Why Indian Americans are not the new Jews

By Razib Khan 49 Comments

In the 2000s I would have arguments with some Indian American friends about the ethnic trajectory of Indian Americans in terms of their similarity American Jews, where I staked out the position that the analogy was superficial (e.g., on the Sepia Mutiny blog). To understand why the analogy doesn’t work, you need to know the history of American Jews first. Though Judaism in the United States goes back to small Sephardic communities along the eastern seaboard before the Amerian Revolution, to understand the Jewish community in the 20th and 21st centuries one needs to focus on the two Ashkenazi migrations from Central and Eastern Europe that occurred in the 75 years between 1850 and 1925.

The first wave was the “German Jews”, most of whom were Bavarian peddlers. Many of them scattered across the country, starting general stores and the like. Though numerically a very small migration, they founded many Jewish American institutions. There is a reason that the headquarters of Reform Judaism, which is of German origin, is in Cincinnati. This reflects the migration of German Jews along routes of commerce in the 19th century.

The second wave, and the much larger one, is the migration stream that issued out of the expanded Russian Empire, in particular Lithuania and Galicia. These are who the German Jews referred to as the “Ostjuden”, the Eastern Jews. This was a term applied in Germany to Jews from Poland and further east as well. The Ostjuden were often destitute. Those that fled the early 20th century pogroms may have had nothing but the clothes on their backs. In fact, in all likelihood, the richer and more assimilated Jews were the ones who remained in Europe.

America was the destination for the more marginalized.

Though the German Jews looked down their noses at these newcomers, who packed themselves in neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side, the fact was that the gap between the two is relatively recent. The vast majority of German Jews descended from migrants who arrived from the east in Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries, where they created a new identity that attempted to balance a German national identification with the Jewish religion (e.g., “Germans of the Mosaic Faith”). These were the people who spearheaded the “Jewish Enlightenment,” the Haskalah. In the United States, the Reform movement rejected Jewish peoplehood (before accepting it again in the late 20th century).

The German Jews and Ostjuden are fundamentally the same people, the Ashkenazi Jews who flourished in and expanded rapidly in Poland and Lithuania between 1500 and 1750. Genetically Ashkenazi Jews are all relatively closely related and form a distinct and clear ethno-genetic cluster, subject to a population bottleneck in the centuries before 1500. The genetic data reinforces the assertion that the overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans come out of the same history and the same cultural-matrix in Europe. Once in the United States, gentiles saw little difference between German Jews and Eastern European Jews, so the community coalesced together, with some differences of religious liberalism and secularism.*

I review this to emphasize that just saying “Indians are the new Jews” assumes a lot and brackets many different things into the two classes. Though to outsiders Indians seem relatively coherent (Aziz Ansari and Hasan Minaj look the same, right?), Indians are not nearly as culturally coherent and cohesive as Jews. Genetically, Ashkenazi Jewish genealogies tend to coalesce 500-1,000 years ago. Indian genealogies for different communities coalesce 2 to 4 thousand years ago. Jewish Americans arrived in the United States with a common language, Yiddish. Only the more assimilated Jews were only fluent in the national vernacular.  Indian Americans share one language, English, which is the same as that of the nation to which they migrated. The overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans in the 20th century remained Jewish if they were religious. A minority of Indian Americans are Muslim or Christian, and even among Hindus religion and caste distinctions are important enough there are North Indian and South Indian temples. Sikhs are overrepresented amongst the migrants. Jewish Americans tended to create their common American culture in a few large urban areas, in particular New York City. Though Edison and Cupertino have large Indian communities, the size and concentration of these communities are not analogous to Jews in terms of magnitude.

In short, Indian Americans don’t have what it takes to create a coherent catchall ethnic group similar to Amerian Jews except for the fact that outsiders perceive themselves as a singular group. I don’t think that “push” is ultimately that strong.

I’m writing this post in part because a reader asked what I thought of a post on another weblog, Lessons In Identity. The author makes an observation that Indian Americans seem politically savvy and are prominent in areas such as social justice liberalism and the hard Left. He also makes an analogy to the cohesiveness of the American Jewish communities, suggesting this is the model that Indians are taking.

Let me quote a bit to illustrate where the author goes right and wrong:

It turns out that there is one group that plays identity politics as well as Jews and that is South Asians. They stick together wherever they find themselves. So much so they were able to elbow the Jews out of the Amsterdam diamond market. That is a remarkable feat, given the history and nature of the diamond market. In the United States, they are taking over the wholesale jewelry business. They are doing it on the power of informal agreements among co-ethnics.

The difference between Yang and Harris is South Asians are very tribal, while East Asians are not very tribal. We see this in genetics and marriage patterns. India is a beef stew of various tribes, castes and ethnic groups. China, in contrast, is dominated by Han Chinese. East Asia tends toward mono-ethnic societies. Put another way, the biology of South Asia reinforces and encourages extreme identity politics, while East Asian biology tends to encourage uniformity and conformity.

In America, the East Asians that come here are the least ethnocentric of their kind, so they look to quickly assimilate. They name their kids Bob and Sally, take up golf and join the local Christian church. High caste Indians move here and name their kids Sinjar and Amala. They have a tandoor clay oven installed in their house and they find a local Hindu temple to join. In Asia, South Asians are as tribal as Jews are in the West, while East Asians are about as tribal as white people.

Not sure that the author realizes the implicit contradiction in what he’s saying. Indians are very tribal and riven by identity politics conflicts, but that’s why they are not as cohesive as you might think in the Diaspora. South Asians didn’t elbow out Ashkenazi Jews in the Antwerp diamond market, Palanpuri Jains did. That is a very small community from a particular city in the Indian state of Gujurat. If I showed up and wanted to enter the diamond trade I wouldn’t have any luck because I’m not part of this ethnic group. If I was a Hindu Patel, from the same state, I wouldn’t have any luck. If I was a Jain from Rajasthan, just to the north, I wouldn’t have any luck (though they might be more friendly to me if I was a Jain or a fellow Guju).

This goes to the idea of installing a tandoor oven. That’s Punjabi. Though there are some Punjabi Hindus in the United States, most are Sikh, so most would go to a gurdwara. The vast majority of Indians wouldn’t install a tandoor because that’s not their traditional cooking. In contrast, “Jewish food” is a thing because Eastern European Jews did have a common cuisine that derived from local availability and Jewish dietary regulations. Most Indian cuisine is unpalatable and barbaric because it lacks mustard oil.

I have heard of this idea that Indians in Silicon Valley engage in preferential hiring of other “Indians.” First, talking to friends in the area and industry they’re skeptical of the ubiquity of this, at least to any great extent beyond what happens when you have a bunch of Harvard tech-bros who start a company together. So you imagine that a bunch of Indian guys who went to the same IIT at the same time might start a firm together. Second, Indian jatis are so diverse and variegated that it’s hard to imagine someone staffing their whole company with fellow Iyers or even Patidars. This is really what would be ethnic nepotism.

Mind you, there is some affinity between Indians and brown people general. We are of the “same civilization,” look broadly similar, and enjoy similar (if different) foods, music, and other aspects of cultural production. In the USA we have similar experiences if we grew up here because other Americans view us as interchangeable. But these are fundamentally weak ties, unlike the sort that emerge through long and difficult shared history, such as black Americans and Jewish Americans have. The most strongly vigorous pan-Indian Indian Americans are the most assimilated and whitewashed. The most strident about being Indian, as opposed to a Guju Patel, is also the most likely to marry someone who is not Indian.

