Pride And Concern Follow Success Of Indian-Americans

July 9, 2010

Author: Samuel Freedman

Source: The New York Times

When Barry Goldwater mounted his campaign for the White House in 1964, the Jewish humorist Harry Golden took notice. “I always knew the first Jewish president of the United States,” Mr. Golden put it, “would be an Episcopalian.”

On the surface, Mr. Golden was simply stating a biographical fact. Mr. Goldwater’s Jewish father had married an Episcopalian woman and their children were raised as Christians. More deeply, though, Mr. Golden was giving voice to what seemed then to be a bitter and immutable truth: A Jew could compete for national office only by shedding his identity.

Mr. Golden’s dated wisecrack has acquired a surprising relevance recently among a different religious and ethnic group. In Indian-American circles, the rising national prominence of two Indian-American politicians — Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, and Nikki Haley, the Republican nominee for governor of South Carolina — has provoked both pride and backlash.