*Names may have been changed to protect the interviewees.
A couple of weeks ago was the first of my US 2020 Election Series and we looked at the plight of a couple of ‘ordinary Americans’ who are arguably traumatised by the Trump presidency. For this post I spoke to two ‘Indian American’ (not to be confused with American Indian) Trump supporters who have some interesting and insightful reasons to support Trump.
I am neither an American, a fan of Trump, or an expert on American politics, but in the lead up to the United States (US) 2020 election in November, from time to time I will share the views of ‘ordinary Americans’ from different backgrounds and political views. I am fascinated by how divided the US has become in recent years, and hope that by hearing perspectives from different people’s lives, we can all learn something from each other.
Gautham is a US citizen from India who migrated to the United States in 1993 to do his masters degree in software engineering in Dayton, Ohio. He then lived the majority of his over 20 years in the US in Atlanta, Georgia.
He moved back to India in 2014 so his kids could go to school there. Where they were living was a predominantly white area, so their kids would be in classes with “mostly white kids, maybe one other brown kid, and three black kids.” They hung out with their white neighbours for parties, but “at the end of the day, there is not much difference between you and the Mexicans cutting your grass,” he said. He also didn’t like the prospect of growing old and moving to a retirement community in Florida. Their family network in India is strong, so he felt it was time to go back.
Gautham is a very proud Trump supporter and a staunch conservative, although he is anti-guns and pro-choice. And like Trump, Gautham is not known to filter the thoughts flying through his brain before they come out of his mouth. You will not die wondering what Gautham thinks about things.
Jeevan is another US citizen born in India who migrated to Chicago, Illinois in the 1990s to study, and has been back in India since 2001. Like Gautham, Jeevan is anti-gun and pro-choice, but unlike him, Jeevan was traditionally a lefty who was devastated when Trump became president. He has since changed his mind after deciding to try and understand why people voted for Trump, and his subsequent performance. He is keenly interested in politics and has researched and thought a lot about this.
Both concede being Trump supporters does not make them popular with their friends and families.
And the winner is…
Gautham was as shocked as everyone else when Trump won the election. He was at an Air Force Base for work when he was told, and said he genuinely did not expect it. He said after eight years of Obama, everyone was talking about ‘the 1%’ or the top 1% of wealthiest people in the country, as if they were a bad thing. Trump was rich, so he was sure that would go against him.
When I asked him about Trump’s inauguration day claim he had the biggest crowd in history, when the photographs clearly showed this to be untrue, he was sceptical.
“I would say two things right?” Gautham said. “One is like, this guy tends to, you know, fart a lot and you know, exaggerate things. No doubt everybody knows he does that. The other thing is your media is so dishonest. So they try to make it look as if there’s hardly anybody there. The truth and all that stuff is probably somewhere in the game.”
He then went on to say the picture could have been taken half an hour before or half an hour after, but we wouldn’t know because of our dishonest media.
When I asked him what he kind of president he thought Trump would be before the election, he said it didn’t really matter who the president was.
“The president is someone who makes noise, just standing there,” he said. “It’s the people surrounding him, his advisors, and how they are. Have you ever heard of Carl Rowe? Look him up. He’s a brilliant, brilliant, like an architect of how things are done. They are the fellows with the brains. The president, he only makes the right noises, and probably adds some salt and pepper to that noise.”
How was Obama as president?
Jeevan was impressed by Obama from the first time he heard him speak, thinks he is classy, and the complete opposite to Trump.
“I have done a lot of thinking about this,” Jeevan pontificated. “Obama is an idealist, okay? He thinks that the poor have to come up by bringing down the rich. Now that’s a problem.
“He thinks everyone in the country should become equal. And for that America has to come down. You want to make people rich, make people rich, but not bring down the people. See? How do you even things out? There is the communist way. Make everybody poor, then everybody’s equal.”
Gautham had some colourful things of his own to say about Obama’s presidency.
“He was one fucked up president,” he said with characteristic frankness. “Yes, he’s a great human being, you know, smart, good looking… He speaks beautifully, and has a great looking family and all that stuff. But he was such a loser as a president.
“The country got such a hammering in image around the world as losers, mainly because one: when Syria was getting into trouble, this fellow never lifted a finger. ISIS was a direct result of that. Two: when Iran was moving towards democracy in 2009, he supported the incumbent dictator who stole the election, and didn’t help the people who risked their lives to support the green movement. Then three: he signed that dumbarse nuclear deal with Iran, even though everybody knew it was a dud, and Iran was happily able to continue with the nuclear thing.