This leaves us with a mystery. What’s going on with loud and proud South Asian Americans on the American scene? It’s a thing. And Indian Americans tend to be on the Left. I don’t think this requires a deep understanding of Indians as a collective group. Some facts

1) Indian Americans are well-educated (selective migration), and well-educated Americans are trending Democratic
2) Indian Americans are nonwhite and usually not Christian (Christian Indian Americans are much more likely to be Republican and not just the famous ones)
3) Indian Americans are loud and have strong verbal skills (East Asians have strong verbal skills on tests, but for individual or cultural reasons they are not so loquacious extemporaneously in spoken conversation)

These three factors alone can explain their prominent position within the modern American Left and Democratic party politics. In other words, it’s individual characteristics and pan-cultural traits. Compared to East Asians Indians are louder and more aggressive, though North Indians more so than South Indians, and Punjabis more than everyone else.

* The emergence of very large Haredi communities in the USA is a function of the last half of the 20th century as religious Jewish leaders who survived the Holocaust finally left Europe, and the communities which coalesced around them exhibited very high fertility and residential segregation.

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49 Replies to “Why Indian Americans are not the new Jews”

  1. My preferred frame for modern American desi’s are so left-wing…

    Today, Leftism is basically 2 threads –

    (1) Hi/Lo vs. the Middle… or if you prefer the Marxist terms – Intelligentsia + Proles vs. the Bourgeois. Prior desi generations were arguably more Bourgeois… nowadays they’re far more likely to see themselves as the Intelligentsia.

    (2) non-white vs. white Identity Politics… given how deep / rife identity politics is in India, it’s not a shock to see it here. Via “woke-ness”, instead of appreciate & integrate, you can instead castigate the people, history, and structures that existed before you immigrated.

    1. no

      1) european jews were among the most exceptional groups in terms of intellectual and cultural production in the first half of the 20th century

      2) 5% of Americans were jews in 1945

      these conditions haven’t and won’t be replicated.

      1. “5% of Americans were jews in 1945”

        5 million out of 140 million 3.5%

        The interesting thing is that the community started the demographic transition before the Great depression. The American born parents of my wife and myself were both only children.

      2. Razib,

        Currently, Jews are about 2% of the USA’s population, but there are many Jews who have very Christian names and don’t want to admit that they’re Jewish.

        Please google Governor George Allen and Madelaine Albright. Both of them were raised Christians, and claimed that they didn’t know that they were biologically Jewish. Of course, for these very smart and curious folks to not know this is a miracle bigger than parting the Red Sea.

        1. it’s not that many. there are enough genetic tests to pinpoint the undercounts.

          and most jews aren’t scared to admit it. allen was a politician who created a fake identity so he’s different (he grew up mostly in California but pretended to be southern)

  2. What about coalescence around religious identities? I see Muslim-Americans are definitely organizing around their religious identity, and to a lesser extent Sikh-Americans too.

    I know Hinduism is way more internally diverse than Islam or Sikhism just because of the sheer number of deities and rituals, but do you think a coalescence around Hindu identity is likely in the US? I see it happening in the UK where Hindus and Muslims end up voting for different political parties.

  3. re: religion

    sikhs are actually kind of like jews. being sikh and being Punjabi are so tightly connected. also jatts predominate.

    muslims are pulled in all sorts of ways. being connected to a world-wide religion means the hyperreligious deracinate toward world Islam. the irreligious deracinate as coconuts and generic brown.

    as far as hindu religion, it’s not confessional. but more importantly most hindus are not very religious, and their kids have a very nominal hindu identity and marry non-hindus a lot. the super-hindu minority are different, but they are not typical

    1. “as far as hindu religion, it’s not confessional. but more importantly most hindus are not very religious, and their kids have a very nominal hindu identity and marry non-hindus a lot. the super-hindu minority are different, but they are not typical”

      I think it’s a bit different in the UK (and maybe Canada?), but things seem more dynamic in the US.

      Hindus in the UK seem not very religious, but many still seem to consider Hindu an important identity marker. Although maybe I’m confusing that for an Indian identity. Or maybe it’s more like Quebec, which has the lowest rate of church attendance in Canada, but multigenerational whites still have a strong tendency to identify as Catholic.

