Racist Time? - Silent Rogue
 
I'm sure not many of you have read the recent July 2nd op-ed piece by Joel Stein in Time magazine. Entitled "My Own Private India," the article attempts to satirize the influx of Indians into the Edison, New Jersey area in the last twenty years, poking fun at stereotypes and other supposedly absurd Indian behavior.

However, Stein goes a little too far and cuts a little too deep in his work. From scathing lines attacking both the traditionally struggling Indian economy to mocking the predominant religion of the country, Stein questions why his childhood friends could not come up with a better insult than "dot heads."

To quote the article:
"For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor."

Stein propels his attack with further parallels between the recent Arizona rulings and the Indian influx into New Jersey, describing the emotion as "a sense of loss and anomie."

As soon as the article was published, an uproar within the Indian community erupted. The leaders of the SAALT (South Asian American Leading Together) immediately sent a direct response and requested for a face-to-face meeting with Time editors. Actor Kal Penn also responded in the Huffington Post with a quite enjoyable sarcastic article concluding with: "Critics might call Mr. Stein's humor super-tired or as played out as the jokes about that cheap Jewish car that stopped on a dime to pick it up, or that African American kid who got marked absent at night school. Although unlike Stein's Indian American piece, in 2010 those other jokes don't show up in mainstream media like Time Magazine. I wonder why that is.."

It was only then that Time magazine then promptly published its public apology: "We sincerely regret that any of our readers were upset by this humor column of Joel Stein's. It was in no way intended to cause offense."

Stein also responded with an apology: "I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people..."

Sound like weak apologies? Yeah, I thought so too...

Normally, I'm a very calm and collected person, but sometimes certain things just inexplicably anger me. This article is one such rare moment. Allow me to rant for a bit...

Why did this article even get published in the first place? It's just like Kal Penn said, anti-Semitic and "black" jokes of the same level would never appear in mainstream media, so why do other racial slurs pass? Is it because Indians haven't had the oppressive history to match American slavery or the Holocaust? If that is the case, why are white slurs like "cracker" considered just as taboo as the "n word"? I don't recall any recent white oppression. (Wait, I actually do, but the white people were doing the act, not being the victims...) Why then does this type of "joking racism" persist?
Why are all Indians supposed to be geniuses? Why do Asian females make the worst drivers? Why are all Hispanics illegal aliens? What makes a Middle Eastern man an automatic terrorist? I am left to wonder why the editors at Time let such an article be published in the first place...

As we progress deeper into a more connected age, I fear for our future as one collective identity. It appears to me that humans will never learn, and if that is truly the case, our species will be in for some terrible wars in the near future. All we can do is hope that once the wars are over, the survivors can band together as one people - humans.



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