Being right-wing is just a thing, no matter the color

By Razib Khan 31 Comments

The Juggernaut has an amusing piece Seema Verma and the #DesiWallofShame, which basically assumes that any brown person (Indian American) who has non-liberal beliefs must be exhibiting either false consciousness or self-interest. The piece reminded me of this PLOS ONE piece, The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum:

Across the political spectrum, moral stereotypes about “typical” liberals and conservatives correctly reflected the direction of actual differences in foundation endorsement but exaggerated the magnitude of these differences. Contrary to common theories of stereotyping, the moral stereotypes were not simple underestimations of the political outgroup’s morality. Both liberals and conservatives exaggerated the ideological extremity of moral concerns for the ingroup as well as the outgroup. Liberals were least accurate about both groups.

This part of the piece was quite funny to me:

In the months after Verma was confirmed in 2017, South Asian American activists such as Deepa {{{Iyer}}}, Anirvan {{{Chatterjee}}}, and Esha {{{Pandit}}} started noticing that there was an abundance of Indian Americans in the highest echelons of the Trump administration.

“It was so surprising and jarring to see someone brown supporting policies which harm South Asian communities, immigrant communities, refugees, Muslims, and other communities of color,” explained Iyer. For example, Trump’s efforts to deport DREAMers and other undocumented immigrants could affect over 22,000 Indians and Pakistanis. “A group of us that felt like it would be important to raise awareness and ask, ‘What does that mean when they’re supporting and advancing the goals of administration that is clearly pursuing an agenda of Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism?’”

Many years ago there was an attack on Michelle Malkin as the “Asian Ann Coulter.” Malkin, and even some liberals, suggested that really she was just Michelle Malkin. Her “Asian” ethnicity was immaterial.

Similarly, don’t be surprised that someone of a particular color or ethnicity has views that differ from your own. People are diverse in their views, no matter their physical type or cultural heritage. Since Deeper {{{Iyer}}} is a progressive she doesn’t think that she could ever be racist, but the idea that just because someone is of a particular color they should be the ideology that you prefer they be, that’s kind of racist.

The stupid part of the #DesiWallOfShame is that you should “shame” Veerma, Pai, or Haley, based on their beliefs and actions. Their ethnicity is irrelevant. There’s no #GermanAmericanWallOfShame for Donald Trump.

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31 Replies to “Being right-wing is just a thing, no matter the color”

  1. Tbh it’s probably against my self-interest to be an unapologetic Hindu Trad (and right-of-center politically in America). However, I have received little pushback, but interesting reactions. Eg, I have faculty who are closeted Trumpists who are more comfortable expressing themselves around me than they are around Wokes.

    1. I have wokes who feel more comfortable expressing themselves around me than around other wokes 😛

  2. A few comments about Deepa:

    Or really one — is she still upset that she dated Ajit?

    We watched Bodyguard over this break. It was charming and cute that they gave BAME actors some key roles.

    Meanwhile in the real world both the home secretary and the chancellor, and in fact the brown home secretary just stabbed the previous brown home secretary in the back.

    I’d say the furor should be why the Obama administration didn’t appoint more brown people to real roles instead of token roles like Vanita Gupta? Or the Surgeon general?

  3. “South Asian American activists such as Deepa {{{Iyer}}}, Anirvan {{{Chatterjee}}}, and Esha {{{Pandit}}}”

    All usual suspects

  4. a lot of the “woke” army is Brahmins. Interdasting.

    Seems like it is more shudras and vania descendents working under Trump. The petit bourgeoisie rebelling against the Lutyen gang transplant-lites.

    Anyway, broader point is more important. Your physical appearance and heritage should not automatically determine your political leanings. Nonetheless, on a group to group comparison basis, the trends and hypothesizing about why they exist are both quite fun.

  5. “The stupid part of the #DesiWallOfShame is that you should “shame” Veerma, Pai, or Haley, based on their beliefs and actions. Their ethnicity is irrelevant. There’s no #GermanAmericanWallOfShame for Donald Trump.”
    That raises a good point — American culture is said to be individualistic but individualism seems reserved for some and not others. Collective guilt and shame is imposed upon others based on their ethnicity/race/origins all the time.

    What determines whether (American) ethnicities or groups at all get involved in “policing” their own or gatekeeping or not? You see it with some groups like African Americans, Jewish people, women, etc. (e.g. people called Uncle Toms, self-hating X, where X can be any group like women, Jews, gays etc). Is this similar worldwide with other groups?