      Like in the UK we see Hindus orienting toward Conservatives and Muslims orienting toward Labour. Maybe it’s better seen as a non-Muslim non-Sikh non-Christian Indian identity rather than a Hindu one, but still seems like there’s something there.

      Indian Americans in the US seem more recent, so maybe we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out.

  4. indian american sikhs have told me that it has. i’m 95% sure there are more white and black sikh converts in the USA than sikhs of non-punjabi south asian background. that’s kind of weird, right?

    1. I have been on forums with enough shit posting and trolling. I grew up in NJ and New York. And all I can say is that some of their hatred of what fundamentally amounts to AASI, even though most don’t know that term of course, is very real. Not even upper caste Brahmins and Khatris voice it or I think honestly believe at the same group think level. It basically takes those as west eurasian as them but much more uncouth on average to behave the way these west eurasian heavy shudra descendants of the NW do. Of course, many just don’t care. But a vocal minority are absolutely nuts.

      A guy on another forum messaged me that apparently in Pak Black Lives Matter is a big thing. And there is a connection back to Nation of Islam and singular ummah stuff for celebrities to point to. Probably the same as India. Now it’s chic to feel for the struggle of American Blacks. But the native black AASI people at home are just replaceable “ugly dark pappu” aka AASI bhaiya caricatures

    1. did you read the post? “brahmins” are not a community. they don’t have a recent shared history. tamil brahmins speak tamil and are vegetarian. bengali brahmins speak bengali usually eat fish and chicken and use mustard oil like civilized people. kashmiri brahmins speak kashmiri and eat mutton.

      1. *mustard oil* reminds me:
        In Tamil Nadu we apply coconut oil to head & use sesame oil in cooking
        In neighbouring Kerala, its the reverse. Sesame oil on head & coconut oil in cooking

        1. I am not aware of a popularity of sesame seed oil for applying on head in Kerala. There also, mostly coconut oil is used.

          1. That is the first time I am hearing it. The article you linked to (not that you claimed it to be Malayali), seems to be by one Hebbar, which is a last name of some Iyengar community settled in Karnataka.

            (One of my other comments asking about Jews and intellect went into spam 🙁 )

          2. My theory is thay the oil used for cooking should be very premium.

            So the hair oil would be one level below that.

            Sesame oil of good quality is available in Tamil Nadu & hence used for cooking.
            Same applies for coconut oil in Kerala

            So I think Tamils turned to Coconut oil for hair (which need not be as premium as cooking oil) & Keralites in turn used sesame oil for hair.

            Just a theory.

        2. There are sub regional differences. Coconut and oil is used in cooking in West TN, similarly, sesame seed oil on the head for all all festival’s and once a week massages in villages.

        3. This is a interesting conversation, I’m malayalee (but indian-american), my parents generation did use coconut oil for their hair in the past (used on me as a kid), then they used olive oil for some reason (supposedly fancier). They are from central Kerala, not sure what the practice is now, if it’s changed, or if it is a regional difference as well. Never heard them use sesame oil for anything but cooking.

        4. In Sri Lanka, Northern Tamils use sesame for cooking and hair, the South/Sinhalese use Coconut Oil. Growing up a semi put down term was used for Tamil, “thal thel boy”, i.e. Sesame Oil boys.

          I think is a climate issue. In the Norh Coconut trees need care, i.e. watering and that with water drawn laboriously from a well.
          In the South, just plant it an forget about, enough rain. Coconut tree near the ocean, have the sweetest water. Mud salt from salterns are applied every couple of year to inland trees to get best taste and growth.

  5. the irony is Sikhism, born out in part from the Shakti movement,would have been good for giving Indians more collective cajones and unity. If only it was born in a more neutral region like Gujarat or Bengal.

    Tragically, it started in the NW with some of the most tribalist and racially hateful people possible. And hey maybe if Gujus and Bengalis were lighter and more West Eurasian on average, they would.pull the same nonsense. Regardless, sad how it worked out.

