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In Our Opinion: No, Mr. Prasad, It’s Not About Your Race; It’s About Your Ethics

If you want to know what powers Township Councilman Rajiv Prasad’s almost obsessive refusal to understand that residents oppose him for his ethical lapses only, and that his ethnicity has nothing to do with it, all you need do is go back to this statement he wrote in a July 29, 2015 email concerning the Catalpa Park debacle:

“When you oppose a Hindu Temple and Cricket in Catalpa Park, it becomes racial, as the common denominator is Indians.”

Back then, Prasad refused to consider that opposition to Catalpa Park could be based on nearby residents’ opposition to noise or traffic or garbage left behind by park users. Those reasons never entered his mind because in Prasad’s world view, everything is defined by his ethnicity. He sees every action through the prism of his being an Asian Indian.

And so, if you oppose him or oppose something he proposed that involves Indians, you are immediately branded a racist because, as he said in his 2015 email, that opposition automatically becomes racial.

That’s a pretty convenient crutch when you don’t want to consider the alternative; that people are opposed to you as an elected official because your actions show that you are not fit to be an elected official.

And that’s the crutch that Prasad has really leaned on since the middle of last year, when residents, angered over yet another of his ethical lapses, decided to mount a recall campaign. The reason for the campaign, he told himself and his sycophants, is that the people behind it are racist. That has been expressed repeatedly by one of his most loyal followers in several meetings of the Human Relations Commission — which is worthless and should be dissolved — and Township Council.

Much to the chagrin of Prasad, and his fellow Democratic Council members who have to bear the ire of angry residents, even though the recall campaign failed, those behind it have not wavered in their push to get him off Council, now calling for his resignation.

So now Prasad has upped the ante. He is operating as though his request that the Township Manager fix some parking tickets, or his steering of an Asian Indian landlord to a Municipal Court judge – who he nominated – for help with a tenant problem, or calling Catalpa Park opponents skinheads, never happened. He’s operating from the mindset that there exists a racial problem in the township, the symptoms of which are the residents who are calling for his resignation.

His solution: Call for a town meeting to discuss race in Franklin.

Here’s what he said at the Feb. 26 Council meeting:

At the last council meeting I had suggested that we consider having a town hall meeting where we do discuss our diverse town. We bring in an arbitrator, mediator, whatever you want to call them, but a professional who is used to handling conflict and bringing in the various points of view that people hold and are able ask them why do you have this opinion and getting  a dialogue going between the various diverse communities so that we live in harmony or at least with greater understanding of each other.

 

If racism exists, you cannot solve it by sweeping it under the rug, you have to face it and address your issues, your differences, and you can agree to disagree, but at least you understand each other. And we can promote tolerance that way and we can have conflict resolution with a dialogue rather than just constant non-communication. That’s where we are, and it’s been put on the agenda for the next meeting, and it will be discussed.

He’s hitting the nail squarely on the thumb here. Are there racists in Franklin Township? Of course there are, they’re everywhere. But at least as far as Prasad is concerned, racism is not playing a factor in residents’ desire to see him removed from Council. A desire for good government is the prime motivation there.

The only reason Prasad wants to hold a town hall is so he can further obfuscate the issue and try to reinforce his idea that opposition to him is race-based. In reality, there is no need for Prasad’s town hall, and the Township Council should dispose of the notion of holding one.

Here’s something else Prasad said in his Feb. 26 tirade – that prompted Mayor Phil Kramer to sit at the dais with his head in his hands – that we also found interesting:

In spite of all the controversy, I was elected for a 4-year term. And there are people who still insist that I continue to serve them and some of them are here, and I can tell you the Asian community is a little different, in that they have two newspapers, they have two radio stations that they listen to, there is a TV station that they have, which is called TV Asia, which is broadcast to most Asian households throughout the United States and throughout the world.

 

People communicate, they have their own Internet networks of communicating. So they’re not dependent on one online paper for their news and information. And they are well aware of what’s going on and they have told me that they don’t want me to resign, that we want you to serve out your term like we voted for. You can disagree with them, but at least you can understand where they’re coming from.

It certainly appears from these comments that the only community from which Prasad is interested in hearing, and to which he shows any fealty, is the Asian Indian community. Hardly the behavior we would expect from an At-Large Council member.

Prasad has also become fond of saying  that the fact that he was elected to a 4-year term in 2015 – garnering the fewest votes of all four winning candidates, by the way – means that we should all “respect the vote” and let him stay in his position.

That’s not how it works, Mr. Prasad; history is full of American politicians who have been deemed unfit to serve – as you are – and who have been forced to resign their seats.

And that is exactly what Prasad should do: Resign. The sooner, the better for all of us.

 

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