“And there are some reports that he released some $400 billion of Iranian money which was stuck and held in the US; he released it back to them and all that stuff. So in the eyes of the world, he projected only weakness. For example, this guy Assad, he gassed people right? He was enjoying gas, and Obama said he is drawing the red line and if he crosses it again, like we will do this, that, this, or that. Promptly Assad gassed another bunch of people, and this guy didn’t do shit. People remember all that shit, yeah? You’re projecting weakness.
“And China was fucking America from behind. This guy didn’t have the balls to do anything. Yes, China is still fucking America from behind, but at least Trump is making the right noises and trying to put things in place. You see they’re like jumping up and down now.”
IS Trump a racist?
Many on the left claim Donald Trump is a racist, but Jeevan disagrees given two particular reforms made early in his presidency.
“He reformed the criminal justice law two years ago, which Obama didn’t do, which Clinton did,” Jeevan noted. “He was the guy who brought in those laws where even possession of a little bit of marijuana, you know, not with the intent of distribution, even if you possess, you have minimal jail terms.
“Trump made these reforms with the help of his son in-law, Jared Kushner, and in CNN, there’s a black spokesperson who is also a politician called Van Jones. He’s a Trump hater. He’s a pure Democrat. Okay? (He said) ‘I thank President Trump and his son in law, Jared Kushner, for taking the leadership and so much interest to reform the criminal justice that affects excessively, minorities, Hispanics and blacks.’ And because of that, so many people were let out of jail who were mostly blacks and Hispanics.
“And in CNN, people like Don Lemon, Coolmore, Anderson, asked him, and he said, ‘No, I have to give credit where credit is due. I don’t like Trump. But he has done something good, which a black president has not done. A black president we had for eight years, he didn’t do it. Trump did it in one year. I support Trump in this particular thing. I’m not a Trump supporter.’
“So this removes the idea that Trump is a racist, because he purposely did a justice system reformation that held mostly minorities.”
“Historically Black Universities in America, they are called HBUs, you can google it up,” he continues with his second point. “Trump gave them all a grant. Every year I’m going to be giving money to Historically Black Universities to get more and more black studies, more and more minorities to come and study. These are not reported on CNN. Why didn’t Obama do it in the eight years he was a president? People who hate Trump will not watch anything other than CNN. CNN feeds into that narrative. That so you will want to see only CNN, you will not see the positives of what he has done, and CNN will not show it.”
Gautham is also not convinced President Trump is racist.
“I have not personally seen Trump saying black is inferior, or brown inferior, and whites are superior,” he noted after I asked him if he thought Trump was racist.
“(There is) a heavy load of charter schools in America. Okay, so in America, all education is either government or private school, so government schools are good in wealthy neighbourhoods, and they’re lousy in poor neighbourhoods. And depending on your zip code and the location of your house, you are assigned the school. So you can’t pick a school, or go to any school you want to. So they have this concept called charter schools, where the government will give you money per student, and you run the school.
“So if I started school, and I have 200 children studying in my school, and the government pays me whatever the equivalent a government school child gets at that school… Let’s say $10,000 a year per child in that school district. The charter school will get ten thousand dollars per check. There is no busing and all that, the parents have to drop, they have to pick up, and all that stuff. There is no support for construction or anything like that. So charter school children do far, far, far better than government school children.
“The Democrats are dead against charter schools because the government school teachers are all unionised. The Unions don’t want charter schools, so every school in the country and any state that wants charter schools, they have a lot of money and they block it and all those kinds of things.
“Now, who does it affect? The black kids, because a charter school in a poor neighbourhood, these students do far, far better. These kids do far, far better than a government school child. Now, the Democrats are the ones who are stopping the charter schools. Trump is for charter schools. He pushes charter schools. Who’s racist? Tell me? Who is removing this opportunity from these black kids? Democrats or Trump?
“In Washington DC there was this very successful charter school in a black neighbourhood. All the black kids are doing extremely well. Obama cut funding for that school. So they had to shut down. So what happened to the black kids? They ended up in this rubbish.”
Gautham is not convinced about the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
“Okay, so only black lives matter, not brown? When I was living in America my life didn’t matter?” he asks.
