“I have a question in my mind,” Sunayana Dumala said after her husband, an Indian engineer, was shot dead last week in a Kansas bar. “Do we belong?”
The NYTimes answers Ms. Dumala’s question in a different article. The Times Magazine’s cover story this weekend is by Emily Bazelon and titled: Department of Justification.
For most Republicans in Washington, immigration was an issue they wished would go away, a persistent source of conflict between the party’s elites, who saw it as a straightforward economic good, and its middle-class voting base, who mistrusted the effects of immigration on employment. But for Bannon, Sessions and Miller, immigration was a galvanizing issue, lying at the center of their apparent vision for reshaping the United States by tethering it to its European and Christian origins. […]
Bannon and Sessions have effectively presented the country’s changing demographics — the rising number of minority and foreign-born residents — as America’s chief internal threat. Sessions has long been an outlier in his party on this subject; in 2013, when his Republican colleagues were talking primarily about curbing illegal immigration, he offered a proposal to curb legal immigration. (It failed in committee, 17 to one.) — NY Times Magazine
Of course, we should quibble with the “European and Christian origins” statement above. Our political structure, conception of individual rights, and our culture, owe a lot to native Americans. There’s more below the fold…
I wrote a few days ago about how determined Sessions, Bannon, Trump, Cotton and several others are to stop and reverse these demographic trends.
The father of Alok Madasani, the Indian victim who survived, said anti-immigrant rhetoric encouraged by President Donald Trump created a dangerous environment for immigrants.
“The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over…,” Madasani Jaganmohan Reddy told the Hindustan Times in India. “I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children to the U.S. in the present circumstances.”
Foreign student applications were already falling after the election. This is likely to accelerate. I suspect Bannon, Sessions, Trump and Cotton view this development approvingly (remember, Obama’s father was a foreign student). Fewer brown people coming to the US means fewer they have to find ways to deport.
Talking to Bannon on air in September 2015, Sessions, who has received awards from virulently anti-immigrant groups, described the present day as a dangerous period of “radical change” for America, comparing it to the decades of the early 20th century, when waves of immigrants flooded the country. He said that the 1924 immigration quota system, which barred most Asians and tightly capped the entry of Italians, Jews, Africans and Middle Easterners, “was good for America.” Bannon is also uncomfortable with the changing face of the country. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think — ” he said on the radio with Trump in November 2015, vastly exaggerating the actual numbers. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.” — NYTimes Magazine
That last comment should remind Asian-Americans that the Sessions/Bannon vision of America has no place for the “model minority” myth. This is after all, the same group of people who believe “some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved”.
And how do they plan to foment this separation? In a time-tested way, by painting black/brown people as dangerous and violent:
While Bannon was chief executive, Breitbart created a specific tag for articles called “black crime” and ran article after article demonizing the Black Lives Matter movement (calling protesters “blood-lusting junkies”) and showing Latino immigrants as violent (“One Sex Offender Illegal Alien Caught After Another Alleged Offender Legalized”). […]
Their shared view was central to Trump’s Inaugural Address, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, Bannon and Miller principally wrote. For a president taking office amid peacetime and economic growth, the speech offered a singularly dark vision. Trump spoke of “American carnage” — a country made increasingly dangerous by “the crime and the gangs and the drugs,” its economy ravaged by production abroad, its borders infiltrated by marauders. — NYTimes Magazine
Bazelon goes on to outline the history and awesome powers of the Justice department, and how they can be used to undermine the rights of marginalized people. She reminds us of the Bush administration’s efforts to push out career attorneys at the DoJ and fire several who would not concoct voter fraud cases.
We’ve seen a taste of what is to come in the Sessions’ led effort to withdraw the DoJ from parts of the Texas voting rights case and rescind federal protection for transgender people, including students. There is more to come. Half of Trump’s guests at the joint session tonight will be the family members of people killed by undocumented immigrants.
Look, Republicans have stoked fears of crime for decades. George H.W. Bush’s Willie Horton ad was not an outlier. Trump though, has largely built his campaign around demonizing crime in cities, which host a larger number of our non-white residents and immigrants. You will not hear this White House note that European visitors constitute the largest group that overstays their visas. But Trump has tweeted false statisticsthat claim African-Americans are responsible for virtually all homicides. All this is meant to smooth the way for undermining our rights. And Trump has done this before, back in 1989, he was rallying a lynch mob during the Central Park Five case. He took out a full page ad advocating the execution of five black/brown teenagers who were framed by the NYPD and exonerated decades later.
The DoJ oversees investigations of police departments, especially as they relate to civil rights violations. It oversees the nations immigration courts. It is responsible for protecting voting rights. Sessions could have had any job in the administration he wanted. He passed it all up for attorney general, and here’s why. If you have a white nationalist vision for this country, the Department of Justice is the best tool available to realize it.
I’ll end with a quote from a long-serving diplomat, former ambassador Dan Fried who was talking about the USA’s organizing foreign policy principles since the late 19th century:
America’s successful grand strategy “did not come from nowhere: it followed from our deeper conception of ourselves and our American identity. Who are we Americans? What is our nation? We are not an ethno-state, with identity rooted in shared blood. The option of a White Man’s Republic ended at Appomattox.… Our nation is based on an idea — that all are created equal — that, when embraced, makes us Americans.” — Foreign Policy