Republicans in Texas apologize for campaign ad likening a Hindu deity to the GOP elephant

To attract Indian-American voters, a Republican party group in suburban Houston released a campaign ad with ...

Posted: Sep 21, 2018 5:16 AM
Updated: Sep 21, 2018 5:16 AM

To attract Indian-American voters, a Republican party group in suburban Houston released a campaign ad with an image of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity.

Published in the India Herald newspaper and sponsored by the Fort Bend County Republican Party, the ad played on the animal symbols for the Democratic and Republican parties. It read: "Would you worship a donkey or an elephant? The choice is yours."

Animals

Apologies

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Continents and regions

Elephants

Government and public administration

Life forms

Mammals

Marketing and advertising

North America

Political advertising

Political organizations

Political parties

Politics

Southwestern United States

Texas

The Americas

United States

US political parties

US Republican Party

Belief, religion and spirituality

Hinduism

Religious groups

Society

The ad was published on September 12, a day before the start of Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10-day Hindu festival which celebrates the birth of Ganesha.

Now, after a backlash from Hindu-Americans who said the ad was inappropriate, the Fort Bend Republicans have issued an apology, saying they never intended to offend anyone.

'Despicable and offensive'

"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," said Rishi Bhutada, a board member with the Hindu American Foundation, in a statement this week.

"Using religious imagery in order to explicitly appeal for political support should best be avoided by any political party."

Sri Preston Kulkarni, an Indian-American and the Democratic nominee for Texas' 22nd Congressional District, shared the ad on Twitter and Facebook while condemning its choice of words.

"Asking Hindu-Americans if they would rather vote for a donkey or an elephant by comparing Ganesha, a religious figure, to a political party is highly inappropriate," Kulkarni tweeted.

On Facebook, Kulkarni said the ad implied Hindu-Americans should vote for the Republican party because its symbol is an elephant. He asked for the party to retract the ad and apologize to the community.

Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American candidate for the US House of Representatives from Minnesota's Fifth District, followed Preston Kulkarni's tweet with her own, calling the ad "despicable and offensive."

'We offer our sincerest apologies'

Nearly 20% of the population in Fort Bend County is Asian-American.

In a statement obtained by CNN, the county's Republican Party chairman says their main objective was to celebrate and knowledge the Hindu holiday.

"The ad was not meant to disparage Hindu customs or traditions in any way," said the chairman, Jacey Jetton.

"This ad was created with input from those of Hindu faith so that we could properly pay respect to the sacred festival. This highlights the difficulty in outreach that can be positive for one group but not for another in the same community," Jetton added. "We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by the ad. Obviously, that was not the intent."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 94189

Reported Deaths: 2046
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26706928
Ramsey10775319
Dakota7428125
Anoka6006133
Stearns395024
Washington373555
Scott253233
Olmsted238828
Nobles196116
Blue Earth16766
Wright16037
St. Louis155539
Carver13967
Clay137140
Rice13288
Mower13225
Sherburne113714
Kandiyohi9822
Winona87018
Lyon6784
Waseca6148
Freeborn5404
Steele5402
Benton5363
Nicollet52916
Watonwan5204
Crow Wing49418
Todd4882
Chisago4841
McLeod4782
Le Sueur4604
Otter Tail4304
Beltrami4135
Martin39410
Goodhue3609
Pine3190
Itasca31314
Polk3054
Douglas2972
Isanti2890
Becker2722
Carlton2631
Morrison2331
Dodge2320
Cottonwood2240
Pipestone22010
Chippewa2081
Meeker1982
Sibley1913
Wabasha1880
Brown1842
Yellow Medicine1762
Rock1660
Cass1654
Murray1632
Mille Lacs1583
Redwood1581
Unassigned15552
Renville1478
Jackson1451
Faribault1410
Swift1371
Houston1250
Koochiching1213
Kanabec1198
Roseau1180
Pennington1171
Fillmore1160
Lincoln1110
Hubbard971
Stevens971
Pope920
Big Stone810
Aitkin761
Wadena680
Wilkin633
Grant614
Lake580
Norman540
Lac qui Parle531
Marshall511
Mahnomen461
Red Lake441
Traverse290
Clearwater270
Lake of the Woods211
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 84671

Reported Deaths: 1303
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15779262
Woodbury535664
Johnson510027
Black Hawk447290
Linn3973111
Story342917
Dubuque317341
Scott297128
Dallas277138
Pottawattamie208938
Buena Vista198412
Marshall177734
Sioux15653
Wapello132857
Webster125114
Plymouth112220
Clinton111221
Muscatine110054
Crawford10775
Cerro Gordo105121
Warren9516
Jasper83332
Des Moines7748
Marion7567
Henry7305
Tama70831
Carroll6605
Lee6247
Wright5811
Dickinson5106
Boone5058
Bremer4887
Washington45611
Louisa42815
Mahaska40619
Delaware3973
Franklin34718
Floyd3423
Jackson3373
Winneshiek3306
Hamilton3223
Clay3194
Lyon3184
Benton3091
Winnebago30113
Hardin2991
Poweshiek2928
Buchanan2741
Butler2702
Jones2693
Clarke2653
Kossuth2650
Shelby2651
Emmet26110
Allamakee2596
Clayton2523
Sac2480
Cherokee2462
Chickasaw2460
Guthrie2446
Cedar2411
Grundy2193
Fayette2172
Harrison2143
Madison2122
Iowa2041
Mitchell1890
Humboldt1883
Palo Alto1880
Howard1876
Hancock1842
Calhoun1823
Mills1781
Cass1632
Monroe15710
Osceola1570
Pocahontas1572
Lucas1566
Page1540
Monona1501
Jefferson1381
Appanoose1363
Union1313
Taylor1271
Davis1244
Ida1201
Fremont1150
Van Buren1141
Keokuk1071
Worth1070
Greene1000
Montgomery925
Wayne862
Audubon821
Adair711
Decatur670
Ringgold502
Adams330
Unassigned70
Rochester
Few Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 66°
Mason City
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 70°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 66°
Austin
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 68°
Charles City
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 70°
One Last Mild Day
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events