The message was hidden in a Facebook folder that I never checked. Against my better judgment, I read it.
“Your seriously a loser. Grow up you dirty foreigner! Hope Trump sends you back to your country.”
This wasn’t the first “Donald Trump will send you back to your country” message I’ve received. But my fingers still curled into tight fists. I wanted to reach into the computer and shake some sense into the sender’s blonde head. This is my country. I was born in the Midwest. I’ve lived here my entire life. No other land is home.
This year is the first time in my life that I’ve felt like an outcast in my own country. It doesn’t matter that my parents legally emigrated from India to the United States in the 1960s. It doesn’t matter that they eventually became U.S. citizens. It doesn’t matter that my sister and I were born in the United States. It doesn’t matter that we “assimilated” by only speaking English, and wearing “Western” clothing.
It doesn’t matter that we lived in a cramped 900-square-foot townhouse in a low-income neighborhood for 10 years before my parents saved up enough to move to the suburbs.
It doesn’t matter that my mother devoted her life to helping the mentally ill, and my father devoted his life to helping students find jobs after college. It doesn’t matter that my sister and I excelled in school and became engineers.
It doesn’t matter that my family and I love this country and aspire to live the American Dream. All that matters to people who want me to “go back to my country” is my “ethnic” name and my skin color.
And that’s my fear. Donald Trump woke the sleeping beast. His undisciplined immigrant-bashing rhetoric spurs otherwise silent xenophobes into violent action. A hateful message in a hidden folder could escalate to physical assault on the street.
I can already hear the protests: It’s one message. What’s the big deal? Violence existed before Mr. Trump ran for office. And he doesn’t really mean what he says about immigrants. Mr. Trump is just a salesman, pandering to his conservative base. If elected, he would never do any of those things.
Well, this isn’t a reality TV show. Mr. Trump is running for the office of President of the United States of America. His words and actions carry weight with his supporters and the rest of the world. If any of you are still undecided, I will present a few facts and let you judge for yourself:
On June 16, 2015, I watched Donald Trump announce his candidacy for POTUS. As part of his speech, he declared that Mexico was “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”
On August 19, 2015, two Boston men beat a homeless man with a lead pipe before urinating on him. When asked by the police why they did it, their response was “Donald Trump is right. All these illegals need to be deported.”
On September 27, 2015, in a 60 Minutes interview, Donald Trump told a CBS reporter that he would deport over 11 million illegal immigrants by “rounding ’em up in a very humane way, in a very nice way.”
On November 10, 2015, during the fourth GOP debate, Donald Trump raved about President Eisenhower’s illegal immigrant deportation program in the 1950’s. It was pejoratively called “Operation Wetback.” According to the Texas State Historical Association, this program was a military operation that seized and deported 1.5 million illegal immigrants to Mexico in a very inhumane way. They were notorious for leaving people in the middle of the hot desert without food and water. People died in this program.
On November 19, 2015, an NBC reporter asked Donald Trump if his White House would implement a database for tracking Muslims. “Oh, I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.” When the reporter asked if all Muslims would have to legally be in the database, Trump responded, “They have to be. They have to be.”
On February 1, 2016, at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Mr. Trump told attendees to “knock the crap” out of any protesters. He went on to state “I promise, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”
On April 21, 2016, in Washington D.C., a woman wearing a hijab was approached by an unknown woman outside of Starbucks. According to the Muslim-American woman, the stranger made the following statements, some of which were recorded on her cell phone: “Fucking Muslim. Trash. Worthless piece of Muslim trash. You all need to go back to where you came from. You’re a terrorist. So stupid. If Donald Trump wins the nomination, I’m going to vote for him so he can send all of you all back to where you came from.”
The Muslim woman called 9-1-1, but the stranger left before the police arrived at the scene. Once the police left, the stranger returned and poured a bottle of an unknown substance over the Muslim woman’s head. The police have released surveillance video and are still looking for the suspect.
So, to the Donald Trump supporter who sent me this message, thank you for making me feel better about my decision. I spent many nights agonizing over whom I would support in the upcoming election. If I hadn’t seen your note, I wouldn’t have recognized Mr. Trump’s pattern of dehumanizing immigrants and inciting violence. If I hadn’t seen your note, I would have voted for a third party candidate. If I hadn’t seen your note, I would have dismissed the imminent danger of a Trump presidency. If I hadn’t seen your note, I wouldn’t have jumped from my undecided ledge firmly into a decision. #ImWithHer