Although he insists that he hasn’t.
Trump is not Hitler; I am not Neville Chamberlain; i’m a passionate Never-Trumper who wants to solve a problem that is empowering white nationalism everywhere
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) June 22, 2018
Only his solution to that problem of white nationalism is to surrender and give them what they want.
So give him his fucking wall. He won the election. He is owed this. It may never be completed; it may not work, as hoped. But it is now the only way to reassure a critical mass of Americans that mass immigration is under control, and the only way to make any progress under this president. And until the white working and middle classes are reassured, we will get nowhere. Don’t give it to him for nothing, of course. It should come with a full path to citizenship for all DACA immigrants, as in the proposed deal in January that Trump first liked and then reneged on, under Miller’s toxic influence. But it should also go bigger: a legislative fix for Flores; massive new funding for detention facilities, humane family-friendly housing, and, above all, much more money for the immigration legal system, now completely overwhelmed by asylum cases. If Democrats can show they want to deal with the humanitarian problem as a whole, and are willing to compromise on the wall, they’ll be in a much stronger position going forward than in the recent past.
He is not “owed” anything. Trump has a big job to do, running the country, which he is not doing — if anything he owes us, especially since he and his family and his cronies see their position of power as an opportunity to enrich themselves. He is supposed to be engaged in public service, and that is most definitely not what he is doing.
Isn’t Sullivan remarkably cavalier about throwing tens of billions of dollars on a wall that won’t work, throwing it away as a sop to the masses? Why not instead spend billions of dollars on improving educational opportunities for immigrants, helping them to integrate better into the culture here, for instance? Because that won’t appease that “critical mass of Americans” who’ve been encouraged by the propaganda machines of Trump and Fox News to settle for nothing less than punching down hard on the brown people.
And to think that once you give the bigots the great big wall they’re shrieking for, they’ll calm down and decide they’ve gone far enough is ludicrous — it betrays a total failure to understand how humans work. Give them a victory, and their cultlike devotion to Maximum Leader will increase, and they’ll demand more. Can you imagine Trump saying a nice “thank you” for his beautiful wall, then sitting back, reading the Constitution, and deciding to buckle down to the paperwork and minutiae of his job? No. He’ll start looking for another cause he can use to inflame his base, and win cheers for him and rage against the Democrats at future rallies. Sullivan is a man utterly clueless about human nature, who then engages in stupid punditry about human nature. He is blinded by his biases.
And then there’s this cack-handed nonsense.
Preventing illegal immigration is not racist, not white supremacist, not bigotry; it’s integral to any democracy functioning; it’s a core function of government.
Slowing massive demographic change is not fascist; it's conservative.
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) June 22, 2018
What that says to me is that Sullivan sees conservativism as nothing more than a nicer word for fascism. Fine with me; I agree. Massive demographic change is happening, it always has, and the question is…will you resist until you break and die, or do you adapt and become something new? Deny reality, or grow and change? This has been the story of human history for thousands of years, and conservatives have always opposed, often violently, the inevitable change that is always going to overwhelm them. It’s that transition from old guard defending the status quo to the status quo fighting to oppress change that marks the shift from conservative to fascist, nothing more.
But here’s the bit where I started to see red.
If all this sounds like appeasing a bigot, I understand. But better to see it, I think, as a way to address the legitimate concerns, fears, and worries of a large number of Americans who feel like strangers in their own land, and whose emotional response to that has been to empower the white nationalist right.
It was one little word.
“legitimate concerns, fears, and worries.”
What fucking LEGITIMATE concerns are you talking about? The anti-immigrant hysteria fomented by the Right? The lies about how “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists”? Shall we discuss lies about how Germany is experiencing a crime wave committed by immigrants, when the German crime rate is the lowest it’s been in decades? Shall we have another White House photo op in which victims of crime by immigrants can misrepresent the threat? (I’d like to see the photo op in which Trump greets the families of people murdered by the police — it would be larger, but too many of those families would be black and would make the Republicans uncomfortable).
I feel like a stranger in my own land. I was brought up in a country that educated me to think that there were these important American ideals, like liberty and equality, that we were a nation of immigrants, this great melting pot where we welcomed the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, that Americans fought and died to bring freedom to others. These were all lies. This country was built on the backs of slaves over the corpses of the native peoples, and we fought wars to open markets so that we could exploit others.
Revealing that reality is what drives those Americans to be concerned, afraid, and worried — they want to pull the blanket back over their heads, and if that requires more death and persecution and children thrown into cages, so be it. Those are not the Americans I want to make happy, though. Those are the comfortable burghers who need to be dragged into the public square and confronted with the fruits of their labors.
And what about the people who are fleeing to America? They aren’t criminals. They tend to be families who are trying to escape desperate, intolerable conditions in their home countries — conditions that are often a consequence of meddling and disruption by a certain Northern nation that prefers weak client states that serve its economic need. Read about the actual makeup of these migrants from people who study them. These migrants are the victims of gang violence, and are people with a fucking legitimate need to move to new opportunities, even to a country where official policy hates them and where they will be beaten and imprisoned and separated from their children.
For Central American residents, control of these gangs over their neighborhood likely means a weekly or monthly extortion payment simply for the right to operate a business or live in their territory. The price for failing to provide this money is death. All it takes is a neighbor or nearby shopkeeper to be gunned down for failing to pay the adequate fees, and it becomes clear that the only options are pay or flee. Parents may also send their children to the United States or take them north as the gangs try to recruit them into their activities: Boys of eleven years old (or younger) may be recruited as lookouts and teenage girls may be eyed for becoming the members’ “girlfriends.” Older women who date or at one point dated a gang member can become trapped and unable to escape the violence, with partner-violence a driving migratory factor for many women.
While the gang activities and gender-based violence can empty out neighborhoods, they are not the only factors driving outward migration from these cities. Across the region’s larger cities, LGBT migrants are fleeing discrimination and violence. At a recent trip to a migrant shelter in southern Mexico, I listened as the shelter’s director recounted the story of a father and teenage son who had fled Guatemala City only a few weeks prior: the father was afraid that his son would be killed for coming out as gay. It is not an idle threat. Since 2009, 264 LGBT people in Honduras have been murdered. The La 72 shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco even has a building in the shelter dedicated to providing specialized housing for LGBT migrants.
Our policy seems to be to stem the trickle of migration by making the US even more cruel and inhospitable than a Central American neighborhood dominated by MS-13 or Barrio-18, or by building walls so the “wretched refuse” die in the deserts outside our nonexistent Golden Door.
The very concept of “illegal immigration” is racist, white supremacist, and bigoted. Borders are artificial constructs used to maintain power imbalances, and what is undemocratic is refusing to acknowledge the needs and rights of whole groups of people on the basis of what side of an imaginary line they were born on. We use a racist notion of “legitimacy” to argue who lives, who dies, who suffers, who profits.
We should embrace and welcome people who see our country as a beacon, as representative of idealistic values we’re not particularly good at acting on, because maybe they’ll help change us to better be what we claim we are. Between the people in power who actually are fascists, and the media mouthpieces who make excuses for and enable the fascists, we need more people who are willing to stand up for equality and fairness and against oppression and brutality.