The past few days have been a chaotic time in American politics. Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that temporarily banned immigrants from seven Middle Eastern countries and suspended government refugee programs. The order was met with instant resistance, and across the country, countless people are speaking out against its implementation, protesting and donating money to organizations like the ACLU. Even celebs have gotten involved, with one, in particular, doing something pretty extraordinary. On Saturday, Designated Survivor actor Kal Penn started a massive fundraiser to aid Syrian Refugees, and his efforts are seriously impressive.
Penn's project was started in response to a tweet he received shortly after Trump signed the immigration ban. On Saturday, an unnamed Twitter user tweeted a racist remark at the actor that read in part "you don't belong in this country you f***ing joke". Penn blurred out a section of the tweet, but showed enough to reveal the kind of rhetoric a government ban on Muslim immigrants promotes.
Instead of bowing to the hatred this user spewed, though, Penn echoed Michelle Obama's "when they go low, we go high" motto and spun the remark into an opportunity to help Syrian refugees. Penn started a Crowdrise page to fundraise for those displaced by the crisis in Syria in the name of the guy who sent the insult. On Saturday, he tweeted the page out to site with a goal of $50,000 dollars.
The page went viral right away, and the original goal was met in just 11 minutes. Penn updated the fundraising goal several times throughout the evening, and by late Saturday, it had reached a whopping $100,000. The page just keeps exceeding its goals, which is truly remarkable to see.
The description on the fundraising site 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 hope and freedom for refugees from around the world. We will turn their bigotry, along with the president's, into love," and clearly, many supporters took these words to heart. So many people donated to the fundraiser, and when it all wraps up, Penn will donate every dollar to the International Rescue Committee. The IRC provides life-saving support for those escaping the atrocities in Syria, and helps refugees reestablish lives for themselves, so it's clearly a fitting pick for the fundraiser.
As the fundraiser picked up, Penn continued to speak out against the ban on Twitter.
My friend Mike just sent this heartbreaking text about his refugee friend. Families are being torn apart. Shame on us. This is un-American. pic.twitter.com/eefHr9yo5v— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) January 28, 2017
The events of this week felt so demoralizing, but Penn's fundraiser is a reminder that people are still organizing for good. His effort proves that love is still rising above the hate, and hopefully, that movement will only continue to grow as the days go on.