Category Archives: Immigration

The Proximity Problem

So, how can a President of the United States of America spout racist spittle in his Twitter account while pompously announcing he hasn’t a racist bone in his body? And, how could sentient being believe that?

Anyone who isn’t white spots the hypocrisy immediately. Many who are white find his statement compatible with their own feelings.  It doesn’t take too long in life to hear someone white say precisely the same thing and to note the speaker believes it.  The trick, and the proximity problem, is in the word that all too often follows the clause…”but.”

I’m not racist…but they just don’t behave like us. Or, they don’t work like we do, or they don’t raise their children up like we do, or they don’t take care of their property like we do…And so on.  Such tried and tired lines passed from generation to generation create the basis for institutional racism, the foundation for everything from redlining to school segregation.  Library shelves are full of volumes and tomes explaining racism. Kitchen tables are full of conversations and comments which perpetuate it.

Much of the President’s unpalatable rhetoric doesn’t leave a bad aftertaste if the listener is inclined to be uncomfortable in racially or culturally mixed groups.  There’s the key word, “comfort.”  Recall the studies from years back that concluded whites were comfortable in mixed neighborhoods until a minority population started to exceed 10%?  Now, think in terms of a head nodding member of Trump’s audience reacting to a racist comment with an interior “yeah, I don’t have any problems with ‘them’ I just don’t want too many of them in the school, the neighborhood, or my city.”  Translation: I don’t want to be in proximity.

Proximity is challenging.  Segregation allowed generations of white Americans to live with the benefits of non-white work, but without the necessity of contact or proximity.   It’s probably no accident that the gun-sense activists of Parkland made common cause with their cohorts from predominantly minority population neighborhoods.  Proximity is less problematic after a couple of generations of integration?  Proximity is easier when there is a cause greater than personal comfort.

Trump offers comfort to the Discomfited.  Uneasy with an African American President?  How about a white male one? Was that African American President making you feel uncomfortable because he understood The Talk parents have with teenage sons?  The more uncomfortable with members of minority groups, the more comfortable with Trump! To admit he is racist is to admit to one’s own biases.  Racism is white supremacist hood wearing cross burning radicals…but the President isn’t one of those, therefore I’m not racist either?  No, skip the hood, but he certainly makes noises compatible with those unfortunate souls when he uses words like invasion, infestion, and his officials appear on television rewording the plaque on the Statue Of Liberty.

He’s upset at being branded a racist, as would all those who emphatically declare themselves free of racism in all portions of their skeletons.  The solution is simple to say, complex to implement: Get used to the proximity.  A solution made all the more difficult when a significant percentage of the country doesn’t want to live, work, play, or pray near those unlike themselves.  Those uncomfortable with the unfamiliar,  who are fearful of the implications for their status.  We ignore them at our peril, and their residual racism causes the resurgence of our proximity problem for each generation. However, like a disease which refuses to be eradicated, changes and attacks the body politic in each new generation, inoculation is possible.  Acquaintance assists. Proximity helps. Tolerance cures.

 

Comments Off on The Proximity Problem

Filed under Immigration, Politics, racism

It’s Been A Long Time Coming: Trump wasn’t built in a day.

The Mueller Hearing, July 24, 2019, laid bare the current differences between the modern renditions of Republicans and Democrats in a stark flash illuminating what’s been going on since 1964 (at least) and why there are no silver bullets to resolve the Constitutional issues.  The hearings took 7 hours, the problems it highlighted are freighted with 65 years worth of history. Viewed from this perspective, Trump isn’t the disease, he’s the major symptom.

If there’s a handy label for the current political shape of the Republican Party I’m not aware of it, but what we are looking at is an amalgam of revitalized Dixiecrats and long range planning by the National Association of Manufacturers as described in the 1971 memo authored by Lewis Powell.

There are more than enough tomes on both the rise of corporate power, and the insidious spread of racist political foundations, to fill library shelves.  All we need do is see the spectacle of GOP apologists for Russian interference in our elections as another mile marker on an already paved road.

Part of the pavement is composed of the vestiges of those states where the decision in Brown v Board of Education was not well received, and those states where the battle flag went back up when it was discovered that they really were going to have to integrate their schools and public accommodations.  Does anyone believe it’s an accident Senate Majority Leader McConnell is jamming through judicial appointments of those who are hedging on whether Brown was correctly decided?  Does anyone cling to the fiction that the anti-abortion culture war alliances don’t trace back to school desegregation orders? Does anyone doubt the blatant racism of Stephen Miller’s immigration proposals?

Trump hasn’t changed the racist nature of modern Republican political ideology, he’s just said the quiet part out loud.

The other part of the mixture recalls the days when the National Association of  Manufacturers decided to move their headquarters to Wasington DC.  The road map was drafted in Lewis Powell’s 1971 memo, the “American economic system is under broad attack.” Powell advocated a long term, gradual but steady, advance of corporate interests.  It wasn’t too difficult to combine the residual McCarthyism with the call for “less government” to achieve the unlikely scene of so-called populist ultra-conservatives avidly supporting a racist president against the Commies and Socialists in a hearing room; it just took time and patience.

Please give latitude to my cynicism. Impeaching Trump would be a very constructive activity, but it won’t solve the problem. The GOP will simply find another, possibly less boorish, model who will be all the more dangerous for being better able to keep his (And it will be his) thumbs and mouth under control, one who won’t say the quiet part at decibel levels associated with aircraft engines.

The better view may be to take a longer approach, and one which draws from their own playbook. Hit’em where they think they’re strongest. In this instance, hit Trump on the very issue he intends to ride to a 2020 victory…immigration.

He’s already doubled, perhaps tripled, down on the racism embedded in his approach as he angles toward a base turnout election.  When an opponent is digging himself into a hole, hand him a larger shovel.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to brand Trump’s policies as racist, which they patently are. Nor should it be too much effort to clothe him in these soiled philosophical garments. “Yes, the stock market is doing well, but what are we to make of the fact that some children are being detained away from their parents in squalid conditions?”  Some message discipline required, but if Democrats can tag every interview with a brief inquiry about children in cages, US citizens being detained, or why the Republicans won’t discuss DACA recipients, the frog may start to boil?

Then we can add the health care issue. There is no GOP plan to replace the ACA.  Add one measure of immigration attack (Why won’t the GOP listen to Dreamers? Why are children locked away?) to one measure of specifically what is your plan to cover those with pre-existing medical conditions?  What is your plan to provide maternity care? Mental health and addiction abatement care? Why can’t we address gun violence as a question of public health and safety?

As once members of the left avoided the term liberal because the right wing talkers besmeared it, let right wingers know how the racist, heartless, radical label grates?

We could strengthen and broaden the Democratic message, and take an opportunity to begin a longer phased approach to reclaiming the social contract binding citizens to their government.  Patience. Discipline. Progress. It’s possible. A pendulum swings both directions.

 

Comments Off on It’s Been A Long Time Coming: Trump wasn’t built in a day.

Filed under conservatism, family issues, Gun Issues, Health Care, Immigration, Politics, racism

Please don’t mistake what’s left behind after the elephants for the parade.

I’ve been amused at the number of pundits attempting to provide context and analysis in the wake of Trump’s racist spewage this past week. Several appear to have confused the elephant debris with an actual parade.

Let’s begin with two commonly accepted premises. First, Mr. Trump is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, perhaps he’s the quintessential “taco short of a combo plate.” (H/T the great Ann Richards)  Secondly, he’s impulsive and undisciplined.  There have been more than enough whines from the executive office concerning how his tweets send underlings scampering to catch up to drive home that conclusion.  Based on these two notions the following conclusion isn’t too difficult to reach.

There is no strategy. There is no plan. What we are witnessing are staffers, deputies, and media stenographers, attempting to make sense of the obvious nonsense. Uncertain of this? Then consider the usual timeline, and the latest debacle fits into the pattern of obvious nonsense.

Initially, Trump is Trump. Boorish, illiterate, illogical, and racist. Then he lies. He didn’t do it, whatever it was, or someone made him do it, whomever they were. Out come the Explainers. The president really didn’t, actually couldn’t, or  truly was misrepresented by the Evil Press. Unfortunately for the Explainers there is video or a nice screen shot or two. Translation: The elephant has defecated in the street again and the Explainers are deployed with their brooms and dust pans.

Now that the debris is swirling the secondary Explainers launch. What, they pontificate all over my television screen, does this mean?  The easiest thing would be to park at square one and conclude the President is boorish, illogical, not very bright, and a racist. Surely not, the chatterati opine, there must be more. There must be strategy. Tactics? Ramifications? Implications? Proximate and approximate results? Why does there have to be anything?

After all is said, and said, and said it’s not the President who provides all this icing on the inedible cake, it’s the punditry. It’s a brilliant move to fire up his base? A strategy to drive the narrative away from his real agenda and take up air time? A deflection to establish foils in the advance of the Democratic nomination?  Or, how about it was a boorish, stupid, racist thing to say and the President said it. Period.

Combine Trump statements with cable news shows desperately trying to fill air time in the cheapest possible way, adding in more than a dash of polling information of questionable utility, and we get 24 hours of the same 12 hours of the same 15 minutes of what might pass for news.  The remainder is the culmination of the Explainers’ efforts to remove or re-pile the waste.

Enter the Commentators.  They follow the Explainers and shove the story past that “stupid thing to say” point with personal, anecdotal, and if we aren’t lucky, poll driven analysis.  Polls can be informative, but we’re getting altogether too many without seeing the actual questions respondents were being asked, and without notice given that some results have remarkable margins of error.