    Regardless, the NW gang tends to run to the Indian American milleau anyway. Joining Indian student associations, frats, and dance teams. They know where acceptance and even an illogical degree of reverence is. They also know for all the noise they make, they are still Browns.

  6. note that i said indian *american* sikhs. many of these kids who are sikh take the religion to heart and are offended by the normative ethnic chauvinism and castism of indian sikhs and immigrant generation.

    1. Khalistan brainwashing is strong in central valley and Canadian Gurudwaras. there are also Sikh summer camps that serve as hardcore indoctrination venues. Actually, funnily enough I know similar types of Jew camps.

      Hindu camps would still probs be too divided since too many diff ethnics.

  7. If Indian Americans are prominent in the American Left and Christian Indian Americans are more likely to be Republicans then how do you explain non-Christian (mainly Hindu) Indian Americans (2nd gen) like myself who are Conservatives/Republicans? Am I an anomaly? Should I get my head examined?
    Although I grew up in a Marathi CKP Hindu home, I’m secular/agnostic too. Maybe I am strange.

    1. Although I grew up in a Marathi CKP Hindu home, I’m secular/agnostic too. Maybe I am strange.

      Probably all the CKPs I know are secular/agnostic. Though to be fair probably all of them consider themselves strange too 🙂

    2. There are plenty more, in our extended household all the 40+ members are card carrying Republicans. These range from Doctors, accountants to corporate managers, and as I said earlier all the kids are social democrats. May be the universities are to be blamed.

      1. Oft quoted:
        “If you are republican in 20s, you are heartless. If you are democrat in 40s, you are stupid.”

        Economics could be the simple explanation as the earnings capacity (and consequently tax rates) change with age?
        Also, family structure makes 40+ likely to have dependents. This changes perspective between helping random strangers vs. dependents at home.

  8. there are 3 million indian americans. what needs explaining? i’m sure there are tattooed pierced nonbinary sex worker Christian republican indian Americans out there too.

    15% of indian Americans voted for trump. that’s a lot.

    1. lol Christian non-binary sex worker….

      I understand from a statistical/probability standpoint. You laid out the reasons very well as to why the vast majority of Indian Americans are on the Left. I’m just curious as to what makes some non Christian Indian American conservatives different from most of the ethnic group. I guess I’m wondering if their is a social psychology or individual experiences that separate them? For example one thing I noticed among the few non Christian Desi conservatives I’ve come across is that we all grew up in neighborhoods that were not predominantly ethnic minorities particularly South Asians. More importantly we didn’t grow up near sizable South Asian populations. We wouldn’t encounter such a sizable population until later in life.
      Because of the kind of neighborhoods we grew up in and the “microagressions”, we were forced to adapt and connect with people not like us, successful or not. It was an accelerated assimilation process. I remember Reihan Salam described his childhood and remembered thinking how similar it was to mine. Of course this is not an appropriate sample size to draw conclusions. I thought you might have some insights since are you in contact with a lot of South Asians through your blogs.

    1. Mustard oil is the real marker of civilization. Everyone knows mustard, only the enlightened know mustard oil. Bengalis and Kashmiris use nothing else if they can help it, and even the outrageous Punjabis have a weakness for the stuff when they cant get real ghee or butter. You can’t make a decent fish curry without mustard oil; olive oil cannot do what mustard oil can.

      1. South of India, no one uses mustard oil, that pungency is something is not ready for all. Sesame, groundnut and coconut is all they do depending on the need.

  9. What do you think will happen to the very large Haredi communities over the coming decades? They’re growing at like 4-5% a year, almost entirely due to natural increase. That doesn’t seem sustainable in the long term. There’s some indication that retention rates are falling, but this is a trend in its early stages. This is an interesting book on “hidden heretics” within the Haredi community:

    https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691169903/hidden-heretics

    My guess is that it’s only a matter of time before more of them come out of hiding.

