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Letters from Readers: Nikki Haley, divorced dating, mirror neurons

October 2011
Letters from Readers: Nikki Haley, divorced dating, mirror neurons Nikki Haley is a role model for our youth

I am appalled at the editorial titled “Can a GOP leader with Tea Party leanings be honored as a role model of Indian-American life?” (August 2011), which questioned India Abroad’s recognition of Governor Nikki Haley with the “Person of the Year” award. Too often, your editorials turn into GOP-bashing.

This one cites Haley’s endorsement by the Tea Party and her support of the NRA as two legitimate reasons that our community should not accept her as a role model of the Indian-American way of life. But since when did protecting our second amendment become such a vehemently anti-Indian stance?

The left-leaning media, including Khabar, have tried to create the Tea Party’s image as a bunch of racists and extremists threatening our country and our way of life. But the Tea Party movement is about reforming all political parties and the government so that the core principles of this nation’s founding fathers become, once again, the foundation upon which the U.S. stands.

The editorial questions the GOP’s emphasis on family values when courting Indian-Americans. It may be true that the Republican Party has traditionally opposed same-sex marriage, but to be honest, when have traditional Indian-Americans ever supported this ideology? No matter what one’s views on same-sex marriage, this is not the only standard by which we can measure commitment to family values.

Also, since when did being Indian-American become synonymous with supporting the entry of illegal aliens into our country?

The leftist media always seem to promote the Democratic Party as the champion of minorities, while the Republican Party unfailingly assumes the role of villain. In my opinion, there is absolutely no basis for this.

Ironically, the Indian-American community that supports the Democratic Party has not fared well historically. In every election cycle, we see many Indian-American Democrats running for Congress and other offices. Yet since the mid-1950s, an Indian-American has never been elected to a Democratic seat in Congress. In contrast, the GOP elected Bobby Jindal to U.S. Congress (2004) and later as Governor of Louisiana (2007).

The GOP’s election of Nikki Haley as the current Governor of South Carolina is a milestone in the history of the state as she broke the barriers of color, race and national origin. The fact that two Southern states have chosen Jindal and Haley as governors should be considered a proud achievement for all of us. They accomplished this feat not because the GOP wanted a couple of poster men/women to attract minorities, but only because of their sheer determination and hard work. Let’s not forget how Democrats in South Carolina were the first to point to Haley’s Indian-American origin as an election issue. Still, she campaigned hard and won the election to become governor. Haley openly acknowledged her Indian heritage during the campaign. In fact her father, a practicing Sikh who wears a turban, stood next to her at many campaign events. Now, that should make her the role model for all of us.

We as Indian-Americans should decide for ourselves our own way of life and choose our role models for our youth. No one magazine’s editorial can decide for us. I, for one, consider both Haley and Jindal as role models for any of our youth who may be considering politics as a career.

Narender G. Reddy
Duluth, Georgia
[Mr. Reddy is a leading Republican activist, organizer, and fundraiser since 1991 and has had the distinction of being Vice Chairman of the Georgia Bush-Cheney Campaign 2004]

Haley does not represent Indian-Americans

Both Ms. Haley and Mr. Jindal might have achieved a unique place in American politics as governors of two of the most conservative Southern states, but they in no way represent the thinking and political leanings of the majority of Indian-Americans! They are opportunistic. I am very certain that Ms. Haley thinks herself as a Caucasian and may not like to be known as Indian-American.

I am reminded of the “Brown Sahib” phenomenon back in India during the British period. Many Indians aped their British rulers, trying to look like them, and looked down upon their fellow Indians. Even now some Indians in the U.S. as well as in India exhibit this Brown Sahib attitude.

Sam Raj
Marietta, Georgia

Dating: What about older Indian-Americans?

Although the article “Dating in the Digital Age” in the September issue is interesting, it leaves out a growing group of single Indians—those who are older than 35, divorced and with children. Where do those of us who are divorced with children go? We don’t have the time to date and the stigma around divorce is still huge in the community. If you are a single woman raising children, most Indian men and their parents don’t want to have anything to do with you and another man’s offspring.

Online Comment

Skeptics question the mirror neuron system

This is in response to your August cover story (“Brain Man: A Conversation with Dr. V. S. Ramachandran”). Regarding critics of mirror neuron claims, Dr. Ramachandran notes, “I’d argue with him [Gregory Hickok] that there is no definitive proof of action understanding, but given their properties it seems reasonable to argue that it exists. I mean, you can always say about any neuron system that it’s just a correlation, that it’s not really doing the job.”

Here is the complete argument against the mirror neuron claim regarding action understanding.

1. The evidence from monkeys is purely correlation and since we can’t be sure what is beneath the correlation, we need to look to other sources of evidence to confirm or disconfirm what appears to be a relation between motor system and understanding. The strongest form of evidence comes from cases where the mirror/motor system is damaged. In particular, if the mirror system really is the basis of action understanding then damage to this system should cause deficits in understanding actions.

2. Researchers have been doing just this in studies of the so-called human mirror system. An important test case came from understanding speech actions, a function that has been attributed to the human mirror system. Research in this area has shown conclusively that damage to the motor speech system (the mirror system for speech) does not impair the ability to perceive speech.

So the argument is not just about correlation. Rather it is a two part argument. Part 1: the evidence for the mirror neuron claim derived from monkey research is correlative and therefore ambiguous. Part 2: there is strong evidence in humans that the mirror system is not needed for action understanding.

There is a growing and increasingly vocal skepticism regarding mirror neurons in the scientific community. The views expressed by Dr. Ramachandran reflect only one side of the debate and in my view are not consistent with the scientific facts.

Gregory S. Hickok
[Professor Hickok is with the Department of Cognitive Sciences, and is Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of California, Irvine.]

What’s on YOUR mind?

We welcome original, unpublished letters from our readers. You could either respond to a specific article in Khabar or write about issues relevant to our community. Letters may be edited for length and other considerations. Longer submissions by readers may be considered for the “My Turn” column.

Email: letters@khabar.com • Fax: (770) 234-6115.

Mail: Khabar, Inc. 3790 Holcomb Bridge Rd. Suite 101, Norcross, GA 30092.

Note: Views expressed in the Letters section do not necessarily represent those of the publication.

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