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Republicans hold their few ethnic minority politicians out as examples of their progress in diversity: Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley. (But they wish they could hide Michael Steele). Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley seem to confirm a racial stereotype that Asian Americans are the "model minority." Are they really the outstanding examples of diversity, or are they sellouts instead?

From wikipedia:

Haley was born Nimrata Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina on January 20, 1972. Her parents, Dr. Ajit and Raj Randhawa, are Sikh immigrants from Amritsar, India.

If only looking at this, one gets the impression of a typical immigrant family's American dream story. But this was a very privileged family. The father, Arit Singh, received his Ph.D from the University of British Columbia in Biology, joined Voorhees College as the professor of Biology and after 29 years retired as Chairman of the Division of Natural Sciences, Math and Computer Sciences in 1998. The mother, Raj, had a Law Degree from Delhi University. How many women were able to attend universities in India in the 1960's? The literacy rate of Indian women was 15% in 1961. Four years after Nikki was born, Raj opened an high-end fashion company Exotica International that grew into a multi-million dollar business.

Business, privilege, and high class. Definitely not your average immigrant but perfectly made for the Republican party. Or was it?

We now have all read in the NYT story how the "southern hospitality" received the Randhawa's:

As a girl, her parents — the first Indian immigrants this small, working-class town had ever seen — entered Nikki and her sister in the Little Miss Bamberg pageant. The judges of the contest, one that crowned one black queen and one white queen, were so flummoxed that they simply disqualified Nikki and her sister, Simran — but not before Nikki, about 5, sang "This Land Is Your Land."

There is no doubt that this story is true. But here it was certainly promoted as part of Haley's image as the "diversity" candidate. It is clear that racial discrimination she faced at young age was a factor in going into politics. Her initial entry in politics as a Republican was also met with pretty stiff resistance and racism from her party. This was a report in 2004:

A WOMAN STOOD outside a polling place last Tuesday holding a Nikki Haley sign. A man who was driving away rolled down his window to shout at her, "I hope your children worship cows!" That confused the lady with the sign. The man was a good way down the road before she decided it was meant as a slur on Hinduism. Nikki Haley, by the way, is not a Hindu.

At another point during the House District 87 runoff against incumbent Rep. Larry Koon, Haley campaign manager B.J. Boling received the following e-mail: "Please remember that she is a Buddhist. One of my friends . . . verified this for me. I can only vote for a Christian, Larry Koon is a deacon and a wonderful Christrian man an does a lot for bring money into Lexington County. Please send this to your friends."

Nikki Haley isn't a Buddhist, either.

A half-page ad in the June 17 edition of the Lexington County Chronicle proclaimed that "there is only one REAL Republican in the run-off," citing as evidence the fact that Mr. Koon had voted in every Republican primary in recent years, whereas "Nimrata N. Randhawa" once voted in a Democratic primary. Below that was an asterisk with the insinuating footnote, "As the opponent's name appears on the voter registration files. A different name appears on the ballot." (Implication: She ain't from around here, and she's trying to hide it.)

Haley has to get the credit for prevailing in the face of all these. But how did she prevail? By running away from her roots, her culture, and her identity. By abandoning her Sikh religion and embracing Christianity. This is what she says on her campaign website:

Question: Is Nikki a Christian?

Truth: In Nikki’s words: "My faith in Christ has a profound impact on my daily life and I look to Him for guidance with every decision I make. God has blessed my family in so many ways and my faith in the Lord gives me great strength on a daily basis. Being a Christian is not about words, but about living for Christ every day."

The underlying message reflected in this Q&A, is that she does not believe that she could win as a Sikh woman. She has to convince voters that she is a Christian. Is that diversity or sellout?

What did she get in return? Of course being called racial slurs by her fellow republicans.

Asian Americans were held up as the "model minority" by those who were opposed to the civil rights movement. They promote a few token Asian Americans to higher positions to show that they have accomplished "diversity", that people who work hard can get ahead. Thus they avoid having to address the social injustice faced by the blacks, at the same time also implicitly suggesting that the blacks are not hard working. Unfortunately, because of the relatively higher starting point of some of the Asian immigrants (mostly in the 1960's), their economic interests are more aligned with the Republican party, making it easier for those Asian Americans to become willing participants in the Republican agenda. Both Bobby Jindal and Nikky Haley belong to this group.

But most Asian Americans do not sell out. They know that the real diversity is in the Democratic party. A June 2009 survey of over 16,000 Asian Americans found that Asian American voters voted 76% for Obama in 2008 election. Asian Americans know where their political interest is and where real diversity is. It's not in the Republican party.

Originally posted to xgz on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 08:10 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Neither. (13+ / 0-)

    Nikki Haley doesn't owe the Democratic Party anything. Neither does Bobby Jindal, JC Watts,, some Hispanic Republican, I just can't think of one now.  They're contemptible because they're Republicans, not because they're sellouts.  

  •  I'm not sure what to make of this. (4+ / 0-)

    On the one hand, having some minorities in the GOP isn't necessarily a bad thing. With Obama as President and race getting mixed up with politics, the threat is that this country's legacy of racial tolerance gets dragged into the mud of relentlessly increasing political polarization. That is very very bad.

    On the other hand, if Nikki Haley's success has anything to do with demographics, it probably more to do with her gender than race. Since Sarah Palin, many conservative women have become emboldened to run for office and we see this trend across states.

    •  I celebrate the Haleys, Steeles, Jindels... (6+ / 0-)

      in the Republican party.  Not for any role they play there, but for the fact that even the Republicans realize that no party can be 'whites only' and survive in today's America.

      In terms of race, we've passed a point of no return.

      Republicans aren't even cleansing their party of gays.  The days of straight/white/male domination is about over even in the most conservative of parties....

      Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

      by BobTrips on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:29:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think it's about race... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Beowulf, caul, Kimball Cross

        Race is secondary. This is class. The republicans care less about race, and more about money. If you happen to be a color other than white or Boehner, that's a nice distraction from class warfare.

        Haley: privileged upbringing.

        Jindal: Child of university and management parents.

        Steele: He is the only one who actually had a life more typical of Americans.

        It's about class (mostly), or Mr. Token, who just happens to have the soulless corporate background (Steele did liability litigation) needed to be in today's republican party. Too bad he didn't finish becoming a priest.

        It is curious to see the periodical disuse and perishing of means and machinery, which were introduced with loud laudation a few years or centuries before. -RWE

        by Gravedugger on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:47:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, that was Shirley Sherrod's point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          caul, Kimball Cross

          the divide in America isn't between races, its between classes.

          The problem with Steele is well he's Michael Steele, he'd actually probably be a pretty good congressman because he thinks for himself and is straight up even when it'd be more political to keep his head down.

          However, he's ill-suit for the job of RNC Chair, whose main mission is to stroke the money guys to build a war chest for negative TV ads in the fall.  Haley Barbour excelled at it, because he was a lobbyist and the money guys were his color, green.

          I"ll tell you who would have been an excellent RNC chair (if we're limiting ourselves to black Republicans).  Lynn Swann.  Everybody likes the guy and the money guys respect one kind of green above all others, a green jacket. :o)

        •  Class... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          caul, Kimball Cross, BabetheBlueOx

          Given decent opportunity one can change their class upward.

          Getting race out of our society means that all can take advantage of that opportunity if they wish.

          I'm glad to see race/sex discrimination disappearing from the Republican party....

          Enough of this reality crap. I voted for MAGIC!!!

          by BobTrips on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 10:56:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It is a shame that was her only choice, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    caul, JeffW

    lest she joined the Democrats. That said we have our racists but they tend to try to do right when called out. The other side digs in.

  •  Nikki Haley couldn't be a Buddhist (6+ / 0-)

    I would find it very difficult to reconcile Buddhism with being a Republican.  It would be like being an ant who is pro-Raid.

    •  One of the most terrible dictatorships on the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xgz, Mariken

      planet is run by Budhhists.  That is Myanmar.

      With all due respect to the diarist who tried to be objective and does not seem in the least mean-spirited, this diary is very annoying.

      Lumping South Asians in with Chinese and Japanese - themselves quite different from each other - is bizarre to my mind.  

      Sikhs have a quite distinct dress and religion from Indians.  They were the legendary warriors that stopped Genghis Khan's Golden Horde from invading India.  And how they remember.  Every male Sikh is supposed to carry a knife in remembrance, though presumably not for use.  A Sikh guide in India showed us his rubber toy knife carried in his waistband.

      I long ago abandoned my father's Irish Catholic religion that was a matter of - well, patriotism -for the Irish and cause for endless war.  And it is none of yours or anyone else's gawddam business.

      Haley's religion, past or present, is not a fit subject for political discussion unless it very directly impinges on her politics in my view.  Nor is her very unclear ethnicity.