“Okay, police brutality. So there are many Indians who are blacker than the blackest Africans. How many of them have been killed or how many of them have been arrested wrongly? Tell me? None.
“Now, why do these guys get their ass kicked? Because they resisted arrest! When you resist arrest, that cop doesn’t know if you have a gun stuck in your briefs. Okay? That the cop doesn’t know what kind of weapon you have, and you’re resisting arrest. The cop has a family too, right? He’s got a wife and children. I mean, why don’t you look at the news and see how many cops get shot or killed on the job? So he’s scared for his life when somebody resists arrest, and he wants to use the maximum force he has. So if someone’s fighting you, are you going to like, just back off, or use the maximum force when you feel you are threatened?
“If you are prepared to fight anybody, you are going to get your ass kicked. Half way though you can’t say, ‘Oh, I’m losing’ and cry foul. Because that guy is going to go all the way. From any fight you take, you’re going to fight to win because the loser gets beaten, broken, or killed in a fight.”
He goes on to say he doesn’t think there are people who are not resisting arrest who are getting beaten. We agree to disagree on that point and move on…
Jeevan also questions whether police discrimination against African Americans is as widely practiced as the campaign is claiming.
“I started seeing a lot of YouTube videos where, you know, a black person will come and say, ‘I was harassed by the police,’” Jeevan said. “And then the cops will have body cam videos which they’ll put it up and show the police being so polite.
“And the people who are complaining are typically aggressive, right? They want to push the limit. And when they push the limit at one point, the cop says, ‘Okay, if you’re not going to do that, I’m gonna put you in the back of the car, or take you to jail’. And then they really do backflips and say I was attacked and threatened. So, there’s so many videos, I have to point out, you could search it also.”
Is being anti-illegal immigration wrong?
Gautham is happy Trump has made progress building the wall, although he concedes, of course, Mexico was never going to pay for it. He thinks the new policy shows that America is “back” and “means business.”
He says like with the coronavirus, there is no proven standard operating procedures (SOPs) and “shit happens.”
“It is a hundred times better than what they’re used to,” Gautham comments when I ask him about the detention centres. “The toilet they’re getting is hundred times better than the toilet they used to, provided they had a toilet in the first place.
“It’s like someone from an Indian slum going to America and complaining the jail is not good enough. The jail is fucking much better than your house.”
Jeevan has strong views about immigration to the US as well.
“I would guarantee that the majority of black America doesn’t want illegal immigration because they’re taking up jobs at a lower salary,” he says of why people side with Trump on immigration. “Why should an Indian have to wait in the line for 15 years to get to America, just because somebody is in Mexico and steals into the boundary… Trump is against illegal immigration, he’s not against immigration. He’s against illegal immigration.”
When I ask him about separating families in detention, he becomes particularly animated.
“That is again a bullshit story because Obama was doing it,” Jeevan clarifies. “It was under Obama those laws came in. And do you know why that law is there? The reason that law is there is, when they come in illegally, you don’t know if that child is that person’s child or not.
“I’ll tell you an example. You are in a car with the children. Okay? You do a drive by shooting. Okay? You are arrested. Does the child get arrested and be put in the same jail as you? No. Children cannot be put in jail.
“When you cross the boundary into America illegally, you are a felon. You are a criminal. So when you have committed crime, you can’t have children coming and staying with you. Please study on the statistics of child trafficking into America. Okay, until I know for sure that this child is this person’s child, I’m going to separate them.
“I’m not going to do it if you come in by a flight in a straight away method. You come in illegally, you’re a criminal. A criminal has to be treated like this.”
Trump sticking it to China
Both Gautham and Jeevan approve of how Donald Trump is dealing with China.
“He saw that China is stealing American jobs,” Jeevan said. “He saw that America has been helping China grow, and China’s taking advantage of that. There was an interview with Mel Gibson 30 years ago where he said, ‘We are losing Australian jobs just because somebody else is coming from another country and selling it cheaper. It is more expensive to manufacture in Australia, because we want our lowest employees to have the basic salaries and basic privileges.’ Why shouldn’t a straight cleaning Australian citizen be making enough money to have a car, refrigerator, and a TV in his house?
“Don’t outsource jobs just because it is cheaper. That is completely anti people. And it’s the left, the Democrats who have been doing this themselves. You say you’re for the poor, and you’re for the people, but you’re the ones who are moving jobs out of the country. Now, is that a contradiction or not?”