    Is it just that the smaller the minority group the more they need to band together to “show” solidarity but at the price of encouraging homogeneity. The dominant groups rarely needs to police its own? (yeah, there’s white guilt or male privilege but as people pointed out, these often are one subgroup of whites or males taking potshots at others, while it seems like “self-hating X” for blacks, Asians etc. tries to police their entire community even more homogenously)?

    European American groups like the German American example don’t even think twice about whether Trump brings shame or pride on them very often it seems.

  6. I read ‘iyer, chatterjee, pandit’ … all brahmin names… there should be some study done… people of privilege across the world representing voices their ancestors fought to keep down… wonder how similar they are to white women from the upper west side…. ha lol just read the article was written by kiran misra… also a brahmin name! the hits just keep coming with the liberal crowd..

    1. “privileged” virtue signalers on the left lecturing me is among the most annoying things in my #firstworldproblems life

  7. I think its a general trend that (even among poor and marginalized minorities), its the most well-off, privileged that tend to be the activist types who speak on behalf of their community/group. The poorer members are too busy surviving or worrying about practical concerns like their jobs, kids to deal with this etc.

    I think this applies more broadly, not just to minorities in the US, for instance, historically around the time of independence from European powers, Asians and Africans who strongly become anti-colonial types were those well off enough to study in the west and return to their old country ready to go into politics with this newfound education.

    1. I don’t have a problem with them doing that, but its the complete lack of self awareness that drives me insane. Also the unwillingness to do anything to actually help – ie something more than just talking.

      Like these people have no idea that they are in the United States and living such a great life – partially due to the benefit gained from the oppression meted out by their brahmin ancestors.

      Like if you really feel so bad, then sell your home and assets and give the money to the needy… but no, you won’t do it yourself – instead they tend to their guilt by policing the behavior of others.

      anyway rant over.

  8. By the way, on a side note, while I appreciate the influence of cross-talking and discussing diaspora and homeland issues (hence my handle!), I take issue with one tagline in the description of the Juggernaut magazine.
    “South Asia has the fastest growing major economies and the world’s largest diaspora”

    I don’t think South Asia has the world’s largest diaspora, realistically, if we’re talking about global regions.

    Given how much of a head start other immigrant/migrant/even involuntary migrant groups had in their cross-migrations in the colonial age, there are a number of diasporas clearly larger than the South Asian one (some like the Irish coming from a way smaller source, even outnumber the homeland many times over, something South Asians obviously could never come close to a fraction of a fraction of doing).There are 80 million worldwide claiming Irish descent, mostly in diaspora, more than Indian descendants outside India.

    Even if we don’t consider all those of European descent outside Europe (every one in a “new world” country people label or identify as “white” — yes, I know, problematic) a diaspora (because many of them came as colonists, settlers and founders), I think that the African diaspora descended from the trans-Atlantic slave trade out of west Africa is surely larger and is one of the candidates for largest diaspora (which like, and after the Jewish diaspora is one of the classic examples of a diaspora, a people forced out of a homeland involuntarily — the use of diaspora to include more voluntary and well-off immigrants seemed later in usage).

    I think the African diaspora from the slave trade has descendants numbering in the hundreds of millions (Afro-Latinos, Brazilians, Afro-Americans etc.), while I think South Asians in diaspora number tens of millions just like East Asians in diaspora. Pretty hefty nonetheless and growing in influence, but only until recently has had a “diasporic” consciousness in the sense that Indian Americans, Indian Singaporeans and Indo-Guyanese all can look at each other and see themselves as a diaspora from the same homeland (unlike the Jewish and African diasporas having a diasporic consciousness (obviously!) for much longer).

    Nonetheless, I am really eager to follow how the rise in South Asian diasporic coonsciousness changes western culture in the near future.

  9. My father made a really good point, one that you have touched on before. Whatever privileged position these groups had back in the old country, vanish when they arrive in the States. Iyer, Mukherjee, and Pandit all become “brown person.”

    At home they are still taught they are from the privileged classes, but the loss of that can create a strong inferiority complex. Their parents don’t really understand the subtle markers of class amongst Westerners, so they often grow up in “mediocre suburbia” with non-elite Whites who do half the work and get twice as far.

    The result of this inferiority complex is the urge to throw their hat in the ring with the “POC identarian”, and align themselves with the left. Leftist politics also offers them a better avenue to provide a leading, or louder, voice.

    Let’s look at Kal Penn, he is a mediocre actor (with one exception, the Namesake), who could have gone further if he were white. Instead, through left wing activism, he managed to get himself into some prime positions in the Obama campaigns and administration, and was even made a lecturer on Asian Americans in the Media by a university. Similarly, Mindy Kaling has basically applied Fair and Lovely to everything except her skin, from the characters she plays, to her name (Veramindi Chokalingam), to her public persona – but still uses the race card to get ahead.