      That is a separate matter from biographical information.


      Best,  Terry

      •  India is very diverse (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, iceweasel

        Sikhs have a quite distinct dress and religion from Indians.  

        Sikhs are as much a part of India and are as Indian as Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Jews.

        •  Oh sure (0+ / 0-)

          Sikhs are as much a part of India and are as Indian as Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Jews.


          Any room in there for us heretics? :-)

          Interesting to me is that you mention Jains.  We used to see the Hassidic Jews go through shows where we were set up in an almost military formation looking to buy diamonds.  Wasn't difficult to spot them. :-)  They competed with the Jains for the diamond market.  I know absolutely nothing about the Jains and little more about the Hassidic Jews.  Even at my age I can still spot the Hassidic Jews as easily as young women in short skirts, also perhaps looking for diamonds.

          Has nothing whatever to do with what country one is a part of.

          Best,  Terry

      •  By "Buddhists" I mean... (0+ / 0-)

        ...people actually practicing Buddhism.  In the Myanmar context you can just be "Buddhist" by default, whereas to classify yourself as Buddhist in America means you're deliberately taking a stand because the actual practice is important to you.

  •  Just a piece of shit republican to me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 08:36:04 PM PDT

  •  quite a few Vietnamese immigrants (6+ / 0-)

    are right-wing, because they're leery of communism (for obvious reasons) and see the GOP as a bulwark against it.

    Don't know if the younger generation of Vietnamese-Americans will become more liberal in their views.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 08:41:08 PM PDT

  •  she converted to christianity, so what? (13+ / 0-)

    probably not electable as a sikh, that is true, but unless you have real evidence that her conversion was a contrived political decision, why denigrate her faith?

    Everybody takes me too seriously. Nobody believes anything I say. - Philip Whalen, The Madness of Saul

    by rasbobbo on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 08:41:45 PM PDT

    •  Or her choices (8+ / 0-)

      I thought we on the left were supposed to be PRO-choice. I know I am, across the board.

    •  the point is, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, debedb, xgz, BabetheBlueOx, svboston

      political candidates very often have to profess one of the Judeo-Christian faiths in order to get elected to high office. Remember, it was only four years ago that this country elected its first Muslim congressman.

      Long gone are the days when someone like Thomas Jefferson, a deist who prepared his own edition of the Bible by cutting out everything he considered superstitious or miraculous, could be elected.

      Every modern candidate for president is obligated to say "I love Jesus" with hand over heart and tears in his eyes, and if he doesn't do so convincingly enough, it's going to be hard for him.

      Obama's no exception, BTW.

      Le plus ca change...

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:03:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes and 54 years ago for a Sikh Rep. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        caul, nickrud, BabetheBlueOx
      •  & of course what you say is true. (4+ / 0-)

        still, that reflects on the ignorance & worse of the american electorate, not on ms haley's sincerity of belief. her conversion did indeed make her political career possible, especially as a republican. claro. but it doesn't necessarily mean it is a political contrivance. if you know otherwise, i'm open to learning, but i find the assumption distasteful.

        Everybody takes me too seriously. Nobody believes anything I say. - Philip Whalen, The Madness of Saul

        by rasbobbo on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:32:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  a fair comment (0+ / 0-)

          I am not questioning the sincerity of Haley's conversion (only she knows), but my point was simply that because of the pressures I described, it's not unreasonable to consider the possibility that a politician might cynically convert in order to win votes.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 10:16:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and I bet not every politician is actually praying when they close their eyes and bow during a "moment of silence".  We can't look into anyone's heart, we can only look at their actions.  

            If we "consider the possibility" that Haley cynically converted to win votes, then you ARE "questioning the sincerity" of her conversion.  And your basis for this is her ethnic background.  How is that different from Teabaggers who question the sincerity of the President's faith simply because of HIS ethnic background?  Its not cool in either case.

            •  of course I consider the possibility (0+ / 0-)

              that doesn't mean I think she did it.

              I look with a skeptical eye on all politicians' public pronouncements on their religious beliefs.

              I'm not saying she did it, I don't know, and I have no evidence. What I am saying is that everything she has done is completely consistent with the hypothesis that she converted to increase her political chances. It is also completely consistent with the hypothesis that she just decided to be a Methodist because she made a personal decision that it was the true faith. We'll never know.

              your basis for this is her ethnic background

              No, my basis for contemplating the possibility is that she's a politician and politicians exploit religion, because religion allows them to hide behind the cloak of sanctity in a way that other pretexts do not.

