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October 04, 2003

All American Brown Boy

Bobby Jindal is tops in the Louisiana primary . The general election will be tougher, the two Democrats combined received more votes. This is in Louisiana, a state where David Duke won a majority of white voters several times in the early 90s. I think this result points to two things:


  • We overemphasize how important race is to voters (Duke won the white vote for more than racial reasons. Though racism might have been part of his appeal, he packaged himself as a pretty standard conservative)
  • And racial attitudes, like acceptance of homosexuality, have shifted at warp speed in the past 15 years. What was once the work of generations is now closer to a cycle of MTV V-jays.

Back specifically to Jindal-his possible victory points to a mode of assimilation for new non-white minorities, especially ones who are economically successful[1]-he is a conservative Christian (though the top google news site for "bobby jindal" is an Indian operation!). I assumed that Jindal's family was Christian when they came to the United States when I saw it mentioned that he was a Roman Catholic-there are a non-trivial number of Catholics in India, and a disproportionate number of Indian immigrants are Christian. But tonight after a little googling, I found that Bobby Jindal converted to Catholicism from Hinduism in college. His Indian American wife, Supriya Jolly, is also of that faith, and they are raising their daughter as a Catholic[2]. Additionally, it is curious that "Bobby" gave himself that name when was 5, his "real" name is "Piyush." His brother Nikesh apparently does not go by "Nick."

Things that make you go hhhmmm.... I don't deny Bobby Jindal is sincere, but becoming a conservative Catholic while you are majoring in public policy and seem on the fast-track to prominence, added to the fact you are from a predominantly Catholic region of the country, seems a bit fortuitous to me. I am all for assimilation, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that Christian conversion as a path to acceptance kind leaves me a bit unenthusiastic. I'm not the only one (check out this funny cartoon, though as a sell-out & Republican I don't agree with the substance of it-via Manish Vij). Bobby has been pushing his religious conservative creds by wooing the Christian Coalition (control-f "Christian Coalition") & speaking about the importance of the Ten Commandments. Oh, and Creationism in the public schools, from a guy who studied Biology in college & almost went to medical school! All the hot-button issues....

But Jindal is not my vision of the brown future. First, he's married to a brown chick, which doesn't foster the emergence of a Jeurasian class. Second, as a secular humanist, I'm a bit suspicious of religious traditionalists and their cosmic vision, though as a conservative & Republican I acknowledge their place of primacy on the American Right. Just as secularized Jewish intellectuals lost their Jewishness without becoming Christian, I envision the absorption of Western values & outlook by non-white non-Christian immigrants without necessarily becoming Christian. Personally, I think it's probably an improvement if Muslims convert to Christianity, but I don't see a great gain in Hindus converting, because that religion seems rather innocuous in comparison and more congenial to the liberal order[3].

If you read this blog frequently, I think you can intuit that a future for Asian immigrants where they maintain their racial identity and become conservative Christians is not my fantasy. Rather, I imagine a Jeurasian Reconstructionist/Episcopalian/Unitarian-Universalist/Brahmo Samaj/Zen Budddhist/Secular Humanist ethnos more defined by their broadly liberal values & mobility than race or religious devotion.

So Bobby, good luck, especially on the economic front, from one brown sell-out Republican to another. But you ain't no brotha to me!

Update: Shanti posts on this issue. I put a comment over there. I want to reiterate that when I say Jindal is no brotha to me-it's a rejection of a racialized (he looked up a brown chick when he moved to Louisiana when he could have dated anyone) and religiously focused (he's a zealous convert, at least by appearance) life that seems to characterize the South-and which Jindal seems to be falling into the pattern of recapitulating. Please note that I'm not saying that southerners are racist. It's easy to point fingers when you live in Imbler where most people are white so race isn't an issue. I am deeply concerned about the racialization of California that is happening just across the border. I am a Republican and I'm satisfied that Jindal won, as a Republican, not as a brown guy.

