The net neutrality debate continues to rage on and Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai continues to be at the receiving end of netizens’ ire. And now the Indian American executive is coming under fire from his own community.
Just a few days ago several Indian American lawmakers criticized Pai for his proposal to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality policy. Pai’s proposal would end that net neutrality and give big Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon broad powers to determine what website should reach out to subscribers faster than others.
And now Pai is feeling the heat on Twitter.
The latest name to disapprove of Pai’s plan is Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu, who took to Twitter to write: “Ajit Pai is the type of Indian guy who eats dosa with a fork.”
Similar tweets by others, reports the Hindustan Times, called Pai the type of Indian who calls “chai … chai tea,” who “thinks Lassi is a dog (from the TV series, ‘Lassie’), who calls “naan…naan bread,” and whose favorite Amitabh Bachchan movie is “The Great Gatsby” in which the Bollywood superstar had a short role.
However, Pai hasn’t been completely shunned by the Indian American community. Indiaspora issued a statement condemning the threats and personal attacks being directed against Pai.
While policies regarding net neutrality are understandably contentious and politically charged, we are saddened by these events, and would like to denounce such attacks that are personal in nature, read the statement.
In one instance, the Indian American organization pointed out, “an Internet campaign led by an Indian American comedian has led to some personal and baseless attacks on Chairman Pai in which his Indian heritage is questioned.”
“Irrespective of your political leanings, behavior and threats against individuals for their actions are unacceptable. We should have zero tolerance for hate and xenophobia whether it’s directed from the left or right,” said Indiaspora member and political activist and leader Shekar Narasimhan. “It’s un-American and against all the tenets of our great religions.”
After the release of this statement, Kondabolu fired back with another tweet: “Dear @AjayPaiFCC, I apologize for my tweets questioning your ‘Brown-ness.’ You are not a disappointment to Indian Americans...but to all Americans. You can eat a pakora while destroying #NetNeutrality. You can wear a kurta while catering to corporate interests, #AjitPaiSucks.”
Though Pai hasn’t reacted to any of these attacks from fellow Indian Americans, he did confess to Fox News that any kind of hate being targeted towards his family is not fair (see earlier story in India-West here).
In an interview on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” Nov. 27, Pai told host Steve Doocy how posters were put up outside his home, some even had his children’s names. One poster, he said, read: “They will come to know the truth. Dad murdered Democracy in cold blood.”
“It was a little nerve-racking, especially for my wife,” Pai said. “It certainly crosses a line with me. “I understand that people are passionate about policy, but the one thing in America that should remain sacred is that families, wives and kids, should remain out of it.”
“And stop harassing us at our homes,” he added.