Emil Guillermo: Hillary had me at Rodham, as she stakes out the new middle
July 29, 2016 11:45 AM

She's not using the middle name anymore. Maybe that's because it's a new era. She's her own woman now.

But Hillary always had me at Rodham. Her father, Hugh, was a Navy chief petty officer who became a salesman, then started his own drapery business out of Chicago. And on the Howell side, her mother, Dorothy, was abandoned as a teen and later worked as a housekeeper.

Whatever you think of the woman Hillary Clinton has become (and everyone, it seems, has an opinion), she wasn't a patrician, born of wealth. She didn't get to Wellesley and Yale Law School because of connections. And then she married a guy from Hope, Arkansas. White privilege? She understood that to mean public service, not make a buck. Her values are straight out of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist faith: 

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can."

It's the "Si se puede" for white people.

But I heard it the first time from my Filipino Sunday school teacher at a Wesley Methodist Church near San Francisco's Japantown.

I heard it again during her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Hillary showed plenty of policy and attack, and a lot of throat clearing from the podium. It was a speech that set off so many responsive chords in me. All positive. All American. All part of the story you'd expect from the first woman to be president of the United States of America. 


Inclusive. Forward thinking. Positive. Patriotic. Strong. 

Sure, the gender thing made it incrementally historic. First woman nominated, not yet elected.
But how many times did many of us discount the importance of all that during the primary campaign?

I know many people who were Bernie supporters, and frankly, I had my tilt. But those who know my columns over the years know I fell for Hillary much harder in 2008, thinking that was her time.

But then it wasn't.

I remember going to a Clinton party in Denver during the 2008 convention. I was with a large number of Asian Americans who were crying in their beer.

This time, they were elated.

"I had hoped Hillary would decide to run in 2016 but was not sure," said Irene Bueno, who runs a political affairs firm in D.C. "There were times I did not think she would run for President again. Last night was a very poignant moment for me. It was a culmination of many years working in support of Hillary and finally a recognition that regardless of your race or gender, anyone can be President of the United States."

That got to me. But this time, I admit Sanders' appeal just seemed more important. His Goldman Sachs jabs at Hillary made the point. Mega-money in politics combined with the economic inequality in society was making our democracy a joke. That's some appeal.

That's why the most emotional moment for me during the whole Democratic convention was not Hillary's great speech. 

It was really Bernie's concession. Not his speech from the podium, but rather his emotional remarks after the roll call on Tuesday. It was the simple act of declaring the suspension of rules to allow for Hillary to be the nominee by acclamation.  

That was as graceful and as magnanimous as it gets in American politics.

And that was worth a tear or two.

In this gridlocked, extremely partisan, take-no-prisoners, negativity-infused modern day of big money politics, when Sen. Ted Cruz couldn't even endorse Donald Trump at the Republican convention, it was like a new day had come in politics. 

We can still fight and bicker, and then after some platform concessions, vow to work together toward a better future.

That Bernie moment enabled Hillary's speech on Thursday.

And she hit all the points, invoking FDR rather than Darth Vader.

It was really an old-style traditional Democratic speech. She spoke of the kind of infrastructure spending that creates jobs, the kind of thing that marked Bill Clinton's years. All the economic issues. Minimum wage. Equal pay. And big money out of politics.

So she appealed to Bernie and his supporters. And then she did her Trump Dump.

Marco Rubio talked about Trump's small hands and the GOP nominee started talking about his manhood. No class.

This was class--Hillary quoting Jackie Kennedy talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis. "She said that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started--not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men--the ones moved by fear and pride."

But she made the stark contrast just a few seconds earlier. 

"Imagine, if you dare, imagine, imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis," Hillary said of Trump. "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."

It's the biggest single scary issue of a Trump presidency. Trump's oversized cartoon hair as built-in mushroom cloud.

If you saw both Hillary's and The Donald's speeches, it's hard not to find Hillary more alluring from all sides.

She was centrist and inclusive. 

If you're a Bernie supporter and you think she's too far to the right, well, she's just defined a new big middle.

Because if there are Republicans who find it distasteful to hold their nose and vote for Trump, now they can dump the nose clip.
It's hard to imagine a winning campaign slogan like, "We smell less bad," but that may have to do if Hillary expects to woo a few moderate Republicans.

