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Combating the Nativist Narrative – Weekly Summary

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Week of May 22, 2023


  • Despite failed predictions of an apocalypse, right-wing doomsayers continue to fearmonger about the border: While forced migration flows are always changing and never the result of one factor, it is true, despite predictions about the number of migrants that were often reflective of white nationalists’ conspiracies, two weeks after the end of Title 42, the number of apprehensions are down. The shift on the ground hasn’t coincided with a shift in tone from the right-wing and leading Republicans. The ceaseless demagoguery continues. These two weeks may tell us little about how to respond to forced global migration and a lot to tell us of the vapid cynical border politics dominating the Republican party. It has never been about trying to solve problems but about the cheap politics of coded racial fearmongering. 
  • Strategic racism at the core of the zero-sum politics peddled by Republicans: This week, Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX) invoked the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory pushing a baseless notion blaming homelessness, deindustrialization, and any other issue facing cities is the fault of forced global migration. Factual reality is of course not a concern to Hunt or the right-wing outlets amplifying his message but coded racial zero-sum politics are the sole point. Similarly, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) has been pushing disingenuous claims that undocumented immigrants are responsible for raising housing and rent costs. This is not only untrue, immigration reforms are a key part of a set of policies that could reduce house costs. As Ed Brady, president and CEO of the Home Builders Institute, writes in a call for reforms to expand legal immigration pathways: “The vast majority of economists would agree that there is a direct link between the nation’s housing shortage and its construction labor shortage, both of which greatly hamper the availability and affordability of the homes millions of Americans need.” Economics professor Justin Wolfers also repeatedly refuted Vance’s argument. But again, facts are only a pesky annoyance to the strategic racism at play. A point Vance drove home by doubling down on his zero-sum attack by invoking the great replacement conspiracy theory. 
  • Another hearing to drive the nativist narrative and DHS sham impeachment effort: The House majority held yet another congressional hearing on the so-called “Biden Border Crisis” this week. As with all their similar hearings on the topic, the goal was not to advance serious policy solutions but instead hunt for sound bites they could use in a forthcoming sham impeachment effort against DHS Secretary Mayorkas. In and outside these congressional hearings, the right-wing continues to build the drumbeat for this political impeachment with the great replacement conspiracy theory. Last week, Punchbowl reported that Rep. Mike Garcia (CA-27) “supports impeaching Mayorkas and argued the secretary is ‘going out of his way to allow this invasion on our southern border.’“  Citizens United has been running Facebook ads that read, “House Republicans must set the precedent. Managing the invasion of your own country is an impeachable offense.” And Rep. Tom McClintock began the hearing this week peddling the great replacement conspiracy theory as he did at the beginning of the House floor debate on H.R. 2, the Child Deportation Act, earlier this month. 



  • President
  • While Ron DeSantis’ Twitter announcement was widely panned as a disaster, it is important not to lose sight of the disastrous potential of his campaign. Whether or not his campaign turns around, his launch was a dangerous symbolic gesture towards the mainstreaming of hate and bigotry that will be the core driving force of his campaign. He is a threat to the promise of a multi-racial democracy, a threat he has clearly demonstrated as Governor of Florida. But his cynical politics built of cruel bullying isn’t on behalf of the working families of Florida as he pretends it is. It comes at their direct expense. His draconian show-me-your-papers legislation and its serious potential economic fallout is but just one poignant example that can and should be highlighted over the next several months.
      • A new attack ad for team Trump out this week is an ugly reminder of how dangerous the GOP presidential primary will be, threatening overall public safety. The attack ad echoes the great replacement theory rhetoric claiming Trump was “fighting the invasion” in 2018. Team Trump attacking DeSantis on being insufficiently xenophobic is indicative of the dangerous extremist doom loop the GOP is locked in. These candidates have massive megaphones and tens of millions of dollars will be spent pumping racist lies and misinformation to the public with deadly downstream consequences.  Nor is this just idle speculation, DHS memos continue to warn of the threat from violent domestic extremism around the upcoming election, and the very real target being placed on the backs of those this primary fight will continue to demagogue. 
  • South Carolina Senator Tim Scott also officially threw his hat in the ring this week. While there is a cavernous open question about Scott’s actual viability, it’s worth keeping in mind that he is no moderate on our issue and will employ nativist disinformation and fearmongering to advance his campaign. Scott champions the wall, peddles the “open borders” and fentanyl myths, supports invading Mexico under the pretext of combating the fentanyl crisis, and has dabbled in implicit versions of the great replacement conspiracy theory.