Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Real Story about Gov. Jindal's Attack on the Hyphenated American

by Nomad

Governor Bobby Jindal recently raised a few eyebrows with some of his ideas on minorities. Some said that he was implying that ethnic minorities could make everyone a lot happier if they gave up their hyphens and became Americans. Full stop. 

However, many on the Left seem to have missed what the true purpose behind the remarks.

Recently in an op-ed piece for Politico, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal gave his ideas on the dangers of excessive emphasis on diversity and multiculturalism. The liberal press quickly jumped on Jindal's remarks, interpreting them as his desire for all minorities to be white as Wonder Bread. It was a bit unfair since he isn't actually saying that. 
In fact, his words deserve a little more attention..rather than a hasty dismissal. If only to understand more fully why the ideas he expressed were so wrong.

The Threat of the Hyphen
In the article, Jindal offers a few interesting points, though most on the left would find hard to agree with. He says, for example, that minorities should pay less attention to their separateness and just try harder to become like the rest of us: American. He writes that today "we seem to act as if that melting pot is passé, an antiquated notion."

Yet we still place far too much emphasis on our “separateness,” our heritage, ethnic background, skin color, etc. We live in the age of hyphenated Americans: Asian-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Indian-Americans, and Native Americans, to name just a few.
Jindal also leaves out a very important minority in his list. Jewish-Americans? It is an understandable omission for a Republican. Let's see Jindal speaking before B'nai B'rith, telling the Jewish audience that they need to drop their Jewish heritage and see what happens. They would, with justification, be outraged. Still, it would be a lovely way for Bobby Jindal to immolate his political aspirations.

Incidentally the term "melting pot" was coined by Israel Zangwill, a child of Jewish immigrants from Czarist Russia. Although he, like Jindal, felt all races and cultures could come together to make the American identity, he was also an early Zionist, an proponent for the creation of a state for Jews and for Jews alone. 
So even he, like Jindal, had some contradictory ideas.

The Melting Pot and Why It is Passe
According to Jindal, we need to bring back the melting pot idea. Then we can make American society into one big happy family by absorbing all other cultures. 
There is nothing wrong with people being proud of their different heritages. We have a long tradition of folks from all different backgrounds incorporating their traditions into the American experience, but we must resist the politically correct trend of changing the melting pot into a salad bowl. E pluribus Unum.
It is called assimilation and every country needs a little. However, to say we must all melt into a gray sludge is asking a little too much. (The salad bowl idea Jindal dismisses, represents the idea that cultures should keep their color and individuality and add to the whole.) 
Even in families, members are allowed to keep their individual identities. Our tastes, our opinions and our heritage - all of the things that make us individuals- serve also to enrich American society.

Jindal uses the motto E pluribus Unum. That particular phrase, however, only refers to the fact that the United States was formed as a cohesive single nation as the result of the thirteen smaller colonies joining together. 
Rather ironic since Jindal is one of the governors that, under the banner of states' rights has steadfastly fought against the cohesive law of the land, like abortion,  and Obamacare. 
In any case the motto was never intended as a call to surrender anyone's cultural identity as Jindal would like to claim.

Where the Majority Rules
Travel outside of the US, to places where the dominant majority demands ethnic minorities be submissive and invisible and you'll find a lack of cultural dynamism, quite the opposite from what is found in most urban areas of the United States. 
Generally in such countries, there is a blandness that's hard to miss. After you've seen the homogenized dominant culture, with all of its contradictions, that's the end of show. 
Contrary to Jindal's view, America should be proud of the fact that the melting pot has not become an overcooked cultural stew.

Let's take a look at another country. Political correctness is also under attack in Russia and for the same reason that Jindal advocated in his writing. The social policy is called Majoritarian democracy in which the majority population rules the roost. 

Sergei Markov, vice president of the Plekhanov Russian University in Moscow ha been a frequent adviser to President Putin in the past. He claims that Russia has a different form of democracy than the West. That's all.
In the West there are elaborate protections for minorities, whereas in Russia the protection of the majority is the priority. It's still democracy. Every country may choose between liberal democracy and majoritarian democracy. In Russia we tried to follow the liberal model in the 1990s, but it was disastrous. Russia found itself at the mercy of aggressive minorities, who robbed the country and undermined the position of the majority. Now the trend is that minorities must subordinate themselves to the interests of the majority."
This may sound harmless or silly or just plain stupid, but most atrocities in modern times have been a result of the absolute rule of the majority and not from "aggressive" minorities.
It would seem that Governor Jindal and Sergei Markov have a lot of common ideas.

Dawn of Christian Civilisation
Whether Jindal appreciates it or not, ethnic identities, like gender and sexual orientation, exist. An ethnic identity is, in a very real sense who we are and to surrender it to the fuzzy idea of an American culture is, some might say, the first step to cultural extinction. 