In my previous column, I pointed out that since both candidates had such high negatives, this would be a different kind of campaign.

But I think Hillary did it with that speech. If you were a moderate Republican watching this speech after the Republican convention last week, I think you'd have to tell The Donald, "You're fired."

The gender thing is a big deal too. But Hillary puts it in perspective.

When Hillary said, "I'm happy for boys and men, too--because when any barrier falls in America, it clears the way for everyone," it was inclusive.

More important than gender is another barrier that prevents things from getting done in politics--the partisan barrier.

"Even more important than the history we make tonight is the history we will write together in the years ahead," Hillary said.
It's the sound of a new governing middle. It's a Democratic Party, with some transplants from the right, infused with an essence of Sanders. And all of it furthered by the ineptitude and fear-mongering of a Republican substandard bearer. 

With a little more than 100 days left, an historic path to victory seems to be taking shape. And all of it in the name of democracy, led for the first time by the vision of a strong woman.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at 
www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.

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Emil Guillermo: Donald Trump's new heights of megalomania
July 22, 2016 1:18 PM

Considering the evangelical tilt of the GOP, the only time Donald Trump came close to talking about God in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was when he talked about himself.  

"I am your voice," Trump declared to the American people.

If you ever wanted to speak in tongues, Trump's offering.
And that's as close to godliness as it got on the last night of the convention, this week's megaphone for Trump's megalomania.

Need a definition for that malady? Look at a picture of him delivering  that acceptance speech. 

After breaking with tradition and appearing every night at the convention of the GOP faithful, Trump's sales pitch to the rest of the nation began in earnest with that last night face-to-face close.

The Donald doesn't just want your vote.

He wants to gentrify you. 

He's like a developer eyeing a teardown. He doesn't want to be you. He just wants to be your voice. It's executive ventriloquism, and you get to be the dummy.

Trump isn't really interested in governing. Of course, he's the least qualified to govern. That's "for the people, by the people," public sector stuff. 

Trump's no boring government worker, after all. He's above all that, a private sector guy driven by profits (when he doesn't use the bankruptcy laws). He's all about making deals. And here's his biggest: He wants to come on down, be our voice to help those of us "neglected, ignored, and abandoned," be part of Trump's World.

It's Trump's message. He's rich. You're not. He's fearless. You're not. He's the self-proclaimed God's gift to brand-name "democracy." He's the CEO, a semi-benevolent bully who likes to play by his own rules.

"I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people who cannot defend themselves," he said to a full nine seconds of conventioneer cheering. 

"Nobody knows the system better than me," Trump said, pausing to another nine-second cheer. 

"Which is why I alone can fix it!" Another ten-second cheer.
"I alone"? I tweeted that out as soon as I heard it. 

I didn't think automatically of "dictator" or "authoritarian." 

Because the speech was sprinkled with enough passable good will. He expressed concern for the youth in our inner-cities and their lousy education; for the blue collar workers, hurt by all the bad trade deals that a businessman like him wants to fix.

And all of it said with a typical lack of Trumpian humility, which is really why he needs his own country.  Preferably not ours. 

But on Thursday night, in "always be closing" fashion, Mr. Art of the Deal continued to close.

And his best close revolves around fear.

Trump took advantage of the coincidental rash of violence on both international and domestic fronts, and packaged them into a powerful law and order theme. 

But then he went a step further and linked the recent police shootings with immigration. 

Trump said: "The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50% compared to this point last year. Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens."

What do the two have to do with each other? Nothing really.

But he continues: "The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015. They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources. One such border-crosser was released and made his way to Nebraska. There, he ended the life of an innocent young girl named Sarah Root. She was 21 years-old, and was killed the day after graduating from college with a 4.0 Grade Point Average. Her killer was then released a second time, and he is now a fugitive from the law."

With the shameless tug of the heart, a call to emotion, the crime wave is suddenly due to illegal immigration. 

That's the kind of racist illogic we're dealing with.

As Trump said, "One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders."

Poetry is not his strong suit.

Trump then bundled it up in a Hillary wrapper and said, "Hillary Clinton is proposing mass amnesty, mass immigration and mass lawlessness." 

Oh, and did you know she's responsible for ISIS, too?

Reasonable people may be quick to dismiss Trump's rhetoric. But then who thought Trump would have any credibility left in the tank after all that racist birther nonsense about President Obama?

