Saturday, June 13, 2009

An Open Letter to Obama : Temper your Rhetoric with Discretion, Please, Mr. President!

"We have got to pick up pace because the World has gotten competitive. The Chinese and the Indians are coming at us and they are coming at us hard, and they are hungry and really buckling down”, said Obama at a town hall meeting in Wisconsin.

Oh my God! What a shameful statement from the President of the United States of America!!

What a dangerous idea to be sold to a people who are reeling under recession and its fallout!

What a provocative thing to do - pointing out to Asians as potential job snatchers in a country which welcomes them with open arms and uses them as techno coolies or researchers!

Have you, Mr President, forgotten that thousands of Indian and Chinese students are in the Universities of the United States of America? Don’t you realize that, at the slightest provocation, the racial violence in Australia can be encored in the USA?

Don’t you realize that all this sound and fury against Indians and Chinese can create a climate of intolerance in the USA?

Are you trying to break the melting pot?

“The Chinese and Indians are coming at us” – an invasion?

“And they are hungry and really buckling down” – Shame, Mr. Obama! Sowing seeds of fear for the hungry mob in the minds of your people.

Surely there are better ways of urging your people to watch less TV and go to schools!

Your anxiety about the inadequacies of the education system and the tough competition from outside is understandable. Equally understandable is the picture of you Mr. Barrack Obama, the father, impressing upon your children in the cozy warmth of the fireplace to give priority to their studies. But, Sir, as the President of the United States of America, it’s a deadly statement to make!

You sound almost racial!

A reminder Mr. President. These Chinese and Indians are not mendicants. They are inheritors of a legacy of culture, learning and civilization dating back to prehistoric times, to times when America in its present form was not even remotely thought of.

Mr.President, you seem to be getting more and more enamoured of your own voice and rhetorical skills that you pay scant attention to the ramifications of your irresponsible proclamations.

To be more charitable to you, did the teleprompter malfunction at the Wisconsin Town hall ?


  1. WHOA!! Shockin!!
    And shameful from Obama!! Careless too!!

  2. If the same had been said by an Indian or Chinese prime minister, and they have said it, more or less, it would hardly find space to be quoted. That those who practice the worst forms of hatred,as a part of their society and culture, get upset in foreign lands should make any Westerner snicker.

    Racism is pretty much how one looks at it. I mean, the world's most racist country is India. Everday, so many hundreds of millions, endure all sorts of hate crimes and discrimination. Yet, look at the outcry about a few incidences in Australia. Is the hypocrisy not unsettling? I don't want to even bring China into the picture. Outright hate towards its own people, refusal to allow them to even express against government, constitutes a different sort of hatred.

    What are we telling the West or the white man? That we expect him to be a better human being on the grounds of his culture and background and race?


    Digress: Of course, I don't agree with Obama on many things. But I do find that he has a lot of credibility in his opinions regarding the state of education for the average American citizen. That his statement will be widely distorted, like any American policy to safeguard their own interests is being attacked by Asian countries who bank on America(while they safeguard their own), just doesn't fit. I just don't find anything racial about his statement. At least, judging from the quote you took.

  3. Its a fact that the Americans are way behind India and China in the producing people of high brain merit and that is why we are in demand and that for low cost of employment than their own people....
    The US President is just using eye wach tactics to move away from the basic fact on why American economy has taken the hit...

  4. when I heard the statement from Obama i was wondering was I the only person who felt it the same way...

    His statement sounded more like a political rhetoric or rather a election campaign speech to gain brownie points..

    What I found offensive was his statement which gave an impression that the differential in economic/human progress between US and India/China has to be maintained always...almost like the difference between haves and havenots have to maintained ALWAYS...

    The point he wanted to make was not wrong..but the way he choose definitely was tasteless as you said!

  5. Whatever Obama said is shameful or not, do we have the right to point fingers at him, when our own politicians spread racism right here for their own political mileage. We are upset about Indians getting attacked in Australia. North Indians were bashed up in Maharashtra just because they were from north India. When Indians are restricted to live in their own country, how can we expect other countries to treat us well?

  6. anyone else think that it might be motivational speech? :D

  7. To be frank, I'm already a bit disappointed with this guy Obama. He doesnt seem to have the capacity to live upto his hypes.

    He must've meant this in a harmless way just to encourage his fellow countrymen to stand up to the challenges thrown up by India and the likes. He certainly mustn't have meant anything sinister or rude, but he shoul've realized that his voice crosses oceans and the meaning may change when it reaches alien shores.

