Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rich Pakistani charms Paris, Texas--as both its cardiologist and mayor

The International Herald-Tribune reported a few days ago on Arjumand Hashmi, the Pakistani mayor of Paris, Texas, who apparently has national political ambitions.  The suggestion of journalist Anand Giridhardas is that you wouldn't expect folks in nonmetropolitan northeast Texas to be so open to an outsider--especially a highly-educated and rich foreign one.  But Hashmi happens to be the small city's cardiologist, which may increase his favor with local residents.  It may also be that the intolerance for foreigners (and difference generally) and provincialism that is associated with small-towns is countered by small-town and working-class respect for wealth.

Paris, Texas, in the northeast corner of the state, has a population of about 25,000.  It is the county seat of nonmetropolitan Lamar, County, population 50, 074.  The poverty rate there is 16.7%, and--as Giridhardas suggests--it is an aging population; 17% are over the age of 65.  It is also not particularly diverse, with a populace who are 75.5% non-Hispanic white, 13.7% African American, 7% Hispanic or Latino origin, 1.7% American Indian or Alaska Native, and just 0.7% Asian.  

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