor for National Review magazine, widely recognized as a conservative pundit.

… a few amongst many. And then there are the second generation, the America-born, Indian origin folks (such as Ricky Gill, the young Republican to grab headlines at RNC 2012); prominent leaders and former politicians not in direct spotlight lately (such as Inder Singh, author, community leader, and co-founder of the Asian and Pacific American Republicans Coalition, an officially chartered organ of the California Republican Party; Harry Sidhu, restaurateur and Republican politician, currently an Anaheim City Councilman; Kashmir Gill, a former mayor of Yuba City, California, currently Senior Vice President in a Bank; Nimi McConigley, erstwhile member of the State legislature of Wyoming and candidate for the US Senate); political stalwarts and GOP fundraisers (such as Florida physician Zachariah P Zachariah; Pennsylvania engineer Ashok Khare); minor functionaries with political aspirations (such as New Jersey lawyer Naveen Nadipuram), and so forth. All in all, not an inconsequential lot.

So why Republican, what’s the attraction? A common thread that binds them all, apart from their political affiliation, is that they are all reasonably educated, well-established professionally, and wealthy, with independent means. But is that enough? In a recent post, well-known blogger and author Rita Banerji offers some answers to my puzzle.

Writing in the context of Dinesh D’Souza’s anti-Obama ‘documentary’, “2016”, that seems to have found acceptance amongst certain subsets of Americans, Banerji avers that the fact – that a Republican of Indian origin has made a politically motivated film casting aspersions on a Democratic President – doesn’t surprise her,

… Because among the Indian communities in the US, it always appeared to me that a majority of immigrants from India, supported the Republican party.

Making an interesting connection regarding ethnicity and political perceptions, she says:

… many of the other migrant, minority communities always looked upon the Democrats more favourably because they saw them as being more tolerant of immigration, and more embracing of racial and cultural diversity.

It is a matter of fact that, for example, the Hispanic communities in the US overwhelmingly vote Democratic – and not without reason – a fact responsible for the conscious attempts at voter suppression by the GOP/Tea Party machinery. However, as Banerji points out next, and also explains,

… this appeared not to factor in, into how Indian Americans made their political preferences. And the reason I think is in how Indian Americans have historically responded to racism. They’ve chosen to pretend it does not exist or else it’s not so bad that they can’t live with it!!

I see three other dimensions to this; first, the dimension of privilege. Racism is alive and thriving in India well into the modern times, under a different garb, called casteism, which enjoys the sanction of religion and religious traditions or superstitions. However, the well-to-do and the upper-middle-class Indians, the kind who end up in the US shores, generally are in the socially privileged position of not facing or being touched by the putrid stench of casteism – and therefore, it is easy for them to pretend it doesn’t exist. It is the same mentality, part of the same baggage, that they bring over when they arrive in the US. Whenever they face overt racism here, they firmly shut their eyes, hoping that the specter would pass away in time – just like it did back home. Whenever they see it happening to others, they try to rationalize it, thinking that the victim must have deserved it. Banerji provides a poignant example of this ostrich-like attitude from her own experience.

When in college in the US, I had visited one of my mother’s friend’s who had a 13-year-old girl. This girl was sent to a very expensive, exclusive, private school where she was the only coloured child. She was a very shy and quiet girl, and an A+ student. But one of her teachers took an instinctive dislike to her. He would pick on her in class all the time, blame her for any kind of disruption, and periodically fling chalks or a duster at her, calling her names. The girl would come home crying, and her mother would scold her. “You must have done something wrong!” One time I tried suggesting the word: racism. I mean what other reason could there be? Her mother turned around and said, “I don’t put ideas like that into my daughter’s head. If you believe racism exists, you will see it everywhere.”

The second dimension relates to the feudal mindset that, again, the well-to-do, as well as the vast Indian middle-class across the country, have and demonstrate at every conceivable occasion. This is the Indian who knows his/her place in the social hierarchy; at every level – social, professional, cultural – s/he effortlessly, even unconsciously, lords it over the less fortunate, those considered socially inferior, while kowtowing to the more fortunate, those considered socially superior. It is this mindset that allows them to engage in casual, often unthinking, exhibitions of racism and bigotry, expressed in their deplorable attitudes towards social and/or religious minorities (such as sundry Black Americans and Muslims) – thereby checking all the right boxes for their alignment with the Republican Party.

The third dimension is a rather curious one, religion. Hinduism is the majority religion in India, and not surprisingly, the faith of the majority of Indian immigrants to US (a fact which is somewhat bolstered by the US Immigration policies, in place for some time, which view Muslims and Muslim-sounding names with suspicion and extra scrutiny). Now, as a matter of fact, Christianity was long embraced by the Hindu pantheon, and many devout Hindus worship Christ as another manifestation, among multitudes, of the Divine – thereby establishing a continuum between the two disparate religions. The so-called Christian fundamentals, essentially the Ten Commandments, gel well with the superficial Hindu ethos; not to mention, the popular visage of blond, blue-eyed and dreamily staring Christ fits rather nicely with the Hindu sentiment of a how a God should look like. As a result, many of the Hindu or converted-Christian Indian Americans don’t feel any discomfort about the vision of the Christianity-soaked theocratic future that the predominantly Christian Republican Party has lined up for this country; if anything, the notion of a country guided by religious principles that they consider ‘enlightened’ comforts them.

Therefore, when Banerji opines…

I found this attitude left the Indian Americans stranded like psychological refugees in a land, where they made money, bought big houses and cars, and realized the big American dream. And yet always felt like “aliens” on a planet they didn’t feel was HOME. They felt like they had to pander to the racism and bigotry that humiliated them, instead of confronting it.

… I disagree slightly. The thing is, these people could have taken the opposite route; they could have risen above the racism and bigotry, they could have protested against it – as many others, people from other communities, have done. They could have become more conscious of the rights and responsibilities of themselves and of others. But they don’t. I suspect, that because of the reasons I put forth above, the racism and bigotry, perversely, make it feel more like home.

