The vicious anti-immigrant rhetoric of Donald Trump has mainstreamed the views of neo—Nazis and white supremacists and thus created a window for ordinary people to express in public discriminatory language against anyone whom they view as not belonging. The city of St. Cloud in Minnesota is one of those places that has been having problems with some of the white residents resenting recent Somali immigrants and abusing them in public.
In response, the main newspaper came out with a collective signed editorial denouncing the racism being expressed and warned that continuing to do so would only harm the city itself because the younger generation would be driven away by it. They said that the only way to combat it is by others speaking out against the bigotry.
The smartest young people — the ones we need to attract to our companies — will be less likely to move here. Doubt it? Ask your kids if they’d Google a city before considering a job offer there.
Our own young people, many raised with classmates and teammates and friends in a rainbow of colors, will think harder than they should have to about where they want to make a life.
All of that will limit our tax base, depress our property values, curtail our career options, push down our median household incomes and make us poorer. And we will still have refugees and immigrants among us, just as we always have, since the days of Upper Town, Lower Town and Middle Town. As it should be.
Also: Let’s not gloss over the fact that the hate bred by our trembling class is simply wrong — like slavery and segregation were wrong, like internment camps for Japanese citizens were wrong, like “civilizing” the Native American population was wrong.
America is struggling with its original sin — racism — more openly now than it has in decades. St. Cloud just became a poster child for the wrong side. Again.
That is because of the un-American cowardice of the minority who hide their deep-seated insecurities behind the bravado of false patriotism — a milquetoast patriotism that venerates the flag and Lee Greenwood songs over the bedrock principle of America: All men are created equal.
Prove your courage. Speak up.
Meanwhile, the editorial board of the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s biggest newspaper in a very conservative state, has rallied to the side of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has been criticized by the usual suspects for describing the conditions under which the US government is keeping people apprehended at the border as ‘concentration camps’. The editorial says that those critics who say that the term concentration camps can only rightfully used for the Nazi death camps are wrong.
Yes, we do have concentration camps.
They are not work camps. They are not death camps. At least, not on purpose. Our government is not building massive gas chambers and industrial crematoria. It is not conducting sick medical experiments on members of an unfavored class.
But that does not mean that the places into which we are herding tens of thousands of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are not properly called concentration camps. Because that is precisely what they are.
Some of the people who study, and some of the people who survived or are descended from survivors of the Holocaust, are pointing out that that crime against humanity did not arrive overnight.
It worked its way up, from nasty political speeches (check) to politicians seeking and gaining power with promises to protect the purity of the nation from foreign invasion (check) to denying basic human rights and decency to people of an unfavored class (check).
Our nation is operating concentration camps for refugee children. We need to stop denying that and decide if we are comfortable with that fact. And how we will explain it to our children.
The power of newspaper editorials to sway public opinion has declined recently but it is still heartening to see them come out swinging.