Jindal Promotes Opportunistic And Defunct Melting Pot Theory

By Dr. Sawraj Singh

Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, who is of Indian origin, just announced his candidacy for the Republican Primary for the next American Presidential election. Jindal has made opposition to hyphenated Americans a cornerstone of his policy. He wants to do away with terms such as Irish-Americans, Indian-Americans or Polish-Americans. All Americans should be just Americans and nothing else. Jindal seems to feel that these terms are divisive and to unite America, everybody should call themselves American only.

Jindal may not realize that there is not much new in his assertion. He is actually trying to promote the defunct Melting pot theory. The crux of this theory is that to be assimilated into mainstream America, people should give up their original culture. In other words, this theory sees cultural diversity as America’s liability rather than its biggest asset. Jindal does not seem to understand the difference between uniformity and unity.

Uniformity is imposed, while unity evolves. Uniformity forces dissolution of one’s cultural background whereas unity preserves one’s original cultural values. Uniformity views other cultures besides the mainstream culture negatively, whereas unity views them positively. Uniformity incites fear and insecurity in minorities of losing their distinct identity, whereas unity reassures minorities that their distinct identity is not threatened. Uniformity incites discord while unity promotes harmony in society.

Bobby Jindal should realize that the Melting pot theory was discarded and replaced with concepts of a bouquet of flowers, a salad bowl, or a quilt, where diverse objects can be united to become more beautiful and effective; each becomes part of the whole while preserving its distinct identity. Evolution of a culture is a historical phenomenon. It cannot be simply negated. However, it can be integrated into something still higher. The better solution should be based upon creativity rather than destruction. Merging different things to create something more beautiful is a creative solution whereas dissolving their distinctive and historical identities in order to impose a uni-color is a destructive solution.

Jindal’s recommendations for a uniform rather than united America are based upon what appears to be unrealistic, imaginary, and fairyland impressions of his and his parents, who tend to see America as a perfect, heavenly place of peace, harmony, and prosperity without any prejudice or discrimination. American history and recent happenings in America show that such an America only exists in Jindal’s and his parents’ imagination. American history is full of cruelty, suppression, and massacres of minorities. American history tells us of forcible and deceitful occupation of the lands of native people. American history tells of forcible occupation of huge chunks of land belonging to neighboring countries. American history also tells of aggression against non-whites and minorities in other countries such as deploying atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Napalm bombs in Vietnam, and cluster bombs in Iraq.

It is not just old history, but recent events in America also prove that Jindal’s and his  parents’ impressions of America do not match with reality when one reads the news about a white policeman killing an unarmed black youth, or a white American going into a black church and unremorsefully shooting at and killing minority people. Moreover, Jindal’s impressions of America are not shared by even the President of the country, who feels that America has been unable to get rid of racial discrimination and prejudice.

Jindal may not be aware of the fact that the most populated country, China, has published and just released a report on American human rights in the year 2014. Jindal may completely discard this as an enemy country’s propaganda. However, facts and figures can only be countered by facts and figures, not by rhetoric.

If Jindal were proud of his Indian heritage, then he would have heard about the concept of unity in diversity. This eastern concept is elevated in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which preaches that diversity is a natural phenomenon. Accepting and tolerating diversity is essential for promoting peace and harmony in society as well as for uniting people.

Jindal always seems to be asserting his acquired religious identity of Christianity. He rarely, if ever, gives any credit to his Hindu, Punjabi, or Indian heritage. The Republican party, by promoting people like Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, seems to reinforce the impression of many minority people that it is opposed to their culture. Religion is a part of culture. People are free to choose and practice any religion. However, to deliberately promote people who have given up the Hindu or Sikh religion and have converted to Christianity can easily give an impression that the party is opposed to minority cultures. Many minorities hold an impression about the Republican party as a party of middle class whites only. By promoting people like Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, the Republican party is only reinforcing their belief.

Does the Republican party accept minorities only if they give up their culture? Such an impression about the Republican party or America is dangerous. The Republican party and America should be doing just the opposite: they should promote America as a truly multicultural and tolerant society. They should start seeing America’s diversity as its biggest asset, rather than its liability. America’s diversity and multiculturalism are the only things which can assure a respectable status in the new emerging multipolar world order.

Dr. Sawraj Singh, MD F.I.C.S. is the Chairman of the Washington State Network for Human Rights and Chairman of the Central Washington Coalition for Social Justice. He can be reached at sawrajsingh@hotmail.com.

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