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Thursday, February 02, 2017


The cruelty is the same

by Tom Sullivan

"When they ask at school what you are, you tell them you're an American."

In echoes of the discrimination Irish immigrants faced in the 19th and early 20th centuries, it is a story my mother tells occasionally. It was something my grandmother told her, firmly, when she was entered grade school. My mother's dad, my grandfather, was a Chicago fireman. And Catholic.

By the time I was a teen, my grandmother spoke disparagingly of "the blacks" on the South Side and, later in life, of Indian immigrants, as though whole families boarded a jumbo jet in New Dehli, flew half way around the world, and landed in America destitute and on "the dole."

Will we ever learn?

But those are the good, old days of greatness President Donald Trump wants to resurrect. A lot of his followers do, too. As a showman, Trump knows to give the people what they want. The targets today are different, but the blind cruelty is the same.

In the New York Times, Masha Gessen and Martina Navratilova write about what Trump's anti-immigrant jihad means for their families:

We wrote this together because we have a few things in common. Some are obvious: Both of us came to the United States as teenagers fleeing Communist regimes; both of us are queer. We are also both moved alternately to tears and to rage by the actions of the new American president. One thing that we share is less obvious: This anger and despair make both of us feel as if we are losing our home.
A young friend from Russia just received her American citizenship and voted for the first time in November. I wonder does she feel the same now?

After recounting their long road to acceptance (which this morning seems tenuous), Gessen and Navratilova conclude:
One in four people in the United States is an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. A majority of people in the country are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. If they — if we — do not continue to stand up against Mr. Trump, we will lose our home, too, even as we stay in our houses.
Let's hope their mortgages are paid up, because even that is tenuous. Former OneWest Bank CEO Steven Mnuchin made a tidy living running a “foreclosure machine” known for throwing thousands of people out of their houses, wrongfully it is alleged. Ironically, Mnuchin faces a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate to be Trump's Secretary of the Treasury.

There are reports this morning that in a telephone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump labeled an existing refugee resettlement swap “the worst deal ever.” By some reports, Trump got testy, badgered the Turnbull as if he were a subcontractor, and hung up the phone:
“Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!,” Trump tweeted. The resettlement plan involves sending refugees being held by Australia in offshore camps, many of them from the Middle East or South Asia, onto the U.S.

The message came after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended his relationship with Australia’s biggest ally in the wake of a Washington Post report that Trump berated him over the deal. Trump “abruptly ended” a phone call with the Australian leader on Jan. 28 after 25 minutes even though they had been scheduled to speak for an hour, the paper said. It cited unidentified U.S. officials who were briefed about the conversation.
This is Trump's America. Ain't it great to be great again?