A last-ditch online campaign by prominent South Asian millennials in the United States persuading baby boomers in their families against voting for Donald Trump is gaining traction, amid rising fears that victory for the anti-immigration Republican in the presidential race will hurt the country’s large Indian and Pakistani diaspora.
In a two-minute YouTube video titled “#Voteagainsthate”, up and coming US-based South Asian artistes appeal to their Republican-leaning “ammamas and appapas”, “bapus and dadis” (grandmothers and grandfathers ) and “aunties and uncles” to reconsider voting for the 70-year-old
New York businessman who has pledged to significantly restrict immigration if elected.
“You left your country and moved to the United States so that you could become biochemists, a veterinarian, a pharmacist, an architect (or) an engineer,” the artists including Sonal Shah from the TV show Scrubs and Utkarsh Ambudkar from The Mindy Project said in an interwoven monologue.
“You guys are the American dream... You told me...how to make smart decisions. It doesn’t matter how you voted in the past. This is about our future. Because right now our country is at a crossroads. It’s time to stop the hate,” they said.
Is this the world you want for your grandchildren? History repeats itself. Please, please do not be on the wrong side of history,” they say in between clips of Trump’s bellicose comments towards immigrants and a brief montage featuring Adolf Hitler. “Even if you are not with her, he’s not with you,” they add, referencing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign catchphrase.
The YouTube clip was shared over 8,000 times on the popular video sharing platform. The video’s creator Vijay Chattha said he felt compelled to produce it in order to counter a growing narrative in the news media that many Indian Americans were stumping for Trump.
“The biggest concern I have is trickle-down racism. That to me is the most scary part of the rhetoric and the type of people that he is emboldening through this campaign,” Chattha, a marketing entrepreneur, told the US-based Fusion.net portal.
“I think the biggest thing is that really we want to make sure that if people believe in this message that they share this message across the swing states now.”
The Republican candidate, who has repeatedly denounced China and India for stealing US jobs, in recent weeks has wooed Indian American voters. Last month, he featured in a campaign video speaking in heavily accented Hindi, uttering the words “Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkaar” (this time Trump government”). The slogan is a play on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 general election catchphrase.
He also attended a Bollywood-themed fundraiser for victims of Indian terror attacks held in New Jersey and organised by the newly formed US lobby group Republican Hindu Coalition, which is trying to differentiate itself from Muslim immigrant groups. The event featured song and dance performances by Bollywood stars including Prabhu Deva and Shriya Saran. Sections of the Indian American community view Trump in a positive light because of his tough stance on battling global Islamic militancy.
“If I’m elected president, the Indian and Hindu community will have a true friend in the White House, that I can guarantee you,” Trump said at the event.
The pledge contrasted the relentless attacks on Latino immigrants in the closing days of his campaign.
“The crimes that’s been committed by these people is unbelievable,” he said on Sunday, detailing alleged murders committed by Latino immigrants.
There are an estimated four million people of Indian descent and 450,000 people of Pakistani descent living in the United States, according to the latest census figures.
Some 65 per cent of Indian Americans are “Democrats or lean Democrat”, according to the Washington-based Pew Research Center. A 2012 survey by the institute showed that the median annual household income for Indian Americans stood at US$88,000, significantly higher than the national average of US$49,800.