Susanna in her comment seems to have misinterpreted me-I don't want Jindal to hew to the old time religion (though Hinduism is not Druidism after all, not matter how pagan you think it-it is a viable world religion), rather, I would have preferred that he as a professional and educated South Asian would become a citizen of the bobo class. I know many people have problems with bobos-hell, most of them are too liberal and complacent about Islam for my tastes-but they are the closest thing to a people I have. I think bobos are natural defenders of the bourgeois liberal order and I want to see them prosper and multiply (and focus on their own personal life rather than railing against the traditionalist masses)...the crystallization of a South Asian identity, and the conversion of Hindus to Christianity, is an impediment to boboization. Therefore, I stand opposed.

Also, check out Susanna's post Tell me about racist Republicans. I don't think Republicans, especially the elite, is racist at all. They are somewhat classist, and also a bit anti-secularist, but those are different things alltogether. Steve Sailer is supposed to write a piece at some point about conservative Republicans marrying Asian women-when is that going to happen Steve? "Racism" is an overused word that has been devalued like "Fascist" or "Nazi." Perhaps we need a new term of abuse to heap upon "bigots"-oops, another overused word....

Update II: Another post on Jindal.

Update III: American atheist Republicans of Bengali origin seem to agree on Jindal.

fn1. To save you time-Jindal has degrees in Biology & Public Policy from Brown University and went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, yada, yada, yada. His brother graduated from Yale Law School and his father is an engineer (the only one of 9 siblings to graduate high school).

fn2. His parents are still Hindu.

fn3. Present fanatical outbursts excepted.

Posted by razib at 11:12 PM




But why are you assuming that Bobby Jindal is being disingenuous at best and deliberately false at worst? That seems unfair, and smacks a bit of a plantation mentality. As for assimilation, heritage is important but if you're wanting to maintain cultural cues in each generation then that means I need to start wearing the plaids of my Scots and Irish ancestors, and perhaps adopting the Druidism of the Celts. I'd prefer a society where the newest immigrants respect their heritage, contribute nuances to the society (like, say, the way Irish foods and attitudes contributed to the American psyche and culture), but on the whole recognize, respect and aspire to the values that have made this country what it is. And while (as you know quite well) I'm a Christian, and naturally believe that Christianity is the best way to go, I wouldn't refuse to vote for a Hindu (or even a Muslim) if I felt their attitude toward freedom of religion didn't threaten my own future ability to practice what I believe. It seems that your problem here is a prejudice toward people who are serious about their religion.

Posted by: susanna at October 5, 2003 07:11 AM


Dude, I'm still a little hungover from Bobby's victory bash, but don't ever forget the etymology of "politics": from the Greek "poly" meaning "many,great amount" and "tics," which are bloodsucking parasites.

Posted by: martin at October 5, 2003 08:27 AM


Razib,

Jindal's Catholicism strikes me as being of a very Hindoo sort.

It all reminds me of that wonderful scene in the movie 'The Black Narcissus' where everyone is going crazy at the end because one of the nuns is missing, and someone sez to a little boy, "ask him" [that is, a local holy man who during the entire film has done nothing but sit under a tree & meditate] and the little boy replies, "oh this would be a very small matter to him, Sister."

What difference does outward form mean to a Hindoo? It is all one on the great karmic wheel of existence.

Posted by: Diana at October 5, 2003 09:47 AM


susanna,

i think the christian way is a fine path for assimilation-i'm just saying that it's not the one i'd take. additionally, jindal is married to another south asian-so if there's any path he's taking, it seems closer to the black path-stay racially separate but religiously accomidate the majority society.

my own preferred path-and the one i hope educated south asian professionals like jindal would take is a more bobo path-religiously detached from the mainstream and racially mixed into a multi-racial mono-culture (western) cosmopolitan class. for instance, both godless and i have little affinity with our religious or racial identities, but that doesn't mean we are going to go take communion at the local church. instead of the conventional rootings of place, church and family-the bobo uberclass that i see would wander the kingdoms of the mind and be generally found in the "knowledge economy" and espouse the importance over process over substance. basically, i guess i'm describing me ;)

as for my wondering if jindal is sincere. i think he believes what he believes. but, i think that the fact he changed his name when he was 5 indicates a need to want to fit in more than the typical south asian kid (we've all had to deal with confusion, taunting, etc. because of our name-but generally, we stick to it because it's not a big deal and if people mispronounce it or have a problem, oh well). and finally, again, i think his interest in public policy might have swayed him to become more "mainstream" in his religious orientation-certainly there are "unitarian-universalists" and "jews" in congress who are atheists (and even people who are officially in more mainstream denominations).

