Only people with the comprehension skills of a peanut would find it offensive when a US senator invites a doctor of Indian origin to visit his hometown in Kansas and meet some other medical professionals from the subcontinent.
Here’s how the conversation between Dr Vivek Murthy, President Obama’s candidate for Surgeon General, and Senator Pat Roberts went during the former’s Senate confirmation hearing.
Roberts: "You ever been to Dodge City, Kansas?"
Murthy: "I have not, sir. But I would love to come."
Roberts: "Well, good. I'm going to invite you, because we have a lovely doctor from India. She's in her mid-30s, and she's highly respected by the community. And another doctor from India that did my carpal tunnel when I did a stupid thing. And so, I think you'd be right at home, and we would welcome you.”
The humble invitation is all the ammunition the social media needed to launch a tirade against the senator.
Pat Roberts was trying to filibuster the surgeon general nomination of Vivek Murthy by listing Indians he knows. LUCKILY, HE ONLY KNOWS TWO!— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) February 5, 2014
Psst. Someone tell Sen. Pat Roberts that not all Indian Americans know each other. Or have the same interests. http://t.co/M6LguiKkxs— 18millionrising (@18millionrising) February 5, 2014
Such tweets show that for every constructive comment on Twitter, there is an equally stupid one. Luckily, there were people with some sense.
People freaking out b/c a Senator told Vivek Murthy he knows some nice Indians. Its just something old people do, no need to hyperventilate.— Arun Venugopal (@arunNYC) February 5, 2014
Instead of nitpicking on micro issues, the social media focus on the broader impact of this nomination and its acceptance by a Republican senator.
Not only is Dr Murthy poised to become one of the youngest surgeon generals in the history of the United States, he is also born and raised in India. If anything, Roberts’ statement shows that in modern day America, even conservatives are ready to welcome people from all casts and creeds in senior posts.
Meanwhile, Murthy’s nomination has received some criticism.
Richard Carmona, who served as surgeon general in the George W. Bush administration, felt that the 36-year-old was a “relatively inexperienced and untested physician”. He added that Murthy has not earned the “right” to be nominated for such a position.
However, the doctor is highly qualified and an attending physician at Brigham and the Women’s Hospital in Boston. Apart from that, he is an instructor at Harvard Medical School and also the founder of TrialNetworks, an Internet portal for clinical-trial operations.
The nominee for surgeon general also helped start a rural health program in the Sringeri area of his native India. He went to Harvard for his undergraduate degree and Yale for medical and business degrees.
So instead of slamming Senator Roberts’ ‘patronizing’ tone, perhaps the armchair experts on twitter need give Dr Murthy’s doubters an earful.
Following the appointment of Satya Nadella as Microsoft CEO, it would be another feather in the cap of Indian-born Americans if Dr Murthy is appointed as the surgeon general and encouraging remarks such as those of Senator Pat Roberts would only boost his intentions to help the American nation as a whole.