As you probably know, just a few days ago on January 27th, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that severely restricted immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan. The order also suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and keeps out Syrian refugees indefinitely. People across the nation and all over the world are outraged by this and the action has led to massive protests in cities and at airports across the country. Many of the outraged are artists who have been using their platform of fame to speak out against the immigration ban.
Actor Kal Penn, best known for the Harold and Kumar films, posted on his Instagram an image of a text conversation with a friend condemning the ban. His post received an extremely hateful comment stating that Penn didn’t “belong in this country”. Instead of retaliating directly to the person, Penn decided to start a campaign to donate money to Syrian refugees, and he did it in the name of the hateful poster. He shared a message along with the campaign that said, “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.”
— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) January 28, 2017
The campaign, which you can find on CrowdRise, has raised over 780,000 dollars at this time, which is about 99% of the $800,000 goal! Penn appeared on CNN a few days ago to talk about the success of the campaign and his opinion on the ban.
A number of other celebrities have also been using their place in the public eye to raise money for organizations fighting against the ban and for the rights of immigrants. Musician Sia started a trend when she prompted her 2.8 million Twitter followers to show her their donations to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), with the promise to match them up to $100,000. She completed her promise on Monday, stating that together they raised over $300,000 for the organization. Actress Rosie O’Donnell hopped on board and met Sia’s donation. Venture investor Chris Sacca and music producer Jack Antonhoff both got in on the action pledging to match followers’ donations up to $25,000 and $20,000, respectively. Musician Grimes was another artist on board with this trend matching her fans’ donations to The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) up to $10,000.
thank you so much to everybody who donated, y’all just matched 10k in donations to CAIR … it means a lot <3 pic.twitter.com/T6lfhBJVUu
— Grimes (@Grimezsz) January 29, 2017
Since the signing of the immigration ban, the ACLU has seen a huge spike in its donations. This is in small part due to artists like these who have been encouraging their fans to show their support. As of Sunday, January 29th, the ACLU raised over $24 million in online donations since the beginning of the weekend, which is about $20 million more than what they usually raise in a year!
The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards also happened to be held this past weekend and actors in attendance of the ceremony did not let the excitement of the night overshadow what has been going on in the country. A number of the award-winners used the attention to give their thoughts on the issue.
The night’s host was Ashton Kutcher who dove right into it without missing a beat. Kutcher began by welcoming, not only the people in the audience and at home, but also the detainees stuck in airports across the country, who, he states, “belong in my America!”
Mahershala Ali, of the film Moonlight, gave a touching acceptance speech in which he talked about the parallels between the film and the current political climate, and about his own religious identity as a Muslim.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, of the television show Veep, recounted her family’s immigration story and very openly spoke out against the ban referring to it as a “blemish” on the country, calling it “un-American”.
Finally, there was the passionate, and widely shared, speech from David K Harbour, director of the show Stranger Things. Harbour’s rousing call for action was amplified by the support and excitement of the cast surrounding him, especially with Winona Ryder’s hilarious facial expressions and subtle fist pumps off to his side, which was the cherry on top.
Hundreds of other artists and celebrities have voiced their thoughts and opinions as well. So many that there is no way we could mention each and every one of them in this post. But below we have included a few tweets from comedians, actors and filmmakers that stuck out to us among the crowd.
Director Ava DuVernay tweeted a quote from Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi. His film The Salesman is nominated for an Oscar but under this ban he will be unable to attend the event. The film’s star Taraneh Alidoosti also tweeted that she will not be attending the event in protest of the ban. Two subjects from the Academy Award nominated documentary The White Helmets will also not be able to attend the awards due the restrictions regarding Syria.
Amplifying words of one of my favorite filmmakers, Asghar Farhadi, who like too many others will be turned away from the Land of the Free. pic.twitter.com/CcskcFueuo
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 28, 2017
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani has had a lot to say about the ban. Last Saturday he posted a string of tweets that were both poignant and funny about his own experience as an immigrant and calling out other Republicans on their complacency in the matter.
As someone who was born in Pakistan I can tell you coming into America is VERY difficult. A #Muslimban accomplishes nothing but hate.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) January 28, 2017
This #MuslimBan is also messing up attendance at our bi-weekly “Undermine Western Civilization” meetings.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) January 28, 2017
A handful of people, including actor Josh Charles, noted the irony and hypocrisy regarding the passing of this executive order on Holocaust Memorial Day.
— Josh Charles (@MrJoshCharles) January 28, 2017
And then there’s good ol’ Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation fame, not mincing words.
Dear @realDonaldTrump ,
Shove it up your ass.
— Nick Offerman (@Nick_Offerman) January 29, 2017
Some artists and industry people have been responding to the ban in their own creative ways. Music has long been a prime way of connecting different types of people. To remind those of the talent and contributions of people like the ones who are now banned, London producer Kieran Hebden, better known as Four Tet, updated one of his public playlists on Spotify to reflect music from the countries on Trump’s ban list.
Independent film distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories also posted their own resistance playlist on their Musings blog entitled: “Playlist Full of Badass Muslim Musicians To Be Played at Full Volume in Public Spaces”.