Indian Americans are exceptional; no shit sherlock

The Atlantic has a piece up, The Truth Behind Indian American Exceptionalism Many of us are unaware of the special circumstances that eased our entry into American life—and of the bonds, we share with other nonwhite groups. I’m really curious what The Atlantic paid for this piece because it’s a husk of prose that just mixes and matches cliches and random facts into the sausage casing of a social justice narrative.

The author is “Senior reporter with WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit,” which suggests to me they aren’t very smart because obsessive fixation with “social justice” indicates you are stupid. Also, they state that “I don’t recall hearing the name Dalip Singh Saund until I was in my 30s.” If you don’t know that name, and you are Indian American, you are probably not very smart or intellectually curious. I knew Singh’s name when I was sixteen as I was interested in political history.

16 Replies to “Indian Americans are exceptional; no shit sherlock”

  1. “ Senior reporter with WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit “

    Now it seems they are just coming up with random designations. It’s like editor-at-large stuff.

    1. FWIW my older Indian company used to come up with these type of designations when they were unwilling to promote or give a pay rise. Just so that the person feels important.

  2. I am ignorant of the history of Indian Americans (and admit to not having been curious before).

    Can Razib or someone explain to me what is exceptionally bad about this piece? Why is this fact unlike a typical NYT article about Indian bigotry as far as being “a husk of prose that just mixes and matches cliches and random facts into the sausage casing of a social justice narrative.” is concerned?

    1. froginthewell, your quote is apt. The piece is noteworthy in that its highly visible and presents the indian-american community not as a digression but as the main theme of a social history, implying the editorial board acknowledging this as a topic of interest. Also found it interesting that the author assumes that the readership is brown in fair share, rather than interpret community experience just for a putative white reader. And finally, just how unquestioningly committed to doctrine it was. It was a social justice “ally” manifesto for south asians.

  3. To me it seems like what’s interesting about Indian Americans is mostly how unexceptional they are. Most of them seem to be intermarrying with the locals and assimilating thoroughly. Yes, they’re generally quite successful, but that’s likely a selection effect (below-average Indians don’t make it America) plus some cultural factors that will be gone in three generations. In three generations, the descendants of today’s Indian Americans will likely be “Indian American” in the same sense that I’m “Norse American”, “Irish American”, “Gypsy American”, and “Native American” (all at once) – I’m pretty much just American.

  4. I learned about Dalip Singh Saund (and Thind, and the Bellingham riots,and a few other vignettes about Indians in North America) as an aspiring grad student in small-town India at the turn of the century, with a spotty Internet connection. So I echo your assertion about the writer’s lack of intellectual curiosity.

  5. The writer is correct about Indian immigrants having benefited from the Civil Rights Movement in which they did not participate. But he seems to be taking the wrong lessons from this. Rather than understanding how the dismantling of discriminatory laws gave everyone a fair shake as long as they were willing to work hard and take their opportunities, he seems to think people should start marinating in older injustices (just like BLM).

  6. “WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit”

    Does WNYC have a separate department for “Transgender and Justice Unit”?

    1. What makes u think they don’t have it?

      I would wager that they would be having a justice- for -(Supreme Court) justice unit. Also can someone start a “pulao-is-not-biryani” justice unit.

  7. Elite Indian migration to the US has been more techno-economic than psycho-cultural. It was a way of enhancing career opportunities and social status back home. Otherwise, Indians of past generations had rather negative opinions of American culture. The Indian migrants to America from the last 10-15 years have a more balanced view, and we will see that their children will have markedly less left-leaning views that the current Indian American cohort.

    1. “ we will see that their children will have markedly less left-leaning views that the current Indian American cohort.“

      I seriously doubt that.

    2. Doubt it. The Christianity-Hinduism barrier is a huge one. By the same token, Indian American converts to Christianity can become fervent Republicans (like Jindal or Haley) and there are no institutional barriers within the GOP against people like them. But unless Indian Americans start converting in droves, they are likely to remain overwhelmingly left-leaning.

      1. I have the view that the children of current generation will be even more work than white woke. So much so that white wokes will regret letting brown folks in.

  8. Indian Americans want to be cool. Universities are cool esp ivy league ones who shout social justice. They are competitive and want to be leaders. If they are Trump supporters, they have to hunker down. So they become more sjw’s than say a black or white sjw.
    I also read that Americans like skilled workers more than unskilled workers. To avoid being unexceptional by 3rd gen, we should continue to get skilled labor from India to carry the flag for the rest of unexceptional 3rd gen Indian Americans.

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