- Indian Americans join the chorus of criticism of the Wall Street Journal columnist who described the Vice Presidential nominee’s impromptu dancing at a rained out campaign stop as “embarrassing” and “too giddy.”
Veteran conservative columnist and former Reagan speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, came out over the weekend in her Wall Street Journal column, “A Good Debate, and It’s Not Quite Over,” shaming potential future vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris for enjoying a lighthearted moment in the rain and dancing with joy.
Noonan criticized Harris’ recent appearance at a campaign rally in Jacksonville, FL, where she was seen jiving in her Converse sneakers in rhythm to Mary J. Blige‘s “Work That” during a thunderstorm, and looking happy, as she twirled her umbrella in tune. Casually dressed in jeans, a white tee and blazer, the clip of Harris immediately went viral with the tagline “Rain or shine, Democracy waits for no one.” And an enraged Noonan took aim.
Calling her dancing “embarrassing” and Harris “too giddy,” Noonan remarked that the Senator risks being seen as not serious enough for the task at hand. “She’s dancing with drum lines and beginning rallies with ‘Wassup, Florida!’” (OH NO, can’t have that! Think of the children!).”
She further pointed out, “She’s throwing her head back and laughing a loud laugh, especially when nobody said anything funny. She’s the younger candidate going for the younger vote, and she’s going for a ‘Happy Warrior’ vibe, but she’s coming across as insubstantial, frivolous.”
Noonan also expressed concern over how Harris’ rally appearance would translate on the world stage. “Kamala Harris is running for vice president of the United States in an era of heightened and unending crisis. The world, which doubts our strength, our character, and our class, is watching. If you can’t imitate gravity, could you at least try for seriousness?” she wrote.
Noonan has been tarred and feathered on social media for her perceived diss.
On Twitter, many Black women spoke out in praise of Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman on a major-party presidential ticket, for sending a meaningful message of both Black power and unbridled joy with her casual dance moves.
“Peggy Noonan attacks Senator Harris b/c white supremacy dictates black women should stay in their place: quiet, subservient, and obedient,” wrote one Twitter user. “This is 2020. You don’t dictate Kamala Harris’s existence. You can’t take Kamala Harris’s joy.”
“This is the joy that so triggered Peggy Noonan that she wrote a column about how Senator Harris comes off as ‘insubstantial, frivolous,’” the African American Policy Forum led by Kimberlé Crenshaw posted on Twitter, adding a GIF of Harris dancing. “Black joy is something they feel the need to attack.”
Another twitter user posted a video of Trump dancing at a rally and asked, “Ask Peggy Noonan if this is unsubstantial and frivolous, please?”
Another Twitter user posted, “Peggy “Karen” Noonan is the past. Kamala Harris is our future.”
And although President Trump has taken to dancing at his campaign rallies, to Village People’s “YMCA”(North Carolina), Noonan has never said anything negative about him. Rather, she has lauded Trump for continuing to hold “lively” gatherings despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Expectedly, there was considerable outrage in the Indian American community as well. Kamana Mathur, an immigration attorney and author based in Honolulu, told American Kahani, “Kamala Harris is anything but insubstantial. To call her such because she danced in the rain at a campaign event is evidence of our distorted reality. We are engulfed in a vicious political race where polite, considered discussion is a rarity. We have never been more divided as a nation. And our President is to a large extent responsible. His comments have incited violence and vitriol, causing Americans to be at each other’s throats, instead of celebrating our achievements and cherishing the values on which this nation was founded.”
“As Kamala danced in the rain, she expressed pure joy, showing us that life need not be all doom and gloom. She gave us hope that the future can and will be better. If that is not the job of our leaders, I don’t know what is,” she added.
Anu Kosaraju, cofounder of ‘Indian Americans for Biden-Harris,’ responded saying, “Kamala is a joyful warrior, and we need her energy to help revive our broken spirit as we have watched the country we love and the values it represents being trampled on for the last four years. Kamala with her spontaneous dance showed the world that we are still the genuinely warm and fun people that endeared us to the world as Americans.”
