In Joel Stein's Time column last week, "My Own Private India," the writer explained, of a trip to his hometown of Edison, New Jersey: "For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then ... 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." Stein writes that his now largely Indian hometown is "unfamiliar" to him, and concludes, "There is an entire generation of white children in Edison who have nowhere to learn crime." After receiving criticism for the piece, Stein wrote that he "truly feels stomach-sick that [he] hurt so many people." Now actor (and associate director at the office of public engagement) Kal Penn has reacted to the piece on the Huffington Post, critiquing it for being both xenophobic and also just not clever:
"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! I don't know how he comes up with such unique bits ... Growing up a few miles from Edison, I always thought it was hilarious when I'd get the crap kicked out of me by kids like Stein who would yell "go back to India, dothead!" He really captured the brilliant humor in that one!"
Ouch. The Village Voice also points out that the Huffington Post is actually the same website that published Andrea Miller's (non-satirical) "How to Date an Indian" last month, prompting Neel Shah to react with the (satirical) "How to Date a White Bitch."