In an earlier section, Banerji recounts:

… This was true even for the my parents’ friends who lived there. They’d anxiously explain to me how the Democrats were trying to turn the U.S. into a depraved country, by apparently promoting gayness (like it’s a new religion?); by destroying culture and traditions (i.e. being open to inter-faith and inter-race unions); and the worst, the democrats take the money of the rich and use it to create welfare programs for the “lazy” poor!

Banerji couldn’t have been more spot on, and that is a sad situation. This point of view cherished and nurtured by many Indian-American Republicans makes perfect sense to me once I look at the background in context, as I detailed above. The concepts of social equality and justice not being largely prominent in Indian politics or polity as a whole, many of the privileged Indian tend to view social welfare programs as an encouragement to inaction which – in their myopic views – is the root cause for the disempowerment and disenfranchisement of the poor and the infirm. This apathy continues to exist amongst many of the Indian Americans, because – as Prof. Madhulika Khandelwal, director of the Asian/American Center at Queens College in New York, pointed out – political behavior often indicates a desire for empowerment; since most Indian immigrants arrived in the US in 1960s, after the Civil Rights era, they largely didn’t have to undergo any major class struggle in order to earn their place in the social, political and economic process, leaving them as unable to appreciate civil rights and social welfare, as Indians generally were/are back home. As if in corroboration, Banerji further explains:

The conservative approach of the Republicans appealed greatly to the older generation of Indian immigrants, most of who stuck to their cloistered communities and traditions, even as they focused on the one thing they were there in the US to do – earn well, and live well. Hence, Indian Americans who enter politics continue to fight for the Republican platform.

But… It is not all gloomy and foreboding everywhere. As laid out in the BBC News article linked above, support for the Democrats is strong among the younger generation of Indian-Americans for a variety of reasons. Prof. Khandelwal has indicated elsewhere, surveys have shown that Southeast Asians, including Indians, politically align more with the Left than the Right. As the newer generation Indian-Americans open up amongst themselves and to other communities, as they continue to connect with the grassroots, hopefully that will continue to be true, and reflect in the upcoming 2012 Presidential Elections, too.

Editor’s note: the Kal Penn video was left out by accident in the first version of this article, and was added in later.

About the author

suirauqa

I am researcher in biological sciences. I am passionate about science, the scientific method and science communication. I am equally passionate about denouncing pseudoscience, religion and superstition. I prefer to inhabit a reality-based world.

56 Comments

  • Nice piece.

    What does, instead, puzzle me is why, and how, amongst the Indian-Americans of an older generation, the Republican Party has garnered political support; specifically, why do many educated and wealthy Indian immigrants (naturalized US citizens) seem so enamoured of the Republican party?

    These old farts are pure racists. I remember meeting one such clown at an Indian gathering a long time ago when I was a student and new in the US. I heard some of the most vile racist anti-black blather I have ever heard from an old Indian guy. Reminded me of the movie Mississippi Masala, where the character played by Denzel Washington points out that these Indian immigrants are just a shade lighter than black but act white. Wait a generation and you don’t have to worry about these old farts.

    IMO, Racism alone can not explain the GOP-mania. Greed is an even simpler explanation. I mean the Indian-American doctor makes a lot of $$ and he would like a large tax cut. He does not think much he just wants to save that extra 30 grand and so votes GOP.

    And finally there are those pea-brained under-educated self-important John Galts in every community, including the Indian-American community who fit naturally with the GOP.

    Dinesh D’Souza’s anti-Obama ‘documentary’, “2016″

    OMG, a foreign born jackass is othering a natural born American president known for post-racial leadership. What a joke?

    • Wait a generation and you don’t have to worry about these old farts.
      I hope. I really hope. I hope they are not passing their idiocy to their progeny. Which is why I am a tad worried about young people like Ricky Gill. I can’t fathom their motivation to genuflect before the Republican Party.

      IMO, Racism alone can not explain the GOP-mania. Greed is an even simpler explanation.
      True, but I don’t think that any particular factor can be singled out as the explanation.

      And finally there are those pea-brained under-educated self-important John Galts in every community, including the Indian-American community who fit naturally with the GOP.
      Oh, nicely put!

      OMG, a foreign born jackass is othering a natural born American president known for post-racial leadership. What a joke?
      That’s a GREAT point. I don’t see any of the GOP/Tea Party Birther lunkheads raising questions about the legitimacy of D’Souza’s stake in this – probably because the attack is targeted at their common demon?

      • “Swachchh Bharat” (Clean India)? “Achchhe din” (Good days)? Yeah, right. Whatever strategy the Rightwingers have adopted seems to working in molding the future India in their warped image. Shame!

        • //‘No’ to Inter-Religious Mingling: Survey
          52% of Young India thinks a woman’s place is in the kitchen, shows survey//

          A large percentage of the Old India might hold similar views. So this might actually be progress.

          //Young India Says ‘Yes’ to Military Rule,//

          This seems like a head scratcher. What do these young turks think military rule is going to do? IMO, This might just be a general disillusionment with the complicated mess (it is difficult to understand) that is democratic governance. Possible nothing to worry about.

    • Why?

      The equestrian sport analogy is hardly appropriate. The US Presidential elections, as well as the Senate and House elections, carry a great deal of significance in terms of policymaking which affects the lives of real people.

  • Indian expats doth protest too much when it comes to issues like immigration, perhaps to play up their status as ‘model immigrants’. The ‘model immigrant’ tagline is repeated ad nauseam in Pravasi Bharatiya cheerleading sessions, as if to assert that immigrants from elsewhere in the world come from failed states and failed civilizations. The code of the model immigrant also seems to involve a disdain on part of settled immigrants for newcomers, even if they be former compatriots. The dislike seems mutual as can be seen in snide remarks about an FOB invasion and ABCD superciliousness. Perhaps such fierce identification with the mainland in-group in an over-anxiety to maintain the model immigrant tag, is one more contributor to the expat Indians’ support for a party that enacts nativist immigration laws and voter id laws and opposes regularization schemes like the DREAM act.

