Anti-Indian article: Resolution passed against mag

Not satisfied with an apology by the Times magazine, the Edison township has passed a resolution asking it to issue a more comprehensive and thoughtful comment.

Last Updated: Jul 20, 2010, 17:31 PM IST

Washington: Not satisfied with an apology
by the Times magazine, the Edison township has passed a
resolution asking it to issue a more comprehensive and
thoughtful comment to address the negative impact of a column
deemed offensive by the large Indian American community.

The Indian Americans in Edison have taken strong
objection to an article called `My Own Private India` written
by Joel Stein and do not seem satisfied by the apology issued
by the Times Magazine after the backlash.

The City Council of the Edison Township in New Jersey
passed a resolution yesterday, saying it objects to the column
and "urges Joel Stein and Time Magazine to issue a more
comprehensive and thoughtful comment to address the offensive
and grossly insensitive `My Own Private India` column and its
negative impacts and to exercise greater judgement in writing
and publishing such columns in the future".

The two-page resolution was introduced by
Dr Sudhanshu Prasad, the Edison Township councilman.

The resolution said that the column is asserted to be
a humorous and satirical piece. However, a fair and objective
reading reveals that it is not only offensive to the Edison
Asian-Indian population it is aimed at, but also to the entire
Township of Edison and all of its residents.

"It is perplexing that a magazine with the prestige
and reputation of Time Magazine, published such a column and
that their official comment to the public outcry to the column
was tersely limited to: `We sincerely regret that any of our
readers were upset by this humour column of Joel Stein. It was
in no way intended to cause offence," the resolution said.

The resolution also referred to Stein`s posting on his
Twitter account: `Didn`t mean to insult Indians with my column
this week`.

"Also stupidly assumed their e-mails would follow that
Gandhi non-violence thing, also falls far short of humour
and/or satire and continues to tail to appreciate the negative
impact of his column and continues to exacerbate the situation
and its impact on his hometown of Edison, its Asian-Indian
residents and all Asian-Indians," the resolution read.

Early this month, Time magazine had apologised to
Indian Americans following the publication of the column which
had offended and outraged the large community, especially
those in New Jersey.

"I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many
people," said Stein, who in his column "My Own Private India"
gave his own impression of how his home town of Edison in New
Jersey had changed over the years with the desi influx.

Nearly one in every five residents of this New Jersey
city are Indian Americans, thus making it one of the few such
cities in the United States.

In the column, Stein had recalled how the immigration
of Indians had brought a change in the city.

"For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses.
Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over
their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about
the genius thing.

"In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought
their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand
why India is so damn poor," Stein wrote in the issue dated
July 5.

"Eventually, there were enough Indians in Edison to
change the culture. At which point my townsfolk started
calling the new Edisonians `dot heads`," it said.

"One kid I knew in high school drove down an
Indian-dense street yelling for its residents to `go home to
India`.

"In retrospect, I question just how good our schools
were if `dot heads` was the best racist insult we could come
up with for a group of people whose gods have multiple arms
and an elephant nose," Stein had written.

Days later, the New Jersey Senator, Robert Menendez,
in a letter to the editor of the Time Magazine advised the
popular American columnist to engage in a dialogue with the
local Hindu community and learn more about their heritage.

"Joel Stein`s attempt at humour at the expense of
Edison, New Jersey`s vibrant and productive Indian-American
community not only fell terribly flat but crossed the line of
offensiveness toward a particular community that has dealt
with violent hate crimes in the past.

"Stein`s mocking allusions to revered deities in the
Hindu religion are particularly reprehensible," Menendez said.

The powerful Democratic Senator said New Jersey`s
Indian-American community is one of America`s many great
immigration success stories.

"Unfortunately, our state`s Indian-Americans have also
contended with aggressive discrimination.

"In the late 1980s, a New Jersey street gang calling
itself `The Dotbusters` engaged in attacks, vandalism and
threats directed at the burgeoning Indian-American community,"
he said.

PTI