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.

6 thoughts

  1. May have mentioned this before but my aunt went by Bobby because it was a lot shorter and easier to pronounce than her given South Indian name. Point being a lot of folks in the States don’t understand that India has a long (older than America) history of Anglicization and there are many in the home country whose given names and/or nicknames are decidedly very western. Nikkis, Bobbys, Pinkys, Montys and Jays abound. Jindal exhibits many other symptoms of WannaBeAWhiteboy-itis, but this is not one of them.

    It does bother me, a not-conservative, when folks on both sides of the aisle go out of the way to refer to Jindal as Piyush (and they teeth-gratingly say Pie-yoosh instead of Pee-yoosh). It’s about as irritating and unnecessary as stressing the President’s middle name. And you can use that to make a deal with Mr. Aymond – you’ll stop saying Piyush if his buddies and he quit using “Hussein” or the accidental “Osama, I mean Obama” slip.

  2. when something stinks, I was taught as a child to say “pee-yuu”—–that’s pretty close to Pee-yush, donchathink? giggle.

  3. I am amused and entertained by any play on words and/or history of the development of terminology. Thanks for the smiles today.

  4. I think it’s funny that Mr. Aymond is attempting to call you out here, considering you represent yourself personally and professionally as “Lamar” and he insists on calling you “Freddy” in his blog entries. Mr. Aymond is demonstrating a profound lack of self-awareness — someone here is purposely attempting to use an alternate name in a derogatory manner, but it’s not you.

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