An Open Letter to Melinda Byerley

An Open Letter to Melinda Byerley

Dear Melinda,

On November 7, you posted a Twitter thread in which you criticize “rich tech immigrants” for “trying to turn America into the caste system” and call for them to leave America.

Normally, I wouldn’t respond to this sort of unhinged Twitter drivel, but it was hard not to take your words personally. I am a proud Indian-American; my parents immigrated to the United States from India in the 1990s, settled down in New Jersey, and endured hardship as they worked to create a better life for my sister and I. The least I can do to honor their sacrifice is rebut your foolish claims.

You laughably identify yourself as an advocate for “Diversity in Tech” in your Twitter bio, but your tweets show what you really mean: diversity only to the extent that people subscribe to liberal orthodoxy.

Let’s begin with your first tweet: “Wtf is up with immigrants who come to silicon valley, get rich, and suddenly decide that America needs less taxes, education, and social support?”.

To answer your question, “what is up” with these immigrants is that they are exercising their basic political rights as US citizens. There’s nothing wrong with high-achieving Americans supporting causes they believe in. This might be surprising to you, but not every rich immigrant is going to mindlessly regurgitate progressive fantasies. Those with heterodox political beliefs should be debated rationally, not branded “parasites” as you chose to do. It’s high time we stop hating wealthy immigrants for their well-deserved success.

Your next claim, that immigrants are “trying to turn America into the caste system/apartheid system [they] came from”, is even more problematic. What’s your evidence to back this up? I’m guessing you have none. In many cases, immigrants come to America to escape oppressive social structures, not replicate them once they get here. I have never met someone who described their reasons for immigrating to America as trying to create a new caste system. Your presumption that immigrants are part of some vast conspiracy to undermine American values is ludicrous. We spend a lot more time worrying about facing xenophobia from people like you than thinking about how to create a caste-divided America.

Next, you write that “You came here under a system. It made you rich. Now you dislike it. It’s bullshit”. There’s a reason why the immigrants you despise became wealthy, and it’s not the “system”. While educational scholarships and other parts of the American basic structure certainly contributed to their success, immigrants worked hard and persevered in the face of many challenges to succeed. In many cases, these hardships have given immigrants unique insight into what could make America better for future generations. Immigrants have every right to contribute to the ideas marketplace and propose policy ideas, even if you don’t like them.

That brings me to what I believe is your most ignorant claim of all, which is that non-white immigrants are “particularly determined to stop their children from learning the history of race in America.” Again, you make a sensational claim without any supporting evidence. In fact, Asian-Americans are more likely than any other minority in America to have faced racial slurs and jokes, and my parents always encouraged me to learn more about America’s complicated history.

But don’t expect every successful non-white immigrant to sign their kids up for critical race theory classes and tell them to check their model minority privilege. Most are too busy creating jobs and contributing to the American economy to worry about whether their children are being properly indoctrinated with ideas from fringe corners of academia. These immigrant families are often quick to catch on to fictitious narratives about how evil or oppressive the United States is -- and they reject them.

Your proposed solution for all these grievances is that successful immigrants, or what you call “strip miners”, should just pack up and “go home”. Sorry to disappoint you, but we are not going anywhere. Immigrants will continue to view America as a place with abundant economic opportunity and where anything is possible. Ambitious engineers, scholars, and future business leaders from India and other countries will continue moving to America’s economic hubs. They will continue generating wealth and making important contributions to all corners of American life, from business to public policy to the arts.

Your hateful words prove that racism and anti-immigrant fervor are alive and well in the ranks of the progressive left. When a “diversity consultant” of all people is the one to demonstrate this, the absurdity of where we are as a society is obvious. Moving forward, I hope that you build on your initial apology and reevaluate your claims. Rationally engaging with the immigrants you denigrated and taking the time to understand their positions would be a good first step. I would be more than happy to make some introductions.


Neelay Trivedi

Executive Editor, The Stanford Review

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