With Nikki Haley’s triumph in South Carolina’s gubernatorial primaries, the South may be on its way to electing its second Indian American governor, the first being Bobby Jindal, current governor of Louisiana. As Washington Post columnist Aseem Shukla points out, it could be argued from this that a post-racial South is emerging. At the same time, however, Shukla argues, it may also be evidence that religion remains a crucial litmus test that any hopeful politician must pass if they are to have any hope of securing office. Both Jindal and Haley converted to Christianity before being elected. Haley’s conversion was subject to some scrutiny, as well as a whispering campaign averring that she is not a truly converted Christian, but her public defense of her faith (see her official website) was apparently convincing enough for her to pass muster in the recent election. The fact that religious fidelity (of the right sort) is such a crucial element in American politics can be unnerving for many. Thus, as Shukla points out, Indian Americans, or any religious minority in America, can find both something to celebrate and something to lament in the recent elections. “Race is not an impediment to high office, and that is something to celebrate, no doubt,” Shukla writes. “But in their public remonstrations of their parent’s faiths, Jindal and Haley tell well over three million Hindu and Sikh Americans that their time has not yet come as people of faith.” See Shukla’s article here. For further reading see also here.
By Abdulaziz Sachedina , University of Virginia
(Vol. 5, April 2010)
By James G. Mellon ,
(Vol. 5, May 2010)