#Tulsigottago is a national campaign started by Queer, Trans, Muslim, South Asian, and Arab Americans to stop Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 presidential run. The movement came together because we are tired of our concerns being sidelined in the American progressive space and are determined to educate and demand a better candidate from our fellow Americans and the Democratic Party. Arvind Reddy is a newly joined member of this campaign and penned this op-ed reflecting opposition to the inhumanity of a Gabbard candidacy, let alone a presidency.
* * *In 2016, I saw Tulsi Gabbard in person when she was opening for Bernie on his primary campaign that took him through my alma mater, UC Davis. At that point, I was a naive progressive who, while clearly seeing the crimes of Sanders’s opponent, assumed his opener was as ardent a leftist as he was. I believed in Gabbard because Sanders did. That is why I supported Tulsi Gabbard in 2016. But her proximity to progressiveness is not the same thing as being a true advocate for all peoples.
“As a U.S. voter, as a U.S. citizen, I have privilege that I must acknowledge.”
As a U.S. voter, as a U.S. citizen, I have privilege that I must acknowledge. Every vote that I cast carries the weight of responsibility that I could be responsible, in whatever infinitesimal way, of electing to office a candidate who could strip away LGBTQIA+ rights, could demonize an entire religion, and who could start another genocidal war in the Middle East. If any of those acts happen, I, the voter, am also equally as responsible as the elected official who ordered, crafted, and carried out such acts.
That is why I urgently oppose Tulsi Gabbard’s presidential campaign, for she could, as President or in another executive position, carry out any of those aforementioned policies because that is what she has supported as a legislator.
Do your research. I have done mine. My first warnings regarding Gabbard were whispers of her Islamophobia in South Asian spaces. I began to do more research, and learned about her heinous, bigoted views towards Muslims and Islam. I could not, in good conscience, support such a politician who espoused such inhumane views. For the horrors that Gabbard has supported in her lifetime will be amplified to cost an untold number of lives if she ascends to the presidency.
“My first warnings regarding Gabbard were whispers of her Islamophobia in South Asian spaces. I began to do more research…”
Would you vote for a candidate who once opposed abortion rights? Gabbard has said she has switched views, but with so much at stake are you willing to believe her and risk the repeal of Roe v. Wade? Would you be willing to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of women?
Or how about voting for a candidate who once opposed LGBTQIA+ rights, terming the courageous activists campaigning for such rights as “homosexual extremists”? She again publicly switched views, but privately still holds heterosexist beliefs, thereby risking a further rollback of gay and transgender rights if she attains the highest office in the land. Are you an intersectional ally of your sisters, brothers, and folks? Or will you be on the wrong side of history? This while many Queer people have spoken out and said they do not want a candidate they don’t trust and has hurt them repeatedly?
“Are you an intersectional ally of your sisters, brothers, and folks?”
The list goes on and on with Gabbard.
Would you vote for a candidate who opposes the Iran deal and supports Netanyahu? Would you then also be willing to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians — men, women, children, human beings — if Gabbard chooses to go to war with Tehran?
Would you also vote for a candidate who is openly hostile to Islam? And can you sleep at night knowing that you would be responsible for the continuing demonization of Muslim Americans?
If you want to see the real-world consequences of such actions, consider Gabbard and her Syrian and Egyptian debacles. Would you vote for a candidate who met with Assad and al-Sisi, dictators who murdered, and continue to hunt, thousands of their own people?
But most important for me and other South Asians is Gabbard’s disturbing and horrific connections to Hindu fascists. Gabbard, from the beginning of her campaign, has courted and received funding from Hindu fascists in the United States which has allowed her to help mainstream the BJP’s Narendra Modi (and current Prime Minister of India) into American politics. Think about how heinous that would be if a Democratic candidate helped white supremacists in an election abroad, and then was complicit in their coverup of crimes against minorities. That is exactly what Gabbard has done for Modi and Hindutva.
“Think about how heinous that would be if a Democratic candidate helped white supremacists in an election abroad…”
Through her pro-Modi remarks, Gabbard squashed the voices of Indian minorities who were begging for justice before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. So I ask, would you vote for a candidate who supports Modi, responsible for the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and overseeing a fascist reign of terror that includes the jailing of civil liberties activists and lawyers and the lynching of Muslims and Dalits?
Would you vote for a candidate who supports and is supported by Hindutva organizations in the United States? Would you be willing to be responsible for her administration’s bought silence on the crimes committed by the Hindutva regime?
If you are a progressive, if you are a leftist, if you oppose the current executive, then say no to Gabbard. Otherwise, are you willing to accept the responsibility for the crimes against humanity that will be waged in your name, in all the voters’ names who cast their ballots for her, from 2021 to 2025? Are you willing to accept the responsibility for the human beings whose lives will be lost?
Root yourself in your ancestors. Find your moral courage in the South Asians who braved immigration across treacherous seas and, despite facing the horrors of racism, imperialism, and genocide, resisted. If they could, then we must. No matter how offensive and powerful the white progressive and upper caste resistance to our voices, we must persist. For as a South Asian American, as a leftist, and, above all, as a human being, I vow to resist Tulsi Gabbard.
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Arvind Reddy is a writer based in Oakland.