Curry Bear’s thoughts on Joel Stein’s article about Indians in Edison
Here is Joel Stein’s original article on Time.com.
After reading Joel Stein’s article, I’m not angry. A couple years ago, an article like this would have pissed me off. You don’t want to see an angry bear like me. I would have broken into his house, eaten his honey, chewed on his sofa, and crapped on his rug. But I am no longer angry. I am at peace with the world and I want to share my philosophy with you.
I read Joel’s article several times to understand what exactly he was trying to do. I didn’t want to label him a racist just because everyone else is fuming about his article all over Facebook. I wanted to be fair and objective. I believe that Joel was trying to be funny but didn’t quite succeed. Oh, and he just might be a little racist. I think Joel needs to know that when making comical statements about an ethnic group, it usually helps to be of the same ethnicity. Black people can say the N-word all they want. But when a white man says it, black people get pissed off. Remember when Michael Richards from Seinfeld used the N-word couple years ago? That didn’t end well for him. Joel’s statements may have some truth in them but most of them are just purely offensive and a few are funny. Take this quote for example:
In retrospect, I question just how good our schools were if “dot heads” was the best racist insult we could come up with for a group of people whose gods have multiple arms and an elephant nose.
I’ll be honest, that was kind of funny. If comedian Russell Peters had said something similar about racist Indian insults in one of his stand up routines, most of us would be laughing. I don’t want my readers to think that I am condoning what Joel did. He may have written a few funny lines but his article is full of offensive statements. Take the following sentence for example:
In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor.
Yeah, that statement is more offensive than funny. Coming from a non-Indian, that statement is just going to piss people off. Seriously Joel, what were you trying to do with that one?
Joel had a lot of questions/comments in his article. I figured I’d try to respond to them.
I never knew how a bunch of people half a world away chose a random town in New Jersey to populate. Were they from some Indian state that got made fun of by all the other Indian states and didn’t want to give up that feeling? Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep numbering our parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?
Well Joel, Edison was not chosen randomly. It was Manifest Destiny. Indians have a belief that they are destined for Westward expansion. You remember Manifest Destiny from History class right? It is the same belief Americans used in the 1800s to acquire more land and kill an entire ethnic group of, ironically, Indians. Now that Indians have taken over your childhood town, you can think of this as karma.
For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor.
Did you know that prior to the British takeover, India was the richest country in the world? True story. It only became poor after the British came in and stole all the resources. Whitey be holding us down yo.
As for your comment regarding the “not-as-brilliant merchants”, well, that’s questionable. Indians run a majority of businesses like Dunkin Donuts, Subways, newspaper stands, gas stations, hotels, motels, convenient stores, and many more things, both big and small. Most of them are running their business legitimately. I don’t think they are running a Ponzi scheme and robbing people of their life savings with bad investments. But then again, it’s pretty tough to come up with a Ponzi scheme that involves donuts and sandwiches. If you still have doubts about how “brilliant” Indian merchants can be, take a look at the Forbes list of billionaires and see how many Indian names you can spot. It’s like where’s Waldo, except Waldo is a Hindu guy with a lot of money.
Unlike some of my friends in the 1980s, I liked a lot of things about the way my town changed: far better restaurants, friends dorky enough to play Dungeons & Dragons with me, restaurant owners who didn’t card us because all white people look old. But sometime after I left, the town became a maze of charmless Indian strip malls and housing developments. Whenever I go back, I feel what people in Arizona talk about: a sense of loss and anomie and disbelief that anyone can eat food that spicy.
You know Joel, I understand where you’re coming from. No one likes change, whether it’s for good or bad. But one of those lame quotes I read on someone’s Facebook profile said “Change is the one constant in this world”. People change and places change. Did you honestly think that Edison would stay the same way even after you grew up and moved away? Is your penis the same size as it was when you were born? I hope not. If yes, may I suggest paying more attention to spam in your inbox?
I am very much in favor of immigration everywhere in the U.S. except Edison, N.J. The mostly white suburban town I left when I graduated from high school in 1989
You are looking at Edison as if it is “your” town. You don’t own Edison. Edison belongs to the people. It’s a place just like any other place in this country where people can come, make an honest living and lead a successful life. Whether it’s one Indian or a million, every one of them has a right to come into Edison and make an honest living. If all the Indians in Edison were criminals, then yes, I would support anti-immigration laws. The next time a bunch of Indians rob a Tilda Basmati truck in 3 suped up black Honda Civics, I promise you Joel I will start supporting anti-Immigration laws in Edison.
You can either be fearful of the changes, or you can embrace them. It is your choice. You could have written a nice, polite article about how Edison has changed due to the increase in Indian population. But you decided to write an angry rant about how Indians have ruined your precious “white” town. People fear what they don’t understand, and I feel that you Joel are a victim of this. You don’t have to be scared of Indians or Indian things. Let me explain a few Indian things to you:
Samosas – Don’t be afraid of them. Do you think that an Indian man is going to throw a samosa in your eye like a ninja star? No man, that samosa is meant to be eaten. The only thing it will hurt is your wallet. If you’re paying more than $3.00 for a samosa anywhere on Oak Tree, you’re being ripped off.
The red stuff on the pavement – I swear, it is not blood. If you think that Indians have started their own Fight Club on Oak Tree Road, you’re way off. Indians have this thing called “paan”. Just think of it as chewable tobacco. They chew it and spit it out on the street. That’s what all that red stuff is. I know it’s a nasty habit, but old habits die hard. I promise you that we’re working on getting rid of this nasty habit.
Bollywood movies – Have you ever seen an Indian movie? Check out some of our women. They’re hot and they seduce you with songs in the rain. Seriously, white guys get all the Indian bitches these days. If you tried your luck, you could be the chutney pimp of Edison.
Kulfis – I know the name sounds like some ancient sword, but I assure you it’s just a very delicious ice cream. I also suggest trying out a cassata and King Alphonso mango ice cream.
Thums-up – Remember when you were a kid and you’d drink a Coke and have burping contests with your friends? Thums-up is the steroids of burping contests. Coke is for pussies.
Cricket bats – Ok think of your Baseball bat lying in the driveway. Now picture your mom driving her car over the Baseball bat and making it flat. That sir, is a Cricket bat. Cricket is a great game and you can use words that sound dirty like “sticky wicket” and “googly”.
Joel, if your article was meant to be satirical, then you should tell Indian people that so they don’t think you’re racist. I didn’t really get the satire, but that’s mostly because I lost my satire detector when I went camping last week. That’s also how I lost my sarcasm detector too. Man, I need to order new ones on E-Bay.
Finally, to all my fellow Indians (and also my fellow Pakistanis, Sri Lankans & Bangladeshis who are like collateral damage in Joel’s article), how should we react to all this? We can all be angry about it like most of us already are. That is the easy thing to do. We can send Joel nasty emails and tell him what a racist bastard he is or we can take the high road. We can show him we’re better than what he thinks of us. If we choose to be angry, call him a racist and send him nasty messages, then we will only prove the things Joel fears about us. If you’re going to email Joel, then don’t email him an angry rant. Email him nice messages telling him that Indians are not here to ruin his life and his once sweet home. Tell him that he doesn’t have to be afraid of the changes in Edison. Tell him that you’ll take him out to dinner at Moghul. Send some laddoos to his office. It is easy to be angry and let our emotions take over. But it is much harder for us to keep our composure and show our compassion. You will only alienate people like Joel further if you treat him like an enemy. But if you show him compassion and show him your good character, you might turn an enemy into a friend.
“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi.