Joel Stein on Edison, NJ : poor taste (needs more curry?)

Joel Stein has an truly atrocious piece in Time magazine, which opens with

I am very much in favor of immigration everywhere in the U.S. except Edison, N.J.

I can see how Stein is sort of trying to be funny, but the whole piece has a stink (like uncooked hing) about it that got Anna up in arms and Mimosa writing:

But really, what bothers me about this piece, why it didn’t strike me as satire, is that it seems to assume that there really is a dominant narrative out there, i.e. that “white” culture is where it’s at. Assimilation is not an option, it’s a requirement for these rude new aliens – but of course, that assimilation is on the dominant narratives terms.

Klein’s response:

Didn’t meant to insult Indians with my column this week. Also stupidly assumed their emails would follow that Gandhi non-violence thing.

Perhaps he thought the emails would also be curry flavo(u)red?

On that note, here is a quote from Amitava Kumar’s Passport Photos, which I am enjoying right now:

If the word ‘curry’ doesn’t have a stable referent or a fixed origin, how can its changing use by postcolonials be seen as a sign of resistance?

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13 thoughts on “Joel Stein on Edison, NJ : poor taste (needs more curry?)

  1. “In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor.”

    Wow. That’s supposed to be satire? Totally offensive. I won’t even copy and paste one of the later examples.

  2. I can’t believe they published that in the Time magazine! Is the magazine supposed to be so bad, or is this a joke?

  3. Yes, the article really pushed it over the edge, and I can see how everyone is upset… but the jersey girl in me really *can* imagine substituting any racial group in here. It’s just sad it turned out to be Indians this time – it’s been every other group before.

    Shouldn’t there be something bittersweet about the town you grew up with going away? When my father grew up not far from Edison, the Poles were absolute outcasts, with the Italians dominant. Today, the town is entirely different, and I can see the same being written about Lodi, NJ. You should see how guido my Polish brother is..

    I just can’t imagine what would happen if NJ decided to move to a small village in India. A hyper-sarcastic article about the foreigners would be the least of their problems.

    FWIW, he did attempt to self-deprecate… that whole bit about how all white kids are thieves? I don’t think it should have been published (EVER, in a magazine like Time), but I can see where he’s coming from.

  4. i agree that the article was *somewhat* offensive–its purpose. but that is satire.slightly overblown.

    but i also agree that indians in usa are not entirely self-confident, which is why many are demonstrating their outburst.

    since stein’s article (and as a jew he should know better) rings some truths, it has hurt some indian pride.

    and to the last poster–stein himself is not white. jews are not white. get it right. jews are middle-eastern, semities.

    the indians here shouldnt really take offense–esp considering the source and the half-baked truths.

    google joel stein, la times. read his articles.

    he is a proud jew, proud that hollywood is controlled by jews, and he is an outspoken jerk.

    30 years ago, jews were scared to show their jewishness. now, they cannot stop emphasizing their ethnicity. how the world has temporarily changed.

    the indian community, he should have introspectively noted, are based on false sense of worth and value to the USA Anglo-dominated community.

    • I don’t think being an outspoken jerk gives one a pass.

      Also, I’d be hesitant to psychoanalyze a whole people, and trotting out the model minority mythos is not a way out of this debate.

      What’s really at stake is who gets to be the kicking boy for racial satire — one can say “every immigrant group gets to take its turn,” but does that make it ok? Should we look at the anti-Semitic jokes of the late 19th and early 20th century US as good-natured if somewhat offensive joshing? Or Mickey Rooney’s turn in A Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

    • I responded somewhat to your comment below, but I must say that your comment on Jews is completely backwards. “30 years ago, jews were scared to show their jewishness. now, they cannot stop emphasizing their ethnicity.” Seriously? In 1980, no Jew I know had any problem showing their ethnicity. Nowadays, Jews worldwide are attacked, physically and verbally, ostensibly in opposition to American and Israeli policy, by people who are either prejudiced or think Jews control the world (or both). Jews are leaving areas of Europe where they’d felt safe for decades, and even Amsterdam is now having “decoy Jews” (Google it) to lure the growing number of anti-Semites.

      It seems to me that such a comment could be made only by someone completely unaware of both current events worldwide and what the world was like in 1980.

  5. Addressing the “assimilation” response, assimilation (and the assumption that it’s a natural progression) – depending on your definition – isn’t such a bad thing. It’s good to keep your own culture to some extent. But when you have situations like in Europe today (or in mob-controlled areas of yesteryear America), where even law enforcement dare not tread on a culture’s state-within-a-state, then needless to say you’ve got a problem. I’d much rather have immigrants dressing like Guidos than acting like the Taliban any day of the week.

    As for Jews, we’re white when it’s convenient to call us oppressors and non-white when it’s convenient to oppress us. It’s similar to the media treatment of Nikki Haley: It’s okay to mock Indians, since they’re not “oppressed.” That might be why the Time piece ventures places it wouldn’t dare if the subjects were from Mexico, not India. Yet some people will still “remind” us than Indians are “different from us.” Then they’ll cover their rears by calling it “satire”: http://gawker.com/5555682/south-carolina-senators-raghead-comment-was-hilarious-joke

  6. Joel Stein is a racist, xenophobic PIG. If he were a little better aware of his own ancestry and history, he would not be spreading such hatred against an ethnic minority. By publishing his hate-filled article, the once respected Time magazine has slid down a slippery slope – not very different from one that some German magazines had slid down in the years leading up to the horrendous holocaust of the Jews in Europe. As a Jew who grew up in India, perhaps the only country in the world with the exception of Israel where Jews faced neither discrimination nor persecution, I am deeply offended by Joel Stein’s hate-filled article “My own private India” that Time magazine chose to publish. The columnists and editors of the Time magazine need to learn the difference between good-natured satire and hate speech. Indian Americans have been in the recent past targets of racist attacks in the US. At times of economic hardship, minorities and immigrants are often made scapegoats and become targets of violent racist attacks. Inciting such hatred in the guise of humor is foolish at best and sinister at worst. Shame on Joel Stein! Shame on TIME magazine, a once respected news magazine that has reduced itself to a racist rag!

  7. I left US ten years back but I totally agree with what Joel Stein has written on the article. Being an Indian, we must accept the fact with a pinch of Salt. If you visit Oak tree road in NJ Edison, you will see only south Asian people. Even buckets are placed in Parking lots to reserve for their friends.

    • So what? You walk into Chinatown in San Francisco, you see mostly Chinese people. You walk into certain neighborhoods in New York city, you see mostly orthodox Jews. That does not justify hate speech of the sort Mr. Stein is spewing, especially in an environment in which immigrants are getting beaten up and shot at because they look different.

  8. satire hmmm looks like the editors at TIME magazine had a hearty laugh or a grin atleast if they could manage one, i would say, before publication and yeah they enjoyed it we all know.I would rather say “TIME Out” and yeah satirical apology hmmm interesting and oh my god he did not stupidly assume that we Indians would react that jewish violent flotilla attack way see satire you know!

  9. Rumor has it that Joel Stein has been traumatized by the numerous torrid sexual affairs his wife has had with curry-eating Indian immigrants who dress like guidos.To make matters worse, she has been complaining to her girlfriends about Joel’s deficiencies if you know what I mean. So poor Joel can’t stand the sight of Indians – in fact he has nightmares in which he sees his wife enacting Kama Sutra with Indian dudes. Poor Joel! Give him a break. PS. This is my attempt at satire. Enjoy!

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