Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My own perspective on Joel Stein's My Own Private India.

There is a great amount of outrage over Joel Stein’s piece in Time magazine about Indian immigrants in Edison, New Jersey. The article named ‘My Own Private India’ was published in Time on July 5 and since then it’s been in the news, and mostly for wrong reasons.

As soon as the article published some south Asian association started an online sign petition against it and asked Time magazine and the author to apologies for racial stereo types which they believed was demeaning to Indian immigrants. Even well known Indian origin actor Kal Penn, who is part of ‘Harold and Kumar’ movie franchise posted a piece on Hufington Post to register his discomfort. Now let’s come to the point.

I read the article the very same day and had mixed feelings about the article. I generally enjoy black humor and sarcasms and I enjoyed this column as well but as it happens to everybody, it was bit difficult to digest few things that was written in the article for me for obvious reasons. I wouldn’t go into details about the article as you can read the article, but would like to make few generic comments:

  • Humor is basically observing everyday things which others have missed out. When such humor is targeted to some specific group some displeasure is bound to happen, it’s just a natural thing. We always enjoy such racial stereotypes as far as it does not include us, so the point is to be open minded. Our very own call center ‘manuals’ read that an average American’s IQ is of a 12 years old ( or whatever the exact age is !) and we never miss a chance to have a laugh at such comments then why such double standards( and we conveniently miss the point that the US is the birthplace of 90% of modern technologies).
  • How one can have issues with somebody expressing his view. One can agree or disagree with something but CANNOT ask to apologize someone just because he/she has a different opinion. I can see Joel’s perspective of writing about his home town and the change his town has gone through, it’s coincidental that Indian immigrants were part of that transition. (BTW we would agree to half of the so-called ‘offending’ things Joel has written any given day, it’s just that someone else is telling us and that part we don’t like). We might have issues with Time publishing such a ‘blog’ kinda stuff but having issues with Joel’s wiring is bit childish.
  • He tried to balance racial remarks (thought he wasn’t quite there) by inserting few negative comments about his own community as well, I think one should consider that too.
  • Most importantly, ‘being offended’, ‘getting hurt’ etc is not a sign of a confident man or a mature society. Being offended means one is taking someone’s comment way too seriously and does not have enough confidence to believe in his own culture/society/thought process. Not listening to other views is like seeing something from one perspective only ( like a famous example of 2 colored car) and even worse NOT let them speak.

So basically I did not enjoy the column the way I would enjoy same thing written about some other community but that only shows my lack of maturity to understand racial stereotypes which exists in real world.

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