Tuesday, July 13, 2010

RACIST ARTICLE IN TIME MAGAZINE

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Share this on:Mixx Facebook Twitter Digg delicious reddit MySpace StumbleUpon LinkedIn Column vilified, insulted Indian AmericansBy Rahul Parikh, Special to CNNJuly 13, 2010 11:09 a.m. EDT
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Rahul Parikh takes issue with Joel Stein's column about Indian Americans in his hometown
Essay was meant to be satire, but Parikh found it a xenophobic, racist rant
Parikh says writer distilled ancient and diverse culture into clichés and stereotypes
Says the piece reminded him ignorance about and fear of new people still exist in U.S.
Editor's note: Rahul K. Parikh is a physician and writer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Dear Joel Stein,

Where do I begin? Normally, I write about health care, but your essay in Time, "My Own Private India," caught my attention for reasons that have nothing to do with medicine. Before I read it, I barely had any idea who you were. Your name was vaguely familiar, probably from having seen you on VH1 while channel-surfing in the wee hours.

I'm not the only one who noticed. Last I checked, your essay was one of the most read and e-mailed articles at Time.com. Good work. You earned your paycheck. But you did it with a xenophobic, even racist, rant against Indian Americans like me and a lot of other people I care about and deeply respect.

Read Joel Stein's essay, "My Own Private India"

Have no illusions, sir. What you wrote was not funny, insightful, smart or unique. No. Every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph you produced did nothing more than distill the ancient, proud and diverse culture of India down to nothing more than clichés and stereotypes.

Calling us dot-heads and Guindians, speaking of spicy food and multilimbed gods with elephant noses -- clarification, Joel: Ganesh has the elephant nose; Siva has the multiple arms. You did it even when you were laying on the backhanded compliments. "We all assumed Indians were geniuses." Thanks for that.

By the way, I am not some bitter old man trying to lecture you. You and I are contemporaries. I'm just a year younger than you are.

In reading a little bit about you, we have some things in common. I was "dorky enough" to have played Dungeons & Dragons growing up. Given your esteemed education at Stanford, I suspect both of us excelled academically.

(Should we) trade in our samosas and chai for potato chips and Bud Light?

--Rahul Parikh
RELATED TOPICS
India
Immigration
Racism and Bigotry
Mark Twain
Pulitzer Prize Committee
But it's clear that our consciences have been on divergent paths. I try to do just a little bit of good in the world by practicing medicine and writing. You took your pricey education and became ... a humorist ... a satirist ... a pundit? A descendant of Mark Twain, H.L Mencken or P.J. O' Rourke you are not. In the future, please leave satire and humor to trained professionals.

So ... because you weren't funny or incisive, what's your point? Are you trying to make Indians prove our worth to the fraternity that is America? Is your essay part of some kind of hazing? Put up with your callous insults, and we'll be able to live in the frat house?

What litmus test do we all have to pass to become bona fide? Does our God have to wear a big white beard and have only two arms? Do we have to turn in the dots on our foreheads for a baseball cap with "N.Y." stenciled on it? Trade in our samosas and chai for potato chips and Bud Light? Should we make our parents throw their Hindi language newsmagazine in the garbage and subscribe to Time?

If it's about fitting in with your standards of Americana, please, allow me to prove my culture's utility to you.

Some of us have become wildly successful. We run Fortune 500 companies, have been elected to political office and have won Pulitzer prizes. Many of us work 40-plus hours a week to pay our mortgage. Some have paid their dues serving this country in war. Still others struggle to pay the bills, keep their children fed or their marriages together; and yes, there are those of us who are criminals locked up in jail. In other words, we're just like everyone else.

It's obvious that you were waxing nostalgic about your hometown. If I follow your logic here, should nothing ever change in America?

Should moms stay at home while we men wear our suits and ties and head off to work, cigarette in hand? Should African-Americans still drink from a different water fountain from you? Should we revoke the right of women to vote?

