Really Joel Stein? Have you not learned anything from Mel Gibson‘s racist mistakes? The writer quickly came under fire for publishing a piece in Time called “My Own Private India,” an openly mocking and hugely insensitive opinion piece about the large, expanding Indian population in Stein’s hometown, Edison, New Jersey. And it featured gems like, “Were they from some Indian state that got made fun of by all the other Indian states and didn’t want to give up that feeling? Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep numbering our parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?” Nice, Stein.
Kal Penn to the rescue! The Indian-American actor wrote a piece for the Huffington Post called “The ‘Hilarious’ Xenophobia of Time’s Joel Stein” calling out all the BS in Stein’s piece. And we have to add, Penn’s piece was written better as well. He retaliated with, “Gags about impossibly spicy food? I’d never heard those before! Multiple Gods with multiple arms? Multiple laughs! Recounting racial slurs like ‘dot-head?’ Oh, Mr. Stein, is too good!” He added, “Critics might call Mr. Stein’s humor super-tired or as played out as the jokes about that cheap Jewish car that stopped on a dime to pick it up, or that African American kid who got marked absent at night school. Although unlike Stein’s Indian American piece, in 2010 those other jokes don’t show up in mainstream media like TIME magazine. I wonder why that is…”
Yes, Stein, why is that?
The magazine has issued a statement of apology since, “TIME sincerely regrets that any of our readers were upset by Joel Stein’s recent humor column ‘My Own Private India,’ It was in no way intended to cause offense.” Sure.. when you write that Indians look “like the Italian Guidos I grew up with in the 1980s,” that’s totally not offensive. Or, “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.” That’s not offensive, either.
Stein’s backtracked as well, writing an apology that reads, “I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people. I was trying to explain how, as someone who believes that immigration has enriched American life and my hometown in particular, I was shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it.” The discomfort showed. But where was the appreciation of “enriched American life”?
He was on Twitter as well, tweeting, “Didn’t meant to insult Indians with my column this week. Also stupidly assumed their emails would follow that Gandhi non-violence thing.” Just go with a straight-up apology. Don’t use the Gandhian non-violent treatise as an excuse to be a prat. And quit the ethnic stereotyping.
[Photo: Getty Images]