              I ask you this: do you, or do you not, believe that politicians cynically exploit religion in order to gain political advantage?

              Whether it happened in this particular case, there is no evidence. But it does happen, and it happens often.

              This is one of those areas where, unless you're really really dumb, you can always get away with it. Because it's a matter of personal belief, only you and you alone can possibly know.

              "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

              by limpidglass on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 11:09:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  politicians exploit religion, car dealers exploit (0+ / 0-)

                religion, restaurateurs exploit religion, realtors, insurance salesman, aluminum siding dealers & sexual predators all exploit religion. it's a function of american tribalism, or maybe it's universally to be found, certainly it is one of the least attractive human traits.

                Everybody takes me too seriously. Nobody believes anything I say. - Philip Whalen, The Madness of Saul

                by rasbobbo on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 11:23:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Jefferson was not a Deist Like His Predecesors (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        President Thomas Jefferson was a Protestant. Jefferson was raised as an Episcopalian (Anglican). He was also influenced by English Deists and has often been identified by historians as a Deist. He held many beliefs in common with Unitarians of the time period, and sometimes wrote that he thought the whole country would become Unitarian. He wrote that the teachings of Jesus contain the "outlines of a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man." Wrote: "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know." Source: "Jefferson's Religious Beliefs", by Rebecca Bowman, Monticello Research Department, August 1997

        See here.

        Unitarian is probably the best description of his religion.  Many Unitarians are clearly atheists as are Deists in my view.

        In Jefferson's time it was not safe to be an atheist.

        Some small progress today despite the hokey Bible thumping by liars and hypocrites of the worst kind.

        Best,  Terry

        •  Was that true back then? (0+ / 0-)

          I know Unitarians today range from Christians to Deists to Atheists (and there's probably 50 more variations), but in the 18th Century weren't they a little more, oh what's the word, churchy?

          •  The general idea of Deism is that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Beowulf, rasbobbo

            God takes care of God and man can damn well take care of himself.

            I don't see how you can come much closer to atheism without denying there is any God.

            A Unitarian I used to know described his church as having atheists on side of the aisle and Christians on the other side.  I had no idea what side he sat on.

            A Unitarian wedding I attended was a most colorful affair.  The minister's garb would have put a peacock to shame.  The sermonizing was pablum that befit the congregation.

            I am no scholar of such matters but if I had to choose a religion at the point of a gun, I would be delighted to be a Deist.  Even better than cocksure agnostics. :-)

            If I retained any spark of the fire of youth, I would naturally be a pagan. [sigh]

            Best,  Terry

            •  I hear ya (0+ / 0-)

              If Jefferson were alive today, he'd probably feel most simpatico with a Unitarian-Universalist congregation.

              What I asking above was, during Jefferson's time were the Unitarians doctrinally were they are now with (that's a great phrase) atheists on one side of the aisle and Christians on the other side, or were they Christians on both side?

              Ben Franklin was a Deist too apparently.  What a fascinating man.  Here's a great Stephan A. Schwartz article about his life and good works (its long, so I'll attach the pdf link, but worth reading when you have the time).

    •  I agree. Nobody here knows here well enough (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to know whether this is opportunism or not.

      It's like saying Obama is a secret Muslim.

      Sarah Palin ... speaks truth. It remains to be seen if this nation has enough sanity left to put her in office. -- A RW blogger.

      by Kimball Cross on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 12:23:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  both jindal and nikki are sikhs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xgz, limpidglass, svboston

    and both abandoned their original faith.

    The Dem Asian candidates are more authentic, with their own names still intact. I dont know about their faiths though.

  •  I have to say one thing (4+ / 0-)

    There are people in India who are Christian. Christianity has been in India and it accounts for 2.3% of its population. St. Thomas the Apostle went to India to preach the Gospel of Jesus.

    Also there are Koreans who are Christian. S. Korea has a presence of Christian churches there. So there are people in those countries who were Christians to begin with.

  •  Model minority. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rasbobbo, xgz

    Yes, I think I agree with the diarist. South Asian Americans enable the GOP to say it is not about skin color, ergo they are not racist. Weird yes, to summon a minority of color to prove that you are not biased against minorities.

