Tag Archives: Greek-Americans

The Jindal Portrait Flap

There was a huge internet driven controversy yesterday that was started by this tweet sent out by an old friend and blogger comrade in arms:

I’m not going to deal with the Jindal camp’s weasely-n-whiny response or go into the details of the portrait. I’d rather discuss *why* I find it so disturbing that Gov PBJ likes this poorly done portrait that doesn’t resemble him at all. The twitter people are having a hard time understanding why this reveals something significant about PBJ. There was a lot of chatter about “the issues, not the man.” That’s nonsense, they’re inseparable. I rarely talk about “character” in the MSM sense of the word, but this isn’t like Bill Clinton’s zipper issues. It goes to the core of who Bobby Jindal is; his very identity as a human being.

Here’s the deal: I have NO problem with Bobby Jindal’s ethnicity. I have NO problem with his name change: I grew up with Chinese kids with names like Jeff, Kirk, and Darlene. I have NO problem with his religious conversion and neither do most Indian-Americans. What I do have a problem with is Jindal’s REJECTION OF HIS INDIAN HERITAGE. He is so desperate to assimilate and achieve power that he’s forgotten who he is and where he came from. That’s not unusual for a politician but PBJ has one of the most extreme cases I’ve ever encountered.

As a second generation ethnic American I find this extremely vexing. And it has nothing to do with politics: my papou and my father were ardent and active Republicans. But they believed in taking care of their own and helping our family in the old country. My papou was active in the AHEPA, a Greek-American fraternal organization that raised money for and built a hospital in the biggest city of his home region. World War II devastated occupied Greece because the Nazis considered them sub-human, and then a violent and deeply stupid Civil War broke out between far right Royalists and the ultra Stalinist Communist Party. Both sides were cruel, brutal, and wrong headed. My family helped a string of refugees, both relatives and others, escape this calamitous conflict.

Jindal’s family has walked a different path and that’s their business, BUT I still find it appalling as well as baffling. They’ve turned their backs on their Indian relatives and the proud culture from which they sprung. PBJ attacks those who embrace their own heritage, which is particularly outrageous coming from someone who is palpably ashamed of his own. Just imagine Jack Kennedy rejecting his Irish Catholic background. I can’t and neither can you because it was a part of who he was and what made him tick. The worst (best?) that could be said of JFK was that he was lace curtain and not shanty Irish. But his visit to Ireland as President made that cool and suave man cry over the ecstatic reception he received.

The person PBJ is starting to remind me of is Kennedy’s great rival, Richard Nixon. Like Tricky Dick, he combines megalomania and deep seated insecurities. PBJ’s rejection of his Indian background is a sign of a man who is uncomfortable in his own skin. The good news is that Bobby Jindal will never be President but the bad news is that he *could* be on a future Republican ticket. We don’t need another Nixon a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Do I think Bobby Jindal wants to be white? I’m not a mind reader so I have no earthly idea but the mere fact that the question can be posed is unsettling. I do know that he’s ashamed of his Indian heritage and a fanatical assimlationist. I have no problem with the latter: the earlier generations of my Greek family had that whole immigrant super patriot thing , but they never forgot who they were or where they came from. If only Bobby Jindal could say the same, that ugly, poorly rendered portrait would be revealing of nothing except for bad taste in art.

There’s a lot of discussion about whether calling Jindal by his given name Piyush is racist. It’s not inherently so BUT some of the people who use it are dog whistling, which is one reason I stopped calling him that 8 years ago. The other reason is that you waste a lot time arguing about whether using that name is racist instead of discussing Jindal’s horrible record as Gret Stet governor. It’s been a veritable demolition derby of our public education and health care systems since he took office in 2008. My compromise on the name issue is to call him PBJ. After all, who among us doesn’t like the Other PBJ?

The main mistake I made on the Tweeter Tube was violating my rule about getting involved in serious, substantive conversation on a platform that limits one to 140 characters. I know better but a friend was under attack from self-righteous lefties who criticized him for being insufficiently moralistic or some such shit. All Lamar did was post a picture, what happened afterwards was out of his control. That’s why they call it viral.

Since there were no jokes in the post, I’d like to end on a lighter note with this tweet from my fellow NOLA blogger, Cliff Harris:

Tagged , , , , , , ,