Trump is refueling, using Hillaryphobia and xenophobia, and telling us he's is the only way out of this "rigged system" that has kept you down.

The guy is a loon. 

But apparently he's not alone.

There's a lot of smart people who are saying, "I'm with him."

A young Asian American, Minyet Hua Palich, 32, from Columbus, Ohio, and an active member of the state's Republican Party Central Committee, was at the convention. 

She texted me her reaction to Trump after the speech: "A man of the people!!! He doesn't need to do this, but he's frustrated just like most of us are from the past 8 years & politics as usual. It was a very well rounded speech! He's with us!!!"

This is the political Rashomon. Same speech, different views, almost as long as Kurosawa's classic.

When I heard Trump link immigration and terrorism by saying, "We don't want them in our country," it rekindled the fear-mongering hate rhetoric of the 1930s that led to the exclusion of Filipinos to America.

Palich heard something different. But then she would. She came to America in 1994 as a 10-year old political refugee. Her father, a South Vietnamese Army official, had spent seven years in a concentration camp. A special deal got her to the U.S. during the Reagan years. Government helped her there, and she admitted to me she wasn't like other refugees. She's been fortunate.
But that doesn't stop her from being suspicious of any potential overstepping of government, even in an America that is so far from communism.

She knows, we're not doing so bad in America.

America is still the country with a growing economy, a stock market that keeps rising, and unemployment below five percent. 

But doom and gloom sells, and Trump knows that. He's sold Minyet. 

Before the convention, she admitted to me that Trump was near her bottom choice (Paul Ryan is her fave.) She's in the small government, low taxes, "anyone but Hillary" camp.
And now after the speech, she's on board the Trump train.
"The party isn't so bad," she texted. "We do care about people; We just don't want the government to make us and control it (sic)."
She says she'll be working for Trump in the state he must win, Ohio. 

I'd feel a whole lot better if Trump had more of Melania in his speech. And not just the cribbed Michelle Obama parts.

There was a bit of rhetoric I call the "litany," that I only heard Melania say in her otherwise maligned speech. 

"There's a great deal of love in the Trump family. That is our bond and that is our strength," Melania Trump said on Monday.

And then she said what The Donald didn't say.

"Donald intends to represent all people, not just some of the people," she said. "That includes Christians, and Jews, and Muslims. It includes Hispanics, and African Americans and Asians, and the poor and the middle class."

Nothing in The Donald speech was so clearly inclusive, full of love. His was all hate and fear. And him, him, him.

There was a shout out to LGBTQ people, which I'm sure had a few evangelicals choking on their angel wings. 

But Donald's political gender is fluid. He picked anti-same sex marriage, pro-trade Mike Pence, the former Democrat. Now Trump is his voice. And the undocumented and Hillary are the root of all evil. 

That's what the voice says today.

"We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore," Trump said in his speech. 

So in the final days, he's going to let it fly. And we'll end up with more speech lines like this: "We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order."

Mouth it and let him be your voice?

In a democracy, we don't give that up so easily.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator.
Updates at 
www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.

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Emil Guillermo: My interview with an Asian American for Trump
July 15, 2016 1:48 PM

Dr. Toribio Flores is an ear, nose, and throat guy at the Cleveland Clinic. And he's going to the Republican Convention.

"I'm not afraid," he tells me. 


But I know most of America is.

We've arrived at the point many of us have been dreading. The GOP is all set to be re-branded Trump's Old Party, the TOP.

So why does it feel like American democracy has hit rock bottom?

By the time we get to this point in an election year, we all should be soaring with the hopes and aspirations of the triumphant leader of our respective parties. Remember hope and change? 

This year, however, our leaders seem so flawed-- instead of flying high, we're all mired knee deep in the dung of our choice. 

I've covered politics and been to a few conventions since the 1980s, and while the idea of "holding your nose" while voting is not a new concept, there is a sense that in this cycle, we find ourselves close to asphyxiating more than ever before.

According to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, more than a third of Republicans say they're disappointed with Donald the Disruptor. And for the Democrats, more than a quarter say they are disappointed with Hillary Clinton, with another seven percent saying they are upset. 

