Sandip Roy’s response (Joel Stein and the Curry Problem, online special, July 2010) to Joel Stein’s article in TIME magazine (My Own Private India, July 2010) inspired several of our readers to comment.
Indian Americans Can Be Racist Toward Their Own
Sandip Roy’s article is incisive. But why blame the likes of Joel Stein? He is entitled to wax nostalgia for the vanishing landscape of his home town (aren’t we all?) It is Indian Americans who are, as Roy says, guilty of disowning their own “little” brothers and sisters in the name of touting the model minority status they think they truly enjoy in America. It is the so-called high-end Indians in America who are racist.
Sharmila Mukherjee, Facebook
I Agree With Joel Stein
I happen to agree with Mr. Stein.
I happen to live in New York City, and I, too, have visited Edison. The storefronts there are ugly. The place is throbbing with Bollywood tracks. The men swagger in gaudy gold chains.
So would I be called “racist?”
Alakananda Mookerjee, Facebook
Insensitive and Racist
I found Joel Stein’s article very insensitive.
While some may view it as a humorous piece, what is bothersome is the undertone of resentment throughout. A similar article written by a German about how Jews moved into his old neighborhood might have also been seen as “humorous” around the time Hitler came to power but, looking back, I doubt anyone would laugh.
The truth is that there is a serious reality that exists behind this suppoedly “humorous” article. My family and I had racial epithets hurled in our direction on multiple occasions and our house got egged frequently when I was growing up (1980s-1990s) and we didn’t even live in New Jersey, we lived in California. At the same time in New Jersey, there was a group called the “Dot-busters” whose sole purpose was to assault and commit hate crimes against Indian-Americans. The xenophobic sentiments that are conveyed in Stein’s article have long been the starting point for acts of hatred.
While Indian-Americans may be an easy minority target to take aim at because we are still relatively small in number, I assure you that we will not be silent. The truth is that ANY member of ANY minority group should be disappointed by such an article getting published by a major magazine.
There are a number of talented authors out there who write great articles that promote understanding of different cultures. Media outlets have a responsibility to publish those kinds of pieces instead.
Ashray Shah, via email
Criticism of Israel Absent in Media
I applaud Sarita Sarvate’s column (Of Israel and Other Sacred Cows, July 2010). India Currents also deserves credit for publishing it. Criticism of Israel’s brutal occupation, appalling human rights violations, and utter disdain for international law is virtually absent in the U.S. mainstream media.
Since its inception, Israel has launched an unrelenting campaign of persecution and repression of the Palestinian people. Uri Milstein, the authoritative Israeli military historian of the 1948 war, commented that “every skirmish ended in a massacre of Arabs.”
Sadly, the United States is the only country in the world which offers unconditional support to Israel—billions of dollars of military and economic aid. AIPAC (the American Public Affairs Committee) continues to use its financial and political muscle to mute criticism of Israel.
I applaud Helen Thomas’s courageous words criticizing Israel’s brutality. She may have used intemperate language but her message was clear and unambiguous.
Jagjit Singh, Los Altos, CA
Israel’s Existential Threat
While Sarita Sarvate brings up a valid point (Of Israel and Other Sacred Cows, July 2010), the state of Israel is a vibrant democracy and in fact ranks higher on human rights than its Arab neighbors. Israel has many citizens of Arab descent who enjoy the same rights as its Jewish citizens and indeed are represented in Knesset.
I would suggest Sarita view the CSPAN episode of the Institute of Foreign Relations where Netanyahu recently spoke. For all my doubts, I was impressed. Netanyahu actually spoke about the Palestinian child. Does Abbas have the courage to think of the Israeli child?
Israel has to deal with an existential threat which no other nation faces. In some ways Israel’s problem mirrors India’s. In a way, Pakistanis are so used to war with India, they can’t even imagine peace. Israel and India therefore have a common challenge—to convince their neighbors that, in the 21st century, peace is the best way forward for a civil society, no matter how deep the differences.
Gopal Chakravarthy, Agoura Hills, CA
Cooking Up a Cultural Blend
The King Arthur’s whole wheat flour and the song that breezes over the fifty states made me laugh(The Chana Masala Metaphor, June 2010). What is it about that song? It won’t leave you alone! I find myself humming it as I type.
But you can’t really screw up Indian food. Even though I’ve been cooking it daily for a decade it’s always a different version of (insert dish). Like tonight for instance I put together chana dal, black urad dal, potato, chopped spring onion, some sambar powder, and both red and green chilies. It rocked.
I think cooking is an appropriate gauge for the combining of culture. You don’t have to be “this” or “that” as long as you know what makes “this” and “that” unique in its own right. If you know how the individual ingredients taste, you can cook whatever you feel like cooking; hence, you can live life according to what feels right to you; respect the various parts of your cultural constructs—fry them to a golden brown!
Like you I am a mix of two different universes to which I don’t completely belong. I like it that way. I think you do, too.
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine … la la la la …
Cristina Chopalli, Chicago, IL