Letters from Readers: GOP, Dr. Ahmed, security checks, Calcutta
In his letter in the October issue, Mr. Narender Reddy says, “Ironically, the Indian-American community that supports the Democratic Party has not fared well historically.” I was amused by the preposterousness of the statement. It is ignorant about the history of the political parties and their attitude towards immigrants from India. Maybe I can educate the writer on this history.
1. The Immigration Act of 1924 authored by Rep. Albert Johnson and Sen. David Reed, both Republicans, prohibited the immigration of East Asians and Asian Indians into this country.
2. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, sponsored by Democrats Sen. Pat McCarran and Rep. Francis Walter, allowed immigrants from India on a quota basis in small numbers.
3. Finally, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the National Origins Formula and allowed immigrants from all the countries on the first-come-first-served basis. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Philip Hart (D) and Rep. Emanuel Celler (D), was widely supported by the Democratic establishment in the form of Sens. Ted Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and President Lyndon Johnson—over the opposition from the Conservative lawmakers from the South, some of whom were Democrats at the time but are now Republicans.
4. Sen. Ted Kennedy also pushed for the family reunification bill which allowed hundreds of thousands of relatives of Indian immigrants to come to this country in the last 45 years. The Republican and Tea Party Web sites on immigration even today blame the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 for the browning of America.
Without the support of the Democratic Party, the Indian-American community as we see it today would not exist.
Regarding the elections of Republicans Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley as governors, it is very apparent that there is not much that is Indian about them. They did not get elected as Piyush and Nimrata. They both adopted Christianity. Haley sponsored and signed a race-profiling immigration bill that Bobby Jindal agrees with. Should these two be Indian-American role models? The writer better carry his U.S. passport with him when he crosses the border into Alabama. Otherwise his Republican and Tea Party friends may throw him in jail.
In the political context, I really admire the Jewish people for their loyalty and gratefulness. The Democratic Party helped them to migrate to the USA from the 1930s onwards and most of them have remained loyal to the party. Even the rich Jews have not changed their loyalty and gone over to the Republican Party for just a few dollars’ worth of tax breaks like some Indians have.
The writer resorts to name-calling by calling the media “leftist.” This is typical of Republicans as they cannot defend their positions. The letter writer should thank Democrats, without whom he would be sitting in India and arguing about Congress and BJP.
Simpsonville, South Carolina
Kudos to Dr. Ahmed—may a Nobel come his way soon
I thank Khabar for publishing Ajay Vishwanathan’s well-written article on our own esteemed Dr. Rafi Ahmed (October issue). Dr. Ahmed’s accomplishments are inspirational to not just people in scientific fields, but also to everyone in other careers. I am particularly proud of Dr. Rafi Ahmed for we both come from the same educational institution back in India, namely Osmania University. The picture of Dr. Ahmed with so many of his former and current trainees speaks volumes about his role in shaping the lives and careers of such a large number of professionals. I consider that as one of his greatest achievements, in addition to his seminal contributions to the fields of virology and immunology. I am thrilled that my fellow Hyderabadi is doing so well in the scientific world and wish him all the best in achieving more and more milestones in his career.
Is the Nobel Prize in Medicine in store for Dr. Rafi Ahmed? Who knows, it could well be, if the Nobel committee recognizes his contributions and looks beyond his religious affiliation and national origin. Yes, the Nobel committee has been known for some internal politics in the past.
Let’s take extra security checks in stride
The incident described in the piece titled “Flying with Dark Skin” (October issue) is not an isolated one. “Profiling” is quite common in airline travel, especially if there are unusual behaviors on the part of passengers. This is the price we all pay for the heinous acts of a few terrorists. I am of Indian origin, and have been often subjected to “special” searches during my travel. Once my wife and I were about to board the plane when we were asked to turn back for additional security checks. But because safety is such an important issue, I have taken these searches in stride. I would rather be inconvenienced than be dead or injured. Because of these extraordinary precautions, the U.S. has not suffered any major terrorist attack since 9/11. If India took similar precautions all over the country, we would not see so many terrorist attacks there.
S. N. Pan
Gloriously global Calcutta
This is in response to Robert Hirschfield’s article, “Among the Last Jews of Kolkata” (October issue). If I may say so about my hometown Calcutta (as Kolkata was then known), it was only there that all migrants found and retained their identities. When we grew up in cosmopolitan “central Cal,” our neighbors were the Jewish Sillimans, the Mordecais, and the Rembaums. From distant Armenia came and settled and flourished the Gaspers, the Aratoons, and the Makertiches. From the west coastal town of Baruch the Parsis came and settled. From Iran came the Shirazis and the Gilanis. We grew up in a gloriously global community. We went to school and played together, and we celebrated together. We were in and out of each other’s homes. Our parents cultivated a culture that was entirely inclusive. Our parents married across communities and across faiths and they bonded in mutual respect. That then was Calcutta.
Supriya Sircar Dasgupta
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