“I didn’t like all of the junk [they] were saying about the lady”

nikki haley june 9 2010.jpg

As many people may have heard, Nikki Haley came out with a commanding lead in the South Carolina governor’s primary last night (49% to 22% for the second place finisher), though she was just shy of enough votes to avoid a runoff. I thought some of the quotes in the New York Times’ article about it speak to some of the issues that Ennis raised last week:

If she wins the general election in November, Ms. Haley would be the first woman and first racial minority elected governor of South Carolina. In a speech to supporters on Tuesday night, Ms. Haley said she has challenged the status quo — but less through her age, race or gender, and more through her political views. (link)

At first that might not be so surprising, but consider this: South Carolina is 30% African American.

But in terms of her personal upbringing, Ms. Haley is without precedent for South Carolina. The state has the lowest percentage of women elected to office of any state in America. And Ms. Haley is the only Indian-American elected official in the state. (link)

While the “raghead” comment was disgusting, the fact that she’s a woman has also been a huge factor in the campaign, with two men, both political operatives, claiming to have had affairs with her.

Sometimes American politics is maddening. But sometimes a certain passion for fair play asserts itself:

“It has become a referendum on whether you think she was treated fairly,” said Danielle Vinson, the chairwoman of the political science department at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. Indeed, Sonny Hulon, 74, a retired grocery store employee who was voting at a senior citizen center in Columbia, said he had changed his support to Ms. Haley. “I voted for the lady,” he said, referring to Ms. Haley. “I was going to vote for McMaster but I didn’t like all of the junk that the other campaigns were saying about the lady.”

Allen Cuthrell, 52, an electrical engineer from Greenville, said he thinks the attacks benefitted Ms. Haley, whom he supports. “It exposed the good old boy machine,” he said. “People didn’t realize how bad it was until they saw Nikki getting attacked.” (link)

I like that: “I voted for the lady.” It’s interesting that he doesn’t say her name. And there are similar kinds of quotes in the Washington Post’s coverage.

Nikki Haley’s political views are not my own. But it is impressive that she has withstood these attacks, and even — improbably — benefited from them.

87 thoughts on ““I didn’t like all of the junk [they] were saying about the lady”

  1. However, we can all plainly see that Jindal and Haley are doing this for political gains. Period. They’ve sold out. Jindal, on 60 Minutes – along with his wife – claim that they never do ‘anything Indian’ (to paraphrase), and as an Indo-American, I know this can’t be the case.

    So Jindal changed his religon in high school the only reason he did it was to run for governor a couple of decades later and when Haley get married and chose her husband faith it was part of a plan to run for governor 16 years down the line. Wow I’m glad that someone caught on to there plan.

  2. So Jindal changed his religon in high school the only reason he did it was to run for governor a couple of decades later and when Haley get married and chose her husband faith it was part of a plan to run for governor 16 years down the line. Wow I’m glad that someone caught on to there plan.

    Well, Obama’s mom shrewdly placed an announcemnt of his birth in an american newspapaer just in case one day her secret foregn muslim son ran for POTUS. So, people do prepare for these things.

  3. Okay, come on all you puritans! Almost everyone in this world is opportunistic. Everyone pretends at one point or another to be something else to get what they want. So stop the preaching!!! Mr/Ms X wants to get into public office, and does what’s needed based on the expectations of the people in that region. If you think that’s “sham”, please go hide your puritanical a** in Utopia. You’ve done it too, in one way or another. End of story. On a tangent, I’m surprised our Mr/Ms.Jyotsana is not chiming in with his/her “oh-I-must-say-something-contrary-and-inflamatory-and-jack-a**ed” comment. RIP.

  4. And, pray may I ask, what the fork does “Pagal Aadmi For Debauchery” mean, dear PAFD??????

  5. @Amardeep. In your original post, you wrote, “…But it is impressive that she has withstood these attacks, and even — improbably — benefited from them…”

    I think once the Raghead issue broke, people sort of “forgot” about the accusations of infidelity. And, so the guy quoted as saying that he changed his vote because he didn’t like all the junk they were throwing at the lady basically acted out of sense of decency (i.e., enough is enough. you’ve picked on her long enough…). Yeah, her smarts was that she didn’t lose her cool, and let people’s decency come through.

    Now, if this had been Mrs. Indira Gandhi, it wouldn’t have been past her to put up JakeAss Knotts to make those comments, and garner sympathy ;-) Vaguely remember an election season from the 70′s where someone threw a rock at her, injuring her face. Seems that she had “hired” the guy to do that (or so the papers said at the time).

  6. I think Bobby Jindal got a lot of flak, not just for his name or religion change, but the totality of his behavior. It seems like at a lot of points in his life, he wanted to distance himself from his origin, yet had no qualms about using that to get donations from the community. (My relatives are close supporters of him and have known his family, so I have no predisposed bias against the guy).

