Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Elaine Chao, and Those Who Would Use Asian Americans as Shields Against Racism | #DisavowChao

August 20, 2017
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (left), President Trump (center), and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (right) at a press conference on Tuesday. (Photo credit: The Hill)

Earlier this week, President Trump held a press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower, where the president — flanked by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn — delivered an impromptu series of remarks on the weekend’s white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.

It was the President’s third commentary on the neo-Nazi rally in Virginia that left one woman — Heather Heyer, 32, — dead and eighteen others injured after a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of non-violent counter-protesters. In his initial remarks delivered soon after Heyer’s killing, Trump refused to condemn neo-Nazi demonstrators and instead blamed the violence “on many sides”; he received widespread and bipartisan criticism for the equivocation. The White House was quick to attempt damage control, issuing a tepid statement that attributed condemnation of white supremacists to an unnamed White House representative. On Monday — more than 48 hours after Charlottesville was besieged by white supremacists — Trump also delivered a prepared statement that labeled white supremacists and neo-Nazis as “repugnant”. Again, Trump was widely criticized for offering too little, too late. Within hours of issuing those second comments, Trump returned to Twitter to rail against his critics for being dissatisfied with the remarks.

By Tuesday, Trump was once again ready to give up the charade that he was not on the side of neo-Nazis. In Tuesday’s press conference — ostensibly held to unveil the administration’s latest infrastructure reforms — Trump doubled down on his moral equivalence between violent white supremacists and the counter-protesters who demonstrated against their racism. Manufacturing a supposed “alt-left” (experts agree that the term was invented by conservative media as a slur against leftists), Trump alleged that left-wing activists attacked white supremacists with clubs and provoked the weekend’s violence. Trump concluded his bizarre commentary by undermining his previous day’s remarks and blaming “both sides” for Charlottesville, albeit with more of his moral outrage directed towards leftist counter-protesters.

For a man who has built his entire career around manipulating the media to fuel his own preening self-image, it’s hard to believe that Trump had not planned to issue fresh remarks on Charlottesville on Tuesday. It’s also hard to miss the optics of Tuesday’s press event: Trump stood in steadfast defense of white supremacist terrorists while he surrounded himself with the highest-ranking woman of colour in his administration as well as one of his most senior Jewish American advisors. Trump presented himself alongside Chao and Cohn as if to say: “no matter what spews out of my mouth today, I can’t be accused of being racist; look who my friends are!”

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Kal Penn, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Rest of President’s Arts Committee Resign in Protest of Trump’s Response to Charlottesville

August 20, 2017
Kal Penn (left) and Jhumpa Lahiri (right) joined the rest of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in a mass resignation in protest of the president’s remarks following the violence in Charlottesville. (Photo credit: IMDB / Wikipedia)

Yesterday, all seventeen private members of President Trump’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities jointly resigned in protest of the president’s shocking equivocation on white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.

In a joint letter, the private members of the Committee on the Arts and the Humanities criticized the president for the president’s remarks in the wake of last weekend’s white supremacist violence, which left one woman and three police officers dead and several other civilians injured. In a blistering letter addressed to the president (that really must be read in full to be appreciated), the Committee’s members wrote:

The Administration’s refusal to quickly and unequivocally condemn the cancer of hatred only further emboldens those who wish America ill. We cannot sit idly by, the way that your West Wing advisors have, without speaking out against your words and actions.

…Supremacy, discrimination, and vitriol are not American values. Your values are not American values. We must be better than this. We are better than this. If this is not clear to you, then we call on you to resign your office, too.

The full letter (after the jump) was shared by Committee member Kal Penn on his Twitter, where it has already been retweeted nearly 9,000 times.

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US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy Dismissed by Trump Administration

April 23, 2017
Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, former US Surgeon General, at his Senate confirmation hearing in 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the nation’s youngest and first Indian American Surgeon General, was asked to resign on Friday by President Donald Trump, just a little more than halfway into his four year term.

