How #DesiWallofShame exposes powerful Indian-Americans supporting Trump’s ‘divisive politics’
Washington, Feb 19: How often have you gone gaga over your cousin studying or working in America? Or you have simply loathed yourself for failing to clear the tough test to enter America?
Uncountable times, isn't it? Even if you have never managed to visit the "dreamland" United States (US), you won't stop taking pride in your family members and friends who have crossed the borders to study, settle and work in America.
This is the big "American dream" every middle-class Indian chases be a part of the world's biggest economy. While many have succeeded, a million others have failed to fulfill their life's biggest ambition.
Over the years, as thousand NRIs have slogged hard to get their green cards, some of them have actually made it really big in the US like Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, and Bobby Jindal, the former US Presidential candidate, among others.
Back home in India, we celebrate all success stories of "desis" (as the Indian-Americans and other South Asian communities in the US are popularly known as). Every time an Indian-American kid wins a tough spelling contest in the US (it has become a habit for super-intelligent Indian-origin kids), the Indian media never fails to come up with all-praise headlines for super successful Indians in the US.
To go, study and work in America is one thing, but to achieve success at a scale that both the American and Indian media cover a desi person's "success story" does not happen every day.
Those who have attained such glory have sacrificed a lot, sometimes at the cost of forgetting what is "right" and what is "wrong". These days, the Indian diaspora in America is struggling with a moral question--whether it is fine to forget all values and morality to be a part of the successful American dream?
Perhaps, for a section of the Indian-American community it is more important to be identified as liberals who are a part of the greater South Asian community and immigrants in general, then being just 'power hungry desis' who dance to President Donald Trump's tune.
The divisive politics of President Trump has created a massive conflict within the Indian-American community which has for long stood united, as a homogenous entity irrespective of caste, religion, gender and sexuality.
Amid the anger to stay away from the politics of Trump which mostly professes anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-women, anti-LGBTQ, anti-internet, anti-civil rights, white supremacist and pro-profit agenda, the "liberal" Indian-Americans have started the social media hashtag--#DesiWallofShame.
The social media campaign, started last year, has grown bigger and more vocal by naming and shaming those who are seen too close to power.
After Washington DC-based civil rights activist Deepa Iyer tweeted against Ajit Pai, the chairperson of the US Federal Communications Commission who helped undo net neutrality, on December 15 last year, the social media campaign attracted worldwide attention.
"On this year's #desiwallofshame, Ajit Pai tops the list for being on the wrong side of history, for choosing profit over civil rights, and for advancing the anti-immigrant, white supremacist agenda of the Trump Administration," tweeted Iyer.
Like Pai, other Indian-Americans who have graced the #DesiWallofShame list are Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, for subverting diplomacy through policies such as the Muslim ban and the declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital; Raj Shah, deputy press secretary at the White House, for defending Trump's comment on "shithole countries"; Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for endangering affordable health care; and Shalabh Kumar, founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, who rose to prominence after organising the opulent "Hindus for Trump" event before the 2016 election, reported Scroll.
Inspired by the hashtag, the website--shameful.desi--has been created to name and shame desis who are pushing and spreading the Trump government's "divisive agenda".
Anirvan Chatterjee, a California-based activist who helped create the #DesiWallofShame, said the campaign "touched a nerve." The entire social media campaign has attracted a lot of attention on various digital platforms.
"We are all in community together," said Chatterjee. "We're aunties, uncles and cousins together. And when somebody in your family does something that embarrasses you, it's not ridiculous to let them know, hey, 'cut that out'," Chatterjee was quoted as saying by WNYC.
South Asian appointees & supporters are using their power to withhold healthcare, ban Muslims & refugees, abolish an open internet & push an anti-woman agenda.— Arjun Sethi (@arjunsethi81) January 31, 2018
Raj Shah. Seema Verma. Ajit Pai. Nikki Haley. Shalli Kumar. You belong on the #DesiWallOfShame. https://t.co/nlh3SkFXu1
Those who have come under the attack due to the social media campaign have debunked the entire narrative of close relationship shared between a section of powerful Indian-Americans and the Trump regime as a "fake story".
"I can only debunk this absurd fake story," Shalabh Kumar was quoted as saying by WNYC. "Sounds like a shameful story in the face of truth that the left just cannot come to grips with," he added.
While in America, a small section of desis has started the anti-Trump, anti-supremacist campaign, back home in India, protests against the ruling Narendra Modi government--which is again seen as an anti-minority and a pro-rich regime-- is also gaining momentum ahead of the 2019 General Elections.