February - 2016 - issue > Indian American View

We Indians are ready for you, Mr. Trump

Sashi Reddi
Monday, February 1, 2016
Sashi Reddi
As an Indian-American I am awaiting my turn.

The latest campaign of hate is targeting Muslims, but what does a Muslim look like? Many of the 9/11 terrorists could have easily passed off as Indian with their brown complexion. Soon after 9/11 I would get suspicious looks whenever I went to a mall or boarded a flight. And now, thanks to this renewed focus on Muslims, I feel like Rocky Balboa when I walk on the streets of Philadelphia. As a software engineer with a beer belly on an otherwise scrawny frame, I did not realize I could make grown men tremble in fear. This is understandable since the San Bernardino male terrorist looks a lot like many of my Indian friends.

So perhaps it is worthwhile to dig a bit deeper into who it is Mr. Trump wants us to hate and what to look for. Just going after someone wearing a hijab will not get us anywhere and we will not be doing full justice to Mr. Trump. Others have suggested a bacon test-stop brown people on the street and see if they are willing to take a bite of bacon. The problem with this is two-fold. Bacon is not much fun to eat when not crisp and, much to my despair, a recent medical study says it could be carcinogenic. I much prefer the "take a swig" test, ideally with tequila. However, data shows that people are over a 1000 times more likely to die from a DUI than from a terrorist attack so it would sort of defeat the purpose. Let me offer a more sophisticated analysis for those embarking on this new hate campaign.

Many of the lighter skinned Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, some Middle Eastern countries like Iran, former Soviet territories like Chechnya and Uzbekistan, could potentially blend seamlessly into the white population. Think Boston Marathon bombing to understand what I am referring to. Just like Mr. Trump's German grandparents hid from scrutiny by passing off as Swedish, many of these folks could blend in and disappear into the white American population.

Many Muslims are also "Asian" looking-the quotes are meant to highlight that the term is used in America to denote people from the Far East and Southeast Asia as opposed to South Asians. People with origins in Indonesia, Malaysia, and some parts of Myanmar are likely to be Muslim but possibly indistinguishable from other Asians like the Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, to the untrained white eye. Think of the Bali bombing terrorists. So those Muslims again can blend into the Asian population and not suffer from excessive scrutiny from the white vigilantes.

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