"In a development not seen in any modern presidential contest, more than half of all voters hold unfavorable views of the two major party candidates and large majorities say neither is honest nor trustworthy," the Times continued. "Only half of voters say Mrs. Clinton is prepared to be president, while an astonishing two-thirds say that Mr. Trump is not ready for the job--including four in 10 Republicans."

This is not exactly what one would call a ringing endorsement for either of our major political standard bearers.

What's a believer in our American system supposed to do?

Maybe you need one of these this year to survive the political year: 


Don't go voting without one?

That's when I knew I had to call Dr. Flores, my ear, nose, and throat acquaintance at the Cleveland Clinic. 

He has access to industrial strength nose clamps. 

Flores, 65, a leader in the Filipino American community in the Cleveland area--and a mad rhumba dancer--wishes he could be as passionate on the convention floor as he can be on the dance floor.

But his attitude reflects the polls. This is not the year for political passion unless your passion coincides with Trump's vanity. 

"I really don't like him," said Flores, who during the primary season backed his home state's leader, John Kasich. 

For Flores, Trump was near the bottom of the pack. That wasn't to be the case for the rest of GOP voters, and now even the establishment is falling into line, and so is Flores, reluctantly.

"He's not an ideal candidate," said Flores about the man he is voting for, who then explained his hesitancy. "I don't think he's a conservative. He's acting conservative because he wants the Republican nomination."

So why not vote for Hillary Clinton?

"I can't trust Hillary," Flores said. "I think she's a very dishonest person."

As if Trump in his own myriad of misstatements is a paragon of trust.

But again, as the polls suggest, the outcome of the email scandal has hurt Hillary. And Asian American Republicans like Flores can't seem to find a way to forgive her.

"It bothers me the FBI and the attorney general won't prosecute," said Flores. I think the electorate will treat her harshly for what she's done."

And that's the mental calculation among many Republicans these days. Trump's not great, but he's no Hillary. 

Funny how Democrats are saying just the opposite.

Still, it's strange to hear someone like Flores, a standard immigrant success story, voting for Trump. The Times/CBS poll also showed Hillary as the one who overwhelmingly scored highest on doing a better job with race relations--60 percent to Trump, 29 percent.

But maybe that depends on how much money you have, or if you even care.

Flores said the Filipinos in Cleveland were upper middle class and above. They're successful aspirants with politics to match. Flores said 65 percent of the Filipinos in the Cleveland area were Republican. 

Flores calls himself a fiscal conservative and a good Catholic who is strong on religious values. His success in America defines his political profile. He's for low taxes and a small, efficient government that is rid of waste and inefficiency.

It's the political value system of an immigrant who came with nothing, and thinks you can make it too, if you work hard.

Flores came to America during the Marcos dictatorship as a Philippine-trained doctor. He took all the tests he needed to qualify to practice here and started out doing medicine in the little towns of Pennsylvania. America has been his land of opportunity.

And if you doubt his compassion, he'll say he's ready to provide care and even perform surgery for free to all who are truly in need. 

When he arrived in the U.S., Flores said he was actually a die-hard fan of the American Camelot story, the Kennedys. Over time, he's shifted his views. But he's still managed to preserve a fairy tale. Flores honestly believes he's seen little discrimination in America. So little, in fact, that for him, race doesn't even come into play in the election.

But democracy this year is imperfect. And even a Trump-voting Asian American Republican ear-nose-throat doc realizes that casting a ballot will require a nose clip.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. 
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.

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Emil Guillermo: On John Leguizamo, colonial mentality, and Dallas
July 8, 2016 7:26 PM

When Dallas happened, I was already upset by the shootings all over the world this summer, from Bangladesh to Baton Rouge and Minnesota. But I was in Berkeley, Calif., where I was hoping a little art would help.

Berkeley already puts me in another world. But I was in yet another subworld because I was sitting in an American regional theater way off Broadway, the Berkeley Rep, watching a live theatrical performance. No video shield, no digital connect. This was real, human to human.

The way life's supposed to be.

Up on stage live, alone with the audience, armed only with wit and style, was the actor John Leguizamo, making history right: getting after Cortez for slaying Montezuma; excoriating Pizarro for devastating the Incans; clowning Columbus for thinking he was in India. Leguizamo didn't cover Magellan, who was boating in Asia until the Filipinos--the world's only Aspanics (though some may prefer Astinos)--took care of him.

