Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"We Cannot Settle for Cosmetic Change"

Earlier this week, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal was sworn in as Louisiana's first nonwhite governor since 1872 (today's Onion jokes, "His parents must be so close to being proud").

"The fact that he's of Indian ancestry is a subject of jubilation," Vijay Prashad, professor of South Asian history at Trinity College in Hartford, told the New York Times. "But there's a very shallow appreciation of who he really is. Once you scratch the surface, it's really unpleasant." This week there has been a lot of talk of (and prayer for) change in Louisiana among Christian-convert Jindal and his supporters, but I'm reminded of The Nation's observations soon after his election:

Indeed, though there are weekly reports on the city's progress and struggles in the national media, Jindal's campaign ignored Hurricane Katrina and Louisiana's crisis of poverty and racial inequality, the issues the storm exposed to a horrified nation. Perhaps this is why Jindal won only 10 percent of the votes from the state's black population and why he lost in Orleans Parish. Apparently black voters did not see Jindal's prospect for victory as corresponding with their own, even though Jindal broke the conventional wisdom that only white politicians can win statewide office.

On Monday, Jindal gave his inaugural remarks, making no mention of race (and giving only a passing nod to "the storms"). "We cannot settle for cosmetic change," he said. "And we all must recognize the stakes."

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Wow. Interesting. I'm with Prashad--a. because I have a huge crush on him and b. because these moments of blissful multi-culturalism are a whole new nadir in progressive politics. See fig. A: Obama smiling with Exxon execs. (Well maybe not, but I wouldn't put much past our beautiful little opportunist.)