    Nikki Haley: I have no idea why she changed her faith. Though, quite frankly, as an agnostic, I am always bemused by conversions regardless of religion. It’s one thing to follow a religion by inertia, but to buy into that stuff as an adult to the extent you feel you have to convert? I look at those Hare Krishna guys as first class kooks. I am a Hindu the way some of my agnostic Jewish friends say they are Jews. Don’t really view it as a religious thing for me. I do notice that people who convert to Christianity tend to think like born agains where the rest of us are going to hell while they are saved. They are entitled to that opinion, but it doesn’t mean I have to respect that.

    But then again, wasn’t one of Nikki’s parent was a Christian anyway? So what is the big deal here regardless of one’s perspective?

    But I have to bring up a viewpoint that is not in synch with the ones I just brought up. What about all those Bollywood actors who use “foreign” names? Ever watch a BOllywood movie and look at the cast list or even the character names? What is their excuse?

  7. Suki@51:

    Those who have a talent for politics know that it takes a long time to build up a political career. You have to gather supporters; you have to gather sources of money; you must learn how to campaign for an election; you have to improve your public speaking; and so on. So changing your religion 10 or even 20 years beforehand is certainly believable.

    There may be somebody in your family who is considering classical music or a sports career. They too get training more than a decade beforehand, don’ t they? It’s the same with politicians

  8. But even if you assume, it was a strategic choice, it is still a personal decision. If you want to call it out, focus on the Republican party which seems to make such things necessary to have a chance at political office.

  9. ok, so it is in the republican party that these people get up to the level of state governors; and not only that but to be stars at the national level. so suddenly it is the fault of the republican party that “forced” these rising stars to “sellout”.

    Perhaps it is acceding to the usual wings of Democratic patronizing (oh you’re a victim because of your color, here is your stepladder) — so demeaning to people of color — is the actual selling out?

    It’s like that guy said about that lady; each time some dem. whinges about national pols of color “selling out”; it only serves to garner more votes from more decent folks for said “sellouts”.

  10. I am a from a small town, and am watching a couple of brown kids — from birth — grow up, and it is very clear already that the kids do NOT want to be different. They feel tremendous pressure to fit in, so the “choices” they are making (one kid has been going to Christian camp because all of his friends are) are more the result of wanting to be mainstream and not be seen as “weird.” In Bible-belt areas of this country, Christianity is everywhere, unlike the ubiquitous presence of Christmas elsewhere in the nation and in big cities. The pressure to be saved, to be part of the larger tribe, to date the cute girl in school, etc., is enormous. One of the brown kids I know recently joined the army, and he genuinely believes all the Fox News propaganda against those “terrorists.” The point being, you do want to belong.

    It is not surprising that both Nikki and Bobby anglicized their names and took up the dominant religion of their area during their teens, during the time when the need to differentiate from parents and to belong to the larger tribe is the strongest. It’s a typical immigrant story, seen across the world for 1000s of years. Only very intimate and devoted communities can carry on traditions from generation to generation, and most desis in the U.S. don’t want to preserve their culture, not in the way threatened communities do. Hell, even Indians in India are adopting white culture like it’s going out of fashion.

    Desis from big cities tend to hold on their heritage, including heading back to the desh to study or to work.

    On another note: Nikki’s win should give all of us chills. She was endorsed by Sarah Palin, and on Tuesday, quite a few Tea Baggers won. It should be an interesting election in a few years. I wonder if Obama will be a one-term president. Maybe Orly Taitz for the next president. That’s something I can get behind.

  11. 63 · Neha on June 10, 2010 1:33 PM · Direct link It is not surprising that both Nikki and Bobby anglicized their names and took up the dominant religion of their area during their teens, during the time when the need to differentiate from parents and to belong to the larger tribe is the strongest. It’s a typical immigrant story, seen across the world for 1000s of years.

    You’re right. The ancestors of Jindal and Haley were steppe-nomads of Kazakhstan who worshipped sun-gods and practiced Buddhism eventually. They were Scythians who drank from their enemy’s skulls. And these Scythians did a great job of assimilating into desh culture.

  12. @boston_mahesh “You’re right. The ancestors of Jindal and Haley were steppe-nomads of Kazakhstan who worshipped sun-gods and practiced Buddhism eventually. They were Scythians who drank from their enemy’s skulls. And these Scythians did a great job of assimilating into desh culture.”

    Neha’s post made sense, you should have ended your reply after “you’re right”, instead of being a D-bag smart alack about it.