    Disappointing statement, frankly.

  8. @ all
    the reactions to this post surprised me - more because the main point was missed. some of you agreed with me that obama should not have said it. my quarrel is with those who say that we, indians , have no business to grumble. That's not the issue. the issue is this: IN A SOCIETY WHERE PEOPLE ARE LOSING JOBS AND LIVELIHOOD BY THE SECOND, WHERE A GOOD PERCENTAGE POSSESSES GUNS, WHERE THESE "INDIANS AND cHINESE' ABOUND IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE, PARTICULARLY THE UNIVERSITIES, WHERE THE PEOPLE ALREADY HAVE A GROUSE AGAINST THE ASIANS MAKING IT BIG AND TAKING AWAY JOBS BOTH OFFSHORE AND IN THE COUNTRY, obama's statement is dangerous. the images that he used, its hidden potential to incite violence is disturbing. without his knowing, he is indulging in divisive politics. For whaT, that IS WHAT IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND. if he is playing to the galleries, it is a dangerous game.

    @ kajan and Bindu unny
    'I mean, the world's most racist country is India.'
    'When Indians are restricted to live in their own country, how can we expect other countries to treat us well?'
    so what are you trying to say? because indians practice their own type of racism, india should grin and bear it when her citizens are attacked outside?
    @ mathew
    "What I found offensive was his statement which gave an impression that the differential in economic/human progress between US and India/China has to be maintained always...almost like the difference between haves and havenots have to maintained ALWAYS..."

    thanks mathew. This is the subtext of the speech that i was trying to expose but couldnt actually get my finger on. remeber once bush said that indins eating well was reponsible for americans paying more for food. bush then and obama reflect the basic superpower mind set which clings fiercely to number one position, which once made them dump (at a time when one part of the world was facing bitter famine) excess grains produced by its farmers in the sea to protect price.
    just like what most indians out here suspected. behind all that hype obama too can not rise above the system.the man may pull america out of the mess but at what cost to the developing countries, time alone can tell .

  9. Mom - I think your blog was unfair - to say the least. Not that I am a huge Obama fan, but I do think the press does make a quote look worse than it really is - and for a racially sensitive mind that fires up at the slightest provocation – thats just fuel added to the fire! Look at it from the other side - here's a president trying to motivate his country to get off their butts and gain the expertise required to do the jobs that truly belong to them! He's definitely not trying to break the melting pot. He's trying to homogenize it by encouraging his people to learn from the Indians and Chinese and their work ethic.. "We have got to pick up pace" is what he opens with ...and the rest of the quote just explains why! - "because we're missing out on what could so easily be ours - as an example look at the Indians and Chinese who’ve made the best of the opportunity that was presented to them" is all he really is saying. I have listened to over a hundred Obama speeches – from start to finish – and not just a random quote – and if you really have to take him apart, you’ve got to listen to the whole speech. He’s a magnificent orator, albeit with a teleprompter. And he’s not one to shy away from the core of the issue. And he’s definitely not playing to the galleries with that statement! He’s got a Chinese-American in his cabinet for goodness sake! And he does recognize the important role that immigrants play in making America what it is. But at the same time, to be fair, his primary responsibility is to motivate the American people and he’s doing it by placing facts and figures in front of them.

  10. @ mathew (my son:-))
    you missed the point.i understaand that he is trying to motivate americans. his duty, most certainly. my quarrel is with the choice of the image.(they r coming at us...and they r hungry).
    i feel such discourse can incite violence among those who already feel that asians deprive them of opportunities. so, as the leader of a nation where the numbers of unemployed are increasing by the day, he shud be careful with every punctuation in his public discourse.
    ever since trouble broke out in australia, there is anxiety it can happen elsewhere with huge asian population.
    the president of the USA shud b sensitive to this. shud tone down his rhetoric when it comes to an issue which can trigger off discontentment at the slightest provocation.

  11. Absolutely shocking!!! :( First Bush now Obama. Unbelievable! First against the dark skin now against the so called brown skin, only because they are a big number to content with and cause they are moving ahead faster/more than what Mr. Prez would wish for?

    @ Mathew, interesting perspective.

    Am sure a lot of quotes can be taken out of context but what Mr. Prez should realize is that he as a person has much more presence than most people dream of, and being the wonderful orator he is, what he says could move mobs and spark violence. He for one should be more aware of the nuances of his speech much before the media decides to dissect it.

