This is a headline from a national story about the incident that occurred at a bar in Olathe, Kansas. I intentionally waited to comment for two reasons. One, I wanted to learn more before I spoke. And two, our son-in-laws are from India and Vietnam. This makes my concerns beyond hate crimes and economic impacts to personal, family concerns about feeling uncomfortable encouraging our east coast families to visit us in Kansas.
Condemning this hate crime should have been a natural, for if we do not speak out, we communicate to the larger world our indifference about such crimes perpetrated against our international friends—and friends of all backgrounds. Fortunately, leaders at many levels have spoken, now including even the President, along with citizens expressing their outrage at such an action.
What needs more attention, particularly for our citizens who see this as “no big deal,” is the resulting economic impacts. If fewer immigrants come here to be educated, and even fewer stay, the results will be dramatic. We are not able to produce near enough scientists or doctors of high quality without friends around the world who come here to learn and contribute to our communities. And we give up on the values that make our country truly great.
I am reminded of my personal experience helping run a small startup company in Lawrence dealing with High Temperature Superconductive materials. Without candidates from China and Eastern Europe, I would have had no staff to complement the research and knowledge of Dr. Kai-Wai Wong at the University of Kansas.
I have searched for the right words to say more, knowing I’m for sure not a great writer. Then I ran into a piece from Rajiv Srinivasan, a friend of Aaron Estabrook and who was his Platoon Lieutenant when they both served in Afghanistan. Rajiv went on to be a Captain before leaving the military to become a very successful entrepreneur with various technology startups as well as an outspoken writer on the national level. So why create something when what I really want to say already exists? Please read his message below, and take heart—as I do—with the compassionate response from those who are ready to, as he puts it, "do better."
“Leadership matters. Words matter. There are of course valid arguments made about illegal immigration, economic priorities, and skills gaps in our country. But when leaders decide to throw nuance out the window and oversimplify the problem as "immigrants are taking over our country," the conversation doesn't become more thoughtful as it rolls down to the masses. And 2 Indian engineers were gunned down because someone in our democracy inferred that they were the cause of whatever pain and anger he was feeling. Honestly, how can we fight the radicalization of Americans by ISIS if we are unable to tackle the radicalization of Americans by our own political discourse? This isn't a problem of mental illness, and not a problem of politicians being poor leaders. We get the leaders we deserve. Our politicians and their campaigns are designed to win us over by appealing to our worst reptilian instincts. I try so hard to resist, to deserve better leaders. I read the local and national news everyday from reputable sources. I vote in EVERY election cycle (not just once every 4 years). I read books by people way smarter than me. I listen to my friends. I ask questions. And I try not to impose my worldview too harshly on others. Politicians are not the cause of our society's ugliest problems, they too are symptoms of a country undeserving of good leadership.
So if you are unhappy with the hate, with our leaders, what are you doing to deserve better ones? I challenge my friends to doubt their confidence in how good of citizens you are...start from assuming that you need to do better, and let's all step it up a notch. Read, have humility and just be kind. God only knows how bad it gets if we don't. I am honestly getting afraid we will soon find out.”
- Rajiv Srinivasan
-Rajiv's Bio Video
-Piece for Hindu-American Foundation
-NY Times "At War Blog"
-PBS (POV Series)
-Pieces for TIME