Posted by: razib at October 5, 2003 12:08 PM


Currently there are four Indian American state legislators. At present there are no Indian American members of the US House of Representative or US Senate. However, Dalip Singh Saund, the first and only Indian American congressperson, served as a congressman from California in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

Source for the above information: Terence Chea's
"New Generation of Indian Americans Looks to Politics."

The four Indian American state legislators are Maryland State Delegate Kumar P. Barve (D), Minnesota State Senator Satveer Chaudhary (DFL), New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula (D), and Iowa State Representative Swati Dandekar (D).

Delegate Barve, who is the "Majority Leader of the Maryland House of Delegates," is a graduate of Georgetown University. His bachelor's degree is in accounting.

Senator Chaudhary earned a BA from St. Olaf College and a JD from the University of Minnesota School of Law.

Assemblyman Chivukula's bachelor's and master's degrees are in electrical engineering. Chivukula received his bachelor's degree from the College of Engineering in Madras, India and his master's degree from the City College of New York.

Representative Dandekar earned a "B.S. degree in chemistry and biology from Nagpur University, India...[and] a postgraduate diploma in dietetics from Bombay University" ("Biography of Swati Dandekar").

For more info. about Delegate Barve, Senator Chaudhary, and Representative Dandekar see "Indian Masala Spices Up American Grassroots Politics" by A. Ventaka Narayana.

Razib, a couple of wedding pictures of Senator Chaudhary and Denise Dreier are posted at
http://desitalk.newsindia-times.com/2003/09/26/wed34-top.html
.

Congressman Saund earned MA and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. Married to a white woman of Czech descent, Congressman Saund was a Democrat.

Posted by: Proborders at October 5, 2003 02:22 PM


uh, the wedding picture was weird. she's german american...though i do like white-chix-in saris....

Posted by: razib at October 5, 2003 02:35 PM


Razib, sorry for misunderstanding that part of your point. We have a history of disagreement on religion ;) so I allowed that to color my understanding of your post. Reading your clarification, I have no disagreement with it - except I don't think his choosing to marry a South Asian necessarily indicates a desire to stay racially separate.

And godless is probably right about the political viability of an atheist technocrat. While I (obviously) think you're both wrong in your rejection of God, at the same time I'm also not interested in forcing the practice of my religion on you. However, that's not the same thing as wanting it acknowledged that the philosophy of many of our founding settlers, especially the Puritans, emerged from their religious beliefs and this country is the better for it.

I've often wondered about this: What kind of society would the two of you be comfortable with? I know you would prefer *no* religion, but I haven't the impression either of you have any wish to stamp it out. To remove religion from the public square is to give the stage to you; to permeate it with religion is to give the stage to us. If there's a middle ground, what does it look like to you?

Posted by: susanna at October 5, 2003 02:50 PM


susanna, my opinion of a middle ground is that we should allow diversity to flower in this country. i live in the secular northwest. you are moving to the south. there is good in both. we can visit-you can enjoy our non-humid rugged outdoors, i can partake of southern food, etc. though i am a secularist, i think that some of us have injury to our cause by overzealousness and lack of proportionality. in a similar manner, i think that some religious folk have become so fixated on pushing the secular humanists off their pedestals that they don't realize that there aren't that many secular humanists (the main problem is actually the apathetic christian majority from a religious conservative perspective) and that there are problems of religious cooperation once my enemy's enemy is gone (see the problem that the christian coalition had with recruiting catholics-they couldn't go get a drink because a non-trivial number of southern protestants don't drink, etc.).

i might pitch an article to frontpage about a cease-fire in the religious wars....

Posted by: razib at October 5, 2003 02:59 PM


p.s.

However, that's not the same thing as wanting it acknowledged that the philosophy of many of our founding settlers, especially the Puritans, emerged from their religious beliefs and this country is the better for i

this is true-but many christians don't want to admit that many of the founding fathers were also rather radical anti-clericalists, ethan allen, thomas paine, and to a lesser extent even some like madison or jefferson who were suspicious of the mixing of eclessiastical powers & state (remember that new england had church-state unity until deep into the 19th century). the history of the republic has been multi-faceted from the beginning, irreligious & religious, racist and anti-racist, organic (historical) & axiomatic (propositional), etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: razib at October 5, 2003 03:02 PM


Godless:

You may repost my above post.

