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Why Bobby Jindal May Be Worse Than George W. Bush

By       Message Rakesh Krishnan Simha     Permalink
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If your mother is a nuclear physicist, your father a civil engineer, and you yourself have a biology degree from Brown University, what are the chances of you becoming a card carrying creationist? Answer: smaller than small.

But if you are Bobby Jindal, the equation changes.

Jindal has been described as brilliant, ambitious and learned, but a better insight into his personality can be gotten from observing how he views his own ethnicity, what he feels about his parents' culture and his country of origin, and his obsessive desire to blend with the lily-white ole boys of the Republican Party.

Flash to March 2008. A series of unexplained deaths of Indian medical and engineering students culminate in the brutal murders of two Indian PhD scholars at Louisiana State University (LSU).

In the immediate aftermath of the LSU attacks, repeated calls were placed to the newly elected Governor of Louisiana by Indians demanding a thorough probe. But strangely Jindal, who had campaigned vigorously on a platform to crack down on crime, did nothing. Finally, after nearly a week of silence, he released a statement through a low level secretary, expressing his condolences and confidence in local law enforcement in bringing the culprits to justice.

Jindal camp insiders said the Governor didn't want to make a direct statement about the murdered students – let alone visit the campus – and risk being tarred by the minority brush.

Minorities? Hello, these were not green card grabbers; these were students, one of whom was a brilliant doctor who planned to build a hospital back home after his training at LSU.

But then Jindal has a consistent record of airbrushing anything that clashes with the image he wants to project to the white Republican voter base.

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Take the recent interview with Morley Safer of 60 Minutes on CBS, where both Jindal and his wife Supriya gloss over their ethnicity. Safer asks if their family maintains any of the Indian traditions, and the Jindals look at each other as if they've been asked if they harbor any illegal aliens in their basement.

Supriya tells Safer: "Not too many."

"No, they've been here for so many years that…," pipes in Jindal.

"Years that we've sort of adapted. And we were raised as Americans, you know? We were raised as Louisianans. So, that's how we live our lives," Supriya says with practised ease, but still comes across as unconvincing.

Safer voices over: This oyster and crawfish-eating Louisianan tends to downplay his ethnic background.
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"When we sent a reporter and photographer to India to write about his family and their origins, the Jindal family was very queasy about that undertaking," says the editor of the New Orleans Times Picayune, Jim Amoss.

This at a time when the US President calls himself Barack rather than Barry and openly talks about his Kenyan roots. This at a time when Obama doesn’t hide his dislike of the British for having brutally crushed a Kenyan uprising.

Jindal's disingenuousness drags on. Asked if he felt any racial tension growing up in Baton Rouge, Jindal tells Safer, "Not at all. You know, this has been a great place to grow up. The great thing about the people of Louisiana is that they accept you based on who you are."

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Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based writer.

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