Connecting Harris’s mood to her own expectations from the election, Kosaraju added, “‘her dancing in the rain represents hope and joy, something America is looking for in a new presidency this November.”
Highlighting the appalling hypocrisy of Noonan, Preeti Roy, a Washington, D.C.,-based physician and author, said the columnist “characterizing Kamala Harris’ dancing as “insubstantial” and “frivolous” while applauding Trump for “lively” campaign rallies reeks of racism, sexism and good old-fashioned hypocrisy.”
Reacting to Noonan’s criticism of Harris laughing too frequently, Preeti said, “No doubt, Noonan is angered by a strong minority woman expressing happiness of any kind, and she would prefer that Harris express her emotions in a more restrained fashion, such as the frozen smiles and diminutive expressions favored by Melania and Ivanka — well, as much as their Botoxed faces allow. The fact that she chose to attack these joyful actions of Harris, while ignoring the openly hostile actions of Trump such as his aggressive interruptions and famously mocking a disabled reporter, shows exactly how out-of- touch, mean-spirited, and hypocritical she is. She is the one who is an embarrassment.”
Meanwhile, Shalini Parekh, a journalist and writer from the Chicagoland area, connected the issue to the larger question of gender bias in the political arena. “Undoubtedly, we missed the boat on gender equity in this, one of the most developed nations of the world! We are hard pressed to elect a woman as our President. When most countries have had a woman in top executive positions, the glass ceiling falls into place for the highest offices in the United States. Hilary Clinton, was its victim and now the endeavor is to literally trip up Kamala Harris. Her little jig to a tune, drew the kind of jibe that all of Trumps theatrical moves have barely elicited. Kamala has to fit every square peg in a hole. A free spirited candidate who does not fit into a populist mold for a woman in any possible way cannot be stomached by a country who has yet to open the highest political offices to women. A startling dance of the mindset of a nation espousing the highest values of equality and freedom,” she said.
Noonan has been slammed by her journalistic colleagues as well.
Sopan Deb of The New York Timesand one of a handful of reporters who has covered Donald Trump’s presidential campaign from start, posted on his Twitter feed, “Observe how Peggy Noonan refers to Kamala Harris dancing at her rallies — which makes her “insubstantial, frivolous,” while Trump, who has also been dancing at his rallies is…not.”
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace tore into Noonan, saying she felt Noonan was being “bitchy” and “tone-deaf.” Wallace, didn’t mince words on Monday’s broadcast wondering whether “right-wing Twitter could handle her comments” while “giving them a second to get their tweeting fingers ready” to respond.
“When you’re a white woman and you’re a Republican, and there’s just certain stuff culturally that you don’t know jack bleep about and you should keep your mouth shut about other people dancing,” the former George W. Bush White House communications director said.
MSNBC political analyst and former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, agreed with Wallace saying, “I’m never more disappointed in a woman that I thought I admired in my life.” She continued by listing a number of President Donald Trump’s personal and political scandals, such as using hush-money to silence mistresses, as being far more embarrassing than Harris’ dancing.
“And yes, even a president who can’t dance, doesn’t know how to show joy or empathy and tries to do some kind of ridiculous arm thrust to ‘YMCA,’” adding, “that is what is embarrassing. Kamala Harris is anything but embarrassing. She is uplifting. She’s inspirational. She’s strong and substantial and she’s going to be one hell of a vice president,” McCaskill added. “And as the race heats up and the criticisms fly, let’s all get a little “frivolous” and Work That.”
Anu Ghosh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1999. Back in India she was a journalist for the Times of India in Pune for 8 years and a graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication. In the U.S., she obtained her Masters and PhD. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Go Buckeyes! She has been involved in education for the last 15 years, as a professor at Oglethorpe University and then Georgia State University. She currently teaches Special Education at Oak Grove Elementary. She is also a mom to two precocious girls ages 11 and 6.