Tulsi or Kamala: The choice before us

California Senator Kamala Harris speaks during a rally launching her presidential campaign on January 27, in Oakland, California. (Getty Images)

As Indian Americans, we have a natural affinity for anyone that resonate with India and Indians. Discussions are taking place in Indian-American homes across the nation about whom to support in the Democratic presidential primary: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard or Sen. Kamala Harris.

The ultimate goal for all of us is to live securely with our faith, ethnicity, race and culture. The Indian American immigrants in particular, and the non-white immigrants in general owe their gratitude to Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. It was their effort and subsequent passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that opened the doors for all of us.

Very few of us would have made it to America had it not been for the freedom that we take for granted now. Who would want to sit at the back of the bus, drink from a separate fountain and be humiliated?

The United States declaration of Independence laid the foundation for the principle of life, liberty and justice for all. “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The guarantor of such rights comes from the assurance of electing the right candidates to uphold that principle.

No Indian American wants to mess up what has been good for us — a cohesive America where all of us can function together for common good, and elect the candidates who would uphold the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., to treat every human for his/her character and not his/her faith or color of the skin.

Sen. Harris is progressive and inclusive. She will not buy into the prejudices that hold the nation back. Her intellectualism is a breath of fresh air, indeed it is worth our time to watch her grill Judge Bret Kavanaugh and attorney general nominee William Barr. We need to explore if Harris has faced exclusion from the Indian American community while growing up, as her father was black. Indian Americans are still struggling with their own racism and prejudices.

Many Indians believe that the rise of Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley was due to their conversion to Christianity, which proved to be wrong. They made it by the dint of their own merit. Raja Krishnamoorthy, Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna and others have also made it by being who they are.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, on the other hand, needs to address her questionable attitudes. She seems to be prejudiced against fellow Americans who are Muslims and the LGBTQ community. And one wonders who else.

She has an affinity for authoritarians like Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi, and Donald Trump. Vox.com writes in an article about Tulsi, “Gabbard’s fall from grace in the Democratic Party came in a bizarre fashion: She picked a series of high-profile fights with the Obama administration over foreign policy.

Gabbard was an exception. As early as January 2015, she started going on every cable channel that would have her — including Fox News — and bashing Obama’s policy on terrorism. She sounded indistinguishable from a Republican presidential candidate.”

She was pushing Obama to acknowledge the oxymoron phrase, Radical Islam, without even understanding that religion and radicalism don't go together. Radicals are a part of every religious, political and social groups.

Islam has nothing to do with radicalism, if she does not get this, I would be happy to coach her or she can read the book “American Muslim Agenda.”

In a tweet on Oct 1, 2015, she praised Putin, “Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and must be defeated. Obama won’t bomb them in Syria. Putin did.” After visiting Assad, she came back and parroted the regime’s line that there was no difference between the mainstream anti-Assad rebels and ISIS.”

A young Hindu Medical doctor doing his residency stayed with me for a month while attending a conference in Washington, D.C. We had terrific conversations on a daily basis. He wished his parents had the opportunity to know Muslims, Christians, dalits, Sikhs, and blacks. He deplored their hatred towards them. He said, he has lived in the dorms, and everything they have said about others was wrong.

Many a parent inadvertently poison their kids against fellow Americans, without realizing that when their kids grow up to be adults, they have to work with the very people they were told to keep away from. It must be painful for these men and women to form trustful relationships. Not sure how much of brainwashing her father has done to Tulsi Gabbard to hold negative views against LGBTQ and Muslim communities.

I urge the Hindu Americans to look for candidates who will build bridges between fellow Americans. At the end of the day, we owe it our children, grandchildren and ourselves to have a cohesive America, where all of us can live in harmony and not in suspicion of each other.

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Mike Ghouse is executive director of Center for Pluralism in Washington, D.C.

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