    Certain announced tenants of conservatism dovetail with the immigrant experience in America: hard work, self reliance, family. However, I've always felt, no matter how desperate, that immigrants are self selecting population: willing to leave, family, culture and country to start anew, where you may not even speak the language and be penniless. It means that you have some traits in higher preponderance than the general population. I say that as a grandchild of immigrants.

    That said, the GOP is still promulgating racism. I'm reading Max Blumenthal's Republican Gomorrah and it is clear that they are not changing their spots. They just using a little "make up".

    Never underestimate the ability of the Right to over reach.

    by never forget 2000 on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:00:29 PM PDT

    •  Need a larger sample size (0+ / 0-)

      South Asian Americans enable the GOP to say it is not about skin color, ergo they are not racist.

      There are TWO Indians, who hold elected office as Republicans.

      You need a larger sample size to make GOP claims of not coddling racists any less believable.

      •  Two Govenors (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That's a big deal. You can name the number of black governors on one hand (Doug Wilder and Deval Patrick and they did not serve in the same time period). Upon reflection, I realize that the diarist (and perhaps myself) may come across as intolerant, but in my case I don't think so.

        South Asian American owe nothing to either party.

        They face unique challenges in the GOP vis a vis religion where that would not be a question for a black GOP candidate. But make no mistake that the GOP will use these "beige" faces to cover their own racist agenda.

        Never underestimate the ability of the Right to over reach.

        by never forget 2000 on Mon Jul 26, 2010 at 08:26:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Both are despicable repubs. Don't care about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Lane

    their ethinicity or culture.

    BP - Proving Oil and Water do mix.
    A Presidency Among the Vuvuzelas.
    palin's ability to sound like a vuvuzela while twittering is remarkable.

    by amk for obama on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:06:17 PM PDT

  •  This is a rather intolerant article (13+ / 0-)

    Who the hell is any of us to say what "religion" or even what party a "minority" must belong to? This is America, where we choose what we are.

    Is my German-blood mother a sellout to Lutheranism for becoming an Episcopalian/Anglican when she married my Yankee Wasp father? After all, the German religion is Lutheran or Catholic.

    Is my father a sellout to his Yankee WASP roots for being a democrat when it was viewed the party of the Catholics and Southerners?

    Is my sister a sellout to her Union blooded family for being a Republican? Is my brother-in-law a sellout to his Irish ancestors for being a Republican?

    The answer to all of these is no. Nikki Haley is bad for bad politics and/or bad personal decisions. Nothing more or less. These "sellout" articles strike me of the same intolerance I saw from WASP Republicans who wanted to keep their neighborhoods "pure" from "those people" and voted Republican to keep "those people" from having power.

    Support Fair Trade. Buy American! Keep jobs at home. Political Compass Economy -6.62, Social -4.82

    by John Lane on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:11:08 PM PDT

  •  Just wondering if Haley and Jindal were (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "anchor babies," as the right labels the US citizen infants born to Hispanic parents here.  Anyone know if their parents ever became citizens?  I am personally encouraged that the right has drawn some diversity into their fold; it can only help.  Perhaps we will even find some of them to be moderates who are interested in working for the good of the nation and not rabid party dogs driven by their prejudices and character defects.

  •  She's an Anerican citizen (5+ / 0-)

    And she has the right as an American citizen to run for elective office in her state of residence.  Would I vote for her if I lived in South Carolina?  No, I wouldn't but only because I disagree with her policy positions, not her religious background.  That's what's known as Democracy in action folks.

    "To do is to be." - Plato "To be is to do." - Aristotle "Dooby Dooby Do." - Sinatra

    by paulitics on Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 09:42:28 PM PDT

  •  Nikki Haley's big advantage (0+ / 0-)

    Isn't her religion or race, it's because she's photogenic and probably has a good T.V. presence.

    I think it's the high cheekbones and the fact she's under 40, so hasn't "lost her looks".

    The only real cynical question I'd have about someone like Haley is does she really believe in the Republican Party or did she jump on the bandwagon, because she happened to be born in South Carolina, where the Republicans dominate state politics.

    There are plenty of ambitious politicians out there, who profess love of a party because representing it will be the easiest path to victory.

    One will never really know because I doubt she's dumb enough to make such comments public.

  •  Bobby Jindal makes me sick (0+ / 0-)

    In fact, their families came here and took advantage of all the civil rights liberal have fought for and they sellout and side with the same kind of people and ideology that fought against civil rights. They are big time sellouts.

  •  An insulting diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Lane, lightshine

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