  10. well, a lot of the secular jews of the early 20th century grew up haredi or were from haredi families. the narrative I’ve read is they were haredi in Europe, got on the ship, and stopped being frum. they retained their Jewishness mostly through the big urban jewish cultures centered around Yiddish and what not, not haredi religion. perhaps that will happen again?

    1. That’s certainly plausible. Something seems to have changed from mid-century on, when Haredim (not just in the US, but in Israel and Europe too) lost interest in secularising. They’ve been on an exponential demographic trajectory since. I’m not sure what drove the change, so I struggle to guess how resilient this trend will be.

  11. Jewish ascent to power in America did not come without significant costs. The price to be paid was essentially that most Jews has to become reform or conservative, rather than Orthodox. Up until the Haskalah, there had only been one form of Judaism, which is today called Orthodox. While there were variants, they all shared a similar core.
    The reform and conservative denominations are radical departures by comparison.

    Non-Haredi Jews in the US intermarry at a stunning rate of 70%. So if you want influence, you need to open up and adapt to the majority in significant ways. Are Indian-Americans ready to do that? Right now most Asians earn a lot of money but have relatively limited political influence.

    If the Jewish path to political power – where they have an outsized say in the US media and political donor class – is anything to learn from then it means making very large sacrifices to your own culture.

    Indian-Americans have the lowest outmarriage rates of all Asian groups. So it would seem on the surface that this would be an issue of contention.

    However, an important aspect to remember is that Indian-American intermarriage rates tend to be quite low at least in part due to much higher share of 1st gen FOBs relative to other Asian groups. Once you control for 2nd gen only, there are still lower rates but the differences are no longer as sharp between Indian-Americans and other Asian-American groups.

    Coming to Razib’s argument about heterogenity, the fact that barely 52% of Indian-Americans are Hindu according to Pew’s 2012 survey of Asian-Americans should limit any idea of a pan-Indian identity.

    Of course, Europeans in the US also had quarrels over religion in the 1800s and early 1900s before they melted away in the postwar years. But combining different strands of Christianity is a lot easier than doing so vis-a-vis dharmic faiths and abrahamic ones. I am unconvinced it can be done easily, or perhaps at all.

  12. Indians in the US will probably produce not one but many ‘new jews’ communities. Tambrams could be one such, and Patels another.
    ‘Indians are not nearly as culturally coherent and cohesive as Jews.’
    That should be shortened to ‘Indians are not culturally coherent and cohesive’.
    Many many years ago I enquired of a knowing one what the prospects of doing business in the gulf would be for someone like me. He said it all worked on the ‘mama bhanja’ principle. There are little networks functioning on regional or caste principals all the time. That is completely true abroad, though the principle is breaking up in corporate India. It has happened times out of number, in my experience, that what was legitimately due did not happen, and what was not due, did, based on the network principle. In New York once, after a delayed BA flight from London I missed my connection onwards and could find nowhere to stay. After doing the round of all the airport hotels at JFK. I went back to a Sheraton to plead once more, even for the chance to sleep in the lounge. A Pakistani Pathan was by now at the front desk, it was 2 in the morning. He gave me a suite at half the rack rate.

  13. The price to be paid was essentially that most Jews has to become reform or conservative, rather than Orthodox. Up until the Haskalah, there had only been one form of Judaism, which is today called Orthodox

    mostly true. but karaites and some groups like the bene Israel were not rabbinical jews.

    1. Interestingly, the 2013 Pew survey on the US Jewish community showed Modern Orthodox Jews to be the highest earning segment of the Jewish population. See the chart on p.43 of the report:

      https://www.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2013/10/jewish-american-full-report-for-web.pdf

      My guess is that that is because the Modern Orthodox lifestyle, which values a high level of engagement with general society together with a high degree of proficiency with Jewish texts and practice, is extremely expensive and, relatedly, highly self-selective in favour of high earners. That would explain why only 3% of American Jews are Modern Orthodox vs the 6% who are Ultra-Orthodox.

