One day after President Donald Trump banned nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for at least the next 90 days by executive order, actor and son of Gujarati immigrants Kal Penn Tweeted about the news.
“Our president just did the very mean-spirited, un-American thing of not welcoming refugees to our incredible country for at least 120 days,” wrote Penn in a Tweet.
The actor, known widely for his role in Harold and Kumar, has been very vocal on his public Twitter page since President Trump was elected, using his celebrity status to voice his discontent for the administration’s policies and experience. But this comes with little surprise, since the actor also served as Obama’s public engagement advisor. And yet, his role in American politics hasn’t prevented him from being criticized for his audacious political stance.
In response to Penn’s latest tweet, one Twitter user wrote, “you don’t belong in this country you fucking joke.” After reposting the comment on Twitter, Penn launched a fundraiser on Crowdrise on Jan. 28 to raise money for Syrian refugees—and he named it on behalf of the Tweeter.
Penn attached the link for the fundraiser to a screen-shot of the hateful tweet, grabbing the attention of millions on social media.
The aptly named page, “Donating to Syrian Refugees in the Name of the Dude Who Said I Don’t Belong in America,” had just a small goal of $2500 to benefit the International Rescue Committee. Within minutes of its creation, it came close to surpassing that amount thanks to Twitter and other media outlets who helped spread the word. Penn then posted a video to the fundraising page after it had raised over $30,000 dollars in the first 24 hours, and increased his goal to $50,000. Still rising, the donations have now accumulated to more than $500,000.
The Crowderise page reads:
“We are better than the hateful people who tell us we don’t belong in our own country, that America can’t be a beacon of freedom and hope for refugees from around the world. We will turn their bigotry, along with the President’s, into love.”
Though it was Penn’s creativity that made it possible for half a million dollars to quickly be raised for Syrian refugees, it was his positive message that won people’s hearts, convincing them to take action for their beliefs. Whether or not you agree with Penn’s viewpoint on the issue, what’s most important is that, through social media, he was able to inspire millions to stand up for a cause. Today, that’s the most we can hope for.
[Header image via World Bank Photo Collection]