Saturday, March 31, 2007

Not your regular nerds

Normally, when you hear about prominent people in the US with Indian-sounding names, you can safely bet that they would be from the fields of academics, technology, or business. So it is always refreshing to come across the few who are not. Two such gentlemen are Dinesh D'souza and Rahul Mahajan, both political pundits of some repute. What is remarkable about these men, and what makes it strange to mention them in the same breath, is that they come from the polar ends of the American political spectrum.

Dinesh D'souza is the author of several staunchly conservative books, the latest one being the controversial (not to say the others were any less controversial) The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and its Responsibility for 9/11 . He is the 'Michael Moore of the right', if I may use the expression, and normally panders to the radically conservative Christian audience. Indeed, his latest book has been lambasted even by conservative scholars as being over-the-top. Is it surprising, given the claim that he dated Ann Coulter at some point in his life?

Rahul Mahajan is a noted liberal commentator and anti-war activist. He too has recently released a book, The New Crusade: America's War on Terrorism (by the very name, you will burn down your bookshelf if you stack it next to D'souza's book). It would be a stretch to call Mahajan a mainstream figure; most of his writings having appeared in far-left publications and his following centered among the nihilistic leftist lot, but that's still a lot. I recently heard him being interviewed on an anti-war radio program, where he hinted that the anti-war movement, in its current form, has reached the limits of its effectiveness. I wonder what he wishes to lead it towards.

As much as I am vexed by the extreme nature of the political views espoused by these two individuals, there is also some degree of respect present. Maybe its bigotry, but that I tend to be more impressed by individuals succeessful in areas that their genetic, familial, cultural, and economic roots have not prepared them for. The political assimilationist that I am (at least in principle), I had rather hang out with a piyo (the word comes from PIO - person of Indian origin :D) representing Oklahoma farmers than the piyo representing New Jersey's gujju community.

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