I met both Jeevan and Gautham through some gay friends of mine whom we all hang out with regularly. I see only care for the gay community (which is still largely but not entirely highly closeted in India) from both of these men, and would not describe either as bigoted.
However, Jeevan feels that in the US, special rights for people who do not identify as a male or female gender have gone too far.
“So I am pro-gay, but I don’t need to give you special privileges,” Jeevan explains. “There are men who become women, who demand that if a straight man doesn’t take me just because I used to be a man, then he is discriminating against me and he’s a bigot.
“Please don’t laugh (I had laughed) because I can send hoards of videos where people proclaim this.”
I then pointed out to Jeevan that I don’t get upset when everyone is not attracted to me, because that is the way the world works. We are all attracted to different types of people, so if I got upset at someone because they weren’t attracted to me, that would signify some sort of mental illness.
“LGBQT has become so powerful their demands are skyrocketing,” he continued.
“You can’t call me a bigot just because I don’t find you attractive because you used to be a man. I have that right. How can you say I don’t have that, right? Is that discrimination? In a way it is. I’m discriminating against this now woman because she used to be a man. But don’t I have that right, to be that discriminating?
“Gender pronouns has now come to a point where a person demands that their pronouns should be correctly referred to. And if I purposely referred to somebody by their previous gender, then I should be put in jail. And there are certain countries and certain states that have passed that law. Whatever they want. They want me to be liable criminally.
He then changes the topic slightly to transgendered people who wish to compete in sports.
“I don’t like the 15-year-old boy who was converted to a girl to compete with girls,” he explains. “I’m against that. If I disagree with this then I am a bigot and am talking hate speech.
Jeevan then goes on to discuss his issues with the new protest culture.
“A difficult example that coincided with Trump winning and then this Colin Kaepernick thing,” he explains. “Now in the NFL (National Football League) there’s this guy named Colin Kaepernick who is a quarterback for San Francisco 49ers. This Colin Kaepernick is half white, half black, but he considers himself black. But he was adopted and raised by a white family, and he lived in the upper middle class. He was not brought up in the ghettos where he had to deal with gang wars. See? They are not able to understand they are being righteous with their position, but they have not done time in the ghettos. You have good intentions.
“So this fella, what he did, when every NFL game starts, they have the American national anthem. We all we all stand for it, and we pay respect to the national anthem, the country, the flag, and everything. So this guy, he started… he stopped getting up. So there were about maybe a few games, I can give you the exact details, that he refused to stand up. It was all in connection with police brutality. Okay, yes, police brutality is there.
“Now, people started getting very angry that he was not getting up. He was just sitting. He was the only person who will be sitting on his bench. Then, one more of his team mates and then some other some other guy, he’s an ex-army guy, white guy, he said, ‘Dude, when you sit down, why are you sitting?’
“He said, ‘No, I’m not going to respect the national anthem or the American flag. This is a very unfair country. It’s not doing justice, it’s a nasty country,’ all that. He said ‘Okay, don’t disrespect it by not getting up. You start kneeling down, so people cannot say you’re disrespecting it. So kneeling down became a symbolism. Okay? His honest thing was, ‘Screw America, screw the American anthem, screw the American flag.’
“And he had a positive spin by kneeling down. ’I will protest, but I will not show that I’m disrespecting.’ It’s all gimmick; it’s all imagery; it’s all marketing. So it became a big movement.
“If you don’t kneel, then you become a racist.
“So white people become stressed out. ‘Oh shit, then I also have to kneel.’ You don’t want to stand out. And there are a lot of people who think it’s an insult to the national anthem, the national flag. A lot of Army veterans have believed that, then there are people who say, ‘No, he can do that, he has the right to do what he wants.’
“I didn’t like it. So then it became a question of, does he have rights or he doesn’t? Of course he has rights in America. The beauty of America is you have a right to burn the national flag. The amount of rights you have in America is unbelievable. You’ve gotta respect that. Because no country in the world is perfect. So you protest, and they allow protest.
“But what started happening? It started polarising people. You start driving a wedge. Now you have politics outside. You have it outside, on the TV, in the newspapers, on your computer, on your phones… Now you brought politics into the sporting arena, where actually the left and right, the Democrats and Republicans, can watch a game together.
“Now even that too you have driven away. You are polarising people everywhere.
