Laura Ingraham has become wealthy by peddling her hate-filled spew on Fox News. Sometimes you have to wonder if the cast of characters that network features really believe the awful things they say or whether they are just highly paid actors who have perfected the art of purveying their toxic stew of venom and bile on screen, only to return to being normal human beings when the camera is off.
This week, Ingraham worked herself into a particularly vehement tizzy about immigrants ruining America. “In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” she told viewers on Wednesday. “Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they’re changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like.
“From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed. Now, much of this is related to both illegal and in some cases legal immigration.” Those dirty, filthy immigrants are destroying “the America we know and love,” she said. Ingraham failed to utter a peep of protest, however, about Melania Trump’s parents becoming US citizens this week thanks to something called “chain immigration,” a practice vehemently condemned by Donald Trump.
Now, the first thing people will ask is, “What does any of this have to do with clean tech?” The answer is, “Everything.” Global warming and climate change threaten every living person on Earth. Do you think for one minute the world will be able to deal with the enormous challenges it faces if the United States is not part of the process? Yet America seems hellbent on demonizing many of the very people who are leading the critical scientific research that will be needed to find solutions to the climate change disaster in the making.
One of my roles here at CleanTechnica is to survey the latest news from research facilities around the world looking for scientific discoveries that may be of interest to our readers. Time and again, I am struck by the fact that the vast majority of the people engaged in that vital research have surnames that suggest they are immigrants. Asian, Indian, and Pakistani names are everywhere in the research reports. Good old American names like Smith, Jones, or Ingraham? Not so much.
As the drumbeat of warnings about immigrants ruining America increases, how many of these people are going to pack up and leave? How many future researchers are going to refuse to subject themselves and their families to abuse at the hands of US immigration officials and Unite The Right lunatics?
The hatred of immigrants begins with the ignoramus in the White House who has made his admiration for white supremacists abundantly clear along with his loathing of non-whites. He is the epitome of racist and a bigot who thinks white privilege is written in stone like one of the Ten Commandments.
The phrase Make America Great Again and its corollary America First are a direct appeal to white supremacists. They are a plea for a return to the days when benevolent white plantation owners offered free food and shelter to indigent black people who chose to emigrate to America from Africa.
America First has a long history in American politics. According to Snopes.com, it was used as long ago as 1896 by President McKinley as an argument against America getting involved in matters taking place outside its borders. Presidents Coolidge and Harding also used it as part of their presidential campaigns as did Woodrow Wilson, who was vehemently opposed to America becoming involved in World War I until he was for it.
History majors may recall George Washington’s famous imprecation to his countrymen to “avoid entangling alliances,” a precursor to the America First ideas put forth by later presidents. But in the 1920s, it also became one of the slogans of the Ku Klux Klan, says Snopes.
“The images above are authentic,” Snopes says. “The photo of KKK members marching with an “America first” banner dates from the 1920s and can be found in the Getty Images archive. The Ku Klux Klan “coin” (actually a token) bearing the slogans ‘America First’ and ‘Preserve Racial Purity’ on one face and “The Invisible Empire” on the other was struck in 1965 to celebrate the centennial of the KKK’s founding, numismatists say, although it was never officially endorsed by the organization.”
Charles Lindberg headed something called the America First Committee in the years leading up to World War II. According to the Anti-Defamantion League in a statement released prior to the last presidential election, “Lindbergh, who sympathized with the Nazis…whose rhetoric was characterized by anti-Semitism and offensive stereotypes, including assertions that Jews posed a threat to the U.S. because of their influence in motion pictures, radio, the press, and the government.” The critique of Hollywood continues to this day, influenced in part by anti-Semitic attitudes.
In a larger historical context, white privilege was a factor in the colonial movement that saw white men from Europe colonize — or enslave, depending on your point of view — native peoples in Africa, the Americas, India, parts of Asia, and Australia for centuries. History is replete with references to “the white man’s burden” and helping “our little brown brothers” to survive the stain of having pigmented skin.
Words and attitudes have consequences. Few Americans realize the extent to which American thinking influenced the policies embraced by the Nazis, from preserving the purity of the Aryan race to the supposed treachery of Jews, gypsies, and other undesirables.
The eugenics movement, which was born in the US, was vigorously supported by such leading lights as Henry Ford. Later it found its way into false classification systems that purported to prove the genetic inferiority of any people not blessed with Aryan genes. Such abominable ideas still echo today as Donald Trump rails against people from “shithole countries” while whining that America needs more immigrants from Scandinavia with blue eyes and blond hair — the hallmarks of true Aryans.
Furthermore, Germany’s quest to subdue neighboring countries was driven in part by a wish to emulate the Manifest Destiny traditions that permeated the American myth of how the West was won. If America could expand from sea to shining sea, why couldn’t Germany do the same? Many people recoil in horror at any mention of Nazis or Hitler. They immediately deflect any such remarks as “playing the Nazi card.” But if we refuse to learn from history, how can we ever hope to make progress toward a truly civilized world?
“Make America Great” and “America First” are nothing more than modern day equivalents of the letters Christopher Columbus sent back to Spain exclaiming how the openness and docility of the native people he found in the Caribbean made them ideal candidates for slavery. It was just assumed that The Creator placed them on Earth to serve the basest interests of white men. Racism has been going on a long, long time.
Many progressives are struggling to understand how the volcano of hatred unleashed by Donald Trump was there all along, just waiting to erupt. Little did we realize that people like Laura Ingraham represented the attitudes of so many Americans, people who suffered in seething silence for decades as the civil rights movement seemed to be making steady progress toward an inclusive society which valued the lives and contributions of all citizens. We never understood how much the ideal of a plantation society continues to rule the hearts and minds of so many of our fellow citizens.
In the final analysis, the push to make America a lily white country will render America a weak, powerless shadow of itself, irrelevant and forgotten, a mere footnote in the annals of history. The tragedy is that it will take the best and brightest minds working in concert to solve the existential crisis that is climate change. Excluding blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Asians, Indians, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Iranis, Afghanis, Sikhs, and all the other people white Americans have taught themselves to despise will all but guarantee the collapse of American society. It will also deprive the world community of the powers all those hated individuals could bring to solving the global warming crisis.
Snopes concludes its commentary on America First with this pithy observation. “In sum, the political slogan ‘America First’ has a pedigree stretching back more than a hundred years, with connotations ranging from anti-expansionism and trade protectionism to outright racism and anti-Semitism. Although it has been trumpeted over time by hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, its use does not automatically confer the most heinous of those attitudes on the user — although given its less savory associations, one wonders why any informed person would embrace it today. (Emphasis added.)
A wise person whose life is still celebrated by many once shared these words with close associates: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
It is astonishing how few of His followers honor those words despite constantly and loudly proclaiming their love for Him. One of life’s great conundrums.
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