In a misguided effort to appeal to the Hindu population in Fort Bend County, Texas, the local Republican Party ran an ad likening the party’s elephant mascot to a deity.
Sept. 12, the first day of a 10-day Hindu festival to recognize Ganesh’s birth, the GOP published the ad.
“Would you worship a donkey or an elephant?” the caption asked. “The choice is yours.”
Hindu American Foundation board member Rishi Bhutada criticized the comparison in a statement this week.
“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,” she wrote.
Similar criticism continued to grow online, prompting the county’s GOP chairman to issue an apology.
“The ad was not meant to disparage Hindu customs or traditions in any way,” said 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. We offer our sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by the ad. Obviously, that was not the intent.”