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April 23rd, 2015

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is mad. Really mad! He’s had his fill of all these hyphenated-Americans ballyhooing and expressing pride in their ethnic heritage. Jindal joined a group of 18 presidential wannabes in New Hampshire over the weekend trying to impress Republican diehards. And he didn’t hold back on his distain for those who treasure their heritage.

“I don’t know about you, I’m tired of the hyphenated Americans. No more ‘African-Americans.’ No more ‘Indian-Americans.’ No more ‘Asian-Americans,’ ” Jindal told some 600 Republican activists. So the governor, whose own parents immigrated to the U.S. from India, wants to not only drop his own Indian-American label, but expects everyone else to do likewise.

Now that will certainly cause a real shake up back in Jindal’s home state of Louisiana where, according to local lore, he occasionally stops off to visit. Louisiana is an amalgamation of many cultures, with one of the most diverse mix of diversity found anywhere in America.

Doing away with ethnic identity will come as a real blow to many Louisianans. Italian-Americans are great in Louisiana numbers, and take boundless pride in their heritage. Jindal will no doubt have to take a trip to Independence in Tangipahoa Parish, a town founded by immigrants from southern Italy, and break the news to the locals that they no longer can be called Italian-Americans.

He will find little support in New Orleans where the St. Joseph’s Day festival, honoring Italian-Louisianans is a major annual event. Also, I would urge the Governor to avoid the American Italian Cultural Center, the pride of New Orleans that houses the largest Italian museum in the nation.

And the Irish? I’d trend lightly Governor on getting their dander up. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans are sacred, and Irish-Louisianans carry their pride on their shoulders all year long.

I hope I’m there when the Jindal breaks the news to John Georges, publisher of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans Advocates. John, you see Governor, is in the forefront of Greek-Louisianans who relish in their Hellenic heritage. He won’t take lightly that he can no longer be called a Greek-American.

No more Cinco de Mayo week-long revelries, celebrating Louisiana’s Hispanic culture in Shreveport and Bossier City? The first week in May begins one of Louisiana’s biggest festivals, with many other similar observances all over the state proudly commemorated by Latin-Louisianans. Jindal will just have to put away his sombrero.

Drop the reference to African-Americans? Good luck with that Governor. Suggest this to the Louisiana Black Caucus in the legislature and see how far you get.

And, Governor, you better pass this year on the Des Allemands Catfish Festival, that is, if you ever went there in the first place. These German descendants take their Deutschland street names and their bratwurst seriously, as do ethnic German-Louisianans in Forest Hill (initially founded by German immigrants as Bismarck).

Now you are not, Governor, going to tell our Louisiana Cajuns that their French culture is no longer worthwhile? We spend state funds for CODIFIL, the Council for the Development of the French Language, yet you want to make the Acadian-French heritage a thing of the past? Why Marie Laveau and Justin Wilson would both be turning over in their graves.

The real first Americans are still in the Bayou State making up the four initial Indian tribes that include the Coushattas, the Choctaws, the Chitimachas, and the Tunicas. For some pretty valid reasons, these original settlers aren’t really fond of all of us immigrants, and are dead set against not being referred to as Indian-Americans. The war drums will be really beating against Jindal on this one.

As for me, I’m a Scot by bloodline through and through. I rallied for Scotland’s Independence in the recent British elections, I fly the Scottish flag outside my house, and I’m proud to be a Scottish-American.

So Governor, if you want to disown your native heritage, so be it. That’s your freedom of choice. But as for the rest of us, we too have the right to express our pride and allegiance to each one of our special heritages-a melting blend that makes this nation and our state so special. As I wrote in a previous column, how about taking care of the economic chaos you have created in the state.  And for goodness sake, leave Boudreaux, Antonio, Zorba, Gottfried, Shawn, Jemarcus, Bubba, Pedro, and me alone.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownla.com.


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