Some quick insights into “Indian-American” Bobby Jindal, Rhodes scholar, creationist, governor of Lousiana and possibly your next President:
Professors routinely give advice to students but usually while their charges are still in school. Arthur Landy, a distinguished professor of molecular and cell biology and biochemistry at Brown University, recently decided, however, that he had to remind a former premed student of his that â€œwithout evolution, modern biology, including medicine and biotechnology, wouldnâ€™t make sense.â€
The sentiment was not original with Landy, of course. Thirty-six years ago geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, a major contributor to the foundations of modern evolutionary theory, famously told the readers of The American Biology Teacher that â€œnothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.â€ Back then, Dobzhansky was encouraging biology teachers to present evolution to their pupils in spite of religiously motivated opposition. Now, however, Landy was addressing Bobby Jindalâ€”the governor of the state of Louisianaâ€”on whose desk the latest antievolution bill, the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act, was sitting, awaiting his signature.
Remembering Jindal as a good student in his genetics class, Landy hoped that the governor would recall the scientific importance of evolution to biology and medicine. Joining Landy in his opposition to the bill were the American Institute of Biological Sciences, which warned that â€œLouisiana will undoubtedly be thrust into the national spotlight as a state that pursues politics over science and education,â€ and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which told Jindal that the law would â€œunleash an assault against scientific integrity.â€ Earlier, the National Association of Biology Teachers had urged the legislature to defeat the bill, pleading â€œthat the state of Louisiana not allow its science curriculum to be weakened by encouraging the utilization of supplemental materials produced for the sole purpose of confusing students about the nature of science.â€
But all these protests were of no avail. On June 26, 2008, the governorâ€™s office announced that Jindal had signed the Louisiana Science Education Act into law.
Many Indians born in America have tended to sympathise with other people of colour, identifying their lot with other immigrants, the poor, the underclass. Vinita Gupta, in Oklahoma, another largely white state, won her reputation as a crusading lawyer by taking up the case of illegal immigrants exploited by a factory owner (her story will shortly be depicted by Hollywood, with Halle Berry playing the Indian heroine). Bhairavi Desai leads a taxi driversâ€™ union; Preeta Bansal, who grew up as the only non-white child in her school in Nebraska, became New Yorkâ€™s Solicitor General and now serves on the Commission for Religious Freedom. None of this for Bobby. Louisianaâ€™s most famous city, New Orleans, was a majority black town, at least until Hurricane Katrina destroyed so many black lives and homes, but there is no record of Bobby identifying himself with the needs or issues of his stateâ€™s black people. Instead, he sought, in a state with fewer than 10,000 Indians, not to draw attention to his race by supporting racial causes. Indeed, he went well beyond trying to be non-racial (in a state that harboured notorious racists like the Ku Klux Klansman David Duke); he cultivated the most conservative elements of white Louisiana society. With his widely-advertised piety (he asked his Indian wife, Supriya, to convert as well, and the two are regular churchgoers), Bobby Jindal adopted positions on hot-button issues that place him on the most conservative fringe of the Republican Party. Most Indian-Americans are in favour of gun control, support a womanâ€™s right to choose abortion, advocate immigrantsâ€™ rights, and oppose school prayer (for fear that it would marginalise non-Christians). On every one of these issues, Bobby Jindal is on the opposite side. Heâ€™s not just conservative; on these questions, he is well to the right of his own party.
Since Jindal is a hard-core right-wing Christian fundamentalist, he must then believe that life begins at conception. In his case, that would imply that his own began back in the shameful backwaters of India.
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