We now know when Donald Trump thinks America was great and what he thinks will make it great again: the 1920s. God help us he may just bring us to the same point to which his apparent idol --- Warren G. Harding --- brought us. It, uh, wasn't good.
This piece by Adam Serwer gets to the heart of Trump's entire worldview. He talks about the racist, xenophobic, eugenicist policies that led to the immigration act of 1924, which pretty much cut off all immigration from anywhere but northern Europe. Then this:
More than a century later President Donald Trump would put it differently, as he considered immigration from Africa, wondering, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” instead suggesting that America take in more immigrants from places like Norway.
These remarks reflect scorn not only for those who wish to come here, but those who already have. It is a president of the United States expressing his contempt for the tens of millions of descendants of Africans, most of whose forefathers had no choice in crossing the Atlantic, American citizens whom any president is bound to serve. And it is a public admission of sorts that he is incapable of being a president for all Americans, the logic of his argument elevating not just white immigrants over brown ones, but white citizens over the people of color they share this country with.
The racist pseudoscience underpinning Walker’s belief that immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe were incapable of responsible self-government is out of vogue today, but the both the sentiment and logic are now applied by the descendants of those very same “beaten races” who now work for Trump in the White House, who craft arguments defending his prejudice, and who cast ballots bearing his name. Whether through ardent commitment or conflicted resignation, they are all now a part of Trump’s only sincere ideological project, the preservation of white political and cultural dominance. That was the goal of Walker and the immigrant restrictionists of his day, and it is Trump’s project now.
It is one the president has pursued with abandon. As Elise Foley writes, since taking office, he has cancelled the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals,subjecting more than 600,000 people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to the prospect of deportation, and cancelled Temporary Protected Status for 50,000 Haitians and 200,000 El Salvadorans living in the United States. Trump has adopted policies that would be responsible for the displacement of nearly a million people of color in less than 12 months in office.
Virtually all of Walker’s complaints, staples of anti-immigrant rhetoric at the turn of the century, will sound familiar to those who have paid attention to American politics for the past two years.
Their habits of life, again, are of the most revolting kind. Read the description given by Mr. Riis of the police driving from the garbage dumps the miserable beings who try to burrow in those depths of unutterable filth and slime in order that they may eat and sleep there! Was it in cement like this that the foundations of our republic were laid? What effects must be produced upon our social standards, and upon the ambitions and aspirations of our people, by a contact so foul and loathsome? The influence upon the American rate of wages of a competition like this cannot fail to be injurious and even disastrous.
A few hours after news of his remarks broke, Trump attempted to reframe his objections as a matter of public safety. “The Democrats seem intent on having people and drugs pour into our country from the Southern Border, risking thousands of lives in the process,” Trump tweeted. “It is my duty to protect the lives and safety of all Americans. We must build a Great Wall, think Merit and end Lottery & Chain. USA!”
Or as Walker put it, “the present situation is most menacing to our peace and political, safety. In all the social and industrial disorders of this country since 1877, the foreign elements have proved themselves the ready tools of demagogues in defying the law, in destroying property, and in working violence.” He offered that “There may be those who can contemplate the addition to our population of vast numbers of persons having no inherited instincts of self-government and respect for law; knowing no restraint upon their own passions but the club of the policeman or the bayonet of the soldier; forming communities, by the tens of thousands, in which only foreign tongues are spoken, and into which can steal no influence from our free institutions and from popular discussion. But I confess to being far less optimistic.”
The benefit of this history is that we know how the story ended then; with the adoption of racist immigration laws, and the immigrants from the “shithole countries” of the turn of the century defending the country in two world wars. But their children and grandchildren, having assimilated into the very whiteness Walker and his ilk saw as endangered, now repeat the same slander laid upon their ancestors against a new generation of immigrants looking for a better life in America. The old lies are now again embraced by the descendants of those who once suffered because of them.
I wrote a lot about Trump's eugenicist belief system during the campaign. He hasn't made a secrt of his belief that he comes from superior stock. For some reason too many people in the media decided to ignore all this about him and pretend that he was making a class argument. I guess because he is a billionaire he's assumed to also be an economic determinist. He is anything but that:
Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio explains that Trump was raised to believe that success is genetic, and that some people are just more superior than others:
"The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring."
Huffington Post also took the liberty of compiling a whole bunch of times Trump suggested that genes are the main factor behind brains and superiority. Here are just a few choice quotes from good ol' Trump:
"All men are created equal. Well, it's not true. 'Cause some are smart, some aren't."
"When you connect two racehorses, you usually end up with a fast horse."
"Secretariat doesn't produce slow horses."
"Do we believe in the gene thing? I mean, I do."
"I have great genes and all that stuff which, I'm a believer in."
He used to say his family came from Sweden because there was a point in American history where bragging about being of "good German blood" was socially frowned upon. But he stopped that and went back to it.
It should not be a surprise at all that Trump thinks countries which are predominantly made up of non-whites are "shithole countries." He' a white supremacist and has been his whole life.