    • Except that the said ‘model immigrants’ fail to account for the fact that when racially divisive laws (for example, the Arizona SB1070, the ‘Papers Please’ law) are enacted and enforced, they are as much at risk of harassment as anyone else; American citizens of Hispanic/Latino descent have already had the pleasure of finding out first-hand how it works.

  • Regarding the anecdote about the 13 year old- how exactly is it related to racism? It is a stretch to claim that the mother’s response indicates that Indian immigrants do not like to talk about racism. Racism is a very serious charge in the US, and that person’s hesitance to use it as a cause is understandable. Are there data to indicate how prevalent racism is? Disclosure: I’ve been an NRI for five years now, technically- ‘non-immigrant’.

    I am of the opinion that, in Obama’s words, that the US truly is post-racial. Now, GoP is reprehensible and some republicans are clearly driven by racist agenda. A more nuanced view would be to observe that since Nixon’s efforts to woo the votes of segregationists, racist bigots have shifted allegiances from the Democrats (who were the pre-civil rights racists) to the GoP. This doesn’t necessarily taint the organization. At the level of national politics, I haven’t come across any evidence that the GoP has a racist agenda.

    Also, there are a few more reasons why the GoP is good for India and Indians:

    1. It was under George W. Bush, that the US finally started treating India as an ally.

    2. Democrats have sometimes encouraged protectionist anti-outsourcing policies, which can adversely affect the services sector in India.

    I know how some of these discussions can go, so I’d like to state that I am not a GoP supporter, and I’m here to just discuss the assertions in this post.

    • *I am of the opinion that, in Obama’s words, that the US truly is post-racial.*

      Obama is but US is not. But that is not the discussion here.

      One of the points made in this piece is that Indian immigrants are swayed by GOP policies that are technically race neutral but in reality have a disparate impact on underprivillaged communities. I think the author is correct in this assessment.

      • My comment only pertains to the anecdote that supposedly exemplifies racism-denial in the Indian-American community. The author asserts that “[w]henever they face overt racism here, they firmly shut their eyes, hoping that the specter would pass away in time…” That paragraph clearly doesn’t concern the policies of the GoP.

        I am skeptical about many things there:

        1. Are there studies about how racism affects the Indian-American community here? In order to first claim that the community is willfully blind to this problem, the author should provide evidence of its existence.

        2. How exactly is racism relevant to political leanings toward or away from the GoP? As you said, the author points out elsewhere that the GoP’s policies are skewed towards benefiting the rich. This is mostly due to the voodoo-science of ‘trickle-down’ economics. This has more to do with privilege-blindness than opinions about racism.

        • 2. How exactly is racism relevant to political leanings toward or away from the GoP?

          As you pointed out in one of your posts GOP has effectively used the southern strategy to appeal to the racists in the south since the days of Nixon. I am assuming that you agree that GOP is still using this patently racist strategy. If someone leans towards the GOP it could be because of two reasons.

          1) You lean towards GOP because you are in agreement with these racist appeals. This certainly makes you a racist.
          2) You lean towards GOP inspite of your disagreement with these racist appeals. This just means that you dont care about racism.

          Either way you don’t come out smelling of roses.

          As you said, the author points out elsewhere that the GoP’s policies are skewed towards benefiting the rich. This is mostly due to the voodoo-science of ‘trickle-down’ economics.

          If wealth distribution is skewed towards one race then being pro-rich (i.e. anti-poor) is for all practical purposes the same as being a racist.

          This has more to do with privilege-blindness than opinions about racism.

          Some people refuse to remove those blinders. What do you call them?

    • I am afraid your statements are getting mixed up. You question: Are there data to indicate how prevalent racism is? At the same time, you say: some republicans are clearly driven by racist agenda. How do you reconcile these two?

      At the level of national politics, I haven’t come across any evidence that the GoP has a racist agenda.
      You’re kidding me, right? Tell me, what would qualify to you as ‘racist agenda’, and what wouldn’t?

      Also, there are a few more reasons why the GoP is good for India and Indians:…
      And yet, you maintain that you are ‘not a GoP supporter’. Sigh. According to history, the US-India relations became smoother during the second Clinton Presidency, long before George W’s time.

      Democrats have sometimes encouraged protectionist anti-outsourcing policies, which can adversely affect the services sector in India.
      Labeling of anti-outsourcing policies as ‘protectionism’ is a GOP/Tea Party talking point. It doesn’t have much merit, especially in the current economic climate. Every country has the right to look after the welfare of its own citizens first, and the US is no exception. Besides, do you really believe that America is the only pond in which India fishes currently?

      • Mixed-up? Regarding racism: There’s a big difference between ‘my-aunt’s-daughter’s-school’ and well regarded studies supported by data. Some Republicans being racist = individuals such as George Allen of macaca-gate and a few other loony state-level politicians and House Republicans.

        So how exactly is GW Bush’s friendliness with India a bad thing for India? Here are a few articles supporting this fact:

        1. http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/03/george-w-bush-india-obama-hindustan-times-opinions-contributors-ashok-malik.html

        2. The India-US nuclear deal was initiated under George W. Bush, while under Bill Clinton, with the Pokhran blasts, India was made a pariah with the imposed sanctions.

        I’d like to see some sources supporting your assertion about Clinton smoothing out India-US relations.

        Your remarks implicitly branding me as a GoP supporter are irrelevant to the argument. Much as I’d like to ignore it, I wonder if it occurs to you that one can disagree with political parties on certain views, while agreeing about others!

          • Let me ask again. You asserted: some republicans are clearly driven by racist agenda. – I take it that you have evidence of these agenda.
            You stated: Some Republicans being racist = individuals such as George Allen of macaca-gate and a few other loony state-level politicians and House Republicans. – So, do you, or do you not, have evidence of GOP’s racism?

            If you do, you clearly have answered your own question: Are there data to indicate how prevalent racism is? – in the context of the GOP politics, no?

            So how exactly is GW Bush’s friendliness with India a bad thing for India?
            Where exactly have I said this?