    I can understand that appeal, but I supposed I was lucky that my parents where better at being “in the know” about the West as well as the East, and wanted to get me into the closest Western version of an Iyer upbringing. They were keen on having an education in the Classics and “Greats,” not too far from someone like Ajit Pai or Rishi Sunak. The result was a small-c conservative outlook, and a better understanding of the complexities of Western society.

    1. Mr. Iyer,

      Great comment and a different than usual Indian-American perspective.
      For the benefit of first-gen immigrants, could you elaborate on the following two points:
      – “Their parents don’t really understand the subtle markers of class amongst Westerners, so they often grow up in “mediocre suburbia””. What are these subtle markets of class etc?

      ” I was lucky that my parents where better at being “in the know” about the West as well as the East, and wanted to get me into the closest Western version of an Iyer upbringing. They were keen on having an education in the Classics and “Greats,”

      Any more details on what they did differently from other desis?

      1. I must admit that I have lived in several Anglophone countries, but this is what I notice in terms of subtle markers of class:
        What is a good school? Indian Americans will usually push their kids into the local state/government/public school. They will usually insist it is an excellent school, because other Asians go there, so the stats look good. None of these graduates, however, really go on to accomplish anything newsworthy. Most will not do as well as the Indian students, either.
        However, they rarely invest in private school educations that will provide the proper social capital for their children to really advance. I am talking about Indian American families that can easily drop $200,000 on a wedding, but don’t think about having their children educated at a good private school, let alone Rosemary Choates, Andover, Exeter etc.
        Elite Whites use such institutions to socialise their children and introduce them to the right people, and teach them how to interact in these settings. Most Indian American parents can’t tell the difference between rich whites, so they think the suburban McMansion school zone will provide this experience to their children.
        Another example is in sports. Indian Americans see this as a distraction, but this is a key part of elite white culture. Again, they cannot tell the difference between a their Football Jock neighbour, and the rugby player from a private school. On the whole, sport is an essential part of American socialisation, and the ability to reference one’s playing days works in everything from recruitment to the board room. That aside, Indian Americans can’t tell the difference between private school Lacrosse and local school Football/Soccer. They both have a very different look on an application, and very different cultures they impart.
        Even their neighbourhoods Indian Americans choose are an indication of this. They can afford to live in much better areas, among Elite whites, such as well established inner suburbs, or well-heeled city enclaves, but they choose the McMansions of outer suburbia. These neighbourhoods, like the schools, are an important part of elite socialization and centres of power and culture. Again, however, Indian Americans think that the larger houses or lower prices mean a better place. They don’t realise that their neighbours nice car and McMansion both come from large amounts of debt, and this person is less well educated and does not share their values. There was a show called King of the Hill, where an extremely ambitious (if vain) Asian American professional still winds up living next to a Propane salesman, an exterminator, and other “rednecks and hillbillies” as he calls them. Indian Americans can afford better, but I usually see the same.

        I could go on and on in this vein, whether it is dress sense, or etiquette, but it seems that Indian Americans, despite having the resources, often miss the mark in terms of what pays off in moving upwards socialy. Because class markers are much subtler in the United States, they make the mistake of believing that Sugar Land is as good as River Oaks, the Virginia Suburbs are in the same league as Northwest DC, or that Edison New Jersey compares to the Upper East Side.

        1. you know my parents are from middle class middle caste Indian background. They always just pushed me to be the typical indian doctor who aimed to have a mcmansion and mercedes. I always saw myself as more of law or econ guy, just a social sciency guy in general, but I caved and picked an accelerated med program.

          Getting my MD next month. I’m starting residency in June. I see my friends at investment banks, tech firms, consulting gigs, and elite law offices that are in the path to perhaps making more than me with less educational investment. But on top of that, more likely to more easily be out in a position whereby they have a shot at becoming among the elite power brokers of the country, the visionaries. As someone in my mid 20s, I realize I am still young and turn around things to be more in that position. But I do have inkling of regret of not following my gut earlier and in some ways trapping myself into a fairly heft commitment.
          I have shared this with my parents. And they feel bad that I feel the way I do but do not regret pressuring me into what they felt was the “safest” path. I am a frustrated with them just a little bit. But much more myself for being a coward earlier and not going down the road that I felt was best for me.

          1. I wouldn’t say this is the issue. Being a doctor still provides prestige in American society, and they definitely have a lot of influence in business and the broader world.