Even though none of the four Indian American state legislators is a Republican, I think that South Asian immigrants (and East Asian immigrants) are proportionately more likely to become Republicans than Mexican and Central American immigrants.

Posted by: Proborders at October 5, 2003 04:27 PM


Anecdotally speaking, I'd say that most of the Indians I know who have immigrated to the US are quite conservative politically, and would fit in quite well in the Republican party. Of course, most that I know are in the tech field, and are probably some of the most hard working and intelligent people around. They are the ones most likely tob e achieving, be in In India, or in the US, so long as the system doesn't actively discourage achievement, as a high tax/low reward model does.

Also see my post here that references Dr. Venkat Challa, another Conservative Indian politician (He Challenged Dole in the primaries for the NC Senate seat she currently holds)

Posted by: ncc1701 at October 5, 2003 06:46 PM


Mm. Republicans are "a bit anti-secularist". No shit. You mean a Jerry-Falwell-Pat Robertson bit? That's a meg.

Seriously, the Republicans are very heavily influenced by extraordinarily retrograde elements. Almost everyone on this board agrees about the two I just named. Whenever the Republicans have to choose between Jerry and Pat on the one hand, and some secular moderate or libertarian, the choice is automatic and immediate.

You also have Grover Norquist with his historic Taliban affiliation. The Democrats are the secular party and there's no way at all around it. Most moron bigots would never vote for a Democrats for that reason.

Posted by: Zizka at October 5, 2003 09:33 PM


Godless, are you insinuating that we should just let the fundies go ahead with their plan to allow the posting of the ten commandments all over public buildings? I don't think so. Give 'em an inch, and they'll take a mile.

Posted by: Chris W at October 6, 2003 03:02 AM


Chris, Zizka, when rabid froth spews from the mouth it's difficult to tell leftist from far right zealot - neither shows much sense or reason. Send me your addresses - I'll ship you some Bounty to help with that. It's the quicker picker upper, you know, even on rabid froth.

Posted by: susanna at October 6, 2003 06:50 AM


I wonder if we will see a divergence in the assimilation trends among indian-americans as the indian population in America gets larger and more diverse. Specifically, as the white population diminishes proportionally and a white racial consciousness grows, will darker indians be shut out of intermarriage with the more color conscious whites of 2025 as opposed to fair skinned indians from kashmir and punjab ? A large number of pakistanis, especially pashtuns, are light skinned enough to disappear into the anglo mold through a generation of intermarriage but they will probably shut themselves out due to their basic dislike of western peoples.

Posted by: akshay at October 6, 2003 09:56 AM


Susanna,

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Before you ship the Bounty to Ziska and Chris, look in the mirror. You seem to have your share of rabid froth.

"You see the sliver in your friend's eye, but you don't see the timber in your own eye. When you take the timber out of your own eye, then you will see well enough to remove the sliver from your friend's eye."

Posted by: Liberal Lurker at October 6, 2003 10:49 AM


godless:
I'm not against the Jindal model. Most Americans will elect a non-white Christian wayyyy before they'll elect an atheist technocrat. I understand that, and trying to jump straight to the latter is difficult/impossible. Jindal's candidacy is good for assimilation, for the *right* image of South Asians, and for the US.

Yeah, no one's denying his religion is beneficial to him as a candidate, whether he planned it that way or not. But, he's now a role model for lots of young South Asians, whether he wanted it or not (and I'm guessing he did). One high-profile convert might be good for the image of South Asians. Lots of them would be another identity politics disaster.

I agree with Razib, and I'd go even farther: the church is standing squarely in the way of assimilation even if the religion at large doesn't mean to (I just posted much longer thoughts on this). Asian kids join the ethnic churches cuz they're a bit uncomfortable around whites. They find, at least with Protestants, heavy emphasis on congregational unity combined with the modern evangelical "the mainstream is fallen, the mainstream is against us" message. Their congregation is all Asian and they don't know many white Christians. That makes them even more uncomfortable around white people. Worse, it encourages them to disidentify with the mainstream and emphasize any conflicts they have with it and with white people perceived to be the sole creators of that mainstream, since disidentifying with the mainstream becomes a way to show piety. In otherwords, the Protestant churches foster oppositionalism, not universal brotherhood.

