An Open Letter to Barack Obama from an Indian American

by Devanshu Mehta

*UPDATE*: _Mr. Barack Obama released an “official statement today”:http://www.safo2008.com/2007/06/senator-barack-obamas-response-to-safo.html (6/18/07). The words “the memo’s caustic tone, and its focus on contributions by Indian-Americans to the Clinton campaign, was potentially hurtful, and as such, unacceptable,” were especially important for me to be able to support him in the future. My letter of two days ago follows:_

Dear Mr. Obama,
The “recently disclosed memo”:http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dc/2007/06/team_obama_rips_clintons_in_op.html from your campaign that faulted Sen. Clinton for associating with Indian Americans is depressing. As an Indian American, and one that has supported you since the beginning of your Senate campaign, your painting of Indian Americans as the new foreign boogeyman has me leaning away from your campaign. (Let me make it clear that I am referring to Americans of Indian origin).

I have “read statements from Mr. Plouffe”:http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-obamaindiajun16,1,2562045.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed ‘regretting the tone’ of the memo, but have not heard anything directly from you. In any case, a simple regret regarding the tone is not enough- though the tone was not keeping with the new kind of politics that you speak of bringing to Washington. While the tone was inappropriate, the content was offensive- the memo suggested that having close ties with Indian Americans was undesirable and worthy of rebuke. I would appreciate a direct statement from you distancing yourself the memo- both tone and content. There is a distinct chance that you will lose the influential following of the Indian American community.

For more on how the “Indian community in the US feels”:http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/004510.html

Of course, even if I had not found it offensive to Indian Americans, I would have found it to be in the tradition of the worst kind of politics of Washington. Guilt by association (re: Mr. Chatwal), guilt by investment through a blind trust, guilt through her husband speaking at a well respected American company (Cisco)- these reek of desperation and do not fit with the image the Obama Campaign has maintained so far.

I hope to hear a direct statement from you in the media or elsewhere soon. Thanks for listening.

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