Monday, February 12, 2018

When Hate Becomes Law

Don’t believe the claims from Donald Trump and his apologists that these immigration measures are “sensible.” All they are is senseless attacks against vulnerable people. Innocent families are being upended because the parents haven’t been able to fulfil the absurdly hard path to U.S. citizenship. People who’ve lived in the U.S. since childhood are being deported to countries they’ve never known. Families might soon be separated to “end chain migration,” whatever Trump means by that. Muslim and Hispanic people, regardless of their immigration status, are living in fear of being detained under the “papers, please” climate that’s emerged in immigration enforcement. Then there’s the increased threats of hate crimes and discriminatory travel bans that Muslims now live under, and the heightened threats to the Black community amid the drug war escalations and increases in police violence of recent months.

This is America’s version of the Nazi Brownshirts’ earlier attacks on attacks on Jews, which involved aggressive police tactics that are similar to what ICE agents have started doing so much in the last year. It’s facilitated by the rise in hate groups and online racism that white supremacists have been able to create in the last several decades. Its purpose isn’t to pragmatically restrict immigration, but to terrorize groups of people who the state deems to be threats.
Like its precedents in Native American genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, and mass incarceration, this latest descent into barbarism has been rationalized as a way of strengthening security and well-being. These groups are criminals and lazy welfare takers, it’s been said by those who support the measures, and attacking them is self-defense. Will society stop this project before it escalates into something worse? Given what we’ve seen so far, it’s unclear.
For now, some of the country’s most vulnerable people are being targeted by a demagogic president who’s refused to disavow his supporters in the KKK and other white nationalist groups. Both Republicans and Democrats are complicit in the assault, as was shown when many House Democrats approved a budget this month which destroys DACA. This is nothing new, since both parties have helped carry out the middle eastern wars of recent decades that created America’s Islamophobic sentiments.
Every day the factors that lead to this repeat and reinforce themselves, like like we’re living through an inevitable unraveling of our collective sanity. The recent explosion in U.S.-Kurdish aggression towards Syria, illegal under international law, is threatening to unleash larger conflict. Under the Trump White House, a cabal of military officers, intelligence officials, and corporate executives are destroying the last remains of civil liberties, workers’ rights and environmental protections. To help in this takeover, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia have been greatly expanded, with Trump’s drone warfare death toll already massively surpassing Obama’s.
Behind this, governments and corporations around the world are working to control the flow of information, employing online censorship and threats from law enforcement to silence dissent. Should our paradigm of perpetual war soon spill into an uncontrollable world conflict, the crisis will be used for imposing an outright military dictatorship, as foreshadowed in Trump’s plan for a military parade. “Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations are criminalized,” wrote Chris Hedges in last year’s column The Death of the Republic. “The state assumed the power to detain and prosecute people not for what they have done, or even for what they are planning to do, but for holding religious or political beliefs that the state deems seditious. The first of those targeted have been observant Muslims, but they will not be the last.”
There’s mostly no hope for changing the minds of those who support the state’s attacks against these groups. They’ve been thoroughly propagandized to view certain people as dangerous. But the demagogues who created this hate, like Donald Trump, Mike Cernovich, Ben Shapiro, and others, can be pilloried and countered through social activism. We can help the victims through supporting sanctuary cities, documenting the actions of ICE agents, and speaking against bigotry and hate. Our actions, however quiet and small they might seem, can destroy the ignorant and brutal paradigm we’ve created.

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