            2. The India-US nuclear deal was initiated under George W. Bush, while under Bill Clinton, with the Pokhran blasts, India was made a pariah with the imposed sanctions.
            The question of politics associated with nuclear power is a very different one. Besides, it is often said that the love affair between George W and India was necessitated by the Scylla-and-Charybdis choice W had between India and China. But remind me again, how any of this – this particular point you brought up – is germane to the original discussion?

          • Real politik.

            George W Bush helps India —> Indians vote for George W Bush’s party

            That’s another factor there. Umm, that’s relevant for an article that discusses why Indians vote GoP. I suppose.

            Anecdotally, I’ve heard many Indian-American voters say that this influenced them to vote GoP (McCain in 2008, i.e.).

          • “So, do you, or do you not, have evidence of GOP’s racism?”

            George Allen is as representative of the entire party as Al Sharpton. There are crazies on both sides of the aisle. What I’m asking you for are data. Since you can’t find any, here are some numbers to chew on (from Razib Khan),

            http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2012/08/more-racist-white-liberals-or-white-conservatives/

            Do you have similar data for policies?! What is the extent of racism? It is a pretty serious charge, you know.

          • tArkika,

            George Allen is as representative of the entire party as Al Sharpton.

            While we can debate whether or not calling someone a maccaca is racist, we can not equate George Allen with Al Shrapton in terms of how well they represent their parties. Note that George Allen was both a Governor and a Senator from a populous state. Al Shrapton has never held an elected office.

            Do you have similar data for policies?! What is the extent of racism? It is a pretty serious charge, you know.

            I don’t know what qualifies a data. But take a look at this. In 2000, African Americans (http://www.salon.com/2000/12/04/voter_file/) were selectively purged from voter rolls in Florida by the state GOP administration. Will that data convince you that these GOPers are racists?

      • I am not kidding, just questioning your premise. Emphatic proclamations don’t make your arguments stronger. The burden of proof is on you, when you allege that GoP is somehow more racist than the other party. Please list specific policies that you deem racist, or at least explain why you think the GoP is racist. If you think I’m ignorant of any specific racist (according to you) policies of the GoP, do enlighten me.

          • Oh, and, tArkika, since you don’t see racism in GOP, perhaps I may interest you in reading this blog post. An excerpt:
            After four years of invective, four years during which the right has called President Obama a traitor, a communist, a fraud, an affirmative-action case, a terrorist-sympathizer and a tyrant, its shrillest voices have been reduced to the most primal insult of all. They are calling Obama’s mother a whore. – There’s this pseudo-documentary… that’s being mailed to voters.

            Now the best part:
            …Tea Party groups and conservative churches are screening it. It was shown at a right-wing film festival in Tampa during the Republican National Convention, and by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum Council in Missouri. Alabama GOP Chairman Bill Armistead recently recommended it during a speech, saying, “I’ve seen it. I verified that it is factual, all of it…”
            Charming, no?

          • Should we make this an exercise of picking holes in the articles of such highly ideological commentators and media outlets as alternet, etc.? They cherry-pick GoP examples to support their ideology. Don’t tell me there are no rural Democrats who have expressed ignorant, bigoted, racist views! Skip the pre-Nixon quotes here, and you have a few, including such worthies as Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden, making weird remarks:

            http://voices.yahoo.com/the-democrat-plantation-top-racist-quotes-notable-10497063.html

        • Support for Voter ID laws
          Opposition to planned parenthood
          No federal funds for abortion
          Defunding public schools
          Defunding community orgs like Acorn
          Tax cuts for the rich
          Opposition to affirmative action
          ……

          These are all GOP’s policies. Though these policies are race neutral they have far worse impact on minorities than on mainstream communities.

          • erm… Support for Voted ID laws is hardly race neutral, given how disproportionately they affect the Black, Hispanic and Latino communities.

          • Suiraqua,

            Voter ID is race neutral. It requires all voters to show photo ID at the polling center. It is just that underprivilaged people don’t have voter IDs or find it difficult to procure one.

  • I think there might be another pattern here. A lot of these Republican supporters are either immigrants who migrated through the Visa Lottery system, or are ancestors of other immigrants who did. These people were mostly uneducated, and could not speak English, and they were the ones who perpetuated the Apu stereotypes by opening up ‘kirana’ shops, so to speak. Most of these people, I’ve noticed, harbor a lot of cultural narcissism, and refuse to change. As it so happens, their beliefs now align better with the Republicans, who preach conservatism.

    I don’t think any H1B migrants would actually ever vote for a Republican, since they are usually better educated and more liberal.

    • I don’t think any H1B migrants would actually ever vote for a Republican, since they are usually better educated and more liberal.
      People on an H1B-visa are not eligible to vote, of course, but I doubt that even amongst those that go on to the path of citizenship, your wishful thinking would be valid as a generality. I have been in the US for more than 10 years. Many of us have stories about casual, but deep, racism and other deplorable attitudes towards minorities evinced by fellow Indians working in the US. Education is not the panacea that we have been led to believe while growing up… 😀

  • This is a quite a good article. I certainly agree with a lot of things and disagree with a few, but I would like to present a different view point.
    The whole U.S political spectrum has shifted far to the right. What used to be the centre is now right wing and the GOP has now moved so far right that they probably live on mars. There are Birthers, truthers, Tea bagers, climate deniers and I even suspect revival of neo-nazism (catching up in europe but I speculate). So I see this as a kind of breakdown of the political system and meaningful dialogue. The political system has primarly become bi partisan hackery and blame game, kinda like congress – BJP style. Basically what I am trying to say is that both the parties are two different factions of the business class or corporations. The proof of that is super pacs and corporate funding. There is no more left wing in the spectrum.(sorry.. keep patience, Im getting to the point). So the question is how is all this achieved and where do Indians fit into all this.

    The anwer to that I think is highly indoctrinated educational institutions(Ivy league and other political science colleges), efficent media propaganda (fox news, new york times). So anyone who brought up in this propaganda machine or wants be successful in life just has to spew out the lies and propaganda. It doesn’t matter even slightly if you personally believe it or not. The perfect illustration of this is “journalists”, “intellectuals” and hacks like Dinesh D’souza. Also, we know that Indian community has alays been highly ambitious and hence very prosperous. This is what I think can be another “small” addition to the answer the question “why do many educated and wealthy Indian immigrants (naturalized US citizens) seem so enamoured of the Republican party?”

