'We Know What it Feels Like to Be Seen as 'The Other'': Ald. Pawar Writes Letter to Constituents After Election | NBC Chicago
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'We Know What it Feels Like to Be Seen as 'The Other'': Ald. Pawar Writes Letter to Constituents After Election

Ald. Ameya Pawar sent a letter to constituents Thursday slamming President-elect Donald Trump’s divisive campaign rhetoric and speculating on how his presidency could affect refugees, immigrants and minorities.

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    Ameya Pawar is among the underrepresented demographic of Asian Americans in politics.

    A Chicago alderman is making waves in the Windy City for a letter he wrote to his constituents Thursday reflecting on the results of Tuesday's presidential election. 

    Ald. Ameya Pawar's letter began by detailing his family's history, with his father immigrating to the US from India and his wife's family moving from Germany after surviving the Holocaust.

    "I say all of this because we know what if feels like to be seen as 'the other,' he wrote. "And I know most of the 48 million people who voted for the President-elect do not believe, subscribe to, or hold values which align with the rhetoric of his campaign. My guess is that for many people who voted for the President-elect, they too felt like 'the other.'"

    Trump, 70, directed his campaign primarily at white, working-class men who felt left behind by the economic recovery after the 2008 recession, and insecure in an increasingly globalized economy. When Clinton said that half of Trump's supporters belonged in a basket of deplorables, they embraced the insult.

    He promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out undocumented immigrants, to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country and to ban Muslims from entering the United States. But as with many of his positions, the details changed repeatedly and the exact provisions are unclear.

    In his letter, Pawar explained the effect Trump’s words had on him and his family. 

    “When the presidential campaign devolved into denigrating and casting refugees and immigrants as weak, drains on our government, and people to be feared, we were offended and horrified,” Pawar wrote.

    "As the campaign rhetoric escalated over the last year, Charna and I had a conversation about some of the anti-immigrant, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic rhetoric coming from the president-elect’s campaign,” Pawar added. “What would we do if he won? What would we do if he was serious about a religious litmus test? What do we do if he began rounding up undocumented immigrants, immigrants and refugees? What would this mean for our family and our friends and neighbors from diverse backgrounds.”

    In his acceptance speech earlier this week, Trump encouraged unity in the face of obvious division.

    "Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division," Trump told a crowd of joyous supporters. "... We're going to dream of things for our country and beautiful things and successful things once again."

    He later tweeted "The forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again. We will all come together as never before."

    Still, Pawar claimed that, according to history and experience, he and his wife “know how ugly rhetoric can spin from just that into policies and actions.”

    “So we asked ourselves, where would we go if we unimaginably had to leave,” he asked. “And the irony of the last question? My wife said ‘Germany,' the country that part of her family fled to escape the Holocaust, the country that today takes in hundreds of thousands of refugees from around the world, is one country that we would consider due to WWII reparations for the descendants of families that were forced to flee. And that was the saddest conversation of our life."

    For his part, Pawar promised to fight for immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and union members. In addition, he vowed to “push back on the idea that wealth equals competence in government.”

    “Economic policies, widening income inequality, and a lack of investment in communities manifested itself in the results on Tuesday night,” Pawar wrote. "We must deal with these issues and hear people before suffering forces more people into the arms of a demagogue.”

    Instead of using “the echo chamber that is social media,” Pawar said his office would instead work to engage and help organizations that could come under attack during Trump’s presidency, like Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club and the Heartland Alliance, among others.

    At the end of his letter, Pawar shared what he hoped would be a message of hope.

    “America is a great country,” he wrote. “Americans are a good people. And nowhere else in the world is my family’s story possible. But today, it is the hope and dream realized by my parents and my wife’s family that we cling to for support and hope.”

    “We have to chart a course forward and we will."

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