In 2007, Bobby Jindal made history, as the first-ever Indian-American in the nation’s history to be elected Governor. At the time, he was also the youngest Governor in the country. Today, that distinction belongs to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who, incidentally, is also an Indian-American.
Jindal’s first name, as most Louisianans are well-aware, isn’t actually Bobby. Bobby is a nickname that he gave himself when he was a small boy, because, as he told CBS’s 60 Minutes, he was a big fan of the television show The Brady Bunch. His first name– the name that appears on his birth certificate and his voter registration card– is Piyush, which is Hindi for “milk” or “nectar.” In my opinion, at least, it’s a cool name.
Still, we’ve had plenty of Governors who prefer to be addressed by nicknames. Charles Elson Roemer is better known to us as “Buddy,” and Murphy James Foster Jr. prefers to be called “Mike.” How can anyone fault Jindal for preferring a nickname? I don’t go by my first name either.
Yesterday, when I referred to Governor Jindal as “Pious Piyush,” I didn’t expect anyone to suggest that my intentions were racially-motivated. It was just a play on words, a pun on his first name. But here’s what Alexandria attorney Greg Aymond had to say:
Freddy’s post, of course, was about Gov. Bobby Jindal, who Freddy resorts to the racist name calling of him by the name “Piyush”….
Somehow, Mr. Aymond doesn’t seem to grasp his own hypocrisy or the irony of his words; he’s criticizing me for referring to Jindal’s first name by way of lampooning my first name, which I also don’t go by. Hilarious.
But it’s also insidious. There’s nothing wrong or racist about our Governor’s birth name, and I fail to understand how or why anyone would make such a suggestion, unless they harbor some sort of deep suspicion about anyone whose legal name connotes an ethnic background different than their own.
Gregory, by the way, is a Greek name, meaning “vigilant,” which is etymologically related to the word “vigilante” and connotes someone who believes they can operate beyond the customs of the law and civil society.