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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How Nikki Haley Was Redeemed by Donald Trump

Nikki Haley redeemed by Trump | http://MikeGhouseforIndia.blogspot.com

It is sad, very sad indeed, that a few among us, who have been living in the United States for a long time have not Americanized yet. What is being an American? It is minding our own business and living our own lives and questioning our own prejudices.

There are a few among us who are too quick to judge - Oh, your name is Mike, what is your real name? Ah, you took that name to save your tail from Anti-Muslim rhetoric, or you called yourselves Mike to find in tune with the white people.....  how ridiculous are these men and women! They simply don't have the brains to question, they should not call themselves Indians, Indians are brainy people and not idiots to jump to conclusions without inquiring.  If you care to read, here is my story of how I got my name.  My name is Mike Ghouse

You see the other commentator below is John Laxmi,  and the writer of the article is Andy Ghiradelli. None of us chose the names to appease any one, we chose because we liked it and have other reasons for it, and all the three of us are Indians.   There is no such thing as a Muslim Name, Christian Name, Hindu Name or a Jewish Name, name is an identity and our great grand children will be fully American, meaning they will reject some of the prejudices a few of the Indians poison their kids with towards other people's religions, traditions or races.

I was a humanist and chose to become a Muslim when things got bad for Muslims. I raised my children to be pluralists - that is,  I took them to nearly every place of worship - from different Churches, Mosques, Gurdwaras, Temples and Synagogues. I even took my daughter to an LGBT Church.  I did not want to raise my kids as bigots who are prejudiced towards people, people of other faiths, races and traditions. If I have done one thing right in my life, it is them, prejudice free children. If they want to choose a religion, any religion for that matter, my happiness would be the same. Religion is a beautiful things to have, it helps one with finding answers and peace within, and all the beautiful religions do that. 

Disagree with a person for his views, but don't be biased or hateful towards the other.

Mike Ghouse

Comments from John Laxmi; 

Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal continue to be singled out for criticism by some liberals and critics. (See today's NYT op-ed by Anand Giridharadas referenced below.) 

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the change of religion and / or name is not unique to these two politicians.  It is also worth noting that the change in name and/or religion is neither necessary nor sufficient to succeed in politics (or any other field).  One needs substantive credentials to be successful.   To suggest otherwise is condescending both to the politician and to the electorate.   
  • Did Obama not have sufficient credentials to be elected POTUS? He would probably have been elected even if he had acknowledged openly to having been born Muslim but followed Christian faith as his own choice. 
  • Mr. Ameresh Babulal Bera (a DEMOCRAT) converted to the Unitarian faith late in life.  Bera also started using the name "Ami."   The converted Ami Bera was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013.   Did Bera not have credentials of his own (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ami_Bera ) to win office?  Did he win only because he converted to a different religion or changed his name?  Is all this part of his nefarious plans to run for governor or POTUS? Is Ami Bera being given a pass because he happens to be a Democrat? 
  • Rohit Khanna (a Democrat) ran as "Ro" against fellow Democrat Mike Honda for Congress and lost in California. Both of them got more votes than the Republican candidate, Vanila Singh (who is of Indian origin).   Mike Honda won.  Did he win because he changed his Japanese name "Makoto" to "Mike"?  
  • On the other hand, Niraj Antani, a 24-year-old Republican, was elected to the Ohio State House of Representatives without changing his name or religion in 2014.  Almost 60+ years ago, Dilip Singh Saund, a Democrat, ran for Congress in 1957 from California and won -- without changing his name or religion. 
  • Would Dilip Singh Saund and Niraj Antani have become governor or POTUS if only they had changed name and religion?  Or, Did Antani get votes because his last name sounds Italian?
By the way, Governor Haley has not sought to hide or deny her origins.  Gov. Haley had a Sikh wedding, in addition to a Methodist ceremony. Haley's cousin can be seen holding up a picture from the Sikh wedding, where her husband has a beard and turban. (Scroll right to third picture: http://www.demotix.com/news/500075/relatives-nikki-haley-amritsar#media-500071 ) 

And, during Gov. Haley's visit to India, she and her husband paid a devotional visit  to the Golden Temple ( http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/nikki-haley-pays-obeisance-at-golden-temple/story-i8nsOs1Nmxfz5nkaaMJ20K.html  

None of this is to claim Haley or Jindal to be flawless politicians.  Just pointing out that our continuing focus on the religion and name of Haley may lead to our ignoring other important issues, positive or negative, about her record as governor or her candidacy to be VP.



It is a truth universally acknowledged that an Indian-American in possession of gubernatorial dreams must be in want of a name like Nikki or Bobby. If I had a name like that, I would not be in Brooklyn writing some online-only essay, wearing a Uniqlo hoodie. I would probably be in Jackson, Montgomery or Raleigh, wearing a red velvet robe, tweaking my State of the State address. And if my name were Nikki or Bobby, the state of the state would be pukka — sorry, strong.

Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and former Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana are the first Indian-Americans of national political stature and fame. This always seemed to hold a message for the other 3 million of us: You can be anything you want in America, but if that thing is a governor, you’d better be a Southern Republican who converted to Christianity, with a “Gone With the Wind” accent and a super-unmenacing name. (Bonus points for having aided an exorcism, as Jindal has.) For many of us, it was a dispiriting lesson. Most Indian-Americans dwell outside the South, most lean Democratic, most aren’t Christian and — though this is, admittedly, anecdotal — most don’t go by Bobby or Nikki.

On Tuesday night, I watched Haley give the Republican response to the president’s State of the Union address. Which was a remarkable thing: Here was the 43-year-old nonwhite daughter of Sikh immigrants, speaking on behalf of a party whose base is overwhelmingly older and white and whose primary has boiled over with nationalist rage and distrust of immigrants and Muslims. Here was a woman in the tricky position of both speaking for her party and chiding its nativist extremes.

As she spoke, I asked Indian-Americans on Twitter what their Southern-governor names would be. They knew what I was talking about. Dev Purkayastha became Dave Parkhurst. Shree Chauhan became Sherry Chapman. Anil Podduturi and Raja Doddala became Neil Potter and Roger Dodd; Chitra Aiyar and Jayshree Mahtani become Tricia Myer and Jaycee Martin. Shaleen Title tried to raise her odds with Charlene Reagan. My Southern-governor name is Andy Ghiradelli, though after I tweeted it, I was advised that it might be too Catholic — better something Protestant-sounding.

Many Indian-Americans I know nurse some resentment toward Haley and Jindal. It is a complex feeling. Part of it is the generic loathing of inauthenticity that bedevils many leaders — like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush. The religious conversions, the nicknames, the immigration stances: It all seems a little too convenient, too calculated. But in Haley and Jindal’s cases, the feeling is deeper. When Nimrata Randhawa, born to Sikhs, becomes the Methodist politician Nikki Haley, and when Piyush Jindal, born to Hindus, becomes the Catholic politician Bobby Jindal — and when they are the only Indian-Americans who make it to the governor’s mansion — it confirms unuttered suspicions: that the road to brown political success is not via colorblindness but rather via the simulation of whiteness. You worry that certain correlates of whiteness — Methodism, guns, the name Nikki — are needed to compensate for your lack of the actual thing. You fear that figures like the two governors, far from euthanizing the demographically doomed idea of America as a synonym for whiteness, may actually be keeping it on life support.

Haley sounded the necessary Republican notes about the exceptional nature of the country: “The freest and greatest,” the “last, best hope on earth.” But in her words was a theory of American history that went deeper than the a priori “we’re the best” peddled by many of her colleagues. She said her state’s past, like the country’s, wasn’t only “rich” but also “complicated” — an unmistakable allusion to the racial hatred that has proved especially indefatigable in South Carolina. Our history, she said, “proves the idea that each day can be better than the last.” It is a view in which America wasn’t born perfect and corrupted by time, but born corrupt and perfected by time.

When she lamented a “broken” American political system that had lost the public trust, she blamed her fellow Republicans alongside Democrats — an even-handedness that earned her criticism from some G.O.P. talking heads. She alluded to tolerance for homosexuality when she said her party would “respect differences in modern families.” She called a white man a “terrorist.” And back when that terrorist, Dylann Roof, murdered nine people at a prayer meeting in Charleston, Haley famously seized the political moment to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds — a feat that Issac Bailey, a longtime journalist in the state, measured against Ben Carson’s achievements and declared “just as miraculous as successfully separating conjoined twins."

It was when Haley spoke as “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants” that she most shone. She recalled a humble childhood in the rural South: “My family didn’t look like our neighbors, and we didn’t have much.” She spoke of the communal closeness that helped them to weather tough times and of the dream of self-invention that propelled her climb. And then she trumped Trump, and those others with similar ideas but less instinct for virality. “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” she said. “We must resist that temptation. No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.”

Who knows whether the speech will be to Haley what a 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech was to one Barack Hussein Obama — who, it should be noted, became really successful after returning from Barry to Barack. Elements on the right loathed Ms. Haley’s performance: The professional firebrand Ann Coulter tweeted that “Trump should deport Nikki Haley.” But others remarked that Haley should have run for president in 2016 or should at least be considered as a vice-presidential nominee. She will surely struggle to forge agreement within her party on its tone and its sentiments toward a changing America. But it was thrilling to watch a Southern, Republican, Methodist daughter of Indian Sikhs try something even grander: to create a broader, two-party consensus on the simple, exceptional idea that an American is defined by shared hope, not shared blood.
This is Andy Ghiradelli, and I approve this message.

Anand Giridharadas is a columnist for The International New York Times and the author, most recently, of “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas.”Advertisementntinue reading the main stoAnd then, on Tuesday night, Haley gave her speech. In a party now dominated by Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim-banning, Ted Cruz’s “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark” carpet-bombing threats and Marco Rubio’s “out of place in our own country” nativism, Haley’s words arrived like a cleansing rain: hopeful, inclusive, magnanimous and conservative all at once. She instantly became a Pope Francis for the G.O.P. — a heretic in tone, not in doctrine. And there are times, as the pope seems to understand, when a new spirit breathed into an institution can become its own kind of doctrine.

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