Former South Carolina Democratic party chairman Dick Harpootlian has offered an important clarification of the insult he directed at Nikki Haley, and I am inclined to take him at his word. He wasn’t saying: “Go home, dirty foreigner!” He was saying: “Back to the dress shop, little lady!” Understood.
Mr. Harpootlian’s declaration that Governor Haley “needs to go back to being an accountant in a dress store” is endlessly illuminating. If you are a key leader in the Democratic party, issuing xenophobic slurs is verboten — but holding entrepreneurs and business owners in utter contempt is hunky-dory. Governor Haley’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Randhawa, are immigrants, members of an ethnic and religious minority who came to the United States and promptly built a multi-million-dollar business. If the Democrats want to sneer at that, let them sneer. Personally, I’d love to be the owner of a “dress shop” like that. A decent political party would look at the Randhawas’ story — immigrants to entrepreneurs to governor and national political figure in one generation — and start chanting “USA!” The Democrats, not so much.
Mr. Harpootlian’s crassness does not surprise me. Discrimination against Indian Americans is one of the last acceptable prejudices. Housing discrimination against them is rife, as it is against non-elite Asian Americans in general. Sikhs, the community from which Governor Haley comes, catch additional grief because the men generally wear turbans and beards. Americans being decent people, retaliatory attacks after 9/11 and other acts of Islamic terrorism are few and far between, but they tend to be carried out by half-witted cretins, who are prone to mistaking Sikhs for Arabs. (One has to imagine that the American Sikh community has been tempted to launch a quiet PR campaign on the theme: “Not That Kind of Turban.”)
Governor Haley’s offense, of course, is that she does not grovel enough for the likes of Mr. Harpootlian. Successful members of minority groups are required by progressive protocol to grovel before the Democratic party and its programs: “Yes, we were successful, but we never would have been able to do it without Government Handout X, Y, or Z.” But of course it is the Randwahas whom we cannot do without.
I wonder whether Mr. Harpootlian could operate a dress shop with any degree of success. Perhaps he will get the opportunity to try his hand at it.