Nativism: An Excuse to Follow Donald Trump
I’ve watched television political commentators try to describe Donald Trump’s brand of racism as “nativism”. This is not a new term in America. It was used to discriminate against the German’s. It was the basis for the “Alien & Sedition Acts” which lengthened the period for gaining citizenship to 14 years in an attempt to limit the influence of new French and Irish newcomers. It’s been an excuse to shut out Catholics and the Chinese. Despite the promise inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, America has never welcomed all immigrants, certainly not the tired, poor or huddled masses. Today legislators struggle to find a way to keep the college graduates, engineers, doctors and tech savvy while looking to exclude others. Another barometer they look for a way to exclude people is by color and religion. Donald Trump has gone where none has gone before, declaring his desire to ban “all Muslims” from our shores.
Nativism as used today is an excuse not to call it what it is… pure, unabashed racism. It is the justification for explaining away policies attractive that are obviously racist without having to say so. That America has a problem with race is not new. America has always had a problem with race and there has never been a shortage of politicians and judges and even Presidents willing to put their thumb on the scale in favor or their white constituents. The irony of the term “nativism” is that it is typically used to describe the protection of the native or indigenous population. Only in America where we constantly rewrite our own history can we conveniently forget that this isn’t white people’s native land. They came and took it from Indians and Mexicans, negotiating with their one-time enemy England as to how to divide it up.
I would love to see someone from the media or the Republican Party simply acknowledge that they are not appealing to nativism, but nakedly to the racist portion of the Republican Party that ascribes a very specific meaning to “Make America Great Again”.The reason that crazy districting within states and gerrymandering and voter suppression and mass incarceration are allowed to exist in America is indeed nativism. It’s also racist to the highest degree.