“You cannot do that if NFL doesn’t stop them. (The government might then say) ‘I’m gonna take NFL to task, I’m going to start taxing them.’ So NFL and Trump say, ‘Dude, you can’t do this’, and there was a big backlash against the NFL.
“The point I’m trying to make here, is the NFL is a private organisation, right? Okay, suppose I’m employed in my company. I’m an employee, okay? As an employee, I’ve been given some privileges, okay? And if I want to protest, I cannot use the privileges given by my employee to protest.
“They have the right to fire you. If you protest, they’ll fire you.
“As an independent citizen, I want to protest, I could go to the middle of the road, not the middle of the road, but I could go to the sidewalk, and I can protest. I can play the national anthem and I can kneel down, and people who believe in my thoughts, can come and kneel down with me. They can say how pathetic this country is, you do all that. But you’re using the platform of your employer, where the employer has a right to fire you, and firing you doesn’t make them a bigot, or a fascist, or a Nazi, or a white supremacist, right?
“So, on the technical grounds, Trump was right. Colin Kaepernick, go and protest on your own time. Why are you subjugating viewers, who don’t believe in what you’re saying to your political protest in a completely private arena?
“Now, I’m running a company with 10 workers. And 10 people will have 10 different things to protest. I don’t want those clients coming in protesting in my eight hours of work time. Will I tolerate it? Will you tolerate it?
“So Trump was spot on. But he’s called a bigot, and a fascist, and a super white supremacist by mostly white liberals. There are so many black conservatives I follow. If you are really interested, I can share. I follow so many black people who are pro Trump and have millions and millions of viewers, and I see the comments that they put, and most of them are black people…
“So the media has created an image, CNBC, MSNBC, and CNN, that all minorities hate Trump which is nonsense.
One argument you hear for people liking Donald Trump, is because he is not politically correct. Both Gautham and Jeevan admire him for this quality.
“Trump is anything but politically correct,” Jeevan said. “He is like a Molotov cocktail. You want to be all hoity toity, etiquette crap. He is a Molotov cocktail to be thrown into that, you know, politically correct class. You gotta call a spade a spade. You tell what you think. You know? I like that.”
“If you don’t like what China is doing, you say you don’t like what China’s doing,” Jeevan said when I asked him for an example. “If the virus has come from China, then call it the China virus. But when I call it the China virus, the left wants to make it look like I’m a racist. Okay, I’m an Indian. I don’t like Chinese. Am I racist? No, China’s now shown that it is a true enemy of India. I’m not saying the Chinese race is inferior to me, or the Indian race is superior. No, I don’t like China. They’ve killed 20 of our soldiers. China has only 14 neighbours, but they have border disputes with 20 countries. What does it say about China? They are becoming really aggressive.
“So I don’t like the CNN, CNBC type of mainstream media telling me I can’t call it a Chinese virus because it is racist. To hell with you. I don’t care. You may think it’s racist. I don’t think it’s racist.”
India is a majority Hindu religious country, but of their 1.3 billion people, around 200 million are Muslims. Jeevan was talking to one of his younger lefty gay friends and explaining, even though he leans towards the right and supports Trump, that doesn’t make him a bigot. He used the example of the left being very critical of anyone who speaks out against minorities, including Muslims.
“I told him, Vijay, as a gay man, right?” Jeevan began. “You go to any Muslim country, you will be a target for death. Because according to Sharia law, you are already supposed to be killed.
“Okay, so don’t ever tolerate nonsense from people who say Muslim is a peaceful language. They will say that when they’re in a minority. When they start getting the population, they say they want Sharia Law. I have friends who said Sharia is the right thing to do. Sharia is God’s work. It is the way Sharia law should be implemented.
“Vijay immediately understood. So if you are being left, be left, but don’t bring the Muslim minority in as left. So typically what CNN does is say that if you say anything against any minority, you’re a racist. You cannot be on the right. You have to be left.”
That is enough Trump support for this week, but it is not the end for Gautham and Jeevan. Stay tuned for next week when we explore their opinions on whether Trump will or should be elected, his coronavirus response, the Ukraine and his impeachment, Joe Biden, what it is like being a Trump supporter, news extremism, free speech and so much more!
If you feel like you need a shower after reading so much admiration for Trump, perhaps cleanse yourself by reading last week’s article on Trump Trauma to calm down a little.
To be continued…
Until next time!