Actor and producer Kal Penn, who served in the Obama White House and on the Obama reelection campaign, gave an interview on CNN this morning about a crowdfunding page he set up to raise money for Syrian refugees. Penn’s efforts were a deliberate attempt to counteract the tragic effects that President Donald Trump’s recently instated Muslim ban will inevitably have on some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Penn also had strong words for Trump supporters who are offended by celebrities speaking out against the new Administration. Their hypocrisy ought to be blatantly obvious given that they elected a celebrity to the highest office in America. When asked whether celebrity statements help or hurt the anti-Trump movement, Penn said,
“I don’t know. A reality TV celebrity [Trump] just tweeted about a Supreme Court pick, so I feel like that conversation has shifted significantly now that we have [a celebrity] as a president.”
Just after the Muslim ban was implemented Penn, a native-born American citizen, received a hateful message online telling him that he did not belong in America. He told CNN, “What about the 14-year-old me or the kids who look like me who don’t have the luxury of this kind of platform. Maybe we can raise $2,500 to show guys like that we’re better than this.”
His page quickly reached its goal of $2,500 and proceeded to raise over half a million dollars from donors in all 50 states and a total of 44 countries.. Penn continued on to give an insightful analysis of the absurdity of Trump’s ban, instituted in the name of national security but ultimately having nothing to do with national security at all.
“I think what the president is saying and doing is completely ridiculous. Who are the bad dudes miraculously coming in with ten hours’ notice? Is it the army interpreters we detained over the weekend, the folks that saved American soldiers’ lives? Are those the bad dudes? I find that insulting as an American citizen that you would infer that anybody who helped our soldiers stay alive are somehow ‘bad dudes.’
“We have a vetting process in place America has been a place that welcomes people from around the world we do it safely we do it well. None of these countries that are involved in the ban were involved in 9/11. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are not included. Just so happens that the President has property investments in both these countries. I mean you don’t even have to read between the lines on how ridiculous this is.”
Penn’s biting words are a powerful opposition to Trump’s uninformed, bigoted policy making. More importantly, he backed up his sentiments with a commitment to doing something for refugees, people already in a dire situation that became much bleaker with one stroke of the President’s pen. The resistance should listen to Penn and follow his example.
Watch the full interview here:
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.