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Why today’s Republican Party is stacked against Indian-American interests

By Parthiv N. Parekh Email By Parthiv N. Parekh
September 2012
Why today’s Republican Party is stacked against Indian-American interests

Treating partisan politics with neutrality is a hallmark of any credible publication. Despite the blatant abuse of “Fair and balanced” as a slogan by foxy TV channels, its significance for respectable media can hardly be overstated. There are few things as unbecoming as a prominent talking head who is little more than a mouthpiece for a party or an agenda. Credible publications distinguish themselves from such heavy slants and are committed to bringing diverse perspectives from the conservative/liberal divide on taxation, healthcare, economy, and all the weighty issues of our time.

Then, what explains our periodic partisan lament about the GOP? Unlike the mainstream publications, the role of Khabar is to talk about politics primarily in relevance to Indian-Americans as a demographic group. From this standpoint, notwithstanding the positions of the Republican Party on healthcare, taxation, or other issues, we are more interested in the entrenched polarities between certain demographic groups and the political parties. Either these polarities exist or we may have to declare something absurd—that both major political parties are the same, and that they mean the same to groups such as auto workers, bankers, oil executives, AARP, or ethnic communities such as ours.

So, unless we are willing to bury our heads in the sand, we can’t dodge the fact that each party is naturally aligned with certain demographic groups or others.

Today’s Republican Party is a far cry from simply championing sound conservative values like fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, individual liberty, and unfettered capitalism. Rather, it is captive to the agenda of the far right—the Tea Party, and therefore stacked against minorities, multiculturalism, non-Christians, non-Whites, and pro-immigrant policies—all of which means it is a party stacked against Indian-American interests.

 As alleged in a report by the NAACP, fringe elements such as racist and anti-immigrant groups have found a home in the movement. While Tea Party apologists may deny it, its Aryan Nation affiliations and the resulting racism are undeniable.

Certainly many in the Tea Party movement are simply concerned about the legitimate issues of smaller government and fiscal responsibility. But as alleged in a report by the NAACP, fringe elements such as racist and anti-immigrant groups have found a home in the movement. While Tea Party apologists may deny it, its Aryan Nation affiliations and the resulting racism are undeniable. The poster-folks of the movement, such as Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity are not exactly known for their bleeding-heart inclusivity. “Minorities” and “multiculturalism” are not the buzz words that excite the group—at least not positively.

This is the party that has given us anti-immigrant laws such as Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 and Georgia’s HB 87, which greatly undermine the civil liberties of not just Latinos, but also South Asians. These laws allow for the arbitrary arrest and detention of people merely based on suspicion of the police officer. Doesn’t matter if you are an eminent scientist or a multimillion-dollar hotelier providing jobs to hundreds, if the officer is suspicious of you, or says he was suspicious of you, you could be taken into custody if you do not have documents on hand establishing your legal status. This is not to cast a shadow on the law-enforcement agencies of our communities, which are, broadly speaking, highly professional and just. But the potential for abuse is certainly there, and such laws open the door for a slippery slope of targeting “foreign-looking” individuals.

There is another distinct characteristic of the Tea Party that sits so much at odds with Indian-Americans who are, as per the latest Census, the highest educated group in the nation. About 69% of Indian-Americans age 25 and over have four-year college degrees—not exactly something one should boast about in a Tea Party rally. Broadly speaking, the far right does not appreciate higher education and its institutions. In an op-ed in the New York Times, respected conservative writer David Brooks describes the Tea Party movement as “anti-intellectual,” and elaborates that the “members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities.”

This undermining of education and reason results in highly regressive campaigns to teach Christian stories in public schools as “science.” Not to mention the undermining of scientific research on the environment and stem cells. Such rigid and backward platforms of the far right are an affront to the sensibilities of most educated Americans, and certainly of Indian-Americans, who not only revere education, but are also predominantly Hindus.

That the Indian-American community is at polar odds with a Republican Party that is currently captive to its fringe is no less deniable than, say, the incompatibility of fundamentalist Christians with the Democratic Party.

 


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