Posted by: Eric Lien at October 6, 2003 12:45 PM


"Chris, Zizka, when rabid froth spews from the mouth it's difficult to tell leftist from far right zealot - neither shows much sense or reason. Send me your addresses - I'll ship you some Bounty to help with that. It's the quicker picker upper, you know, even on rabid froth."

Uh....what?

Posted by: Chris W at October 6, 2003 12:57 PM


akshay-

i think the short answer is no, not unless you have a lot of south indian cab drivers shifting their median SES down. i know of a guy who was hiring programmers that wondered if dark-skinned indians were more intelligent than light-skinned indians! with all the light skinned (and often white looking) pakistani cab drivers the average SES of "white" looking north south asians seems to only be going down. as long as the south indians remain in the professional niches, with nurses from kerala being the low end, i think their physical appearence won't work against them.

in any case, i know a fair number of dark-skinned indians who have children with europeans, and the kids end up looking like norah jones, the dark end of white, not the light end of indian (since white is the frame of reference in the united states, there is a bias to look @ it that way).

Posted by: razib at October 6, 2003 12:58 PM


Hmmm... No rabid nothin' here, just a bit of amusement at people who drive for tolerance by stereotyping and then demonizing an entire group of people. Do any of you actually know personally someone who could be called a "fundie"? If not, let's do lunch next time you're in town - because I'm one. I'm politically to the right of Rush Limbaugh,and religiously to the right of Billy Graham. I'm your worst nightmare, apparently, which is also amusing. Boo!

For the record, I don't even listen to Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, so I can't follow them. And anyone who doesn't think Noam Chomsky and his ilk aren't "extraordinarily retrograde elements" obviously is quite ideologically blinkered. My point with the Bounty remark wasn't just that Ziz and Chris (and I guess now Liberal Lurker) are sounding hysterical, but that people on both ends of the ideological spectrum lose all reason past a certain point. You can't talk to them. In case you missed it, I was being negative about far right types as well as far left. "Hey! Mikey! She's kinda saying we're right!" But by dumping all fundies (*bowing*) into the same pot, you miss all opportunity for meaningful dialogue with someone who disagrees with you.

I think Razib and godless and I could have a great discussion about politics, science, religion and any number of things, and leave with a respect for each other despite some pretty major differences in some areas. Sounds like Chris and Ziz (and LL) would be so all aquiver about what they think a "fundie" like me is like, they couldn't have a reasonable conversation.

Posted by: susanna at October 6, 2003 01:31 PM


susanna, no one here attacked you personally before you started shouting at people. Chris and zizka said nothing to you, and LL only called you out for your premature and exaggerted response to them.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at October 6, 2003 01:42 PM


I don't think Susanna's original question was ever really answered.

If I may (Razib feel free to correct me), Razib thinks that all religion is a form of self-delusion, so Jindal's converting to Catholicism can *only* been seen in the context of converting to the most convenient and expedient form of self-delusion. Since all religion is purely a social construct and has nothing to do with eternal truths, Jindal is merely partaking of the social construct which will accrue to him the most social capital.

I don't think that Razib believes that Jindal is truly a believer, because Razib doesn't think that there is, at the end of the day, true belief, unless we are in the category of extreme personalities such as Saint Perpetua, who slew her own throat in the gladiator's ring.

Is that fair, Razib?

Posted by: Diana at October 6, 2003 01:43 PM


A new comment, to address the discussion between akshay and razib. I'm close friends with a woman who is from Trinidad, and she is of South Asian ancestry. Her parents (and some other family) came to Trinidad from India when she was quite young; she's now in her early 50s. She is very dark, darker than many African Americans in this area. She told me that in her extended family, the paler you are the more status you have. She married a black man, and her father very much disapproved. She told me that if I visited her in Trinidad, her status would improve among her relatives because I'm white (and I'm very very white, showing my Scots heritage). Now, this discussion was just chatting between us, and she laughed when she talked about it; she wasn't intimidated by (or cared particularly about) her family's attitude, although I think it was hurtful when she first married. But according to her it was very much a cultural thing amongst not just her family, but the Indian community in Trinidad - paler is better.

