I’m going to have a post up later about Bobby Jindal’s Republican Response of last night — it’s taken me that long to get over my anger at him for using Hurricane Katrina as an example of why we need less government — but before I do, I wanted to take note of a name I’m seeing a lot on liberal blogs of late.
The name is Piyush.
Piyush is Bobby Jindal’s official name, the one given to him by his parents at birth. Like many second-generation immigrants before him, Jindal has chosen not to use that name in his professional life. Instead, he uses “Bobby.” Why does he do this? For the same reason that millions of second-generation immigrants have chosen to go by John instead of Juan, or Margaret instead of Mulan, or Barry instead of Barack, or Hank instead of Hans — because using a more traditional American name allows one to avoid some of the anti-immigrant, nativist hatred that has been a part of American society since the first Americans came to this country illegally and stole land away from its rightful owners.
Calling Bobby Jindal “Piyush” comes from the same dark part of the American soul that motivates some conservatives to always include Barack Obama’s middle name when speaking of him. It’s a way to “other” him, to make him sound less like an American, and more like a foreigner. It’s a way to attack Jindal’s ethnicity, and to argue subtly that he should be taken less seriously because he is an Indian-American, and therefore not a “real” American.
And that is, quite simply, abhorrent. There are many, many reasons to dislike Bobby Jindal politically, from his retrograde positions on women’s rights to his Norquistian, drown-it-in-the-bathtub view of economics. But these have nothing to do with his ethnicity, or where his parents were born.
Bobby Jindal has chosen to call himself Bobby. Polite and decent people call a person by the name they ask you to call them by. So feel free to call Bobby Jindal a sexist, a Christianist, and a disaster for the economy — but call him Bobby Jindal. Because that’s his name.
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