In the aftermath of Trump’s “shithole” comment, aboth Neo-Nazi’s groups and those who want to reduce legal immigration are celebrating. Why? Because the dog-whistle of “merit-based” legal immigration that Trump is championing is implicitly racist, and allows them achieve racist goals while deluding the public.
Don’t think Trump’s comments were racist? Do you believe they were just talking about bad countries? You’re wrong. Trump’s comments are clearly racist, talking in a blanket sense about all people coming from a particularly country. Further, it just so happens that the people coming from countries that Trump likes are white and economically advantaged, and those coming from countries that Trump places in the “shithole” category are brown and black, and economically disadvantaged. It may not be explicit to you, but it still is racism and it still is classism and it still is elitism.
Why do I care about this? Why do I — a well educated, white man (three things going for me in this administration) care? Because I’m Jewish, and the exact same view of “shithole” companies were used to justify not admitting Jews to the US — and essentially sentencing them to death. Because Jewish immigration to the US used the exact same approach of bringing over family members to save other Jews. It was these family members that enabled the immigrants to start new businesses and use their family as workers to grow the business, giving us many of the largest businesses today.
Those arguing for a move away from “chain” immigration and immigration lotteries to a “merit-based” approach ARE being implicitly racist, in the same way that many companies hiring policies are implicitly unequal and work against diversity. The “merit” based approach is one that selects for economic advantage, and economic advantage is often clustered in first world “white” countries, and for male leaders. Economically disadvantaged people — primarily minorities and women — don’t have the means or opportunities to acquire the “merit” based skills. Those escaping as refugees from the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, Central America, South America, and East Asia are dealing with war and poverty, and don’t have the same opportunities for higher education. It is the exact same implicit education that kept blacks and minorities down, when they were in school districts that didn’t have the funds to educate and prepare them for college, and so they were considered less skilled — when they just economically had fewer opportunities.
This is why the neo-Nazis celebrate these views: because they advance white people, and work against people of color.
But having fewer skills does not mean the people are any less intelligent, or have any lower of a work ethic. It just means they had less advantage. Given the opportunity to work and to learn, people from any country succeed spectacularly. Often, in fact, it is the least disadvantaged that do more, because they have the most to gain.
Diversity is vital to the US. This episode of Reply All does a great job of explaining why. Diversity gives us different ways of thinking. Different ways of problem solving. It gives us new ideas. It gives us new energy. Diversity is what makes America strong.
Lastly, think about the other implicit problem: Why does the “Party of Trump” want to reduce people coming in from what they call “shithole” countries — which is essentially reducing legal hispanic and black immigration? Because those immigrants, if admitted legally, will work towards citizenship. As more and more blacks and minorities get the power of the voting box, what does that do to the power of the base that is electing people like Trump? What does that do to the country? Answer: It is the same thing that Israel is fighting against as the number of Arabs and non-Jews in the country grows. Loss of Power. The “Party of Trump” (and I use that term because I don’t believe all Republicans agree with Trump) saw the election of Barack Obama as a sign that the minorities they hate are winning, and if mobilized, have the power. They expertly, and with outside help, manipulated the environment in 2016 to get the minority coalition to see the Democratic candidate as “not one of them” and against their interests, and got them to stay home. The combination of minorities staying home in 2016, combined with a whistles to constituencies that had stayed away from the ballot box, gave Trump the election. Now that they are in power, they don’t want to dilute that power, and will do anything to preserve it. False news, propaganda, distractions, and fighting immigration — legal or not — are just tools in that battle.
This country was started by people fleeing economic and religious persecution. It was founded on principles of freedom and equality (never mind the slave trade behind the curtain). It grew on the backs and the hard work of immigrants — Jews, Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Chinese laborers, slaves, and others — who were not asked about their merit (only that they were healthy). It grew even stronger as they brought in their families, cementing their ties to this country, keeping money in this country, and building businesses in this country. Immigration and diversity is American’s strength and America’s bedrock, not something to be feared.