Murthy served just over two years as US Surgeon General after being appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013; however, Murthy’s Senate confirmation faced stiff resistance due in part to Murthy’s public position that the nation’s epidemic of gun violence is a public health issue. Murthy was finally confirmed in December 2014 after over a year of political bickering and delays from Senate Republicans, and he took the office of US Surgeon General on December 18, 2014.

On Friday, Murthy posted a public statement on Facebook thanking his supporters and colleagues for his two years and four months in office.

While I had hoped to do more to help our nation tackle its biggest health challenges, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have served. The role of the Surgeon General is traditionally to share wisdom with others, but it was I who learned so much by listening to your stories in town halls and living rooms. In a remote fishing village in Alaska, a church in Alabama, an American Indian reservation in Oklahoma, a school in Virginia, and in so many other places, I watched the grit and grace with which our fellow Americans live their lives.

It is unclear why Trump had Murthy removed from his office as US Surgeon General. By all accounts, Murthy was a successful US Surgeon General, with clear vision for how he had planned to use the office to advance American public health.

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Where is America’s Outrage over Hate Crime Killing in Olathe?

February 28, 2017
Srinivas Kuchibhotla (right) and his wife Sunayana Dumala (left). (Photo credit: AP)

Last week, a man was shot and killed because of the colour of his skin.

It was a warm Wednesday evening in Olathe, Kansas. Rather than to work late into the night as was his custom, 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla decided to leave work early and have a drink with his friend and co-worker, 32-year-old  Alok Madasani, at their local watering hole, Austin’s Bar & Grill. The two men were both nationals of India who had immigrated to America more than a decade ago to pursue graduate degrees in electrical engineering, and who had stayed in the United States to work as highly-skilled engineers. Madasani and Kuchibhotla had become friends in 2008 when both were employees of Rockwell Collins, an American-owned company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For six months, Kuchibhotla even gave Madasani a ride to-and-from work every day until Madasani could afford to buy a car; he never complained, remembers Madasani. The two remained close friends when both were hired within months of each other to work at Garmin International in Kansas.

Kuchibhotla and Madasani were known as “the Jameson guys” by the employees of Austin’s, where the two would frequently unwind after a day’s work over some whiskey. But, last Wednesday was unseasonably warm, and the two men decided to have a couple of beers, instead. And so, on the evening of February 22, 2017, Kuchibhotla and Madasani found themselves seated on the patio, sipping Miller Lite beers while surrounded by college basketball fans had gathered to cheer on the University of Kansas Jayhawks.

There aren’t many more ostentatiously all-American scenarios than this.

And yet, none of this was enough to protect the two men from racism, xenophobia, nativism and cold-blooded hate. To the man who would destroy this peaceful scene with the pull of his shotgun trigger, Kuchibhotla and Madasani’s Brown-ness had marked the two men as interlopers and Others. To 51-year-old Adam Purinton, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani’s Brown-ness meant that they did not belong — in Austin’s, in Kansas, or in America — and, for that, Purinton decided they should die.

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Travel Bans and Incarceration Camps: A Country that Forgets its History is Poised to Repeat It | #DayofRemembrance

February 19, 2017
Three young Japanese American incarcerees peer through a barbed wire fence at Manzanar camp. (Photo credit: Toyo Miyatake)

75 years ago today, an American president passed an executive order that led to the forcible removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese American men, women and children in American concentration camps (Note: JACL’s Power of Words Handbook).

For years, Japanese and Japanese American civilians were imprisoned in hastily-erected assembly centers and camps under harsh, isolated conditions and guarded by American soldiers whose guns were pointed inward. Racism lay at the root of this incarceration: America’s federal government offered the thin reasoning that incarcerees’ race was proof that Japanese American citizens and their parents were spies for the Japanese military. Actor George Takei was a child of 5 when he was labeled a threat to national security by his government, and forced by gunpoint to a distant incarceration camp.

Today, America is poised to repeat the mistakes of its history. A new president sits in the Oval Office who routinely uses the spectre of national security threats to target groups of people with discriminatory executive action. Compared to 1942, the victims may differ but the federal government’s reasoning is the same: entire communities of innocent civilians are being labeled as enemies of the state by virtue of their race alone.

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