It made me wonder - is that still true now, in other places like the US? Was it ever an issue in the US? Is it true in India, and if so does it pre-date the British colonies in India? Or is it more a question of her generation, and not an issue any more?

Skin tone isn't something I generally pay attention to, certainly not as a question of value, so I was fascinated (and repelled) by what she said about her family.

Posted by: susanna at October 6, 2003 01:51 PM


Sorry, razib & godless, for yet one more comment. I've waxed annoyed at a few of your commenters for their attitudes, and didn't want to put it in your comments; at the same time, I didn't want to yammer on about them without letting them know. So here's the URL: http://bias.blogfodder.net/archives/2003_10.html#009085. Nothing is there of substance regarding the issues at hand. It's more about blog etiquette.

Posted by: susanna at October 6, 2003 02:39 PM


susanna-

indians, and indians in america, still focus on skin tone in my experience. being raised almost exclusively among whites-i have no self perception of what my skin tone is self-consciously, i know what it is because my parents tell me. when i visited bangladesh, the first thing people asked about others (and my brother), was "what color are they?"

and yes, lighter is better, especially for women. the reasons are complex, and some of it might be biological, the preference for "youth," ergo fair complexion, among the female gender.

as for blacks & indians-the antipathy in places like mauritius, guyana & trinidad & tobago is almost like a repeated experiment, the stereotypes & prejudices are almost exactly the same. part of the indian antipathy to blacks does come from the fact that a non-trivial number of indians are as dark as american blacks-though not usually africans. certainly, harold ford jr. of kentucky is of fairer complexion than 80-90% of indians in the united states i would think.

this topic can get a post of its own ;) my opinion is this: no matter if someone calls me "nigger," "sand nigger," "camel jockey," etc. i'm the same person after as before. some indians are looking to genetic data to reinforce their close relationship to europeans (the extent of which varies with region, caste & class, as well as the genetic markers and phylogenetic techniques used). the really feel uncomfortable being associated with black people. blah, blah, blah... well, ultimately, you are what you are no matter what others think about you, i think people should give it a rest.

btw, the lack of differentiation by color among white people is balanced by the diversity in hair & eye color. though the situation isn't as extreme, blondes do get more attention. also, during the victorian age women of status were quite concerned with keeping their complexion fair.

as for bobby jindal's sincerity-i don't know. i can't understand religion on any emotional level. what ever personal reasons jindal has for being catholic-i do think that non-personal reasons are important, i doubt jindal would have converted to christianity in a non-christian culture. by this, i mean that most people tend to follow the religion of their parents, so obviously it is not always about some personal choice. bobby was raised in a christian culture, and a catholic one at that (i believe baton rouge is in the catholic part of louisiana, at least for whites), so that might have had an influence on him. additionally, i took him changing his name to "bobby" as symbolic, in that most indians have hard names that we get shat on for from the white perspective, but many indian parents take pride in refusing to anglicize names. someone who takes a pro-active effort to change their name is just a small data point, but i think it's informative in light of the whole pattern of his life....

as i said-i don't think there's a problem with selling out, he just didn't sell out in the way i would have preferred ;)

Posted by: razib at October 6, 2003 02:46 PM


As u can see, Norah Jones hardly looks european, southern or otherwise....she looks puerto rican or dominican....which would be expected from her mixed white and south indian ancestry (many south indians and bengalis have the broad noses, dark skin and wiry hair of mulattoes from the caribbean)

http://www.norahjones.info/faq.php?topic=4

Posted by: akshay at October 6, 2003 03:01 PM


few bengalis have wiry hair that i know of.

nice picture by the way, that's the least white picture of norah jones i've ever seen!

Posted by: razib at October 6, 2003 03:05 PM


here's another picture (from her album cover) which shows the other face of norah jones:
http://www.norahjones.info/images/norah_jones_1024x768.jpg

Posted by: razib at October 6, 2003 03:07 PM


there was this bangladeshi dude in my class at wisconsin named azsalam (????) who looked like he had a relaxed fro.
I haven't seen norah jones being too "white"....i could see the poor girl getting nasty stares from skinheads in europe...but yes...she is still hot...