If that's the case, I've got a Delorean with a flux capacitor I'd be happy to sell you to get "Back to the Future."

I also read the apology you pinned to the bottom of the online version of your essay.

"I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people. I was trying to explain how, as someone who believes that immigration has enriched American life and my hometown in particular, I was shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it. If we could understand that reaction, we'd be better equipped to debate people on the other side of the immigration issue," you wrote.

"Tiny bit uncomfortable," indeed. You should have stopped with "I'm sorry" or just retracted the whole article. Stop trying to save face by trying to rationalize what you wrote or pin it to the immigration issue.

Finally, I do want to thank you for harshly reminding of one thing: Because the essay was published just before the Fourth of July -- and incidentally, just a few weeks before India's own independence day -- you and your publication reminded me with no uncertainty that racism, ignorance and fear of new people are as American as apple pie and Time magazine.

Like you said, the Statue of Liberty should shed a tear. And Mahatma Gandhi just did.

(Time Warner Inc. is the parent company of CNN.com and Time magazine.)

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rahul Parikh.

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Traylor No one can miss the irony Joel Stein who smugly mocks a great and ancient culture comes from the most hyper-sensitive, self-important ethnic group in the entire world. Apparently if one's own people are the chosen favorites of their conveniently armless, noseless, invisible, violent and hateful "G... more
No one can miss the irony Joel Stein who smugly mocks a great and ancient culture comes from the most hyper-sensitive, self-important ethnic group in the entire world. Apparently if one's own people are the chosen favorites of their conveniently armless, noseless, invisible, violent and hateful "G-D" they are free to ridicule everyone else. Stein's arrogance is disgusting but not surprising. less
0 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
kureshi Mr. Doctor..... Chill out.... wonder how long your patients had to wait while you were writing this non-sense... And guess what, laloo just shed some tears too.... haa haa
1 minute ago | Like | Report abuse
anjl322 I find Mr. Stein's article reprehensible, not only as an Indian, but as an American citizen. It is shameful that Mr. Stein criticizes immigration, when it embodies the very principles on which this nation was built. Mr. Stein and his band of delinquents are no more American that I am, or my parents ... more
I find Mr. Stein's article reprehensible, not only as an Indian, but as an American citizen. It is shameful that Mr. Stein criticizes immigration, when it embodies the very principles on which this nation was built. Mr. Stein and his band of delinquents are no more American that I am, or my parents are, for that matter. Although I concede that Mr. Stein is entitled to his opinions, blatantly racist though they may be, it is shameful that any respectable publication would advertise his message of intolerance. less
2 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
GoCoolKarma I wonder if there was a time magazine when America was undergoing a different kind of change some 500 years ago. A "bloody" change by butchering all the Native Americans.
2 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
Xasthur I think it's neat how Indians represent different tools with their fingers. Like how the fingers on one hand represent eating utensils like forks, spoons, chop sticks; while the other hands fingers represent toilet paper.
2 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
TriumPatriot I'd like some opinions: was Joel Stein's article humor or ridicule?
2 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
MobyMom We always seem to have to a group of immigrants to take our fears and frustrations out upon. In the 1800's no Irish need apply. Then we had the Chinese, Italians, Poles, Eastern Europeans of all sorts. The aftermath of WWII brought the "DP's". Then the Viet Namese, Indians, Arabs, and of course the ... more
We always seem to have to a group of immigrants to take our fears and frustrations out upon. In the 1800's no Irish need apply. Then we had the Chinese, Italians, Poles, Eastern Europeans of all sorts. The aftermath of WWII brought the "DP's". Then the Viet Namese, Indians, Arabs, and of course the Mexicans. Sooner or later they all melt into the fabric and framework of our society. So when will we finally be over this issue? We're running out of emigrant countries. Have we learned nothing in 200+ years? These people ARE who made us great. Wake up and accept it already! less
3 minutes ago | Like (2) | Report abuse
indivguest @ hemjan13Please tell me that it is possible to make a post without needing to endlessly make such qualifying statements as, "Not all/every/etc...." I thought anyone would reasonably understand that I am not classifying EVERY SINGLE INDIAN IN THE UNIVERSE as a racist/prejudiced/etc. If you didn't ... more
@ hemjan13
Please tell me that it is possible to make a post without needing to endlessly make such qualifying statements as, "Not all/every/etc...." I thought anyone would reasonably understand that I am not classifying EVERY SINGLE INDIAN IN THE UNIVERSE as a racist/prejudiced/etc. If you didn't understand that, then I will make a "special" qualifying statement for you. I do not mean ALL Indians (persons of Indian origin/culture/religions). Is that better? less
4 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
hemjan13 yes that is better ..u argumentative genius..do you have to say anything about racism in America where blacks and whites are still segregated..or its just India where everything is wrong?
1 minute ago | Like | Report abuse
swhall72 tl;dr
5 minutes ago | Like (1) | Report abuse
LindsayMcG This. lolz.
4 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
JEM1414 The New ColossusNot like the brazen giant of Greek fame,With conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall standA mighty woman with a torch, whose flameIs the imprisoned lightning, and her nameMother of Exiles. From her beacon-handGlows world-wide welcome; her... more
The New Colossus


