How About Your President?

It’s been a week since I’ve been in the presence of any other Americans. Inevitably, the people I encounter are tempted to ask me about Trump. So far, I haven’t come across any vocal fans. Some of the Indians are carefully diplomatic in their response to my clear disgust and horror. Others have been quick to offer their disapproval of this disturbed new man leading the U.S. 

At times, especially I noticed in Kerala, a few of them drew comparisons to Narendra Modi, India’s own strongman prime minister with a reputation for turning a blind eye or being complicit in anti-Muslim violence. Both men represent an unabashed patriarchy that promises order by putting “others” in their place. Many Indians have heard the story of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the Indian software engineer in Kansas who was murdered by a deranged racist white man, and are aware that hate crimes are on the rise in Trump’s America.  

Indians don’t always see themselves as being subject to the same level of racism in the U.S. as other groups. Moments like the murder of Srinivas, who the killer apparently mistook for a Muslim, and the brutal beating of Sureshbhai Patel, an Indian grandfather visiting family in Alabama, by police who mistook him for a black man, show how thin and arbitrary the lines of distinction can be for groups targeted by racism and how shallow any exceptionalism as a “model minority” can be. And these appalling attacks seem to be going on unabated.

So that these acts of hate not continue and Srivanas not to have died in vain, I hope that greater numbers of Indians, particularly those who were delusional and short-sighted enough to support Trump, see that a future built on brutish and paternalistic politicians who preach intolerance will not bode well for any of us. The shroud of achievement will not make our dark skin bulletproof. It is self-destructive for Indians to be complicit in racism and bigotry.

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