If there was ever a date for progeny to mark on their calendar, to return to every so decade for inexhaustible jest and mockery, it is June 24th …
… the day an overcrowded Republican race for the White House grew more ridiculously inflated with buffoonery.
… the day an honorary WASP stepped into the presidential ring to compete with Donald “Toupee” Trump, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Lindsay Graham, Rand Paul, soon-to-be Scot Walker, et al. — bona fide Caucasians.
All the ethnic-shaming and tried and terrible #jindianisms were peppered judiciously in his announcement speech, as were the staple watermarks of Protestant Americana: glowing, abstract endorsements of American exceptionalism, self-reliance, hard work, education, and capital enterprise; a fervid disavowal of hyphenated America.
“I’m sick and tired of people dividing Americans,” declared Jindal. “And I’m done with all this talk about hyphenated Americans. We are not Indian-Americans, Irish-Americans, African-Americans, rich Americans, or poor Americans – we are all Americans.”
And apparently, given his “none of the above” polling status, Americans (especially Indian-Americans) are done with Jindal.
He’s not the only conservative of color and “tough-on-immigration” candidate scrambling to appease “Bubba” in the 2016 election cycle. Marc Rubio and Ted Cruz, too, are dipping into that voter’s well.
However, next to Trump, who’s convinced that categorizing Hispanic immigrants as “rapists” and “drug dealers” is inconsequential to looking presidential, Jindal’s campaign is quickly shaping out to be among the most satire-friendly.
But, contrary to one commentator, the reason behind this is not a “mystery” nor an attempt to appeal to everyone. It can be traced to the fact that Jindal has, up to this political moment, spent his entire career as a human being seeing a white man in the mirror — an Indian-American who, at the ripe old age of 4, peered in the glass and basked at the optics of a freckled face Caucasian boy staring back; who changed his name from the foreign-sounding Piyush (pronounced Peeyoosh) to the American-sounding Bobby, the inverted rite of passage of another famous skinny politician formerly named “Barry,” who changed his “funny name” because Anglo.
B O B B Y, minus Kennedy, sounds more Ivy-league and numbers-cruncher than brown terror, more manager and cold analyst than Asian menace, more corporate retainer and model minority than ethnic radical.
Thus, the once precocious darling of a betrayed American Indian community, early on, signed his application for white privilege and is, at 44, asking relatives to wear western garb to campaign events, gutting state taxes, and doling out income-tax breaks to parents of kids in private school, all to ease the conscious of white America.
Political leaders — however narrow-minded and near-sighted their proposals or distorted their journeys — by the very nature of Politics, Inc., are predestined to be existential pinups for every prospective voter who took the time to scotch-tap a large rectangular likeness of said politician on their wall.
Obama became the go-to persona to stifle conservative and liberal anxieties about the long-term stagnation of Black progress. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor served a similar purpose for Hispanics.
Gov. Jindal is doing the same, immigration politics be damned. The effect has been the same as the 44th president shaking his index finger at black people in black churches. While this may be disappointing to Indian-Americans who put their faith in Jindal, it is business-as-usual for a man whose entire political tenure thrived on a symbiosis of assimilation, conservatism, and good ole’ boy religiosity, a la Roman Catholicism.
To be completely fair, when you’re competing in the context of a dried-up political party, anchored by a decaying, fossilized political philosophy, what choice have you but to out-white the next heterosexual male?
What choice have you but to balance a biology degree with creationism? Condone homophobia?
What choice have you but to proudly and fearlessly wear the Duck Dynasty’s scarlet letter?
What choice have you but to befriend KKK’s David Duke and bond over trash-talking working-people (i.e. POCs)?
I understand. It’s a tough world for a colored conservative.
But even if these concessions don’t hold weight, there is something more soul-knocking to Jindal’s downplaying his ethnic heritage and race-ignorance than strategically tooling for (wh)ights. Jimi Izrael, cultural critic and opinion writer, speaking with the Russian India Report, pins this more down when he says,
“Embracing difference makes white folks nervous: any brown person who aspires to assimilating will get high marks. He [Jindal] channels a certain brand of sincere self-loathing […]”
Exactly! Jindal is not merely utilizing strategy. In his heart of hearts, he’s white.
That on the nose self-hate, in a presidential race already cast with haters of humankind aplenty, may be great for comedy, but horrible for leadership.
Expect the hits to keep coming, while counting down the days until his political obituary suffocate everyone’s newsfeed. Look at his campaign logo. It reads like a prop from a well-scripted Saturday Night Live skit.
Arched across the top — “Tanned. Rested.” Beneath these motion-filled, fiery adjectives is the letter J, stuffed with U.S. iconography. Pillaring all this, between two red bars and a white ribbon — “Ready.”
Hilarity-wise, this is way up there in the stratosphere, right next to the last remaining convictions that Peeyoosh is the “Great Beige Hope” of the grand old party.
Just look at it. The #AskBobby twitter roast couldn’t have spawned anything better.
We’re “ready” too, Jindal — for your campaign to end.