    • In other words, ‘politics of opportunism’ is what you mean, right? Could be. It’s a good point. But after having looked closely at the policies and politics and statements of, say, Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley (ignoring D’Souza who’s just a hack, a ‘bloviating ignoramus’ if you will), I am not sure how universal your point is. I guess, those that have already bought deeply into the GOP/Tea Party agenda start exhibiting the same kind of mindset, going beyond ordinary opportunism. Does that make sense?

    • Haha, I think you meant Tea partiers, and not tea baggers. That takes it to a whole new level. But, I believe it is a very accurate description of the whole movement!

  • Also I have made quite an interesting observation. This is on the point you raised about the young or gen next indians in USA. There are two prime categories: The ones who were born here or arrived here at an early age and the other one is for Higher education (undergrads, masters,professional community). The first category is caught in a pseudo cultural turmoil, sort of east meets west situation (I know, Its a little cliche but..). They still live or were brought up in a slightly insular indian communites with a little or very less exposure. They still regard India as some vague sort of homeland or aleast taught to do so (nothing wrong there, just an observation), but then there is an factor of peer pressure with a little mix of xenophobia with which they have to compete with their american counter parts to be accepeted into social circles and work places. they walk a thin line with trying to balance home and outside world (Total respect for that). They still largely hangout with India communities and actively participate in various activites (nothing wrong with that either).

    And the second group, of which I am also a part, also at the same time very critical of. we also tend to form insular communities with little or no desire for exposure and very rigidly indian in all aspects of life (C’mon.. its a new country.. certainly you can learn someting new and interesting). Once we are here,suddenly were are supposed to be very extra “indian”. By that I mean conducting exclusive and vague cultural festivals among themselves (lets face it, the americans are not dying to learn out traditions and customs). All of a suddden our nationality is greatly enhanced and we partake in over celebrating national festivals (like independence day) or religious festivals(like ganesh puja). we wouldn’t have made so much ruckus about it when we were back in India. Little and insignificant things are a matter of national pride now. Now every bollywood movie has to be watched without failure.

    So again to the point, as a result I have observed that both these groups are highly immune to the understanding and workings of the american political system (with the exception of people on this forum and a few more). they are least or not bothered by any policy or decision making.

  • This reverse chronological order of the replies is a bit disconcerting. Since this site is based on WordPress, would the Editors be able to change it to a straight order (latest comments last in the thread)?

    Thank you, all who commented. I shall reply to respective comments in a threaded fashion.

  • Great article and nice comments to follow, voicing a lot of the things that I was going to type up. I have been wondering about the patterns of political orientation in the Indian community here for some time, thanks for answering them. I did not come across very many Indians who cared about politics as a student and after i started working I really havent connected with the Indian community. But, as a whole, i get the impression that the ones that come in for higher education don’t really care about politics as long as they have their engineering jobs, get their visas and green cards processed. Extrapolating from the crowd I saw in college, they are also a bunch of bigoted racists, who think they are a rung above the other immigrants. They have a racist epithet in hindi/other languages for all non-white peoplem, esp. african-americans, asian-americans and hispanics, while they hold whites in very high regard.The kind of nonchalance i see when they say horribly racist things makes me shudder sometimes. Even the ones that don’t really feel so, don’t speak out. Its sad to see that this is not only prevalent in the older immigrant generation, but also in the ones who come in for higher education. They also buy into every kind of racial stereotypes of other communities that has been going on for ages. This is a reflection and residue of our colonial and casteist mindset.

    • Add to this the fact that they are very insular from any of the political or social issues going on in the county, except of course hollywood. I know some Indian friends( a large number of them) who have been here for a few years, that don’t know a single thing about how American politics works, or who the republican nominee was until a few days back. This reflects the middle class crowd that comes in here, who typically don’t pay much attention to politics or political activism even back in India.

      • I have had similar experiences in my circle, Ambarish. However, I can understand the intention to maintain a studied nonchalance by those that are here temporarily and have formed no attachment to the society. No such excuse for those who are here for a long time! Political awareness is a necessary correlate for social awareness.

  • Thus spake tArkika:
    Don’t tell me there are no rural Democrats who have expressed ignorant, bigoted, racist views!
    I won’t. I promise… Surprise! I haven’t!

    Should we make this an exercise of picking holes in the articles of such highly ideological commentators and media outlets as alternet, etc.? They cherry-pick GoP examples to support their ideology.
    In other words, commentators, media-outlets, who don’t agree with your worldview must necessarily be partisan and ‘highly ideological’. For the sake of argument, let’s accept your position and consider them epitomes of ‘librul bias’. Can you refute the facts? Are you willing to accept prima facie the facts as exemplifying the presence of racism in GOP/Tea Party and their leadership in particular?

    tArkika also said:
    George W Bush helps India —> Indians vote for George W Bush’s party… That’s another factor there. Umm, that’s relevant for an article that discusses why Indians vote GoP. I suppose… Anecdotally, I’ve heard many Indian-American voters say that this influenced them to vote GoP (McCain in 2008, i.e.).
    Have I not mentioned somewhere near the beginning the US Administration’s attitude towards India as one of the factors influencing the Indian-Americans’ fancy for Republicans? I urge you to re-read the essay. This mindset is not new, nor unique – narrow and myopic certainly, and in the long run, deleterious, surely – but not new, no.

    What I’m asking you for are data. Since you can’t find any, here are some numbers to chew on (from Razib Khan).
    I am kinda glad you quoted Razib’s piece in the Discovery Mag (there is a similar piece in The Economist also). I suppose, this conclusion he drew – in bold face letters, no less – that “all things equal conservatives are more racist than liberals.” didn’t escape your attention. Now, which Party self-identifies as ‘conservative’ in the US?