Posted by: akshay at October 6, 2003 03:08 PM


well...ok, i have to say i am skewed to what my family looks like...and the only "dark" people (in the south asian context) in my family are from my father's mother's side, who are bengali brahmins and don't have broad noses or anything. so perhaps i get a skewed view...(most of the non-indian looking people in my family look asian-my family is from comilla which is almost next to tripura). but the image of regular bengalis is what i see in the pictures of street kids in calcutta, so the dark skin, broad nose, etc. i see as being true, but i rarely see anyone with wiry hair. as you know, you can't take an outlier as typical-the girl in bend it like beckhman did not look particulary punjabi to me, though she is....

i did know one guy with a fro from bangladesh. but that's about it.

but again, i don't know many brown people, and i have white friends more capable of distinguishing brown groups than i....

Posted by: razib at October 6, 2003 03:14 PM


Wow, two sentences that I typed spawned this paranoid rant?

"Hmmm... No rabid nothin' here, just a bit of amusement at people who drive for tolerance by stereotyping and then demonizing an entire group of people."

Who said anything about tolerance? FYI, I'm *intolerant* of people who oppose the part of the First Ammendment that states that "Congress shall make no law establishing any institution of religion". My post was to get Godless to clarify his position on the Ten Commandments being mandated in public places.

"Do any of you actually know personally someone who could be called a "fundie"?"

Yeah, every one of them was a complete loony. You don't seem to be an exception to the rule.

"If not, let's do lunch next time you're in town"

Um, let's not.

" - because I'm one. I'm politically to the right of Rush Limbaugh,and religiously to the right of Billy Graham. I'm your worst nightmare, apparently, which is also amusing. Boo!"

Strange conclusions you're drawing upon the basis of two sentences. But no, I don't consider you to be powerful enough to be my worst nightmare. Granted, I'm not a huge fan of people who seek to compromise our national security by lobbying the Federal government to support Israel due to a desire to experience Rapture without death after 2/3rds of the Jews are killed, based on a questionable reading of an ambiguous passage in Revelations. However, I wouldn't say they are my "worst enemy".

I'm actually far more concerned about the threat that Muslims pose than I am about the comparitively minor annoyance that politicized evangelicals are.

Really, I don't wish to tell you all how to live your lives. In fact, the evangelicals can take the Bible Belt and do whatever they want with it, as far as I'm concerned. That backward region is dead weight that the North is better off without, IMO. Take it -- I don't want it. I have no problem with you establishing a Dixieland Theocracy, provided that you take all cohorts from the North along with you. If the Feds try to stop you, tell 'em I said it was okay.

"For the record, I don't even listen to Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, so I can't follow them. And anyone who doesn't think Noam Chomsky and his ilk aren't "extraordinarily retrograde elements" obviously is quite ideologically blinkered."

Hearing voices in your head? Who said anything about liking Chomsky? I don't despise him, but I'm not a huge fan of his either.

"My point with the Bounty remark wasn't just that Ziz and Chris (and I guess now Liberal Lurker) are sounding hysterical, but that people on both ends of the ideological spectrum lose all reason past a certain point."

So many assumptions being pulled out of thin air. Who said that I was on the far side of the political spectrum? I support the separation of church and state, and you assume that I must necessarily be a socialist or an anarchist. You're logical leaps are akin to that of a paranoid schizophrenic. Guess what: I'm a *moderate*, and not a leftist at all. I'm more concerned about the well-being of America than I am about that of Third World countries (not due to ideology, but because I live here and grew up here, as did my friends and family). I'm in favor of a regulated form of capitalism that allows for basic environmental protections and a social safety net. I favor free trade and strategic collaboration with nations stable, and relatively free nations that share similar values (although I oppose the WTO and IMF). I prefer technological solutions over political solutions when possible. And I support a strong national defense and wish to discourage the spread of Islam within our borders, even though I strongly oppose our current disastrous escapades in Iraq and Afghanistan. Addittionally, I'm not opposed to regional separatism, which would allow culturally different parts of the country go their separate ways.