  13. 65 · J.P on June 10, 2010 3:18 PM · Direct link @boston_mahesh “You’re right. The ancestors of Jindal and Haley were steppe-nomads of Kazakhstan who worshipped sun-gods and practiced Buddhism eventually. They were Scythians who drank from their enemy’s skulls. And these Scythians did a great job of assimilating into desh culture.” Neha’s post made sense, you should have ended your reply after “you’re right”, instead of being a D-bag smart alack about it.

    When I wiki some of their brethren, I see that their ancestors are everything from Lipka Tatars, Chuvash, Georgians, Kazakh, and Scythians.

    So I’m just trying to be cogniscent of their (Jindal and Haley) ancestry, and at the same time, find common ground between myself and a Mutineer.

    Viva assimilation! Assimilation Zindabad! If you excuse me, I must go and pay my country club dues.

  14. Jindal/Haley. Its a reality that most desis (specially older and Desi born), do not take kindly to Bobby and perhaps now to Nikki taking on the majority community identity at least in terms of their religion and playing down heritage of their parents.

    Simply I think politics forces you to do that. In most instances, people just won’t vote for you if you are too different. Can you imagine folks in UP voting for Sonia Gandhi if she wore pants and overtly professed her faith in Christ. Having said that, I think Nikki comes across more genuine (even though i don’t agree with many of her stated policies) than Jindal. She worked thru a family business and seems to have more accidently entered politics. There is no way to prove this but Jindal just seems be more slick and calculative in overplaying his religious views in public and downplaying his indianness. If there was a way to cure his brownness by applying a cream, I am sure he would be using a lot of it.

    While I think desis need to just calm down about their religious preference, I wish both the politicians are bit more positive about their heritage.

  15. I wonder if Obama will be a one-term president.

    Judging by the bumper stickers on expensive douche-mobiles, yes.

  16. As for the allegations of adultery.. I seriously doubt her husband would be smiling and beaming by her side at this point if they were true. Or at least if he believed them to be true.

  17. Has anyone recently heard about anybody attaining Nirvana/Moksha following some religion? We live in a materialistic world, so what is wrong with converting for social/political/economical reasons? Lots of people have done it from a long time (ex: Kings converting to the majority religion..) & back in desh many poor people convert to Christianity. I personally don’t like conversions to Abrahamic religions since they are less tolerant compared to the religions of east (Jain, Hindu, Buddhism, Sikhism..)

  18. Why do Nikki and Booby convert, but keep ‘desi’ sounding names for their kids? In Bobby’s case, just 1 out of 3, in Nikki, 2 out of 2.

  19. 70 · Akash on June 10, 2010 9:14 PM · Direct link Has anyone recently heard about anybody attaining Nirvana/Moksha following some religion? We live in a materialistic world, so what is wrong with converting for social/political/economical reasons? Lots of people have done it from a long time (ex: Kings converting to the majority religion..) & back in desh many poor people convert to Christianity. I personally don’t like conversions to Abrahamic religions since they are less tolerant compared to the religions of east (Jain, Hindu, Buddhism, Sikhism..)

    Akash, From my perspective, Indians are very self-loathing. We can adopt “white” culture, but the reverse doesn’t happen as much. For example, when the British and other Europeans lived in India for ~200 years or so, they didn’t quite Indianize their names, and they also didn’t convert to Indian religions (whether it is Islam, Jacobite Christianity, Hindu, etc.).

    On the other hand, Desis in USA and elsewhere, quickly try to claim that we’re Lipka Tatars, Chuvash, Georgians, Ingushetia, Kazakh, etc; we Anglicize our names, and we adopt their religion and other customs. In short, at a subconscious level, we’re taught to hate ourselves.

  20. On the other hand, Desis in USA and elsewhere, quickly try to claim that we’re Lipka Tatars, Chuvash, Georgians, Ingushetia, Kazakh, etc; we Anglicize our names, and we adopt their religion and other customs. In short, at a subconscious level, we’re taught to hate ourselves.

    I like myself. And not only that, I am very very proud of my desi heritage and and I share it with anyone and everyone. South Asians have a rich heritage in every way and I like to celebrate that.

  21. I feel about Nikki Haley the way I feel about Yousef Youhana, the first non-Muslim to captain the Pakistani cricket team. In 2005, Youhana (now Muhammad Yousef) converted to Islam. Fine as a personal decision, but it was nice to see a member of a minority religion succeed on his own terms in an increasingly religious country.

  22. I find this discourse fascinating: – “racial minority…” She looks very caucasian to me. With names like Nikki and Bobby, these people know what is needed (in part) to make it in elections in the American South. It doesn’t hurt to embrace the majority religion either (sincere or not). We have a sample of two here, but what we are seeing here is talented candidates who are giving voters few reasons to not vote for them because they are different from the European norm. In so far as some of the negative commentary is concerned, how is that any different than what Dukakis or Obama faces in a long drawn out campaign. Negative campaigns work — without it, Nikki may not have had to face a runoff. Whats actually useful for desis in the US to ponder is why despite the preponderance of Democratic party affiliation among Indian-Americans is it that Republican desi candidates in the American south are more successful in the electoral process?