    • suirauqa,

      Make as many inane assumptions about my ideology, intentions, or motivations as you wish, but I’m here to argue about your article, not some imagined notion of whoever you (or any other commentators) are. I resent that you judge me for calling out alternet, etc. as ideological “because their views are different from mine”. Take such arguments to the comments section of rediff.com or HuffPo, I’m sure you’ll find many commenters willing to take your bait. AlterNet and HuffPo are ‘liberal/progressive activist’ outlet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlterNet http://www.alternet.org/about

      Alternet isn’t exactly NPR or BBC, is it now?

      Razib Khan’s article doesn’t imply that GoP is the party of racists. There are racists in both parties. A few more in GoP. Razib’s article says just that, and little else. Funny how you are willing to use this argument to support your kooky, fringe view that one of the two major parties in the US is racist.

      I just mentioned George W. Bush’s policies to just add to your arguments. In my 100th careful reread of your glorious article, I didn’t see Dubya’s contributions mentioned anywhere.

      • Alternet isn’t exactly NPR or BBC, is it now?
        No it is not. And it (nor I) claimed (it) to be as such. You probably missed my question. Here it is again. For the sake of argument, let’s accept your position and consider them epitomes of ‘librul bias’. Can you refute the facts? Are you willing to accept prima facie the facts as exemplifying the presence of racism in GOP/Tea Party and their leadership in particular? I hope I can have a straightforward answer to these questions.

        Funny how you are willing to use this argument to support your kooky, fringe view that one of the two major parties in the US is racist.
        Since you seem to be desperately missing the point, let me arrange my position into a set of questions:
        1. Did Razib or did he not establish in his article that US conservatives are by far more racist than liberals?
        2. Does the GOP self-identify as a party of conservatives with maximum support base amongst US conservatives, or does it not?
        3. Do you think than when I use (or anyone uses) the terms, Democrat and Republican, I mean (or one means) every single member of the said party?
        4. Are you willing to accept that the current GOP/Tea Party leadership – particularly the more visible ones – is racist, or not?
        5. Would you or would you not accept that the current policies pushed by House and Senate Republicans such as immigration related laws in Arizona, Nebraska, etc.; the patent efforts towards voter suppression in swing states; as well as their expressed attitude towards minorities, are motivated by racist attitudes?

        Make as many inane assumptions about my ideology, intentions, or motivations as you wish
        Do answer my questions point-wise if you wish to continue this discussion. I don’t know you personally, and I have no personal enmity towards you. I don’t have to make any assumptions about you or anyone else. I am/have been simply going by the tone of your written comments as I perceived them, because in order to answer your charges, it helps if I can understand your motivation.

        If you – in reality – do not conform to what the tone of your messages appears to imply, then excellent, more power to you. Cheers.

        • Before I address the specific questions, I would like to iron out a few issues here.

          sarquiqa, I request you to tone down the sarcasm and smugness. Starting with your reply to my first comment, almost every one of your comments consists of some summary rejection of my arguments. I have had no recourse but to defend myself with similar language.

          Please argue about the topic at hand and about the assertions in your argument.

          In your first and second comments, without any provocation or precedent, you got personal, ascribing ideological motives to my arguments and slathering your responses with snark. Here are examples of your language that I object to:

          “You’re kidding me, right?” to my question about hard data about racism in the GoP.

          “And yet, you maintain that you are ‘not a GoP supporter’. Sigh.” to my comment about George W. Bush being friendly towards India (assumptions about my ideology?).

          Indeed, you are being obvious when you say that you don’t know me. I don’t care about the ‘real me’. But I cannot argue if you make accusations about my motives. You seem to come to the table with the implicit assumption that I’m a GoP apologist, when you have no reason to do so. You cannot deny it. Your comments are there to see.

          I opened my arguments with exactly two points. First one asking you for data and/or well regarded studies about racism in the GoP, and the second, mentioning that George W. Bush did a lot for Indo-US relations. As far as AlterNet, etc. are concerned, facts are just one part of the story, but cherry picking them, and amplifying certain comments by certain politicians is what AlterNet, HuffPo, and Al Jazeera are often guilty of, and writers on those fora do often speak with an explicit GoP agenda.

          Unless you respond to this comment, I cannot continue this argument.

          • Oh dear.

            sarquiqa (sic), I request you to tone down the sarcasm and smugness.
            Is this what you are left with now? Whinging about tone in lieu of legitimate arguments? I can only hope that you’d realize, in time, how much of “tone troll” it sounds like. Fine. If it pleases you, I shall bite my tongue and attempt to dazzle you with only the brilliance of my arguments.

            But a few things first (my turn).
            1. In much of the English-speaking world, “you’re kidding me” is a legitimate and acceptable expression for surprise. I found your statement – I haven’t come across any evidence that the GoP has a racist agenda. – quite incredible, really. Therefore, to understand what you meant, I asked what qualifies, to you specifically, as a ‘racist agenda’ and what doesn’t. I didn’t hear from you on this.

            2. I responded with “you maintain that you are ‘not a GoP supporter’. Sigh.” to a category statement you made – there are a few more reasons why the GoP is good for India and Indians. Note, not a question, not discussion, not a passing remark, but an assertion – for which you even provided your reasons.
            Why is it unacceptable for me to question, on the strength of your assertion, the characterization ‘not a GoP supporter’?

            3. You seem to come to the table with the implicit assumption that I’m a GoP apologist, when you have no reason to do so.
            * You are willing to downplay the overt racism displayed by the Republication leadership (Your words were: Some Republicans being racist = individuals such as George Allen of macaca-gate and a few other loony state-level politicians and House Republicans.)
            * You sing paeans to Dubya and his ‘friendliness’ towards India.
            * You quote an article on the racism quotient of conservatives versus liberals, and somehow dress it up as evidence that GOP is not racist.
            Given all this, would I be totally off the mark if I begin suspecting that you are affectionate towards the GoP?

            Your comments are there to see.
            And a good thing too. You have been consistently trying to put words in my mouth. This is known as making a ‘strawman’ argument, and it’s not conducive to a good debate – just so that you know.

            asking you for data and/or well regarded studies about racism in the GoP
            Yes. But you haven’t provided me any example of what you’d consider ‘well regarded’, despite my asking. I provided you with reference links which you dismissed as ‘liberal/progressive activist’; I asked about the facts reported in those reference links, which should be incontrovertible even if one disregards the analysis or assertions – you dismissed them as cherrypicking and amplifying. There’s no pleasing you, is there? 😀

            Joking apart, I wish to thank you for one thing. Your persistent demand for data that you can believe in eventually made me dive into the repository of medical data, namely, PubMed. I discovered quite a few interesting things. Let me share.
            * There is a dearth of systematic studies in the US involving Indians in the context of ‘racial prejudice’ or ‘racism’.
            * A March 2012 study (Assessment, 2012, 19(1): 53-64) which looked at more than 1200 Asian Americans, including Indian-origin and Bangladeshi-origin folks, found significant amount of racism-related stress in that group.
            * Another June 2012 study (Br J Soc Psychol, 2012, 51(2):257-72) made an interesting observation: apparently, over time, greater friendships with Whites predict both lower perceptions of discrimination and less support for ethnic activism among certain non-White American groups of diverse ethnicity.
            * A 2009 study (Polit Psychol, 2009, 30(5): 805-28) studied Symbolic Racism, a form of covert-racism and racial prejudice towards Black Americans, and found that conservative ideology was often strongly associated with policy preferences and with symbolic racism, as corroborated by other studies.

            Anyway, I shall keep digging for more. Who knows, this may even spawn a new post!

          • Hey aquarius Thanks for calling me a tone troll. Tone troll applies as much to you as to me. Let me state my intent clearly: I’m here to identify holes in your swiss-cheese of an article on the motives of Indians voting for GoP. I’ll commend you for waiting until the 4th level of comments to cite reliable studies to support your arguments. Now, if you employ a tone of hostility, I shall call you out on it. When I’ve been respectful and reasonable in my arguments, you have no business calling me a “pompous blowhard”.

            You seem to be terribly slow in learning how to identify reliable sources to base your decisions on.

            I refer you to arvindiyer’s comment below, and shall not continue here any more.

            1. What qualifies as racist agenda? Uh, well… You’ve repeatedly cited the Arizona immigrant policies and voter ID laws as evidence of racism. There are legitimate non-racial reasons for these laws. They are not by themselves racist. Impacts of laws can be skewed, but there are many other laws with similar racial bias in their impacts. Equity of legislations is not reliable to infer that they were drafted with racist agendas.

            2. More logical holes. So how on earth does ‘George W. Bush was friendly towards India” mean “I am a GoP supporter”?!? Whenever did I imply that Razib Khan’s analysis implied “GoP is not racist”? All I said was that the article was an example of real data, and that it concludes nothing about the racist agenda of GoP. Further, the article clearly says that there are racists on both sides of the aisle. I see no point in continuing this argument since you do not understand basic logic. Yes, I’m a GoP nut, and you are the voice of justice in the free world.

            3. Yes, the tone of your comments are screwed up. That’s no strawman. It is relevant to the argument because, in your eagerness to judge my motives/ideology/orwhateverthehell, you fail to understand the logical fallacies in your own article.

            Again, thanks for the references to peer-reviewed literature. Perhaps, just may be, it’s not such a big waste of time arguing with you, after all.

    • Perhaps some of the rough-seeming edges in this comment-trail exchange are traceable to disagreement over whether the word ‘racist’ should be reserved for institutionalized discrimination or it can be applied more broadly to describe attitudes of racial bias.

      While tArkika’s cautionary note to be sparing in one’s use of the term ‘racist’ and limit it only to demonstrably blatant discriminatory practices may well be in keeping with prevalent workplace and campus regulations, the fact that it is a common shorthand prevalent in the media to describe any deviation from a celebration of pluralism, cannot be wished away. It is in the popular sense, fraught with risk of misunderstanding though it may be, that the word seems to be used in the article. Neither an accusation of institutionalized discrimination nor any suggestion to the effect that Indian-Americans do a comparative census of which party has more supremacists and vote accordingly, has been made here.

      Keeping commentaries non-partisan avoiding blanket endorsements is a policy that is not only prudent but also in the long-run preserves intellectual integrity, as tArkika seems to be emphasizing. In this sense, suiraqa’s caveat at the very outset about not being ” naïve enough to think that all members of the Democratic Party would espouse these ideals with equal fervour and passion” seems a well-advised inclusion thanks to which considering the entire piece an unequivocal partisan endorsement seems unwarranted. While it goes without saying that there is a loony fringe at each end, as this Bill Maher interview with Alexandra Pelosi (Part 1, Part 2) vividly demonstrates, that need not preclude commentaries that study shifts towards a certain end.

  • Captain Mandrake,
    Voter ID is race neutral. It requires all voters to show photo ID at the polling center. It is just that underprivilaged people don’t have voter IDs or find it difficult to procure one.
    I agree. No confusion there.

    What I said, in clarification, was that: Support for Voter ID laws is hardly race neutral. You and I are saying the same thing from two perspectives. Support for the Voter ID laws has stemmed from the GOP desire to disenfranchise the segment of population that historically votes Democrat.

    Also, did you watch the drama unfold last night about actual voter fraud and voter suppression being perpetrated by the Republicans?

  • “Now, as a matter of fact, Christianity was long embraced by the Hindu pantheon, and many devout Hindus worship Christ as another manifestation…”
    Really?? Where did you get this gem of misinformation?

    “The so-called Christian fundamentals, essentially the Ten Commandments, gel well with the superficial Hindu ethos”
    “Superficial”? To whom? Muslims?

    “…not to mention, the popular visage of blond, blue-eyed and dreamily staring Christ fits rather nicely with the Hindu sentiment of a how a God should look like.”
    Right?! And how many images etcetra of Hindu Gods are depicting as a “Blond” & “Blue-eyed”?

    You may be a Muslim, Hindu, Christian or whatever else, I don’t care. But don’t peddle your hate for Hinduism, or ignorance thereof, in garb of ‘Humanism’.