  14. Indians in the US will probably produce not one but many ‘new jews’ communities. Tambrams could be one such, and Patels another.

    no, because there aren’t enough of that. i mean, brahmins are 2% or so of TN population. that’s about 1 million. there were 7.5 million or so jews in the USA in 1950.

    and this isn’t taking into account the divisions btwn tambrams and patidars.

    dawoodi bohras exhibit some of the same tendencies as Ashkenazi jews. same religion, mostly same subethnicity, etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawoodi_Bohra

    but no more than 1 million

  15. I’m a bit confused what it means to be the “new jews”?

    RK does a good job laying out why Jews are far fare more related (and clannish?) than Indian-Americans or South Asians. I think he overstates it a bit because outside of the ultra-orthodox modern Jewish identity is one part israel and one part holocaust.

    Of course what people mean by “new jews” ins’t clannish. In fact it can mean a lot of different things:

    1) Wealth — will Indian-Americans because the new wealthy elite? You see that in income, but wealth is very different.

    2) Education — Jews are very educationally successful and value it — mimicking the Boston Brahmins of the 19th century. Will South Asians go down that path?

    3) Intellectual leadership — are the Jews the brain trust of America? Certainly outperformance in the 1st half of the 20th century, leading position in the 2nd half, unless you think Seth Rogen is a guru not sure about the 21st.

    All three are vaguely anti-Semitic. What is interesting is what you’re seeing in the question is using the very old question of caste promotion in a new country and in a new way. Caste doesn’t seem to last very long among Indian emigrant communities but I think RK is underestimating the “pull” of creating a new caste of brown people.

  16. I see the overall point: Indians have weaker ethnic and cultural ties than Jews. Left to its own devices, Indians would probably not develop a solidarity. As of now, Indians occupy very small mind share in overall american psyche. Strong agree on Jewish intellectual contribution.

    I have an alternative question: don’t you think the current trend of weaponizing identity would precipitate a common ethnic identity among Indians? How bad do you think it should get to coalesce Indians for a stronger identity?

  17. @Razib
    “2) Indian Americans are nonwhite and usually not Christian (Christian Indian Americans are much more likely to be Republican and not just the famous ones)”

    In my experiences I have not really come across a pattern of indian american christians voting this way. Is this anectodal? In my circles of malayali american christians I don’t see a tendency to vote republican. In my area there are large numbers of Eastern Orthodox, Marthoma, Church of South India, Catholics of both the eastern rite and latin rite, as well as pentecoastals. The only group that i think might lean more republican are pentecostal/nondenominational. As a possible contrast to this view, In 2 areas of of texas, one right outside of dallas and one right outside houston, malayali christian democrats have been elected to local office as council members and even judges, due in part to the large number of malayali christians living in those areas. In Fort Bend county right outside of Houston, a malayalee court judge (Julie Mathew?) was elected as well as a confusingly titled “county” judge (they are not involved in court cases) who actually is the highest/most powerfull office of that county (populations around 800,000 or so).

    https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Indian-American-K-P-George-takes-historic-place-13498873.php

    These were all elected as democrats.

    So just wanted to put it out there that it isn’t a commonly held view at least among the malayli christians I know.

  18. I know almost next to nothing about the communities of South Asian migrants outside of the US, but I’d think perhaps a good example to look to is what happened to South Asian migrant communities in UK, South Africa, the Caribbean, that have been there for longer. Did they move beyond the barriers of caste/religion/language and create a more general South Asian identity? Perhaps this is just extrapolating from my own experience, but that seems to be what the 2nd generation South Asians in the US are doing (though whether that broader South Asian identity remains or just disintegrates like other immigrant communities here in later generations is a question to be answered, and will be interesting to see).

    Also, I strongly disagree a lot with the author you cited’s post on East Asian vs. South Asian assimilation. There are plenty of fifth generation Chinese Americans in the Bay Area that would argue against the statement that they have completely assimilated to the dominant American culture (whatever “dominant American culture” even means)…

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