Saturday, June 16, 2007

Changing Political Times

Have you grown used to political activism by groups purporting to represent the views of African Americans, latinos, Italian Americans, Irish Americans, gays and lesbians, and many others? Well, get ready for a new kind of activism -- representing a 'prized minority'- Indian Americans:

The chairman of the bipartisan US India Political Action Committee, Sanjay Puri, has written to Barack Obama, expressing his concern about the reports that "your staff may be engaging in the worst kind of anti-Indian American stereotyping.'

Puri's letter (.pdf) responds to an Obama campaign opposition research document (.pdf) that was obtained by the Clinton campaign, and given to the New York Times. The document is headlined "HILLARY CLINTON (D-PUNJAB)’S PERSONAL FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL TIES TO INDIA" and links Clinton's financial support from Indian-American donors, and the Clintons' personal investments, to the fact that she "has drawn criticism from anti-offshoring groups for her vocal support of Indian business and unwillingness to protect American jobs."

"It's all about the money," the document asserts of Clinton, who co-chairs the Senate India Caucus.

Puri, in his letter, asks that Obama "respond directly" to the reports of the memo, and "let us know if indeed your staff is promoting these hurtful stereotypes."

Puri said in an interview that the stereotype he was referring to was "that Indian-Americans are all thinking about outsourcing, that whenever you talk to an Indian-American it’s about outsourcing."

"Indian-Americans are physicians here, they’re professionals here, they’re creating jobs in this country," he said.

Based on personal experience, I can attest that Indian Americans are indeed doctors and professionals. According to the Embassy of India, there are just over 2 million Indian Americans in the US, with a median income over $60,000. While not as numerous as some other ethnic groups in the US, they are growing in importance and represent a key constituency in some areas.

The GOP hopes for the continued success of Bobby Jindal to help in this area, and if he wins the Louisiana gubernatorial race this year it would not be a surprise if he has a significant role in the 2008 convention. It'll also help if Democrats continue to mock his ancestry by pointedly referring to him as 'Piyush.'

No comments: