“There’s not much Indian left in Bobby Jindal,” goes the story in the Washington Post, casting the worst of all possible lights on the steps that the two-term governor of Louisiana and current candidate for president has taken away from his immigrant past.
For a conservative not born a white male in this country, this is pretty much par for the course. There wasn’t much black in Clarence Thomas, not much woman in Kay Bailey Hutchinson (according to proto-girl Gloria Steinem), and there won’t be much anything in any Republican black, female, Latino, or non-male, non-purely-Anglo aspirant who has any chance of winning elections, gaining a following, or making a dent in the various voting blocs the liberals think of as theirs.
It brings to mind Mark Halperin’s embarrassing grilling of Ted Cruz a short time ago, in which he tried to discover, via his preferences in food, drink, and music, if Cruz was really a Cuban, and asked him to say something in his non-native tongue. But why is “enoughness” confined to such a small spectrum? It ought to be spread more around.
Let’s start, for instance, with Italians, and Jews. Do they say “oy vey,” or “Mama Mia!”? Stuff themselves with linguini, or matzo balls? Are they emotional? Do they talk loudly, make gestures, and cry? If not, the Post and Mark Halperin would rapidly usher them off the island. No room for such poseurs here.
No one flunked the Irish Catholic test more than John Kennedy, who liked seafood, not corned beef and cabbage, did not say “begorra,” and never got drunk. He never mentioned Parnell, but identified mainly with English aristocrats, the ancestral foes of his ethnic persuasion, especially with the young poet soldiers of the World War I generation. His favorite books were Melbourne by David Cecil, and Pilgrim’s Way by John Buchan, where he found his ideal in Raymond Asquith, the oldest son of the wartime British prime minister, who was killed at the front on September 15, 1916, and to whom he compared his brother Joe, who died in 1944 in a suicide mission, and his brother-in-law Billy Hartington, (husband of Kathleen, his favorite sister), who one month later was shot by a sniper in France. Obviously, there was no Irish “left in him” by the time he was running for president. JFK, race traitor. Who would vote for this mountebank today?
There’s a word for what happened to Jindal, to Cruz, and to Kennedy. It’s called “assimilation,” which was once a good thing. It is what happens when immigrants and their children lose some of the marks of their country of origin and become part of the overall national culture, which they also change by their presence in it. It’s what Theodore Roosevelt meant when he said people from everywhere are welcome here, as long as they shed their prior allegiance and really become of this country. He would approve of Cruz, Jindal, and Kennedy. We need more of his spirit today.