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Cartoonist uses postcards to battle Trump hate talk

Vishavjit Singh is sending postcards to Donald Trump — and getting help with the messages.

Vishavjit Singh is sending postcards to Donald Trump — and getting help with the messages.

A Sikh cartoonist is out to make Donald Trump’s mailbox great again.

But Trump may not appreciate the pointed messages in postcards being sent to his Fifth Avenue headquarters by Vishavjit Singh. Like the one from a San Francisco critic who wanted “to send you a Trump Turban to help you keep cool in the intense heat you feel in this world.”

Singh, 45, is an artist, writer, New Yorker and performance artist — a.k.a. Captain America in a Turban, an escapade he wrote about for Salon. His background’s diverse, and he thinks diversity itself is worth celebrating. He says he’d been thinking about Trump’s demonizing and divisive remarks, especially about immigrants — and how the hate was being met by critics with another kind of hate.

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“What makes America great is not going back,” Singh insists. “It’s going forward, all of us collectively.”

On a cross-country plane trip to teach cartoon workshops on the West Coast, he got the idea of using the four postcard designs he made for New York Comic Con to send messages to Trump. Unveiling the hashtag #SendSikhNotetoTrump, he issued the call three weeks ago for comments.

He received them. He’s sent 21 finished postcards to the Trump office. About 60 percent of the messages are his own; 40 percent, he estimates, have come from others responding to his campaign. He’s waged it on his web site, Sikhtoons.com, and on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, where he’s @sikhtoons.

Sarcasm abounds, but so does idealism. One card features a drawing of a women’s crisis center with Trump’s name on it. Singh said his wife is designing a homeless shelter, which got him thinking about architectural images.

The front of one of the postcards from the artist who's launched a postcard campaign. 

The front of one of the postcards from the artist who’s launched a postcard campaign. 

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On another mailing, an elementary school student reportedly says, “My dad likes you. Mom does not like you. I am confused. You talk like some kids at my school.”

For postage on the cards, Singh likes to use stamps celebrating the nation’s diverse tradition, like the faces of Maya Angelou and Harvey Milk.

Singh works with those submitting comments to fine-tune them, making them punchier. That’s exactly what happened with a correspondent who recently stayed at a Trump hotel in Florida. Her proposed postcard remarks emphasized how impressed she was with the service she encountered.

She wrote Trump about how great everything at the hotel was, but she noted an irony, Singh says. The message: “Your enterprise is being managed and taken care of by immigrants you are criticizing on a daily basis.”

So far the correspondence is one-way. “I have not heard from anybody in the Trump organization,” Singh says. “I don’t know if they have made it to him.”

The Trump campaign’s response when it comes to the postcards? “No comment,” Hope Hicks, Trump’s campaign spokeswoman, told the News.

One message to the GOP candidate: imagining a Trump-built women’s crisis center.SENDSIKHNOTETOTRUMP

One message to the GOP candidate: imagining a Trump-built women’s crisis center.

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For his part, Singh has a rule for contributors that’s surprising in the middle of a heated political campaign: be courteous. Although he admits he’s okay with “edgy and cheeky” remarks.

“You can respond to anger without being angry,” Singh says. “And in fact I think it’s important to respond to that anger without anger.”

That emphasis on kindness and compassion, he says, is rooted in the Sikh faith he practices. Mentioning also the Buddhist and Sufi traditions, the artist says he’s drawn to the notion that while “we might have different journeys,” the bottom line is that everyone is connected. And everyone has seeds of light and darkness.

“I like to break stereotypes in every sense of the word,” he says.

The U.S.-born Singh says he’s learned a lot just by wearing a turban on the streets of New York. “I’m kind of on the front lines of being a target of a lot of people’s fear and ignorance and whatever the anxiety of the moment is,” he says. “For me, of course that’s frustrating.”

But it’s also, he stresses, given him the opportunity to take tense moments and change them. He’s been harassed for the way he looks. But he’s also stopped and talked to the attackers about how they don’t really know anything about him.

cmoore@nydailynews.com

Tags:
donald trump ,
2016 election ,
racial injustice

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