Month: January 2017

Our Recent History of Anti Immigrant Sentiment

George S LedyardI know we are all in shock about what is happening in our country at the moment and with good reason. But on another level, we shouldn’t be shocked. This is a failure of our educational system. Most of us never learned the history of how white America repeatedly used anti-immigration regulations and mass deportations to maintain a white supremacist vision of what the country should be.
Mexican repatriationJust looking at my parents generation, the 1930s, we can see an America which was unapologetic-ally racist. An unspecified number of residents of Mexican decent were arbitrarily rounded up in the late 20s and early 30s and “repatriated” to Mexico. A million or more were rounded up in a completely indiscriminate effort and estimates range as high as 60% of these people were US citizens. But it wasn’t just the 30s… in 1954 “Operation Wetback” did much the same thing, albeit on a slightly smaller scale… maybe half a million deported.
In the 1920s and 30s even Italians and other Southern Europeans were the target of an immigration policy that restricted their immigration to the US while favoring that of Northern Europeans. Efforts were made using the criminal justice system to deport as many as possible back to Italy.
America was virulently anti-Semitic in the 1930s. Jews were routinely denied membership in clubs and associations. The KKKs efforts at the same were actually more targeted at the Jews than Blacks since they didn’t feel that Blacks were any real threat. More than sixty years of terror had seen to that. But the Jews were threatening to white America. There had been a huge influx from central Europe and white folks were upset. So, legislation was enacted that strictly restricted Jewish immigration just at a time when Jews in the hundreds of thousands were trying to flee the rise of anti-Semitic Fascism across Europe and, in particular Germany.
Voyahe of the St LouisThe most famous instance was the VOYAGE OF THE ST. LOUIS in 1939. A ship full of Jews fleeing Germany after Kristallnacht (literally the “Night of Crystal” pogrom was turned away and denied entry to the US. Eventually, the ship was sent back to Germany where at least half of those refugees eventually were exterminated.
Anti Japanese racismAlmost nothing is taught in our schools about the anti Asian riots and roundups of the late 1800s and early 1900s which took place in the Pacific NW and the West Coast but most students have at least heard of the mass round up of our Japanese American citizens, the suspension of the civil rights, and the wholesale theft of their property when they were sent to what we would now call “concentration” camps.
What we are seeing today is just a resurgence of what has been a part of America since its inception. The success of the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s lulled us into a false feeling of security. Our successes in moving forward on women’s rights, minority and LGBT rights, deceived many of us into thinking that bigotry and racism was largely a piece of history. You even had Republican politicians seriously maintaining that we were in a post-racial America.
Well, the ridiculousness of that belief has been glaringly obvious in this past election. reactionary, “nativist” sentiment is alive and well in the US, and through a quirk of historical circumstance, has manged to gain control of our government. There is almost no difference between the position of the Jews fleeing Fascism in the 30s and the refugees fleeing the war torn middle east today. Syrian refugees And one again, our country is taking the hard-hearted approach of excluding them from entry. They can return home and be killed, or they can stay in camps in which the conditions are terrible, we don’t care. Just as long as they don’t move here.
The focus on illegal immigration from South of the border is just a continuation of social and racial bias that has always been there and which has periodically exploded into anti-Hispanic round ups and deportations. Only the Wall as a response seems to be a truly new approach. Keeping them out is now a priority on which we are willing to spend many  billions of dollars at a time when we do not seem to have enough money for basic health care or education

The Wall - Donald Trump
Like the Statue of Liberty, our Wall will make a permanent statement for the world to see.

Perhaps of more people were aware of our history of racism, bigotry, roundups of immigrants, and ethnic cleansing, people might have spotted just how dangerous Donald Trump and company actually are. Perhaps we would not have seen such a blase attitude toward this last election with the lowest voter turnout since 1920. But it is what it is and now we have no choice but to fight  a rear guard action while we try to regroup.

Trump and the Working Class

George S LedyardNote to Donald Trump’s Working Class Base:
On the subject of bringing jobs back to America. Working class voters, that core of Trump support, need to understand the following.
If a factory returns to the US, it will employ around a quarter of the folks it did when it left. Robotics will be doing the work you used to do.  It’s not those brown people you are so worried about that are taking your jobs. The jobs that will be available will require more education and training than what you have. These jobs are not likely to be yours.

Radically dismantling the Federal Government will actually destroy jobs. The government is just another huge employer from the standpoint of the economy. It’s like a company we all own and at the same time consume its product. Everywhere there is substantial Federal employment, it is an economic engine helping to drive the local economy.
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So, when we decide we hate our government, and don’t wish to have the many programs which help our citizens any more (most of you don’t even know what the programs are or how they help you) all those workers… many tens of thousands will lost their jobs. Your community loses their tax support. Your businesses lose their patronage. Any community in which there are Federal employees will experience an economic downturn.

And then what happens? All those better educated workers, now unemployed. stream into the job market. Guess who will be better qualified to get those few manufacturing jobs that Trump will be bringing back? Yes, you guessed it, those former government workers with management and administrative experience and those degrees which, oh, you don’t have.
So, all of this will create a downward pressure on wages,  increased competition for the better paying jobs leaving all of you fighting for those jobs at the bottom which don’t pay enough to live in. And I’ll bet your GOP representatives have convinced you that the minimum wage is bad… just in time for you to not receive it. Nice job shooting yourselves in the foot.

But don’t worry, your future employers at whatever jobs you do manage to find will be unencumbered by government regulations that previously prevented them from totally screwing you, that mandated that they put some attention on worker safety, that they not create a toxic morass in the community in which you and your family live.

No, you will be happy to know that, while you are getting by on lower wages, and have far fewer rights as an employee, and are watching your kids get sick from the plant pollution from your workplace, your employers will be free to accumulate even more of the nations wealth than they previously had ( which was already at record levels). Thanks to you, our much revered tradition of putting the interests of the elites, before those of our workers will continue, not only unabated, but radically enhanced. Nice job.