Sound left-wing? Maybe to you, but I have certain friends who think I'm right-wing.

"You can't talk to them."

You never even tried. You simply concluded that you knew exactly how I thought on the basis of two sentences.

"In case you missed it, I was being negative about far right types as well as far left. "Hey! Mikey! She's kinda saying we're right!" But by dumping all fundies (*bowing*) into the same pot, you miss all opportunity for meaningful dialogue with someone who disagrees with you."

You're inane assumptions about me are providing evidence that I'm missing out on anything important.

"I think Razib and godless and I could have a great discussion about politics, science, religion and any number of things, and leave with a respect for each other despite some pretty major differences in some areas. Sounds like Chris and Ziz (and LL) would be so all aquiver about what they think a "fundie" like me is like, they couldn't have a reasonable conversation."

I can't have a reasonable conversation with you because you're a complete crackpot who puts words in other people's mouths without knowing anything about them. Pot kettle black -- you're doing precisely what you're accusing others of. What would I possibly have to gain from engaging such a person, other than a reminder of the bizaare ways that certain people's minds works(which I do forget sometimes)?

My views are quite moderate. I don't really have a vested interest in any ideology, and hence I'm quite capable having a reasonable conversation with others who are willing to, regardless of how different their views happen to be. You seem to be the one having trouble relating to people.

Posted by: Chris W at October 7, 2003 12:41 AM


"You're inane assumptions about me are providing evidence that I'm missing out on anything important."

I mean that they're *not* providing evidence.

Posted by: Chris W at October 7, 2003 12:50 AM


I wrote:
"Addittionally, I'm not opposed to regional separatism, which would allow culturally different parts of the country go their separate ways."

Actually, I don't think this is very practical given certain national security concerns, nor do I think it is likely to happen. However, I do wish it sometimes, given how little I identify with many "fellow Americans". I identify more with the populations of London, Moscow, Vancouver and Sydney than the populations fo certain U.S. cities like Birmingham, San Antonio, Nashville, and Indianapolis. It's not really possible to draw borders around nations anymore, if "nations" are to be construed as communities based upon shared culture. You have the Nation of Secular Cosmopolitans, the Nation of Christian Evangelicals, the Nation of Catholics, the Nation of Muslims, the Nation of Chicanos, the Nation of Ravers, the Nation of Metalheads, the Nation of Punks, and so forth...

Posted by: Chris W at October 7, 2003 02:17 AM


Incidentally Jinal might be in a better situation than Razib assumes, if you add all the other Republcian votes I expect he is some way ahead of even the 2 Democrats combined.

Posted by: tom at October 7, 2003 07:58 AM


Razib, photographing Norah Jones in the dark and from the side is a bit sneaky

Here's a more honest pic:

http://tinyurl.com/q22a

Posted by: Alf at October 7, 2003 11:10 AM


"Norah Jones hardly looks european, southern or otherwise....she looks puerto rican or dominican....which would be expected from her mixed white and south indian ancestry"

Wrong !! Ravi Shankar, Norah's father, is a Bengali.

Check out this link :

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravi_Shankar

And Bengal wasn't anywhere near South India when I last checked.

"many south indians and bengalis have the broad noses, dark skin and wiry hair of mulattoes from the caribbean"

Probably true of South Indians, but the average Bengali isn't darker than the average UPite, IMO. Also, wiry hair isn't something I associate with Bengalis.

Interestingly, Bengalis are also overrepresented in Bollywood - they're only 8% of India's total population. Here's a list of Bengali actresses : Mahima Chaudhary, Rani Mukherjee, Sharmila Tagore, Kajol, Riya Sen, Bipasha Basu, Nandita Das, Lisa Ray, Sushmita Sen ....


Posted by: king kong at October 7, 2003 12:29 PM


Tejas, I believe Satyajit Ray was Bengali as well - can anyone confirm this?

Posted by: Alf at October 7, 2003 12:40 PM


here was born in calcutta:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006249/

Posted by: razib at October 7, 2003 01:01 PM


Wow, Chris W, three long rants within a short period of time, at some ungodly hour of the morning, and then you insist that your views are "moderate"... Methinks you doth protest way, way too much.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at October 16, 2003 12:37 PM