Commentators can be insightful; however, if people are too willing to allow those analysts to direct their own thinking, then we’re not using our own noodles. Each commentary is pedicated on the analyst’s own premises, previous assertions, or perspectives.  Please let us not confuse how the elephant leavings are stacked or strewn with the parade route.

An endless loop can be manufactured by having the President issue one of his half hearted, half arsed, semi-non-apology-apologies. Off they go again! The pile, the Explainers, the Commentators; a new configuration for the piles, followed immediately by the Explainers and the Commentators.

Let’s do try to simplify matters. It will often come to pass that a stupid, boorish, racist, man will say boorish, racist, things. There’s only one answerable question: Do you agree with him or not?  That sums up the parade.

1 Comment

Filed under Immigration, Politics, racism, Republicans

Stop Being Surprised, He’s A Racist

The erstwhile president of the United States of  America managed a good trick. Combine 1950s racism with 1950s white supremacist sentiments.  Not bad for one Twitter storm.

He blended the “Go back to Africa” taunt with “those outside agitators are Commies,” (abetted by his little minion Sen. Lindsey Graham). This harkens back to one of the old Redemptionist themes, “all our darkies were happy until those Yankee abolitionist agitators came along.” The updated version was all our N-words were happy before those outside agitators from the north started meddling in our state’s rights.  The current version generalizes opposition to white supremacist views…those outside agitators are Commies and un-American.  Repetition doesn’t improve the sentiment.

But why does anyone pretend to be shocked? He espoused the blatantly racist birtherism plague. He came down the escalator to tell us about “those” drug dealers and rapists, and said he couldn’t get a fair trial before that Mexican judge (a native of Indiana.)  He said there were some “very fine people” among those chanting the Nazi slogans in Charlottesville.  And to put some icing on the cake, his supporters are whining that it’s racist to call out his racism. (See Brit Hume)

He didn’t so much respond to reporters questions today about his racist tweets, as he talked past them, and over the reporters who pressed on.  His isn’t the most powerful voice on the lawn or in the room as it is the most rude and persistent. There’s a distinction. A distinction lost on him.

Senator Angus King recalled lawyer Robert Welch, “have you no decency…at long last have you no decency.” Perhaps it is telling that Senator McCarthy tried the same interruptive, rude, response during that infamous hearing. It was the beginning of his end.

Comments Off on Stop Being Surprised, He’s A Racist

Filed under Congress, House of Representatives, Immigration, Politics, racism

GOP: Stop Desecrating The Flag

I’m tired of GOP complaints about anyone showing disrespect to the American flag. Full out tired. And I’ll remain that way until they stop advocating immigration policies which are a desecration of that banner and what it stands for.

It is a desecration of the flag to fly it above a facility in which children are mistreated. Period.  Please don’t try to tell me “these aren’t our children,” because while they are in our custody they are ours. They are our responsibility.  If a youngster is too young to understand when and how to use a toothbrush — then teach him.  There is NO excuse for not providing adequate staffing and supplies for children to maintain basic hygiene. There is no excuse for not providing supervision and medical examinations, or waiting until medical issues are serious before providing care. No excuse whatsoever.  And, to attach a flag to the wall overlooking this kind of catastrophe is inexcusable in itself. It is a desecration.

It is a desecration to fly a flag over a building in which children are held without adequate food, bedding, recreation, education, and legal representation.  It is a desecration to fail to provide an adequate number of translators and other assistants for them in service to a deliberately cruel and racist policy.  It is a desecration to put a flag in the immediate vicinity on any activity which is in flagrant violation of international norms, morals, and standards for the treatment of our fellow human beings.  Think for a moment of a person in authority referring to a refugee as a “tonk” and dehumanizing an individual in our name under our flag. It’s a desecration.

It is a desecration of the flag for it to stand in a court room wherein a four year old is alone before a judge in a pseudo-“hearing” on his or her status as a refugee to this country.  This is not a hearing, not a judicial proceeding, it is a travesty.

It is a desecration of the flag for it to fly over a for-profit facility over which there is inadequate supervision.  Yes, say the contractors we will take billions in public funds but we will not allow random inspections; we will not allow oversight by the Congressional members who want to view how  tax dollars are being spent.  This, too, is a travesty.  The flag ought not fly over travesties.

Should a flag hang in a building in which hearings are held without a translator being made available? Without competent legal assistance?”  I pledge allegiance to a flag but only if it flies over people who look and sound just like me, and think the way I do?  This is a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, nation of believers and non-believers; black, white, brown, and every shade in between. The flag is broad enough to cover us all.  If it flies freely and proudly it will do so over all of us.

