This is how it started in Germany, only now it’s here, among us. The politics of hate and scapegoating, brought out from under its slimy rock in the Republican Party by Donald Trump and made all the more evident by his fellow nomination seekers following his lead to the right. Yes, Latinos have become the new Jews. Oh, and according to Jeb Bush, so have Asians.
At the risk of getting our hands filthy by prying the rock clear of its underlying muck, let’s take a closer look at what’s going on.
In this blog, I’ve previously pointed out that Republican political ideology requires the maintenance of class structure and, specifically, the ongoing presence of a lower socioeconomic class. There is a systematic failure to acknowledge society’s responsibility for elevating that class, which is viewed by the increasingly, radically right wing Republican party as somehow both morally and biologically inferior to the white, right, old guard and otherwise economically privileged. This blaming of the victims of economic, racial and ethnic discrimination coupled with unmitigated greed in the pursuit of self-interest has kept inner cities ghettoized, minority area schools inferior, and decent employment with upward mobility an incongruous reality in a country that hypocritically espouses equality of opportunity for all. (I’d include women in those being discriminated against, but that’s a subject for another whole article.)
The Republican right, aside from being nearly all white – where the hell did Clarence Thomas come from? — is also overwhelmingly Christian. Not in the “do unto your neighbor” kind of Christianity they pray for on Sunday, but in the day to day kind of Christianity that thinks there’s a “war on Christmas” (there isn’t), that the country was founded as a Christian nation (it most certainly was not), and that there should be no such thing as separation of church and state (the negation of a fundamental principle of our nation).
Taken all together, the Republican philosophy has unsurprisingly led to a paranoid set of beliefs characterized by increasingly mean spirited xenophobia with an overlay of anger over the fact that the country is changing before their eyes in ways they are powerless to prevent.
Beware the actions of ignorant, angry, paranoid people in large groups, because they will be easily goaded into destructive actions by the demagogues that will inevitably emerge. And so, enter Donald Trump, part schoolyard bully, part bigot, and catalyst for the irrational scapegoating of Latinos, Asians and anyone else they suspect of subverting “the American way of life”. And don’t confuse him or his followers with the facts. Illegal immigration numbers are down, and no white citizens really want to take all those jobs picking fields and paying three bucks for a cucumber.
The bad news for the misguided right wing is that from very near its origin America has been a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-racial society, and the increasing proportion of non-white and ethnically diverse people is simply the manifestation of that fact in the twenty-first century. The country is changing because it is always changing, and in general we have been a better people because of that fact and not in spite of it.
The danger we face today is that our failed educational system, our factionalizing churches, synagogues, temples and mosques, and our enforced and entrenched class system all threaten to transform the country into a nation more closely resembling a Middle East war zone than the bastion of freedom and justice that we claim as our (albeit imperfect) heritage. We cannot allow the demagogues to steer the sheep, most of whom have deeply rooted views that we cannot hope to change. What we can do is encourage those of greater intelligence, perspective, and realistic views to stand up to the demagogues and inspire vigorous enough electoral expression to prevent America from becoming a right wing theocracy. Donald Trump and those who would follow his lead, including his cowardly fellow nomination seekers, need to be marginalized, branded for what they are: ignorant bigots. The country deserves better than these cockroaches, and if we don’t shine a light to scatter them, the blame will fall solidly on us.
Don’t let it happen. Please.