WE MUST NOT TOLERATE HATE-FILLED ANTI-IMMIGRANT AND RACIST RHETORIC
At the risk of giving undeserved attention to Donald Trump and the political spectacle created by his campaign, I feel compelled to respond to his racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric in the context of the history of scapegoating, disenfranchisement, and criminalization of immigrants in the United States. Trump’s recent comments characterizing Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists” that should be purged from the country fit a pattern of abuse that has been used not only against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, but against many groups of immigrants in the history of our country.
Since the founding of this country, various ethnic groups have been targeted with the same attitudes of xenophobia, intolerance and fear, often with amazingly similar depictions and rhetoric. From Irish and Eastern European newcomers on the East Coast in the 19th century to Chinese, Japanese and Filipino workers on the West Coast and more recently immigrants from Mexico and Central America throughout the country, waves of anti-immigrant sentiment and discourse leading to discriminatory laws have been pervasive.
In the mid 1800s, the Irish were seen as being violent alcoholics, illiterate, greedy and having large, unruly families. They were turned away from places of employment with the pronouncement that “No Irish Need Apply.”
The Chinese were also the target of intense and often violent acts of racism beginning in the 1800s. A newspaper editorial cartoon in 1899 entitled “The Yellow Terror in All its Glory” shows a menacing and crazed caricature of a Chinese man dressed in traditional garb, with his hair in a distinctive queue. He is...