If a political party doesn’t want to discuss problems like, say, income inequality? Or, gun violence? Or, vote suppression? Or, Heaven Fore-fend, the interference in our elections by a hostile foreign power? — Then what better diversion than Immigration. Better still, the issue can be framed such that it appeals to the lesser little devils of our nature like racism, and thus be an “acceptable” way to insert racism into our national political discourse as if it were a legitimate topic of immediate consideration.
“Immigrants today account for 13.4% of the U.S. population, nearly triple the share (4.7%) in 1970. However, today’s immigrant share remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S.” [Pew]
Thus much for the Huge Wave of Immigrants. It shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice that the immigrants being vilified are coming to our southern border. Those would be the Mexican immigrants, and those from Central American nations — probably the brown versions of human beings, and therefore not likely to assimilate.
“Mexico is the top origin country of the U.S. immigrant population. In 2015, 11.6 million immigrants living in the U.S. were from there, accounting for 27% of all U.S. immigrants. The next largest origin groups were those from China (6%), India (6%), the Philippines (5%) and El Salvador (3%). By region of birth, immigrants from South and East Asia combined accounted for 27% of all immigrants, a share equal to that of Mexico.” [Pew]
Oops, there goes another bit of nativist mythology. Interesting, those crowds bellowing “Build The Wall” aren’t chanting about the 27% of immigrants from South and East Asia. We can drill down on this a bit more:
“About 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year. In 2015, the top country of origin for new immigrants coming into the U.S. was India, with 110,000 people, followed by Mexico (109,000), China (90,000) and Canada (35,000).
By race and ethnicity, more Asian immigrants than Hispanic immigrants have arrived in the U.S. each year since 2010. Immigration from Latin America slowed following the Great Recession, particularly from Mexico, which has seen net losses in U.S. immigration over the past few years.” [Pew]
The “Build The Wall” Gang seem to have missed this point. To miss the point is to base one’s perception of immigration on the situation before 2010. Moreover, the Wall is whatever the audience wants it to be. It’s a real, physical barrier [ChiTrib] [vox] or a metaphor for making white Americans feel like the government is ‘protecting’ them (and their privileges) from incursions by brown people. [Hill] [VanityFair]
What is generally missing from coverage of the administration’s use of the Build The Wall campaign litany is any factual context. It seems sufficient to the corporate media to show clips of the incantations of “Build The Wall” during rallies, without offering any information explaining that the pretext is a vision of American immigration which is at least eight years old, and is currently statistically indefensible.
It’s also readily apparent the corporate media would rather not discuss the elephant in the room — the underpinning of this perspective on immigration is partially if not essentially racist. This shouldn’t be too surprising. This would be the same press that can barely enunciate the word, and applies a host of euphemisms to describe racist remarks as “racially charged,” “distasteful,” “derogatory,” and “racially tinged.” [HuffPo] Again, this would be the same DC press which keeps labeling Trumpian expressions as “counterfactual,” “factual shortcut,” “stretched truth,” and “misleading statement,” [Week] instead of the more accurate old fashioned term — L.I.E. [NYT]
The current occupant of the Oval Office may be right about one thing — his is a made for TV administration, replete with a continuing fountain of daily (hourly?) emissions which fill what might otherwise be dead air. It is, “news” from a fire hose. The problem is that it floods any time which might be spared for context and analysis. Should even tenuous contextualization, analysis, and evaluation be applied the Occupant screams “fake news,” and the chanting rally crowds applaud Dear Leader.
Caveat Emptor. The chanters are investing in a distraction to divert them from the destruction of their own economic well being, and sense of community. Arguing with them doesn’t work; their fact-free bubble of Faux News precludes any analysis in conflict with their fundamental racism. Better to speak to and for those who advocate for a rational and comprehensive immigration policy, and out-vote the ditto-heads who chant “Build The Wall,” and “Amnesty,” whenever it might be suggested that a rational comprehensive policy would be preferable to emotional, irrational, racism.