Daily Archives: 30 June 2010

The Immigration Debate: Focus on South Asia

There’s not much I want to say about what I’ve been reading online lately concerning the so-called immigration debate in the U.S., except that I am both pleased to see that the South Asian community is getting some deserved attention (vis-à-vis, e.g., the Latino community) and appalled at the recent column by Joel Stein in TIME MAGAZINE that has sparked this attention. In a piece called “My Own Private India” (Time online, 05 July 2010), Stein’s reminiscence on his hometown of Edison, NJ and the large Indian population there is supposed to be, I think, a satirical meditation on the immigration issue that’s been inflamed since Arizona passed a state law,

which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status. [see the rest of this 23 April 2010 NY Times article, here]

But Stein comes off, in my estimation, as patently unsatirical and downright racist. It’s quite obvious that he’s attempting to be funny and witty in this piece. And I have no doubt that there’s a cohort of folks who will appreciate his writing (as his Facebook page from Monday demonstrates). But I just don’t see the humor or wit. I see ignorance. I see playground puerility. And I see Stein and his writing as both offensive to the entire American community (of Indians, Italians, Czechs, Swedes, Egyptians, Indonesians, and so on) and potentially dangerous (see, e.g., the post about Dreyfus below, which oddly presaged this post). Read his column and judge for yourself. If you still don’t see what I see, then I encourage you to read a reaction to Stein’s column at the blog Sepia Mutiny and see if that changes your view.