    • Interesting. It is interesting that of everything, what got your ire are the few mentions of commingling of Hinduism and Christianity, and that you immediately mark them down as ‘hate’ towards and/or ‘ignorance’ of Hinduism. Are you sure you are commenting at the right blog?

      Leave aside the fact that in many, many religiously-observant Hindu households in the North, East, South and West of India, an image or figurine of Christ is often found in the household temple. Leave aside the fact that several Hindu philosophers, not the least of whom is Ramakrishna Paramhans, have taught that Christ is a manifestation of the same god. Let me simply leave you with this essay from someone else, which elaborates some of my points. However, I suspect that you have already chosen what you’d believe in, and therefore, this is rather an exercise in futility.

      I guess you aren’t familiar with the lexical meaning of superficial. It means ‘on, or associated with, the surface’. I used that word, because obviously, Christianity isn’t Hinduism and vice versa, but the Decalogues are largely based on sound principles of ethics and good living, upon which most major religions agree ‘superficially’ because any deeper, there are fundamental disagreements. It is indeed curious that you chose to bring up Muslims as a party to your lack of comprehension.

      At this point, I guess there is no use pointing out that I didn’t say, ever, that Hindu gods are/were depicted as blond and blue-eyed. Tell me, if you hear a sentence such as “Person A has a regal bearing”, do you immediately turn around and ask, “And how many kings or members of the royal family look like person A?”

  • As a deeply interested observer of various facets of the American scene, I too have been bemused by the fact that so many immigrants of Indian origin and their descendants seem to be astonishingly conservative in thir political leaning. This post has been very helpful in educating me on some of the reasons why this is so. I would like to add a few remarks, if I may, even at the risk of sounding as if I am generalizing or stereotyping excessively. What I have to say is based on first-hand observation of individual cases. And pardon me if some of my remarks don’t seem to have a direct bearing on the primary theme here (why are there so many Republican supporters among a basically libertarian people?) But I think the attitudes I am about to describe are pertinent to the issue in some sense, as they have to do with the mind-set of the people concerned.

    It is undeniably true that most Indians are, unfortunately, rather bigoted, no matter how one defines that term, and in many cases more-or-less unthinkingly so. This is manifest in the myriad daily social interactions and in the overt bigotry that goes quite unremarked in casual conversation between friends and between relatives in India. And of course this is carried over to their new homelands when they emigrate. Just look at the number of pejorative terms they use among themselves, in every Indian language, to describe Africans, Afro-Americans, the Chinese, the Japanese, other peoples from the Far East, Mexicans and other peoples of Hispanic origin, and so on. So much so that the more common ones among these terms have become known to the people being described, and our people have to search for other derogatory names to replace the ones that are easily recognized. Does the sense of superiority implied by such denigration really indicate some kind of innate insecurity? I wonder. Is the leaning toward conservativism in what is after all a foreign land indicate a natural tendency to be ‘more papal than the pope’, thereby hoping to gain acceptance among the people perceived as ‘the establishment’ in the US and in western countries? I don’t know.

    Another motivating factor seems to be the natural (but not desirable) tendency of any immigrant people to denigrate later immigrants and/or those perceived as ‘lower’ on the totem pole than themselves. This seems to have been quite vividly illustrated in the US, over the course of the 20th century, by the bigotry shown by white Americans towards Irish immigrants, they in turn towards Italian immigrants, they in turn towards Jewish people from eastern Europe, and the latter in turn towards Afro-Americans. Is that why so many Indian immigrants in the US feel naturally superior to Afro-Americans and Hispanics?

    Within the Indian community itself, apart from the expected deep divisions based on language and state of origin, there is the interesting caste system that appears to have evolved, with well-to-do, established lawyers and doctors on ‘top’, looking down on professionals in academe and in industry, these looking down on those running motels, these looking down on IT industry personnel on H1B visas, these looking down on impecunious grad students, …. So, are Indians inherently disposed towards a caste system no matter where they find themslves? Again, I don’t know.

    A final point. Many commenters on this post have said that it is the ‘old farts’ who are conservative, that the next generation is far less so, and therefore that there is room for optimism. Let me point out, from the vantage point of age, a well-known fact: namely, that conservatism generally grows with age, and that today’s liberals may well become tomorrow’s conservatives, unless their liberal outlook is born out of conviction rather than political correctness vis-a-vis their peer group, and unless they make a conscious effort to remain broad-minded.

  • Thanks for your astute observations.

    * conservatism generally grows with age, and that today’s liberals may well become tomorrow’s conservatives, unless their liberal outlook is born out of conviction rather than political correctness vis-a-vis their peer group, and unless they make a conscious effort to remain broad-minded.*

    I agree that liberals of today are often conservatives of tomorrow. There are two reasons why that happens. One is that your views change as you grow old, for example you might want lower taxes as your income level increases with age. Other reason is that the society generally tends to move towards the liberal end over time. If today’s liberal does not evolve with the society he will be stranded at the conservative end of the new conservative liberal spectrum. Staying engaged with all segments of th society is the best way to be a liberal.

    • If today’s liberal does not evolve with the society he will be stranded at the conservative end of the new conservative liberal spectrum. Staying engaged with all segments of th society is the best way to be a liberal.

      YES. This. [applause]

      Liberalism is not a fruit hanging from the tree that one can pluck and consume in order to become a liberal. It is a state of mind; and I think it is contingent upon rationality. As long as the reasons (and they may be manifold) which make a person liberal (politically speaking) remain valid, I don’t see any occasion for a drift towards needless conservatism.

    • Exactly , it are these “Muslim-bashing” jokers like Fox News & Jindal make it difficult to even politely demystify Islam & its history , not those terrorists.They perpetuate the siege-mentality even among Liberal Muslims of Muslim-majority societies & the whole discourse on Islam (even its profane & sacred history ,the Prophet etc) thus hangs in a limbo between Islamophobia & Islamophilia ,further helping both Muslim-bashers & Muslim Apologetics.
      http://www.viewpointonline.net/2015/01/vp234/between-islamophobia-and-islamophilia

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