Just before the elections, I wrote a short note called “My Fears…” and sent it out to some friends. It described my fears of the implication of a Trump presidency to our society and urged my friends not to vote for Trump. You can read this note here.
The note was partly in response to a sense I had that a larger number of people of South Asian heritage were voting for Trump than expected – a similar trend in with other minority communities. Over the last several months I have found out that there were many Indian-American voters who actually voted for Trump. This posting is for them.
To all the Indian-Americans that voted for Trump, I ask you a simple question – Look at yourself in the mirror and tell me what you see?
Is there a big sign on your head saying you are a Trump supporter? I doubt it. But I am sure you see a brown skinned person. Now think about this – what do you think Adam Purinton or Chester Doles or Richard Lloyd or Deep Rai’s shooter sees?
Trump and his associates like Bannon and Miller have popularized and legitimized xenophobia, racism and hate. As someone aptly said, the stigma of being a racist has been lifted – it is now getting to be “OK” and “cool” to openly spew the vitriol of racism.
Jewish home spray painted with swastikas, flyers distributed in several neighborhoods with the words, “Make America WHITE again-and greatness will follow”, notes in community center that read “WERE GONNA BLOW UP ALL OF YOU REFUGEES”, Swastikas all over a subway car, attempted fire in Indian-American grocery saying “run the Arabs out of the country” – the list goes on. The number of incidents of hate crimes against south Asians has risen to post-9/11 levels, however hundreds of smaller incidents are going unreported. You can read the article and download a report on this here
Across America, the rise in the populism of racism has emboldened certain people to come out of the margins and shadows. For many years there has been the very slow process of marginalization of racists – however Trump and his gang have disrupted this progress and as Van Jones said, American is facing a “white-lash”.
So when they see a brown person it’s ok to shoot them as they may be muslim who Trump says are bad; when they see a brown person, they can blow them up as they may be refugees, who they are told are not wanted in American; when they see a brown person they can harass them as they may be illegal immigrants whom they are told are responsible for their job loss; when they a brown person its ok to set fire to their store as they may be Arab and should driven out and now it is ok for the police to take in a brown person going for a walk, albeit a respected scientist, for questioning for suspicious behavior – and it goes on and on.
I have tried hard to understand why any Indian-American would have voted for Trump with this backdrop. The answers mostly seem based on a misguided view that Trump will be better economically and for their bottom line. Even if that was true (which is highly debatable), what use is a few extra dollars if the society is torn apart, if you have no dignity and safety and are a third class citizen? What will those extra dollars do when your kids are harassed in school or when you are told to get out of this country?
Some of those that voted for Trump were swayed by the rhetoric of Islamophobia. To those I once again ask – look at yourself in the mirror and tell me what you see.
So once again, to the Indian-Americans out there who voted for Trump, think about that young man in Kansas, who looked just like and me. Think about what kind of country you want to live in and bring your children up in and look in the mirror again – and ask yourself what do they see.