Republicans in Ford Bend County, Texas, used a rather tone-deaf ad in an attempt to encourage voters to turn out in midterm elections but they failed miserably.
Someone in the county thought it was OK to link Hindu god Ganesha, an elephant-headed deity with the GOP's elephant symbol. The ad was placed in the Indian Herald at the time of the Hindu festival Ganesh Chaturthi (which started on Sept. 13 this year).
“Would you worship a donkey or an elephant? The choice is yours,” read the tone-deaf ad.
Naturally, the ad was offensive to many Hindu-Americans and the party, especially considering how Bend County’s 20 percent population is made up of Asian Americans and a large number of this population speaks Urdu, Guajarati and Hindi.
The Hindu American Foundation asked the GOP to clarify its intention.
After realizing the sensitivity of the issue for the Hindu community, the Republican Party apologized for the mistake.
“This ad was created with input from those of Hindu faith so that we could properly pay respect to the sacred festival,” wrote Fort Bend County Republican Party Chairman Jacey Jetton, explaining the ad was placed in “celebration” of the religious holiday. “This highlights the difficulty in outreach that can be positive for one group but not for another in the same community. We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by the ad. Obviously, that was not the intent.”
“While we appreciate the Fort Bend County GOP’s attempt to reach out to Hindus on an important Hindu festival, its ad — equating Hindus’ veneration of the Lord Ganesha with choosing a political party based on its animal symbol — is problematic and offensive,” Rishi Bhutada, a member of the Hindu American Foundation said in a press release.
Sri Preston Kulkarni — an Indian-American Democrat who’s running to represent Texas’ 22nd Congressional District, including Fort Bendy County expressed dissatisfaction as she shared the insensitive ad on her Facebook profile.
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