The Nevada Independent article on the Nevada Senate primary race indicates how this might be a referendum on Donald Trump if Perpetual Candidate Danny Tarkanian has his way. However, the portion of Trumpism to which Tarkanian the Lesser is clinging most vociferously is one of the least attractive — good old fashioned racism and xenophobia.
“He also laid out his priority on immigration policy, saying he supported the president’s effort to build a wall along with border with Mexico, and wanted to see an end to chain migration, expressed opposition to the concept of birthright citizenship and expansion of the E-verify system used to root out undocumented workers from the labor pool.
“I do not think that anyone who came to our country illegally should be provided with the greatest gift our country has to offer — citizenship,” he said.” [NVIndy]
There are several items to unpack from this mashup of racist rhetoric. And it is racist. Do I see any reference to securing the northern border? No. This is all about that southern border, the one we share with Mexico. The one over which at the present time we have a net zero immigration from Mexico. However, as we all know this argument isn’t about net migration statistics — it’s about the US becoming entirely too brownish. Too many phone centers offering instructions and information in Spanish, too many Spanish speaking people in the supermarket, too many Hispanic people holding jobs, having children, buying houses, and sending their kids to school. Too many monolingual white Americans “feeling uncomfortable.”
One of the inferences deserving of additional notice is the concept Tarkanian introduces of the Gift (of living in America) or (applying for American citizenship.) There isn’t much difference between this concept and the less attractive version, “I got mine now you try to get yours sucker.”
Lost in this version of the immigration issue is the notion that immigrants bring their gifts to the United States. Einstein was an immigrant. Accepted not every immigrant is an Einstein, however, if a person happens to be putting yogurt on the breakfast cereal or in the blender with some fruit — perhaps a nod to Hamdi Ulukaya might be in order. He’s the Kurdish ex-sheepherder who popularized Chobani. Using Google today? Thank another immigrant Sergey Brin. And by the way, should one be clad in the most popular American article of clothing — denim jeans — thank another immigrant Levi Strauss. At this point one the right wingers bluster something like “we’re not talking about those kinds of people, we’re talking about — you know, the ‘others.”
There are at least a couple of ways to perceive this rebuttal. First, as a bit of good old fashioned racism — “they” are brown skinned, Spanish speakers… and, secondly ‘they’ are ‘working class.’ Read: Less than a bonus to American society. Except as reported last summer and fall, there were vegetables rotting in California fields because of a lack of experienced farm workers to harvest them. Growers offered higher wages, and there were still shortages of farm workers with the expertise to know what to pick and when to pick it. Just a few hours ago the Ventura, CA newspaper was asking a grower about the recent crop report, his response:
“I wouldn’t say that it’s been a good few years, but it’s been OK for us,” Tamai said. “I would just say that it’s getting more difficult (and) it’s getting more expensive to grow in the county. It’s pretty pricey here, and there’s always a fight for enough labor.”
Thus much for the immigrant farm workers, (and retail clerks, and restaurant workers, and hotel maids, and pool service workers, and home health aides, and medical technicians, and delivery drivers….) not being a ‘bonus’ to the American way of life. Unfortunately, the only way to rationalize the idea that immigrants are a “burden’ is to see them as non-productive human beings, instead of witnessing and recognizing the economic value of their work, and appreciating the value of the cultural additions they bring to the country. There’s nothing new about this contemporary rendition of the old Know Nothings who decried Irish and German migrations. The era, the languages, and the clothing may change, but it’s the same old racist rant.
Another point in Tarkanian’s disturbing comments needs a mention: We do have a `14th Amendment,” for a reason. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the State in which they reside..”
That’s all persons. And if Tarkanian the Lesser is calling for the end of the 14th Amendment he might need to come to the understanding this means African Americans, who were to be made citizens not only of the US but also of the states which formerly allowed chattel slavery. There’s usually a stammer or two from advocates of abolishing the 14th Amendment about merely modifying the Amendment when this point come up. Modify it how? The devil is indeed in the details, and one of the details involves how one perceives babies. Advocates of amending the Amendment often cite “abuses relating to anchor babies.” The term itself in inherently offensive.
“Children are widely seen as innocent and pure … yet there is an unspoken racial element there, for children of color are all too often pictured as criminals or welfare cheats in training,” said Haney Lopez, author of “Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked The Middle Class.”
Dog whistle is a term used to describe coded language that means one thing in general but has an additional meaning for a targeted population.
The racializing of children of color is “the ignoble tradition that finds voice in the phrase ‘anchor babies,’ which tarnishes even the tiniest infant with the stain of being one of ‘them,’ the dark and dangerous who invade our society,” Haney Lopez said.” [NBC]
We could do without the epithets like ‘anchor baby’ and related emissions from the racist bull horns. Or we might ask: Does Tarkanian the Lesser think infants are tiny nefarious invaders?”
Sadly, there is an audience for Tarkanian’s racist campaign rhetoric. They are white, they are frustrated, they are racists, and they will applaud his rantings. They will vote for him because he will say aloud what they’ve been thinking — Mexicans are drug dealers (as the Chinese were characterized more than a century ago) — Mexicans are a burden to society (as the Irish were a century and a half ago) — Mexicans are filling up our neighborhoods (like the Eastern European Jews and Italians of the early 20th century).
Racial revanchists have been among us since time out of mind — however, it would be nice to get through one election cycle without a blatant reminder of their proximity.