Another Bad Week for People of Color

In Minneapolis on October 11, Trump again escalated his anti-immigrant rhetoric. He deliberately chose to go on an ugly offensive, holding his rally in Rep. Ilhan Omar’s backyard. In a city with a large Somali population, he chose to call Omar “a disgrace to our country.”

Previously, he attacked the other minority Democratic congresswomen, prompting his base at rallies to chant, “Send her back!” Trump’s fans have made death threats and mailed explosives to Democrats.

There were other notable actions by Trump this week. There is such a flood of hate mongering, it is hard to keep up with. These include:

—Lowering the immigration threshold to an all-time low of 18,000/year…at the same time as he

—Betrays and abandons our allies, the Kurds, by giving Turkey his blessing to invade Syria and attack the Kurds, as well as pulling our protection for the Kurds.

Krugman’s classic comment:


— In one of the most shocking thing Trump has said of late, was that he hopes the genocide and ethnic cleansing will be done in a “humane way.”

I gave a book talk at the Skidompha Library in Damariscotta on Thursday, and some of the parallels to the US early in the century and to Nazi Germany were unmistakable.

In the 1920’s, isolationism caused the US to reject the League of Nations and participation in international organizations. Then, the restrictions in immigration were targeting  Catholics, Jews, Chinese

Now: Under Trump’s “America First” rubric, we’re withdrawing from long-standing alliances. Trump has even threatened to withdraw from NATO if they don’t pay more.

Then: By 1935 in Germany, Jews were deprived of citizenship. Subsequently, Roma, Blacks, and other “undesirable” non-Aryans also lost citizenship.

Now: We have “Send them back” chants and Trump suggesting dissenters leave country, even if they are naturalized citizens or even were born here.

Then: In the 1930s, Hitler used racism to rise in power.

Now: Trump is doing the same, except targeting “brown” people and Muslims.

Then: Hitler promised to make Germany great again

Now: MAGA

Then: The Nazi’s purged dissenters (as early political prisoners) and called the press the  “LugenPresse” (or lying press)

Now: We have cries of “Fake news and reporters such as Jim Acosta and other mainstream reporters who press for truthful answers are labeled as “enemies.”

There are many more parallels to the rise of fascism and Nazi Germany.

As I made last minute changes to my talk, I had to add this comparison.

In the 1930s, almost a thousand Jewish refugees fleeing Germany on the SS St. Louis were denied entry to the US, Cuba, and Canada. They were forced to return to Europe, where more than a quarter of them were killed.

Then, the Jews were vilified and dehumanized as pests, cockroaches, disease ridden.

Now, asylum seekers are referred to as “illegals,” “rapists,” “toncs,” and “not good people.”

I spoke of the value of immigrants and how they enrich our country. For example, my uncle Sanyi (Alex) was not allowed to study mathematics at the University of Debrecen after the Nuremberg laws restricted entry in many professions to 6%, the proportion of Jews in the population. He was allowed to study law. After the war, awaiting immigration, he became a watch repairman. In the US, he became an orthotist, like his brother. In the late 1950’s, he returned to studying  mathematics. Finally, he worked as a computer scientist in the Jet Propulsion Lab’s Space Program.

LA Times Headline
Sanyi retires from JPL at 75

While Alex is perhaps the poster child in our family, all of them who came here went on to reinvent themselves and have full, productive lives, enriching their communities.

Trump also proposed a means test for asylum seekers this week, that would have only allowed those with relative wealth entrance. He is unaware of the moral imperative to accept others, nor history of American values, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty:

 

 

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

-Emma Lazarus

We must stop the racism and othering, and recognize that supporting asylum seekers wishing to settle in the US is not only the just thing to do, but will enrich our country.

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