But the focus of Leguizamo's show is the truth-side up history of the colonization of the Americas. Although Magellan may get a pass, "Latino History for Morons," now at the Berkeley Rep, is worth seeing as it works its way east to NYC.

As a journalist, I've interviewed Leguizamo before, and I've also seen him pop out of my video screen (hell, explode is more like it). But I've never seen him perform live. Now that I have been performing my own solo show, "All Pucked Up: The Short History of the American Filipino," it's definitely a treat to see Leguizamo's virtuosity used to defile the oppressor.

He powerfully commanded the stage in an energetic, physical performance that exposed all the colonial misdeeds that screwed up the Americas some 500 years ago. 

And he undoes all that history in less than 90 minutes. 

EG tweet3.jpg
But then Leguizamo's solo show ended, and so did the idealized world of my imagination.

Micah Xavier Johnson's solo world took over. 

The "us" versus "them" world. The colonial world, where violence and death is often the only answer. 

The arts would be my oasis for only so long. Life disrupted my time with the arts. 

It was back to reality. Back to the news.

Even Leguizamo had to pause.

As I drove back home from Berkeley to the Texas part of California, I was riveted to the live audio of MSNBC through Sirius XM. 

I just couldn't believe it was still unfolding deep into the night. Every bit of downtown sidewalk they talked about I knew first hand. From Dealey Plaza to Main Street, to El Centro College. 

I could remember it all from my time as a somewhat green, curly-haired TV reporter in Dallas, my office at Union Station at the foot of downtown. 

Truth is, I loved Dallas. I made some good friends at the time and worked with good people, including CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley. 

And even though people often mistook me for Latino--asking me to join LULAC and then wondering WTF was a Filipino--it was a great place to be a young reporter. 

A lot of firsts for me. My first 5-alarm fire. My first rape-murder confession. My first stalker (stalking me). My first big-time prison riot. My first mass murderer (Alvin Lee King, five victims, June 1980. He went into a church in E. Texas, declared, "This is war," then opened fire with his AR-15.)

There were some pleasant firsts too. But Big D always meant Big news stories.

I know what I was like covering them as a 25-year-old, the same age as Micah Xavier Johnson, the former Army reservist who spent a year in Afghanistan, the man now called the lone shooter in his own big story.

On Thursday, Johnson told the police he was mad about Black Lives Matter, mad at the police, and wanted to shoot at whites.

And then he fought the "us" versus "them" colonial battle with guns and bullets.

That's not the way to solve all the societal ills we're seeing now.

It may be necessary to start with a basic understanding of policing.

The police aren't Cortez coming in to rape, pillage, and conquer.

It only looks like that sometimes, especially these days in places like Oakland.

Besides Dallas, I lived in other communities, both big and small. When I lived in small suburban towns that were 80 percent white, the stereotype was built-in. He who looks like he doesn't belong is the bad guy.

I used to get stopped quite a bit and asked "What are you doing here?"

Uh, I live here.

But police in those small towns often act like private security. Unless they know the communities they police, they have no imagination. They resort to stereotype.

It makes for lousy policing. Until they know you.

Urban cops should take the time to know their beat. But often they're too busy. 

So if the police don't know the people in their community, guess what?

You end up with a lot of mistakes in policing that end up feeding fear within communities.

And here's a wakeup call to Asian Americans. Don't think you're going to get a pass just because you're Asian.

I've developed empathy because on the Asian American Yellow-Brown scale, I'm not often mistaken for white.

And I know how non-whites are treated.

A Japanese American friend of mine told me recently that when stopped while driving, he always keeps his hands visible, so there's no question.

I first heard that from an African American friend, two years ago when Ferguson erupted.

I was in Washington, DC and my friend told me one of the first lessons of survival passed on by his father. Essentially, it was to keep your driver's license in view and accessible so you don't have to reach for your pockets. 

Otherwise you can be killed.

It's kept him alive. And in dreadlocks.

The sad thing about Dallas is that the march was winding down. People were hugging cops and celebrating a peaceful march.

There was joy in being able to vent and let off steam, to use anger in a productive way to show a community's ire, peacefully. It was a community working toward progress.

And then it was all destroyed when Micah Xavier Johnson thought he was in an old-style colonial battle.

Of all the politicos, Attorney General Loretta Lynch emerged as the nation's healer. 