            The issue is the socialisation, and how to make use of your money. Indians largely ignore this important aspect. It is clear you have friends in other fields, and using your position to become a patron of a cause or organisation is an important part of elite socialisation. If you want to see how much of an issue this is, look at the South Asian exhibits in most museums, and you find that the pieces were acquired through a white name or foundation, if a whole wing isn’t named after them.

        2. Thanks, Shri Iyer. I can relate to what you are saying – the most ambitious of my friends/ex colleagues have bought houses in the most expensive cities in a very high COL area to begin with. Many are even sending their kids to private school, and I have increasingly noticed socialize exclusively with others from the same neighborhoods (even if many only socialize with desis – there are many super wealthy and high achieving ones where I am). They are all consciously playing the networking game for themselves and their kids.
          I somewhat envy them but also pity them a bit (perhaps it’s schadenfreude) for being so career/money driven as to leave their true selves behind..but it could be sour grapes too..
          I already see my child(ren) at a disadvantage given the dynamic I described.
          One wonders why the migration – if the kids are still going to have to struggle and probably won’t make the elite 🙂
          PS: What do you do btw? and your aspirations? if you can share without of course giving out anything identifiable

          1. This isn’t about being ambitious, or losing yourself. It is about spending resources wisely. Spending $1,000,000 on a new tract suburban McMansion is a poor choice, as few Indian American families use that space. I am not joking when I say that it isn’t unusual to see a five bedroom house with most of the rooms empty of furniture. Spending that same amount in a well established neighbourhood may mean less space, but it gets you better neighbours.

            Kids are going to have to work hard to get ahead, unless you have the right combination of economic and social capital, but this is about making the most use of what you have. I am talking about Indian American parents who are already practicing one-upmanship with themselves and their children, but don’t seem to realise that they aren’t getting very far.

            To tie it back into the original point, this leaves many Indian American children somewhat alienated, and therefore more likely to flock to the POC wokeness cohort.

        3. @Mr.Iyer (also @thewarlock)
          God tier comment. As a recent arrival, I had suspected/felt something of this nature is happening with families of Indian professors/doctors vis a vis elite American families, but I could never articulate it.
          But in some sense, I think first-generation immigrant Indians already know what they(and their kids) are missing out on(in an elite career, fame, dating opportunities) and don’t care. This ‘could have done even better’ thinking that you and thewarlock are mentioning is not there in first-generation Indians. For them(us?) the public school is a massive upgrade and so is the McMansion+Mercedes. Except for the A-list Indian city people, we B/C/D-towners/villagers, first heard English when we were 10 years old and have worked so hard (speaking about IIT/NIT/Doctor people) that our hands are not soft enough to pick up on even-finer things in social life.

        4. @Mr.Iyer (also @thewarlock)
          God tier comment. As a recent arrival, I had suspected/felt something of this nature is happening with families of Indian professors/doctors vis a vis elite American families, but I could never articulate it.

          But in some sense, I think first-generation immigrant Indians already know what they(and their kids) are missing out on(in an elite career, fame, dating opportunities etc) and don’t care. This ‘could have done even better’ thinking that you and thewarlock are mentioning is not there in first-generation Indians. For them(us?) the public school is a massive upgrade and so is the McMansion+Mercedes. Except for the A-list Indian city people, we B/C/D-towners/villagers, first heard English when we were 10 years old, grew up wearing ill-fitting hand me downs, and have worked so hard (speaking about IIT/NIT/Doctor people) that our hands are not soft enough to pick up on even-finer things in social life, dressing, etiquettes.

          Please keep posting more tips and tricks for us village-folk so that the next generation may benefit.

          1. Hi Bhimrao,

            I am largely talking about those from better off backgrounds in India, but come down here in the United States. Again, this isn’t about one upmanship, but instead trying to make the most use of one’s resources. If you want your kids to do well, then consider how much effort they are putting in to go half as far.

            However, things like dressing and etiquette are absolutely essential. The way someone crams for an IIT exam proves, that they can pick things up. American is a very image conscious society, and things like height, looks, and manners are a big part in who gets ahead. Americans don’t really know about IIT, they just see another Brown techie. What helps that “techie” stand out, is confidence and the ability to show that they are someone who “fits the role” when interacting with others. It is just as much a part of career promotion and recruitment as one’s qualifications.

    1. “I think almost all brown actors in the west are mediocre actors apart from Ben Kingsley.”

      How dare you say that about my man, Dev Patel.

      But to be honest, I think Aziz Ansari is definitely talented. If not as an actor then as a writer. Certainly much better than the likes of Hasan Minhaj who are just caricatures.

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