  12. posted as comment in my previous blog by ANROSH
    yes kpj it is true - indians and chinese ( born and raised here) dominate science and maths classes in North america. the president did not say without a reason

  13. @Mathew(KPJ's son :-))
    i agree partly to your prespective...strictly if i were an american I maynot have taken offense to his speech....probably we are so used to american presidents who act like the president of the World itself, the ramifications of his statements are approached in a different way...A smiliar statement from an India PM say.."The chinese are catching up in IT industry" would be rather understood as a reminder for us to pull our socks. (to be noted that the chinese presence in India as a workforce is virtually zilch...)But Obama's statement was more akin to a thackeray saying "Outsiders are taking away Marathi jobs!!" without any consideration to the existing immigrants who can be easy targets if the statement is misinterpreted..

    P.S.I think Obama is smart and passionate.

  14. @ mathew, the son
    u got the point. it's like thakeray's statement-
    like u said the pm of india can say anything he likes about chinese or americans or europns - no harm 'cos they have no presence here.
    i dont question his intentions, it's the rehtoric which nan turn out to be inflammatory that worries us.

  15. @ mathew the son
    when r u breaking free of your blogging limbo?

  16. @mathew and @mom...

    My protest was about you making a mountain out of what is to me a molehill, at least in the racial angle that was the focus of the blog. When I first read it, the first thought that came to mind was, you're making Obama sound like Thakeray! Just so that we get the context of the statement here's a link to the transcript of the entire speech. The statement which was quoted in this blog appears near the end in the Q&A section.

    @mom I do plan to come out of blogging Limbo. Books on CD have changed my life.. you'll hear about it soon!

  17. Have you ever heard the kind of speech given by the coach of a team that is used to winning. He will always ask his team to pull up the socks and maintain their supremacy. Obama is the main coach of USA and it is his job to do the same.
    Is it his fault that our leaders dont inspire us to excel but their actions lead us to justify corruption and mediocrity? The US sure knows that it has no threat from India or its citizens but it is just to pile pressure on its citizens to excel.
    Also how long will we keep taking about our culture. It is not from where we started that matters. It is where we are that matters. If we keep talking about our culture, we are going no where.

  18. well.. i agree with your viewpoints about his statement. and I wont be surprised if most of us felt the same way. This statement was more or less a follow-up on his way of looking at/ tackling the economic crisis in his country.

    i'd like to repeat what i just wrote on my blog about him: I wish he had better insight to realise that in a world which is truly globalised now, it is not practical wisdom to try and implement such a short-sighted approach.

  19. @leslie
    the point i was trying to make that such references and the imbedded metaphor can incite racial violence.i dont question the motives of the speech-only the language.
    yeah, the economic crisis his country is facing must be rattling him. lets hope he ultimately proves to be another fdr.
    @ math
    yeah, i'd read that. thanks

  20. I couldnt believe it either.
    I have had so much respect for the guy, he had always given me the feeling of a nice guy in the neighborhood. Sigh!
    I am hoping the teleprompter malfunction charge is true!

  21. not that i want to get personal, but i wonder if he would have made that comment if kenya was in the china/india situation....

    w m thackeray

  22. @ cris
    disappointing, isnt it -the feet of clay?

    @w m thackeray, the anonymous.
    a million dollar question!
    thanks for visitng my blog. be a frequest visitor, please:-)

  23. I feel you are too harsh on Obama Hope you will feel like me after 4 years of his Presidency

  24. Mathew (your son's) version is the only one that everyody will read here in the states. Of course Obama is not inciting anybody. The fear and admonition are totally unwarranted.Americans are fair. They will never deny the credit where due. America was built by hard work and they are the ones who can see that from miles. To deny hard work or credit would be to deny their ownself. It will never happen. To this extent they are very very patriotic. However they are not kind to Foreigners who come here and keep harping about their homeland and how great their culture is etc when the fact says they left that home to come here. I would say that without the fuss of the Indian govt or the Indian media hype and the hypocrisy of some of our own brothers here the image of India would have been more positive.

  25. @ nehrumantri
    good response.
    i never said he is inciting anyone to violence. i only say that he might inadvertntly do it.
    sitting here in india with half the people i know living in US and down under we tend to get anxious and oversensitive about any remark that can trigger off violence against our people.
    like u say, indians too shud learn to behave instead of looking down their cultural nose at others!
    @ charakan
    am i too harsh on obama? i dont know. sometimes the things he says makes people here nervous. yes after four years, if he leaves the world a better place, i'd most certainly be happy like everyone else.


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