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Outreach, Indeed

The Obama administration has hired Indian-American actor Kal Penn to work in the White House Office of Public Liaison doing “Asian-American outreach.” Interesting choice.

You can’t say Penn has no experience in the field. He starred in the 2008 comedy “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay,” which painted a very particular portrait of America’s attitude toward Asian-Americans. Penn’s character Kumar Patel is an American citizen who smokes pot on a plane and winds up in Guantanamo Bay under suspicion of terrorism. Once at Gitmo, there’s forced fellatio and consumption of genital sandwiches. Luckily, some Cuban refugees help the wrongly accused Patel escape. Back on U.S. soil, he does battle with in-bred southerners and the Ku Klux Klan, who detain him under suspicion of being Mexican. Eventually, he ends up on George W. Bush’s Texas ranch, where the former president pardons him based on a mutual affection for marijuana.

Interesting choice.

It kind of sucks some of the gravitas out of Obama’s moral preening on Guantanamo Bay when he hires a guy who made a stoner comedy about the place.

Or maybe not. How might Obama put it? “We are no longer constricted by the false choice between moral seriousness and Hollywood anti-Americanism.”


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