What Kal Penn calls turning bigotry into love is a powerful force indeed.
The actor flipped a vile social media comment on its head Saturday, using the message of hate to rally support for Syrian refugees to the tune of $50,000.
Penn shared a screenshot of what appeared to be an Instagram comment in which someone said “you don’t belong in this country you fucking joke.” He linked to a crowdfunding page entitled, appropriately enough, “Donating to Syrian Refugees in the Name of the Dude Who Said I Don’t Belong in America.”
The fundraiser was launched one day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order widely banning many Muslim refugees and visitors from the United States. Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely.
“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,” Penn wrote on the crowdfunding page. “We will turn their bigotry, along with the President’s, into love.”
He set a fundraising goal of $50,000 to go to the International Rescue Committee, an aid group that supports refugees. Less than four hours after Penn announced the effort on Twitter and Instagram, contributions had already topped $36,000.
Penn, whose birth name is Kalpen Modi, was born in New Jersey to parents who immigrated to the United States from India. He became famous acting in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle in 2004, and has appeared in many other movies and TV shows. He currently stars in the ABC series Designated Survivor.
From 2009 to 2010, he served as associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement under President Barack Obama’s administration.