“Send her Back!” The Infection is On

Comparisons have been made to the Nuremberg Rallies, in particular, the 1936 Rally. While they are on point, there are other episodes of American history that serve as examples as well. Not only is there a parallel to Andrew Jackson, and this president thinks Jackson was great but to more recent events.

George Wallace ran on a similar theme in 1968. His rallies were just as vitriolic and toxic. Granted, Wallace did not become president, not that Richard Nixon was less toxic. Nixon was in that sense more sophisticated. Nixon ran on the southern strategy that since has become standard in the Republican Party. This seeks to make the party into the representative of old white men, who fear change and minorities.

The War on Drugs and we have some evidence on this, was about keeping blacks down, to a lesser extent Mexican-Americans. It was targeted and we know this from how it was pursued. Crack cocaine, most often found in poor black neighborhoods, got more time than cocaine. The latter was found with mostly white, middle class, and upper-class people. The sentencing guidelines were meant to punish one group far more severely than the other.

What happened at North Carolina is an echo of what Wallace used to do. It is just as coded, or not, we are beyond the dog whistles at this point. It is just as violent, and it is in line with American history. I understand why people immediately think of Nazi Germany. We like to pretend that this racism is not part of our past. However, it is. President Donald Trump is not just scratching an itch, or reaching for an old scar. He is removing the scab, one that has never healed. This is full of puss, and the infection is once again coursing through the body politic of the nation.

What is interesting is that the people who were chanting “send her back” do not understand that once those fires are lit, they may face the same kind of hate. They are now part of the whole, but in time they will become the other, as this creates more in and out-groups than you can think off. Here is where Nazi Germany does come into full focus. The writings of Martin Niemoller written after the Holocaust are on point.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew

Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

We have reached a fork on the road. We either reject what happened yesterday. Those who support this, either by commission or omisión are just as responsible, and most feel this weight upon their shoulders. They must be called on it. It does not matter if they serve in places like the United States Senate, and say, *but my disagreement with Ilhan Omar is on policy*… that is a nice dodge, or fully embrace it. Their refusal to condemn this in a full-throated way puts them in the same place as the president who did not stop it, and in fact encouraged it.

This is the same president who now claims that he does not agree, yet his Twitter feed set the stage for this. This is the same man who has used race and the other to get to the office he occupies right now. This is a demagogue who may very well be aware of what he is doing. He is the same man who stood there and did not do a thing.

There are Americans who are threatened by the other, the immigrant, the one who is not white, cisgender, Christian man. Their wives in many cases also fear these other Americans. They know their country is quickly disappearing as grains of sand at the beach. The country is evolving into another place, and the past is a foreign country, while the future is still to be known. Chance is the only constant in history. However, their reaction is one of fear. They know that in time they will no longer be the majority, and those people who came from shit countries will become one. They may very well fear retribution.

Many of those who joined in the chants came from shit countries as well. They have quickly forgotten that they once were the ones who were strangers in a strange land. They were the Irish, and in West Virginia quite a bit of people came from Scott Irish stock. They were the Italians, they were the Eastern Europeans. They once were not white. This is how fungible the concept of race is in this country.

“Send her back.” Does that include many of these people? I know the old refrain, unless you are from these lands, we are all immigrants. And there is a point to that.

“Send her back…” is full of the deep history of hate and racism in this land.

“Send her back” is also a threat. We are not that far from the deep dark places we have seen in the past. These are the times when we forced people off the land. Jackson comes to mind, and the Trail of Tears, and the full meaning of genocide. Then there is Wounded Knee where people died because we wanted their lands. A good Indian was a dead Indian, and that refrain was accepted as well.

There is the series of land grabs that happened after 1848 when haciendas quickly disappeared as the landowners of old Méjico were displaced by the Anglos who came west. Many of their children were deported generations later because they were Mexican, never mind they had been on these lands longer than the Americans that sent some of them across the border. They are the ones who speak of how the border crossed them.

“Send her back” is full of spleen and fear. It is a signal that fear will drive the conversation from now on. It is a warning of what could still happen because American history has those times as well. Whether it is the Chinese, many of whom built the transcontinental railway, who ended up in Mexico. Or it is the Japanese Americans who came to this land for the opportunity, and ended behind barbed wire at Manzanar.

“Send her back” is not about Nuremberg, but Madison Square Garden. It is not about over there, but very much about the here and now. It is about that wound that continues to fester. It is the dark underbelly of the country. It is racism and a party that has fully embraced this. It is about not making the country great again, but about making it safe for white old men again.

This may indeed involve sending those who do not belong back, “send her back” is not a threat. It is a promise. And it is for the rest of us to say no more. We are not walking down that old road again. NEVER AGAIN! If not now, then it may never come.

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

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