Wednesday, September 2, 2015

America Is Too Great For Donald Trump's Hate-Mongering

This is not who we are as Americans.

Trump's just warming up to full-fledged rage. Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
Israeli columnist Chemi Shalev recently drew an interesting parallel between Donald Trump's current anti-Latino/Hispanic propaganda and European anti-Semitic propaganda of a century ago.  

I disagree with his column’s larger thesis.  But this example of old European anti-Semitic propaganda he included got me thinking about the fear-mongering propaganda we hear increasingly here in the U.S.:

    The crimes committed by the Russian Hebrews are generally those against property. They are burglars, firebugs, pickpockets and highway robbers, when they have the courage, but though all crime is their province, pocket-picking is the one to which they seem to take most naturally.  Among the most expert of all the street thieves are Hebrew boys under sixteen, who are being brought up to lives of crime.

Now ask yourself: haven't we heard A LOT of similar rhetoric recently? 
  • Long on frightening, sweeping generalizations about the “criminal nature” of entire populations of people.
  • Short on verified or verifiable data supporting the generalizations, because it doesn’t exist.
  • Embellished with a few stories of horrifically violent people who happened to belong to the population, but who in no way represent it.
  • Perhaps even sprinkled with some made-up stats or revisionist history invented by a feverish member of the Aryan Nations on the interwebs (or an equally feverish Ann Coulter.)

This is classic propaganda.  In recent weeks, we've been hearing a lot of it from Donald Trump (and his new BFF/side-kick, Ann Coulter) about Latino and Hispanic undocumented people.  But the Donald Trump Travelling Xenophobia Jamboree didn’t just appear out of nowhere.

We've been hearing similar sweeping generalizations and frightening anecdotes from various folks across the more-conservative side of the spectrum for ages.  Most often, it's been in reference to euphemistically-termed "people of the inner-city" and not-so-euphemistically-termed "Black America.”  But more and more, similar propaganda is being spouted about undocumented folks from south-of-our border.  [Strangely, not so much angst is heard about undocumented Irish, Greeks', or Canadians' criminal shenanigans.]

THIS IS NOT WHO WE ARE AS AMERICANS.  Yes, we’ve had a lot of dark days in our history.  There have been plenty of places and times where we've collectively failed to live up to our ideals.  Some of these failures have even been colossal in scale.  These most egregious failures have usually come when we allowed anxiety and paranoia to triumph over fidelity to our founding principles.  And more often than not, there were egomaniacal loudmouths in the public square, aggressively stoking the embers of fear and hate until a full-fledged fire raged. 

But this is a nation that stands for the proposition that ALL people are created equal, and that God endows us ALL with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  And we are constantly, generation after generation, striving to achieve that goal.  At least that's what we're supposed to be doing.

This is a very dangerous road we’re on.  No matter what our feelings about immigration policy – and I part ways with immigrant advocacy groups frequently – all Americans need to stand united against hate-mongering, fear-mongering, and racist propaganda.  

This trash has no place in the public square in 2015.  The racist propaganda and fear-mongering needs to get out of mainstream elected officials' and candidates' mouths and crawl back to the neo-Nazi echo chambers, where it belongs.

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