Home > Uncategorized > The Scapegoating of Latinos Has A Fascist Echo – posted 4/21/2018 and published in the Concord Monitor on 4/29/2018

The Scapegoating of Latinos Has A Fascist Echo – posted 4/21/2018 and published in the Concord Monitor on 4/29/2018

There is a political poster that maybe some readers have seen. At the top, the poster says “Early Warning Signs of Fascism”. Underneath, there is a list of 14 items. These include: disdain for human rights, powerful and continuing nationalism, corporate power protected, and rampant cronyism and corruption.

The item on the list that jumped out at me is “identification of enemies as a unifying cause”. While hatemongering against Muslims is part of the current picture and has been widely commented on, I think President Trump’s scapegoating of Latinos deserves more mention.

As a Jewish person, I have had an uneasy feeling of deja vu. What Trump is saying about Latinos is reminiscent of the kind of things Nazis said about German Jews in the early 1930’s. Trump has been saying these things since the day he announced for President.

After the escalator ride down, who can forget these immortal words:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best, They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people who have lots of problems, and they’re bringing their problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I guess, are good people.”

Right from the start, Trump has tried to correlate crime with Latino immigrants. In the Nazi case, they tried to associate crime with Jews.

From 1923 on, even long before the Nazis came to power, demonization of Jews was integral. it wasn’t just the use of anti-Jewish stereotypes about the Rothschilds and rich Jews. The Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer ran a regular column called Letter Box which featured readers’ accounts of Jewish crimes. Letter Box editors encouraged the reporting of alleged Jewish crimes.

The Nazis publicized phony, manufactured Jewish crimes statistics, a sort of early day fake news. The effort was designed to whip up anti-semitism and build a sense of community identity against a stigmatized group. The Nazi Ministry of Justice ordered prosecutors to forward every criminal indictment against a Jew to the ministry’s press office so it could be publicized. The singling-out of Jewish crime was part of the Nazi hate-building strategy.

Trump has similarly singled out crimes committed by undocumented immigrants as a way to unite his base against a despised out-group. He has consistently said that because of “people that should’ve never been allowed to come over the border, crime is going through the roof”.

Trump has even created a government office to stir up outrage against these immigrants. The office is called Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE). Trump himself has frequently highlighted the immigration records of violent offenders.

At the February 2017 joint session of Congress address, Trump introduced three guests he had invited whose family members had been killed by immigrants living in the United States illegally.

Never before in my lifetime has a leader of our government separated out the crimes of one group (undocumented immigrants) for special denunciation.

You would never know that there is no data that proves undocumented immigrants are a demographic group intrinsically prone to crime. The Washington Post has written that first generation immigrants are actually predisposed to lower crime rates than native-born Americans. The reason is not too hard to figure. Undocumented immigrants have stronger incentives than native-born Americans to stay out of trouble with the law.  If they want to want to stay in the U.S. and work, brushing up against the law is a kiss of death.

Trump’s stereotyping of Latino immigrants is a propaganda ploy designed to bolster the view that Americans are threatened by a foreign horde. The propaganda is a means to justify speeded-up deportations, mass raids, the mis-use of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the shredding of due process.

There is no shortage of troubling Administration actions to match their propaganda. Here is my list:

  • ICE deporting and wrecking the families of many immigrants with lengthy good records
  • immigration officials at the Southern border separating more than 700 children from adults since last October with more than 100 of these under the age of four
  • the Department of Justice imposing absurd numerical quotas on immigration judges that make due process a virtual impossibility
  • U.S. Custom and Border Protection officers failing to consider legitimate asylum claims, returning would-be immigrants to great danger and possible death
  • the un-American and insecurity-inducing treatment of 800,000 young people with DACA protection even though they innocently came to this country as children
  • the unjust pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a racial profiler, who a federal court found guilty of criminal contempt of a court order

It is hardly surprising that hate crimes have spiked against Latinos and Muslims since Trump’s election. That is no accident. It is the result of the racial resentment Trump has unleashed.

Rather than simply bemoaning the immigration enforcement apparatus, I think progressives should advocate that ICE be defunded and abolished. We should advocate that states refuse to cooperate with ICE. We do not need an American Gestapo. ICE has betrayed the public trust by cruelly and wantonly breaking up families.

History, including American history, shows the danger of scapegoating and the need to forcefully oppose it. If scapegoating is not actively opposed, it has the effect of emboldening potential perpetrators of hate crimes. We run the risk of creating a climate where such perpetrators feel their actions are legitimized. The working people of Latin America are not a threat to our national security. We need to vigorously counter the hateful rhetoric Trump is using to isolate and demonize our Latino communities.

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