HAF Replies to Joel Stein's Offensive Article in Time Magazine
Minneapolis, MN (July 2, 2010) - The Hindu American Foundation sent the following Letter to the Editor to Time magazine in response to Joel Stein's "My Own Private India." HAF also reached out to Stein personally, offering him an opportunity to dialog with the Indian American community through an interview with HAF. In response to mounting pressure from the community, both Stein and Time apologized, but Stein has not replied to HAF's invitation.
Humorist Joel Stein in his July 5 column, "My Own Private India", dismally missed the mark in his attempt to entertain at the expense of Indian Americans in Edison, NJ.
In a day of fatwas calling for the heads of cartoonists, we can surely afford a thick skin and sense of humor. But in flippantly evoking painful reminisces of the worst cases of hate crimes that terrorized the Indian American community -- the "Dot Busters" gang attacks on Indian Americans culminating in the tragic murder of Navroz Mody in 1987 -- Stein crosses the line between the amusing and offensive.
Stein's equating poverty with intelligence too, conjures up the worst stereotypes, ignores how colonialism drained India, and undermines the very real issues faced by the marginalized, not only in India, but globally.
Satire is effective so long as a writer recognizes subtle limits. Sadly, Stein's piece is opaque to those boundaries.
Suhag Shukla, Esq.
Managing Director and Legal Counsel
Hindu American Foundation