How Deep Does Racism Run?
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The United States is being torn asunder by racial hostility. Some of the most provocative outcries and allegations have been heard from the highest political positions in the country. In the name of exciting and inciting his base, the President has thrown his supporters red meat. He has attacked four women of color who—regardless of one’s political persuasion—were criticized and censured for some of their remarks, but not stigmatized because of their race or religion, or country of origin. It is his audience which responded to his speech at a political rally this week by exclaiming “send them home”. He—despite his pathetic effort at denial—reveled in their enthusiasm to his remarks. Trump began it and the audience sustained it.
Racial attacks have no place in American politics. The absence of any Republican leader prepared to challenge the President is appalling. It is not only an outrage for a 21st Century democracy but a direct affront to American values. (It is hard to understand how some of the leading GOP officials actually can sleep at night being affiliated with President Trump.) Where is the party’s previous presidential nominee Senator Mitt Romney?
Outside of the Black Church clergy and leaders, where are America’s religious leaders? Specifically, do Jewish clergy not remember the 1930’s? President Trump invokes the messages of the Thirties where the likes of Father Charles Coughlin and Charles Lindbergh railed out against Jews. It was 1939 when the ship, St, Louis, was turned away by President Roosevelt and sent back to Germany with the 937 (900 of whom were Jews) passengers and a crew of 231, many of whom awaited death in concentration camps. Today’s President takes Roosevelt’s decision one step further. Trump tweeted that he wanted to send back not refugees seeking asylum, but American citizens and Members of Congress.
Some of the so-called four Members of the House who constitute the “pack” have also made anti-Semitic remarks for which their own party rebuked them. They are in the midst of their own political confrontation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concerning the future direction of the Democratic Party; but there is a dialogue on-going.
Those offended by the views of Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley, and Talib, need to address the voters in the districts which elected them. The voters in NY, MS, MN, and MI elected these women of color to Congress. Diatribe and vitriol will not change their politics, but dialogue, conversations, and election might. The Democratic Party Leadership has not eliminated their internal squabbling, but they admit the problem and are struggling to address it.
The President has once again stirred up America’s long racist history and re-injected it into American politics. It is consistent with the attitudes and policies which the Administration has pursued in addressing the illegal immigrant problem.
The crisis at the Mexican border ultimately is a humanitarian one. There are policy differences which need to be addressed, but immigrants are the strength of what made America. Illegal immigration is a problem. Creative thinking needs to be applied to determine realistic solutions, not grandiose slogans and wholesale condemnation, which at its heart is racist.