Saturday, February 18, 2012

Progressive Racism

SC Prog Blog has a piece this week titled, "The tale of the infamous goddess Nimrata," a satirical blend of fact and fiction concerning SC Governor Nikki Haley and her decision to adopt a mainstream American image, ostensibly for political reasons. This is but one of a number of instances of left-wing racism directed at Haley since her decision to seek the Governorship.

One passage will suffice to illustrate my point:

"Once upon a time there was an adorable little girl in Bamberg, SC, whose name was Nimrata Randhawa. The beautiful daughter of Indian immigrants from the Punjabi region, she was raised to follow the religious teaching of the Sikh religion from their native land. From her early years, Nimrata developed a profound interest for money and power. The story goes that by the age of 13 Nimrata was already in charge of the exotic coins of her family.

"The transformation continued and by the time she reached adulthood she adapted her birth name to a more Americanized version and took her husband’s last name. Fearing public perception, Nimrata willed her skin to change and by the time she reached complete transformation, she claimed to the be officially white and of the Christian faith."

Last things first: Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance." Had she chosen to become Jewish, Muslim or Pagan, I doubt there would be any sniping from the Left.

More offensive to me is the author's presumption that Governor Haley is bound by others' perceptions of her as belonging to a particular "race." As Dorothy Roberts has compellingly argued in Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century, race is a social and political, not a biological category. The Human Genome Project has confirmed that there is but one human race. The inherited diversity that does exist defies traditional concepts of race and rather reflects ancient patterns of migration. There is more genetic diversity among the black peoples of Africa, whose ancestors never migrated off the continent, than among any two groups on the rest of the planet. As far as Governor Haley's self-identification as white is concerned, the people of India have long considered themselves to be of Aryan descent and recent DNA studies confirm that Indians of South Asia are more Caucasian than Asian in terms of ancestral groupings. Put simply, Nikki Haley and I share a more recent common ancestor than either of us shares with Mao Zedong, yet we both are closer cousins to Mao than Desmond Tutu is to Idi Amin.

There are so many legitimate reasons to criticize the Governor. Her choice of race and religion are not among them. Whether or not the Right is prone to a generalized racism I cannot say. I do believe many on the Left practice a selective racism that targets those who fail to conform to their stereotypes concerning ethnicity and politics.

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