  23. Is being desi just a matter of having certain names and membership in certain religions ? What a shallow identity that would be. Three cheers for Bobby and Nikki. They have – in their own ways – been more of a role model to desi-origin youngsters in this country than a bushelful of identity zealots.

  24. boston_mahesh@72:

    Self-loathing arises only in communities that have lost in war, are being blamed for current social problems, are downwardly mobile, or have the

    The British did not lose wars in India, so they felt entitled to their own culture.

    How about Indians in the US? Until perhaps 2005, their profile was low. To cling to the Indian culture was to look downwardly mobile. But in the last few years, their profile has been raised, and they no longer need to fit in by anglicization.

  25. All right, I don’t care about their religion. It’s a non-issue to me. But, there’s nothing that irks me more than this name-changing business. I don’t know of anyone who has had to go through more bullshit because of their name than I have. I came here during elementary school, and after the first day of class the teacher took me aside and recommended that I change my name or at least adopt a nickname. I said no. I can’t count how many times this has happened since then. I know they mean well, but it is rather insulting. I have mostly gotten used to the reaction my name elicits in Americans – stifled laughter, little giggles, and a derisive remark here or there, but I still dread those classes where professors take attendance. But, I would never abandon the name that my parents gave me to take on a Western or Christian name, and I don’t have any sympathy for those who feel the need to give up their Indian names to assimilate or to avoid potential obstacles in their career down the road.

  26. just found it, Nimrata Randhawa

    Surprising why she didn’t choose to stick with it, would be a good political play by the Republicans to start putting up candidates with obviously foreign names to combat the name “Barack” I wonder if she mentions the name in her speech.

    Look, not that name changing or religion converting is a crime or anything like that. But let’s not mistake what it is, which is attempt to cast off your original seed heritage and adopt the host country heritage, as totally and completely as possible. Change your name, your religion, your thoughts, your lifestyle all to minimize or eliminate where you came from, and focus on relating with the locals as much as possible. Given the racialized history of the US, skin color is one of those ways in which a person can be easily reminded that they aren’t “american” If there was a safe, effective way to skin bleach, chances are someone like Mrs Haley would have looked into it – certainly being called a “raghead” is something Nikki would like to do without, if it’s possible.

  27. “But, I would never abandon the name that my parents gave me to take on a Western or Christian name, and I don’t have any sympathy for those who feel the need to give up their Indian names to assimilate or to avoid potential obstacles in their career down the road.”

    Nice. although the reason people have requested or suggested you to change names has more to do with the anglicized pronunciation than the Indian origin of it. Perhaps a respelling mightve made your experiences easier: Deekshith or something like that.

    Imagine someone who’s name is “Sugga Madeek” or “Lyggam Apusee”

    You should meet my friend Hardik.

  28. Not sure the strategy above regarding changing everything about oneself if necessary, needed, wise, or healthy. Also not sure Ms. Haley would do such a dreadful thing. The little that’s relatively known suggests her family is certainly retaining valuable, worthy aspects of their worthy, valuable heritage.

  29. “Not sure the strategy above regarding changing everything about oneself if necessary, needed, wise, or healthy. Also not sure Ms. Haley would do such a dreadful thing.”

    so – what’s Indian about her?

  30. let’s not mistake what it is, which is attempt to cast off your original seed heritage and adopt the host country heritage, as totally and completely as possible. Change your name, your religion, your thoughts, your lifestyle all to minimize or eliminate where you came from, and focus on relating with the locals as much as possible.

    I’ve been silent on this thread so far, but comments like this make my blood boil. Do you know any women who took their husband’s last names after marriage? When I married, I chose to keep my last name, and my mother-in-law still gives me grief about it. Nikki has obviously been a better daughter-in-law. Many of us who have been born and raised in this country will marry non-South Asians. Some of us will have Christian marriages, even if we didn’t grow up within that religion. (Some of us will have a second ceremony arranged by our own parents.)

    What we do with our names– whether it’s taking on our husbands’ names as a symbol of our connection to them, or going formally by nicknames (a la Jhumpa Lahiri) because that “nickname” is actually the name people have called us all our lives and how we’re known doesn’t mean we’re rying to hide who we are. Her name is Nikki Haley, and she represents the second-generation South Asian American experience as truthfully as any other person does.

  31. Sorry not for a back and forth adversarial debate style of communication. Hope it is acceptable.

  32. Oh but that wont stop people on this site calling white southern Americans racist redneck douchebags all the time. ETHNIC solidarity yo! Against dem white peoplezz oppressing us and shit