NEW YORK – California is ravaged by bad news this summer, apart from the threat of being divided into parts, which has receded now. Catastrophic fire destruction, with uncontrollable flames as dangerous as tsunamis, has burnt down thousands of homes in communities across the state. Dozens of people are dead. The number of fatalities continue to grow. More than 600,000 acres are scorched and barren, following devastating drought for many years.
As the state continues to reel from the relentless fury of nature, the Indian community is at the receiving end of brutal racist attacks, too. Two Sikh men were attacked within a week, in California. Fear is growing of more such unprovoked attacks; the community is on edge.
On July 31, there was an attack on a GOP activist and campaigner, Surjit Malhi, of Turlock, a town which is around 60 miles from San Jose. Two unidentified men ambushed him as he was putting up some political campaign signs. Sand was thrown into his eyes, and he was hit in the head with a stick and a belt, with dire warnings shouted at him: “You don’t belong here.” Malhi’s truck was vandalized with the words “Go back to your country.”
Then, on August 6, an elderly Sikh man, Sahib Singh Natt, 71, was attacked in Manteca, another region in northern California, like Turlock. He was knocked to the ground, kicked and spat on, by two teenagers, one of whom is the son of a police chief. Police has termed it as robbery, not a hate crime. Natt’s son, who lives in Ludhiana, Punjab, said in an interview to The Hindustan Times that the assailants also told his father, “You Indians go back.”
Now, finally, this week, there is some good news for the state, and the Indian community.
California native Sen. Kamala Harris, who has Indian and African roots, could well become the Democratic nominee for the 2020 Presidential elections, and match up against President Donald Trump, to assume office in the White House.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that according to Oddshark, “Harris has surged into a tie with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the best Democratic odds to win the 2020 presidential election.” The report also notes that Oddschecker, which compares betting odds across various sites and sportsbooks, gives Harris “9/2 odds to win the Democratic nomination, followed by Joe Biden with 11/2 odds.”
President Trump, though, is still the favorite to win reelection, with Oddshark reportedly giving him +140 to win in 2020 while Oddschecker gives Trump 11/8 odds, reported Breitbart.
Harris, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, will likely up her profile even more during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, reported Breitbart.
Though the early money may be on Harris, the most recent Harvard-Harris 2020 presidential primary poll of registered Democrats had Biden in the lead with 32 percent, followed by Hillary Clinton (18 percent), Sanders (16 percent), and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (10 percent). Harris was seventh with two percent.
Like all Presidential elections, it’s likely the 2020 race too could boil down to the results in a few states, which will decide the winner. But for the embattled and scared Indian, and other ethnic communities, it’s an important juncture of being part of the mix in America.
The crescendo of hate and aggression against colored people is rising, especially outside of cosmopolitan areas and big cities. It’s not just the spate of hate crimes and rise of white supremacy groups, but it’s also the overt message coming from the Trump administration, that’s alarming, and of huge concern: not just illegal immigrants, but all immigrants are bad for America and Americans.
Even if Harris makes it to the match-up against Trump, regardless of who finally clinches the election, it would be a huge, soothing occasion for all ethnic communities in America. Harris epitomizes the other half of America that seems to be deteriorating under a barrage of aggression and abrasion by conservatives and supremacists – a woman, a person of color, a liberal who has sympathy for immigrants.
It’s not just California, and the Indian and African community who needs to see Harris on stage debating Trump, feel proud and valued again as immigrants. Feel confident that they belong here as much as any other White person.
All of America needs it too.
(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)