“Go back to your country!”

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19th-century cartoon depicting Irish Immigrants as lazy and drunks

I have heard this phrase a few times in my life. Anybody with either an accent or higher content of melanin has. It comes with the territory. To some white Americans, immigrants and people of color constitute a threat. To some in the far right, this is an existential threat. More on them later.

To hear, or read these words from the President of the United States brings this to a dangerous focus. When it is Joe at the bar, well sure. Joe may, or may not be drunk. He is speaking his reality and showing his hate. When we are talking of the president we need to ask…does he wants to enact a full policy of ethnic cleansing?

It is not right, but for the moment let’s assume all four women were born abroad. Then you might make a point, racist and all, that they truly do not belong. But where is Alexandria Ocasión Cortes going to return to? Queens, in the foreign land of New York? Granted, for some in the President’s base, Queens is foreign occupied territory.

The underlying unspoken reality is that for Donald Trump, and other white supremacists people of color can never truly be part of the American whole. And then there are his supporters in the Hill, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who continued the slurs with some class A red baiting…they are communists. They are the enemy within!

Incidentally, Senator Joseph McCarthy is calling on line one. He would like the Second Red Scare back.

That said, here is where this is a problem. The claim that we are not, nor will ever be, a socialist, communist country is as old as the first red scare and the Palmer Raids of the 1920s. It is a way to transform these people onto the other, the enemy within. It’s an old tactic that still works with older Americans, not quite with the millennial generation these four representatives are part off. Calling the socialist…gasp run for the hills might make them that more attractive to the younger set.

So who is the target of these disgusting, racist tweets and digging in by Senators and congressmen. Well, it is not the diverse population this president would love to silence. It is his base, the same who are nervous about the changes in the country. It is the same older, white, status loss affected, racist base.

Those who support him in the senate are afraid of the president and his Twitter feed. What happened to Senator Graham? These days he is defending the indefensible. In 2015 Graham called Trump a “race-baiting xenophobic bigot.” He was on point. Now he is defending him because next year he is up for re-election and he represents a state where Trump is still very popular. So he can live with a little, or a lot, of this dark racism as long as he keeps his seat. He might be hoping for a cabinet post as well. Never mind that for Trump all is transactional.

Leader Mitch McConnell likes the conservative judges he is getting. Never mind his wife is an immigrant and likely has been told to go home. I guess these judges and a radical right bench is a-ok. In this McConnell is doing great damage to the nation and her institutions. But I guess he is owning the libs. So that is ok. This is the same Senator who promised to make President Barack Obama a one-term president and obstructed all he could. There was a level of racism in this as well.

Then there are the changes in the nature of the country that Trump seeks. When one looks at the asylum system, it was established under both US and International law to prevent horrors like the SS San Louis going back to Europe, loaded with Jews attempting to flee the early stages of the Holocaust. Most of her passengers perished in the camps during the war. I know two people who were in the ship of the damned. One was a young child at the time, the other was her mother. They never forgot, but it seems people like Trump have. Why he seeks to turn a blind eye to modern-day refugees coming from all over the world, not just Central America.

He wants to close the country down and prevent the inevitable changes already underway in the nation’s demographics. This country is well on its way towards a majority-minority national makeup, and California is pretty much there already.

His true base in the radical white-nationalist right is celebrating. They want the borders to close down to those who they think are inferior…or lesser humans. Places like Stormfront and the Chans see this as a victory and are making common cause with the president. Their grandparents were also ok with not letting people escaping the early stages of the Holocaust either. They are asking the essential questions, from their point of view. Will we finally cleanse the body politic from Jews, Mexicans, and other inferior people? Given that the president’s daughter converted, they are not fully convinced this is coming. But if it did, those are the people who will sign up to carry the deed.

This is not fear-mongering. There are white nationalist groups, such as the Proud Boys who would carry the deed. Atomwaffen Division members were arrested after they threatened some good old fashioned terrorism. Explosives were found but were not followed by breathless coverage from news outlets.

Then we had a Coast Guard member arrested for weapons violations, and literal bombs were sent to media outlets. It does not stop with the fringe either. The United States is losing its leadership role, and we may see the end of the world order we created, which includes asylum laws. Our allies have no idea what to make of this. And service members have been seen wearing MAGA swag, against DoD policy.

When you hear “Go back where you come from,” or the other lovely one, “America: Love it or leave it,” which are a favorite of the far right. Both have a long history, which is tainted with racism and the creation of the other. We must ask, and this is not far fetched at this point…does the Trump administration intend to carry a campaign of ethnic cleansing? Given that some of his top advisors, like Stephen Miller, believe we are in the midst of an invasion, it would not surprise me.

One more note. The Republicans will run in 2020 with the third red scare. Fear of a new and diverse nation is the motivator. And it does not matter who the Democrats end nominating…the ultimate nominee will be called a red, a socialist, a communist. The term is interchangeable in this archeology of fear and hate. It is what it is, and this is where we are in 2020. Given that the Palmer Raids of a hundred years ago went after Eastern European immigrants, it is almost fitting that the third red scare will involve yet another generation of immigrants.

Written by

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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