Way to set yourself apart from the pack, Uncle-ji.
Just in case it wasn’t clear from the billboard, Vijay Kumar may be brown, but he’s not one of those other kinds of brown people. Don’t get confused, Tennesseans. He’s just like you. But not me.
Vijay Kumar is one of eleven Republican Congressional candidates running for office in Nashville, TN (5th District). The primary elections are coming up soon, August 5th. From his site:
Vijay was born in 1954 in Hyderabad, India, to a conservative middle class family…. In 1979, Vijay emigrated to the United States because he felt uplifted by the values and possibilities inherent in the American way of life. In 1983, Vijay married Robin Minix, a native of Bowling Green, Kentucky. In keeping with his conservative family values, Vijay and Robin have been married for twenty-seven years. The Kumar family attends Bellevue Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee.[kumarforcongress]
So he’s an immigrant, he married a local, and he converted. Ok, fine, just like almost every other candidate we’ve blogged about here. But the kicker is just how much the “Islamization of America” is a part of his campaign. He talks about “Universal Jihad” “The Islamist Challenge” and “Sharia Law” on his site. He states he doesn’t believe there is an “Indian-Pakistani problem… just a universal jihadist problem.” He further expounds by basically saying that being Muslim and being American are inherently antithetical and for the sake of the American Constitution we need to get rid of people that follow the Quran. You can’t make this kind of political messaging narrative up. He says some other hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric on his site, but I don’t want to give him more blog space here on Sepia Mutiny than I have to. But you get my point. Here’s the kicker (like that wasn’t enough). Also running for Congress a neighboring district over for the Republican party is a Desi Muslim candidate: Mahmood Sabri is running for Congress in the 1st District in Tennessee. How’s that for some party solidarity and united messaging?
Tennessee still has yet to experience their primary elections. VIjay Kumar will be competing against ten other congressional candidates to capture the Republican seat for this race. I highly doubt Mr. Kumar will get very far with his current messaging, especially considering his competition and that his race is in a somewhat urban area. All the same, I find it surprising he was able to get away with getting as far as he has with the campaign message he has. I also find it surprising that he’s almost using anti-Islamic sentiment not only as a crutch for his campaign, but also in a way to remind the voters how not “one of those kinds of brown” he is.
As for some of the commenters on Sepia Mutiny who advocate supporting South Asian candidates just for being South Asian, this is a case book example of why NOT to do that. We need to hold South Asian candidates accountable to OUR community on real ISSUES, inclusive of all Desis and Muslims (and Hindus and Christians), alike. Being tokenized and pandering for votes is just not going to cut it. If we can’t do that, then what is the point to having political power as a South Asian American community, really?