“It’s genuinely un-American and cowardly,” Simon says of the order that bars people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. “I am American-Jewish, I have 11 people in my family who were shut out of countries during World War II. So this is personal.”
In response, the former Sun reporter announced on Wednesday that he would host a rally in protest to President Trump’s order and raise funds for groups aiding visa holders and refugees, like ACLU of Maryland, National Immigration Law Center, Tahirih Justice Center, and International Rescue Committee.
“This is a moment in everybody’s life when you imagine what it feels like years from now,” Simon laments. “You will look back and think, ‘What did or didn’t we do to help?’”
The fundraiser, dubbed “City of Immigrants: A Night of Support," will be held on Monday, February 13, at 7 p.m. at Beth Am Synagogue in Reservoir Hill, a location that holds a special place in Simon’s heart.
“I’m a proud member of Beth Am Synagogue,” he says. “Rabbi [Daniel Cotzin] Burg is one of the most committed and socially aware clergy in the city.”
The event is technically free, but attendees must register and provide a donation to one of the above organizations. “This is happening right now, we need to act right now,” says Simon, whose Baltimore-based TV production company, Blown Deadline, will match every donation up to $100,000.
Though the event was thrown together last minute, the lineup includes some big names like House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, local activist Deray McKesson, Baltimore City’s health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, and author and historian Taylor Branch.
“I just thought of some like-minded people,” says Simon. “We just thought, ‘what can we do in Baltimore?’ This dry run of American fascism won’t be tolerated.”
Simon plans to end the evening with the musical stylings of singer-songwriter Steve Earle, who also played parts in The Wire and Treme.
“I always wanted to get Steve Earle, the finest redneck mensch on the planet, inside a working synagogue,” Simon said on Twitter.
Simon also said that he plans to participate in the national general strike on February 17, the Friday before Presidents’ Day. According to the campaign’s website, the strike is in defense of the U.S. Constitution and participants are encouraged to stay home from work or school as well as refrain from spending any money.
“I don’t have a huge staff, but I’ve given them all the day off,” Simon says. “I plan to volunteer picking up trash at Riverside Park. I’ll always be willing to help with this. I would valet cars if they needed it. Anything to help out.”