Reminders that white nationalist and anti-immigrant movements are inextricably tied together
The past few weeks have brought home for many what has been clear to us since day one: white nationalism is a persistent feature of this President and this Administration, not a bug.
Ahead of President Trump’s speech in Phoenix tomorrow, it’s worth remembering that the anti-immigrant movement and policy agenda is inextricably tied to the wishlists of the white nationalist and white supremacist movements. For example, in a New York Times op-ed published this weekend, R. Derek Black – the son of the founder of the white nationalist website Stormfront – wrote: “The most fundamental legislative goal of the white nationalist movement is to limit non white immigration.”
Accordingly, Trump’s Phoenix speech and his own suggestion on Fox News that he may very well pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio should be viewed in the proper context – as the next stop in his base-burnishing, race-baiting, white nationalist ‘Make America White Again’ tour.
Why is Trump going to Phoenix at all? Let’s not forget that on August 31, 2016 Trump went there to deliver a dark and nativist immigration speech. In it Trump made clear that, despite erroneous reporting about a supposed shift in approach, there would be no “pivot” from his radical anti-immigrant policy stances as he entered the home stretch of the general election. To the contrary, as we noted at the time, the speech made clear that “the intended outcome of Trump’s policy is to deport or force out most, if not all, of the 11 million undocumented immigrants settled in this country … To put it bluntly, this is mass deportation with a topping of self-deportation.” Leading figures from the anti-immigrant movement, such as Ann Coulter, were joined by leading white nationalist figures, including David Duke, in wildly praising Trump’s Phoenix speech and its implications.
Will Trump use the speech to announce a pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio? The very fact that Trump is letting it be known that he is considering a pardon is both disgusting and revealing. Sheriff Arpaio racially targeted Latinos in ongoing immigration enforcement sweeps and roundups; flagrantly violated a court order to stop engaging in these racially discriminatory practices; and hired a private investigator to try and dig up dirt on the wife of federal judge Murray Snow, who was overseeing the contempt of court proceedings against Arpaio. While the voters kicked Arpaio out of office in the 2016 elections, taxpayers are nonetheless on the hook for $70 million to fund Arpaio’s legal defense.
Like the Trump Administration and their crusade against sanctuary cities, Arpaio’s anti-immigrant obsession came at the expense of basic duties of his job and overall public safety. The Arizona-based libertarian think tank the Goldwater Institute blasted Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for failing to perform its most basic responsibilities: “under its watch violent crime rates recently have soared, both in absolute terms and relative to other jurisdictions. It has diverted resources away from basic law-enforcement functions to highly publicized immigration sweeps, which are ineffective in policing illegal immigration and in reducing crime generally … [and] allowed a huge backlog of outstanding warrants to accumulate.” Will Attorney General Jeff Sessions be on hand to blame Arpaio for the increase in crime? To tie it to his crackdown on immigrants? Yeah, right.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
As a growing chorus of Americans call on Trump to provide moral leadership to a wounded nation, he heads to Arizona to stir the passions of xenophobia and racism. At a time when the nation is aghast that the President of the United States is hostile to the American ideal of E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One – he heads to Arizona to pit ‘us vs. them.’ At a moment when the President should be reaching out to all Americans, he will undoubtedly speak to whites as if they are the only Americans that count – and as if all others are a threat to their future. For most Americans, the biggest threat to our future is Trump and his embrace of white nationalism. Sadly, that is what is likely to be on display in Phoenix tomorrow night.