Harinder Singh, a Sikh-American educator, thinker and activist shares the minorities' view under Donald Trump's presidency.
Three Indian Americans have been targeted in hate crimes in the past few days. Srinivas Kuchibhotla was fatally shot in Kansas, Harnish Patel was killed in South Carolina and now Deep Rai was shot at, in Seattle. Deep Rai is a Sikh, and reportedly the partially masked gunman said “Go back to your country” to him, before shooting.
In the ten days following Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States, as many as 867 “hate incidents” were reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which the US advocacy group termed as a “national outbreak of hate.” In recent days, though high-profile incidents have been reported in the media, the number of such reports to SPLC has declined.
But wait a minute. “This movement is in the top of the first inning,” remarked Steve Brannon, the “president” behind the president who thinks “darkness is good… Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power.”
Top of the first inning is baseball lingo and I delve in this favourite pastime of America to seek some answers. American football politics might not work given the Super Bowl still uses Roman numerals instead of Arabic, but let's give it a go.
Baseball player compositions have changed since the Jackie Robinson era. 70 years ago, the only place where a black man could swing a bat at a white man, and get away with it, was in the “Field of Dreams” in Brooklyn, New York. Baseball now is more global than American football, and minorities (Hispanics, blacks, Asians, in % order) are about 40% of the Major League baseball players.
Brexit and Trump have already become a reality and with Le Penn just around the corner, there is no doubt that right-populism is going global.
The Ipsos MORI poll which tracks percentages of people who think their country is on the wrong track. Their latest poll is quite revealing: USA (63), Britain (60), Australia (57), Canada (47), and India (26). Of the aforesaid five nations, in USA and India, the top worry is terrorism. And that is what the “haters” now in charge of policies are fueling via “Muslim ban” and “ICE-forced deportations.”
All indicators point to a possibility that in their upcoming elections during 2017, the Germans, the French, and the Dutch may elect populist far-right governments. And that’s just in Europe.
Back to Trump, since that phenomenon is going global. Let’s first understand the South Asian minority “leaders” of President Trump. Shalabh Kumar is of Indian Hindu descent; he is a “powerbroker” industrialist backed by the ruling far-right Indian government. Whereas Jesse Singh is of Indian Sikh descent and Sajid Tarar of Pakistani Muslim descent; both have negligible support in their respective communities and belong in the “token” or “photo-op” categories. Jesse Singh had also rendered a Sikh prayer at President Trump’s inauguration ceremony, along with some other “leaders” from different faiths, lending it an ecumenical aura.
In the same vein, globally minority leaders, without consultation of the communities they represent, are making absolute policy statements which come across as pandering to the populist right and without any doctrinal basis. For example, Bawa Singh Jagdev’s (National Sikh Council of Australia) statement that same-sex marriage will “destroy the whole human race” has no Sikh doctrinal basis. Rather, it counters the very notion of “Ik Oankar” (One Force that radiates in all) which forms the basis for zero tolerance for bias due to race, gender, sexuality, belief, etc. And of course, he cites no Sikh survey conducted in Australia to gauge the community sentiment.
Immigration has become a major concern worldwide. In the US, the visa ban targeting Muslims has already been deemed illegal by its courts. India’s far-right Modi government is meddling with 1955 Citizenship bill which deems Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan as “persons belonging to minority communities” who “shall not be treated as illegal migrants for purposes of this Act.” The current Citizenship amendment bill is targeted towards, you guessed it, Muslims.
It has been a month since President Trump’s inauguration; I suppose the bottom of the first inning is over. Hate events continue to evoke sentiment and enrage sections of the community. Even South Asians are organising beyond the conventional “brown-folk” minority stereotype as part of the ‘Resistance’. And so too are United Colors of America with Love: gender, ethnic, and religious minorities in partnership with the majority white privileged ones. An atypical American Resistance! Recall “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” where it successfully demonstrated evidence-based approach conquers the flawed insiders? That minority-majority complex is something that is being replicated worldwide.
In Panjab’s context, which can also be extrapolated to the whole global North and South, poet Surjit Patar proclaims, that the responsibility to identify the villain rests with people:
When do I say demanding justice is not right?
When do I dissuade you from waging a fight?
To identify the foe is so essential,
To get mutilated without reason is futile.
And he draws attention to change transcending all conflicts:
Thrones did last, but not forever,
People betrayed, but not forever,
Drip by drip flows the water,
Urge to change is subdued,
But inevitable is the change.
A month of Trumpism in command has seen utter chaos in governance. Cultural icons, mental health professionals, journalists, policy-makers, conservatives and liberals are all converging on this thought: Donald Trump is not fit to be the president of the US. In baseball terms, it is the beginning of the second innings, when will the umpire (the Judiciary) and the manager (the Republicans) change the player? And this ‘stranger-than-fiction-reality-game’ in Washington is being played with hate and lies. This game may be shorter since it is incessantly interrupted by bad weather-temperament, the newest target being the free press. Who will be around for the seventh inning stretch?
Darkness must be addressed.
A Jedi trains to confront Vader. The Jedi Order values wisdom, the Light. They are teachers, philosophers, scientists, engineers, physicians, diplomats and warriors, who join the Rebellion to fight the Empire.
Jaswant Singh Khalra, Jedi of our times, remarked in Canada before his extrajudicial killing in India:
There is a fable that when the Sun was setting for the first time … the light was decreasing … and the signs of Darkness were appearing … Darkness set its foot on the earth, but it is said — far away, in some hut, one little Lamp lifted his head. It proclaimed, ‘I challenge the Darkness. If nothing else, then at least around myself, I will not let it settle. Around myself, I will establish Light.’ And … watching that one Lamp, in other huts, other Lamps arose. And the world was amazed that these Lamps stopped Darkness from expanding so that people could see.
Recognise the darkness of ignorance within you, your vicinity. Use your intellect, wealth, and strength to access the light, and allow the light to enter you, to enlarge you.
The Light brings out Love: the love that shapes a collective will.
And yes, eventually, love does trump hate.
Harinder Singh is an educator, thinker, author, public speaker and activist who tweets @1Force. He currently serves as the Senior Fellow, Research & Policy, at the Sikh Research Institute. He served on the boards of the National Conference on Community and Justice, The Fellowship of Activists to Embrace Humanity, The Nanakshahi Trust, among others. He regularly appears on radio and television programs globally.