"[T]he answer must not be violence, the answer is never violence," she said in her news statement. "Rather, the answer must be action: calm, peaceful, collaborative and determined. We must continue to build trust between communities and law enforcement. We must continue working to guarantee every person in this country equal justice under the law...We must reject easy impulses of bitterness and rancor and embrace the difficult work of finding a path forward together."

Politicial rhetoric is often cheap. But Lynch got emotional.

"[W]e must remind ourselves that we are all Americans--and that, as Americans, we share not just a common land, but a common life. Not just a common goal, but a common heart and soul," Lynch said. " I implore you not to let this week precipitate  a new normal in this county, I ask you to turn to each other not against each other as we move forward. Let us support one another. Let us help heal one another. And I urge you to remember, today and every day, that we are one nation, one people, and we stand together."

OK, I'm in. But if it doesn't work, art can be an answer, when the real world seems to be spinning out of control. 

I'd rather see Leguizamo again. He made me laugh and lets me get square with the colonizers like Cortez and Pizarro.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. 
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.

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Emil Guillermo: A bombastic July 4th is needed to drown the sorrow of our Summer of Terror
July 2, 2016 7:13 PM

I hope you have a bang up July Fourth. 

Our country and the world could use a good explosive, safe, and sane display of freedom and liberty.

We've had too much of the opposite, the stifling, intimidating, freedom-robbing violence that puts all of us, and the world, on edge.

From Orlando, Florida, to Istanbul, Turkey, to Dhaka, Bangladesh, the news of another deadly attack has marred what should otherwise be a period of sunny relaxation.

And suddenly, it's the summer of terror.

I had taken a slight respite from the news when the headlines struck. An upscale cafe in Dhaka during Ramadan is stormed by gunmen, reportedly to be from the Islamic State. Thirty-five hostages were taken, but after an overnight standoff, 20 are found dead.

It was Saturday when the tragedy really sunk in. 

Three of the dead were young students studying in America. 

From L to R: Tarishi Jain, Abinta Kabir, Faraaz Hossain (photos via UC-Berkeley and Facebook)

Tarushi Jain, 19, was a student at the University of California, Berkeley. That hit close to home. My son is a student there and would love to go abroad. But he's working at a museum this summer protecting art. Jain's trip wasn't supposed to be any more dangerous than that, and a lot more fun. She was visiting her father, a businessman in the garment trade. 

Now world events have claimed her life.

Abinta Kabir, a sophomore at Emory University in Oxford, Georgia, was also killed, according to a report by NBC News. Kabir lived in Miami and was visiting family in Dhaka.

Emory University identified a second student: Faraaz Hossain, from Dhaka. He graduated from Emory's campus in Oxford and was enrolled in Emory's business school.

Three students who lived in America.

And yet I haven't seen the outpouring of love and solidarity on Facebook or social media for those in Bangladesh, or in Turkey, for that matter.

Not like what we saw after Paris or Orlando.

Is it because people just assume violence is supposed to happen in places like Turkey and Bangladesh? 

Maybe it's time you wear your H&M shirt inside out and show off its tag: "Made in Bangladesh."

The fact is Bangladeshis like Jain, Kabir, and Hossain, were all on a familiar immigrant path seeking opportunity through education and business--in America.

It's a story echoed in the pan-Asian community of the U.S. that includes 500,000 Bangladeshis, who have steadily come to our country since 1974.

Many of them live around the New York/New Jersey area. Many of the first wave have made it to the professional ranks and are doctors and lawyers. On my recent trip to New York City, I talked to some more recent Bangladeshi immigrants who had been in America less than ten years.

One was driving a cab, but he had ambitions. We talked about the politics of his country, and he said he would someday like to go back.

"To be president?" I asked.

He smiled and said, "Why not?"

He said he was planning to work more here, maybe go to school. And perhaps go back. 

But he felt what he was doing in New York was still better than life in Bangladesh. 

That is probably the reason why some who remain in that country may be subject to the kind of violence we've seen.  

Religion is always a readily available explanation for the actions of malcontents driven to wage jihad. But religion can sometimes mask the real explanation for violence that is less spiritual and more material: a general lack of economic opportunity and hope. 

The three South Asian students studying in America had all that in abundance, before it was violently taken away.

We should pause to remember their shortened dreams, as we celebrate our freedoms on the Fourth of July.

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Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. 
Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF's views or policies.

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