So, every time some member of the GOP remarks about some athlete (or anyone else for that matter) desecrating the flag — please note, the Stars and Stripes defeated the Stars and Bars.  The flag of unity and fraternity defeated the cause of division, treason, and its racist emblem.  The Stars and Stripes should hang proudly wherever there is liberty and justice for all.  Anything less is a desecration.

Comments Off on GOP: Stop Desecrating The Flag

Filed under Immigration, Politics

So, what is it?

Citizen Trump’s pronouncements on the situation for migrants on our southern border are confusing. For example,  are the conditions so dire they will be a deterrent to other people from Central America? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, are they just fine, and the press — heretofore denied access — should all flock to the Rio Grande for photographs? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

Are there children unwashed? Without toothbrushes? Without medical care? Without clean clothing?  Because… they don’t want showers? They don’t know how to brush their teeth? They are better off here than they were at home? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)  Or, if the conditions are bad enough people won’t want to subject their children to this treatment?  Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

The President has or has not seen the border detention facilities? He said he’d seen the facilities and everything was fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, he hasn’t actually visited any of the detention centers, but he knows everything is just fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

There are, frankly speaking, nothing but mixed messages coming from this incompetent administration regarding the conditions in which adults and children are being held.  Further, while we’re trying to find out what is happening in supposedly short term processing centers, we’re not asking enough questions about what’s going on in the TrumpCamps.

This morning the administration is touting improvement at CBP centers, saying only 26 children remain in custody. Good, but of those no longer counted among the border detainees, how many are reunited with family? How many are still separated from family members?

We can, and should be, more specific when asking about those youngsters who’ve been assigned to places like the Homestead facility.  Where are the adolescent girls held? Under what conditions? With what kind of supervision and assistance?  Do all the youngsters have immediate access to legal representation? To education? To health and recreation programs? Are the children under the supervision of adults who aren’t likely to refer to them by using insulting slang terms?

Unfortunately, we’re not likely to get definite answers, and those we do get will be contradictory and confusing.  This cannot continue.

Comments Off on So, what is it?

Filed under Immigration, Politics

I haven’t forgotten you: Immigration Irritation

There’s always an excuse, and mine is a matter of set up, sight issues, and just plain getting out of the habit. There’s also the notion that given the current administration there’s a real potential for writing the same post every day. But, enough about me. There are some vent valves I need to turn on.

First, there’s one story now. The president wants immigration to be the topic, and I’d happily oblige.  It’s the president playing macho-man, “tough on those brown skinned interlopers” who would “infest” us, who don’t arrive speaking fluent English. Who make “real” Americans feel uncomfortable.   It’s racism with a side of nativism served up to those hungry for someone to blame for the banality of their own lives. Served up to those whose sense of self worth is riddled with such weakness they cannot abide any circumstance in which they are outsiders. Why else their continuous whine about people speaking another language?

Ever wonder at the capacity of white English speakers to assume that if someone is speaking another language then it must be because the non-English speakers are mocking them?  It doesn’t add more than 10 seconds to a phone call to ask if the caller would like to press 2 for Spanish. Why the whining? That this same whine threads back to German, Irish, Eastern European, Italian, Jewish, and every other previous migration is lost on the Great Discomfited.  “Others” make the weak feel uncomfortable, and they hold it as their right not to be the least bit disturbed.

However, when easing one group’s discomfort comes at the price of perpetuating cruelty, then that price tag is entirely too steep. The president came right out with it. Don’t want to be caged in squalor? Separated from your children? Stuffed into inadequate facilities and then detained indefinitely? Stay away (you’re making me uncomfortable.)

The weak kneed racism is patently obvious. Scuttle the DACA program guidelines.  End the incentives for non-citizens to join the US military. Threaten to deport non-citizen family members of serving members of the Armed Forces. Insert a citizenship question into the Census.  Evict tenants if one family member is undocumented.  Change the asylum process from civil to criminal. Withhold interpretation from those who need it during legal proceedings. Advocate detaining asylum seekers indefinitely.  The intent has been announced repeatedly.  The cruelty is the point.  Stay away, you’re making me uncomfortable.

Sorry little fragile flowers. If life were to be entirely comfortable there would be no mosquitos and house flies.  There are 330+ million people in this great nation, and many of them speak Mandarin, Spanish, French, and Korean. Get over yourself. The odds they are talking about you in the supermarket might be a million to one. At least.

There are no serious calls for open borders. That’s a right wing racist talking point extrapolated from questionable premises into fantastical conclusions. It’s solely designed to increase discomfort, and hence fear.  We are not being invaded. That, too, is a right wing racist talking point.  Get past these.

We are either Reagan’s city on the hill, or we aren’t. We listen carefully to his remarks on his last speech from the White House or we don’t.

Comments Off on I haven’t forgotten you: Immigration Irritation

Filed under civil liberties, Immigration, Politics