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus, 1883


-------------------------------

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. less
9 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
JEM1414 History 101. You don't recognize the words on the Statue of Liberty or MLK's famouse speech on brotherhood? wow...

A troll? Read much?
0 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
LindsayMcG I give up. Are you a troll or posting these things in serious?
3 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
zbzbzbzbzbzb Oh common I am an Indian American, and though its a little offensive we have our freedom of speech. I dont think Indians should spur out strong emotions on a humor segment of the magazine..
9 minutes ago | Like (2) | Report abuse
nanocode well, I guess every one has the same freedom of speech and an entitlement to get get offended as does Mr. Stein or for that matter you!
5 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
sam988 Just for the record. I'm an American and i'm 36 years old. I have never owned a slave and I never killed or displaced an Indian in anyway nor would i want to. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SINS OF MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT KIN WHO I KNOW NOTHING OF! so please stop asking me to apologize! I'm no... more
Just for the record. I'm an American and i'm 36 years old. I have never owned a slave and I never killed or displaced an Indian in anyway nor would i want to. I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SINS OF MY GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT KIN WHO I KNOW NOTHING OF! so please stop asking me to apologize! I'm not guilty of anything but the randomness of where and to who i was born. less
9 minutes ago | Like (1) | Report abuse
sam988 Not all Indian's do the dot thing but thanks i understand the article is about people from India.. there are tons of comments about white american's and this not being our country. that it's the Native Indian's who should be sad or this that and the other..
0 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
nanocode Take it easy. Your not guilty of anything and you don't have to apologize. We all agree that you can read and write. Now you can sit down..
2 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
C123zxc this about "dot" indians not native americans...
5 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
JEM1414 Well then what are you carrying on about? Awesome. No one is asking you to apologize for NOT BEING A RACIST. That's the point:; not treating others badly based on the color of their skin.
5 minutes ago | Like | Report abuse
AhGem I am so glad to see that there are so many Indians who can see the satire and appreciate the humour in Mr. Stein's article. I am amused by the fact that so many whites found Stein's article racist. I am happy to be amused thus not because I agree with them ( that the article is racist) but because i... more
I am so glad to see that there are so many Indians who can see the satire and appreciate the humour in Mr. Stein's article. I am amused by the fact that so many whites found Stein's article racist. I am happy to be amused thus not because I agree with them ( that the article is racist) but because it assures me that not all whites are racists. Lastly I am saddened to see so many who are unabashedly racist,incidentally mostly whites, and hence not good human beings. less

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