History shows us that there were plenty of victims to the great melting pot. 
Native American children in 19th century boarding schools, run by Christian missionaries of various denominations, were forbidden to speak their language in the name of assimilation. 
The children were usually immersed in European-American culture, taught a alien view of history in which they would forever be on the outside. They were taught Christianity as the only true religion. Their very appearance would be altered and traditional names were replaced by new European-American names. 
Many of their languages died out within two generations, and much of the history was lost with it. While the tradition of storytelling and the passing on of family stories remained, one could argue it was permanently damaged by forcible assimilation.  
To the people of that age, forced assimilation was attempt to civilize savages and to bring them into the White man's modernity. As one US philanthropist put it in 1886, the Indians were to be ‘safely guided from the night of barbarism into the fair dawn of Christian civilisation’
In other words, it was a religious-based culture war.

This is one reason why, much to Jindal's apparent distress, wholesale assimilation and the melting pot idea fell out of favor. In short, it had become a species of cultural imperialism.

Racism, President Obama and the Content of his Character 
Some of the points in Jindal's article are predictably disingenuous. Like this one:
(By the way, I noticed recently that the president of the United States, a man with whom I disagree with on almost everything, seems to have darker skin than most Americans. He hasn’t had a problem getting elected.)
This casual aside is probably the most insulting part, in my opinion.
Obama may have got himself elected by the will of the people but it has been Jindal's own party that has done everything - to the point of disgracing themselves- to ensure that Obama's presidency would be a failure. Some would say that no president has ever been treated with such flagrant disrespect.

Critics would claim that  racial discrimination is entrenched in the Republican party, and is responsible for the constant calls for impeachment over the things that previous white presidents did without much hesitation. Seriously an outage over a tan suit, over vacation- considerably less than other presidents- and relaxing with a round of golf?

When it came down to judging by "content of his character" what were   Republicans actually doing?  Many of them were engaged in slanders against not only the president but the First Lady. Some Tea Party members were painting images or implying the president was an African native that had just stepped from Sub-Saharan jungle or worse, an ape. 
Every rude stereotype was put up as proof that the president was not fit to hold his office. If the Republicans did not openly engage in the abuse, then they certainly did nothing to put it to an end.

For example did Jindal ever once state that people like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck should refrain from racism stereotyping? Did Jindal ever step up to Fox News when they attacked the president on completely spurious grounds?
I don't recall that he did. Not one time.
Perhaps Jindal needs to address this problem before taking minorities to task for being too politically-correct.

Button Pushing for 2016?
In the middle of the piece, Jindal takes an abrupt detour.
When I look at America, I see a country that increasingly has lost its way in terms of morality. As a Christian, as I look at American culture over the past half century, I don’t like a lot of what I see. Divorce is through the roof, pornography is everywhere, sexual predators are on the loose and on the Internet, our abortion rate is higher than almost every First World country, vulgarity and profanity are mainstream and commonplace. In general, our culture has become coarser, and I regret that.
Is he actually claiming that diversity responsible for divorce, pornography, abortion and the imaginary threat of sexual predators gone wild?  (Naughty words too?)  
I was confused. What is the point of this litany of  malaise in America?

Actually the paragraph is so oddly out of place it took me a moment to recognize it for what it was. Then it hit me: Why, by Golly, it's a campaign speech, meekly peeking from behind the curtains. Poor Bobby Jindal is too busy pushing all of the typical conservative hot button issues to find a way to tie it back to his theme.

However, if our society has become coarser then, it could be because we have, since the end of the Fairness Doctrine, abandoned sensible discussion in the media in favor of ratings-boosting hysteria and constant hate speech. 
In 2009, for example, when Rush Limbaugh, a spokesman for the conservative movement by default said:
The days of them [minorities] not having any power are over, and they are angry. And they want to use their power as a means of retribution.
When Ann Coulter said:
"Ethnic profiling is the only reasonable security measure that has been thwarted in the war on terrorism."
Did he think that wasn't coarse? Did he think that racism was dead when she also said:
These alleged civil liberties concerns have only one purpose: to give Muslims a cushion for another attack on America. There is no principled basis for opposition to using Arab appearance as a factor in airport screening procedures."
Is the kind of resistance to political correctness Jindal is talking about or is this part of the new age of coarseness he decries? He doesn't say.

The Hypocrisy Exposed
That brings us to the final problem with Jindal's camouflaged campaign speech.
The mere fact that Jindal mentions his religion is an indication that he too feels that such distinctions are important. 

After all, he could just as easily not mentioned the specific religion and left it "as a person with deep religious values."  In a nation that appreciates diversity, he is entitled to identify himself proudly and loudly by his religion. 
But therein lies an awful hypocrisy about his entire premise.

According to Jindal's notions, one shouldn't wish to be thought of as a Cuban-Americans or an African-American but it is perfectly ok to wish to be identified by Christian American. 

According to one source, Jindal will very likely use his Christian identity to woo the  Evangelicals in 2016.  He plans to present himself as a "willing culture warrior." 
That suggests there is a war.. but against whom? 
At the end of the day, it's easier to be a cultural warrior when you are already a member of the majority.. but would Jindal have felt the same had he been a Jew, a Muslim or Hindu or an atheist? Would he still be saluting the majority rule?

Jindal might like to portray himself as a kind of warrior but when he is on the side of the majority it is a lot less impressive than Martin Luther King who preached against the majority and who spoke in the name of an oppressed minority. 

Bobby Jindal? He is risking nothing by literally preaching to the choir.

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