Michelle Goldberg today writes about the link between Trump’s anti-semitism (anti-Jewish racism; the racism toward Muslims is also anti-semitic) and other forms of racism. She omits the attacks on Soros which are common to Eastern Europe and blatant; they go along with a kind of split personality in the administration of friendship for Jared Kushner and the racists who run Israel, and a much deeper demonization of American elite-style globalization. See my Bannon as a Medieval Knight here and Jews in the Diaspora are also enemies of Israel. But she makes the deep point that the attacks on Muslims are, right now, much more violent and thoroughgoing, and connected to other forms of racism as well. (h/t Nader Hashemi)
Mike Schwartz has also explored PEN protests against the harassment of artists coming to the US or American artists, who think the “wrong things,” returning from abroad. Mem Suss, an older, white Australian writer of children’s books, including on immigration of non-whites in Australia felt, alone in her hundred visits to the US, personally violated by ICE. Aaron Gach, an American photographer who talks about the vast prison system (2.3 million prisoners – 25% of the world’s prisoners; 5.1 more on probation; many forbidden to vote or live in public housing or barred from employment; cf. Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow) was held up and harassed to find out his network.
This was also a tool of the Obama administration and George W. Bush, just rendered more grotesque in spades by ICE with the chains off. Every bit of it – also licensed by the Democrats previously – is totalitarian, and should be fought. And the treatment of nonwhite immigrants is so much worse, as Suss and Gach testify, even though the illegal, immoral and irrational Muslim ban has been halted legally for the second time.
Goldberg rightly mentions Sebastain Gorka, who wore a Vitezi Rend medal on a Hungarian fascist outfit and spells his name with a small v. symbolic of this “Order of the Valiant” Medieval Knights. Founded in 1920, Vitezi Rend sent 100,000 jews to the death camps. It is an odious organization even in Hungary, and as Goldberg emphasizes, it is no wonder that the genocide against Jews was dropped by the Trump administration from Holocaust Remembrance Day. But the genocide was a spear head to the subjugation of Poland (“the Wild East”), the slaughter of 20 million Russians (Hittler planned 40 million, the rest on reservations) as well as a large number of “Ukrainian redskins”). See Alan Gilbert, “The Cowboy Novels that Inspired Hitler,” Daily Beast, August 22, 2016). All are hurt, citizen and immigrant, by this poisonous racism.
Naturally, “Seb” speaks for the administration rather than being fired…
The last article from Samuel L. Stanley, the President of the State University of New York at Stony Brook in Scientific American shows clearly how this racism sabotages science and productivity in American universities. More importantly, in driving out the head of the Graduate Student Association, it is – Trump and Bannon and Session and Gorka are – indecent and inhuman.
These attacks on immigrants run deep. Many Latinos now train children, as the Reuters headline says, to expect to grow up with others as parents now go to work in separate cars, hope not to be deported. At DU, many of us are raising the idea of a Sanctuary Campus, following others around the country. We should all take every step we can on behalf of humanity.
SundayReview | OPINION New York Times
Why Is This Hate Different From All Other Hate?
By MICHELLE GOLDBERG APRIL 1, 2017
A boy cleaned a headstone at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Mo., after dozens of gravestones were vandalized in February.
Cristina Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press
On March 23, a Jewish teenager was arrested in Israel, accused of being behind the wave of bomb threats that had terrorized Jewish organizations since President Trump’s election. For people alarmed about the uptick in religious and ethnic bigotry in the Trump era, this was a shock.
Mr. Trump had been slow to condemn the threats, as well as several incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism.
Pennsylvania’s attorney general said that Mr. Trump told him that this activity could be a false flag campaign intended “to make people — or to make others — look bad.” This theory had been floating around white supremacist circles, and much to the delight of the far right, it turned out to be partly correct.
As a result, the Trump administration is now acting as if it has been permanently absolved from addressing hate crimes. Last Monday, the journalist April Ryan asked the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, if the White House had anything to say about the murder of a black man in New York City by a white supremacist. In response, Mr. Spicer complained about how unfair it had been to ask “folks on the right” to denounce anti-Semitic bomb threats, when it turned out those threats hadn’t come from the right.
It was a bizarre argument. Normally, it is routine for presidents to offer sympathy to victims of high-profile crimes — without treating it as an opportunity to settle a political grudge.
All the same, the Israeli bomb threat hoax does force some reassessment. Perhaps we have given Trump-era anti-Semitism more emphasis than it deserves. This does not mean that, as Mr. Spicer suggests, we should see the president as the victim of unjust insinuations. Instead, we should ask why there was so much more pressure on Mr. Trump to speak out about apparent anti-Semitic threats than about other types of religious and ethnic violence.
For example, while synagogues have been threatened, at least four mosques have been burned. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, there have been 35 attacks on mosques — including vandalism, break-ins and death threats — in the first three months of this year, compared with 19 over the same period in 2016. In the last week, a family of Pakistani origin in Virginia and an Iranian refugee in Oregon reported their homes broken into and defaced with anti-Muslim obscenities.
The Iranian was not even Muslim, and others who are not Muslim but may be suspected of being such have been targeted in hate crime incidents. In February, a white man demanded to know if two Indian patrons at a bar in Kansas were in the country illegally, and shot them, killing one. In March, a masked assailant shot a Sikh man in Washington State, reportedly telling him to go back to his country.
The various strands of renascent bigotry in Mr. Trump’s America are intertwined, and anti-Semitism is only part of the tapestry. Yet Americans, for good historical reasons, tend to have a particularly heightened sensitivity toward anti-Semitism. All 100 senators signed a letter calling on the Trump administration to take “swift action” against the anti-Semitic bomb threats. There has been no similar political urgency in demanding protection for other harassed minorities.
The president and his associates mix anti-Semitic dog whistles with frank attacks on Muslims, immigrants and refugees. The paradox is that in today’s America, coded anti-Semitism is more of a political taboo than open Islamophobia. We spend a great deal of time and energy parsing the semiotics of Mr. Trump’s role in stoking anti-Jewish sentiment, while Muslims and immigrants can be defamed with impunity. The risk here is that we’ve been distracted by the anti-Semitism controversy from the ways in which other groups are being demonized as Jews once were.
In his definitive 1994 book “Anti-Semitism in America,” Leonard Dinnerstein describes American anti-Semitism reaching a high tide in the early 1940s. The country was traumatized by the Great Depression and apprehensive about war in Europe. Reactionaries imagined themselves squeezed between globalist Jewish bankers above and subversive Jewish refugee hordes below.
The America First Committee, formed to keep the United States out of World War II, was full of bigots and Nazi sympathizers; Mr. Dinnerstein quotes the chairman of the Terre Haute, Ind., chapter saying, “Jews were now in possession of our government.” There were widespread assertions that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was secretly Jewish; anti-Semites insisted his real last name was Rosenfeld.
Demagogues found popular support for their demand to keep Jewish refugees out of the country. Mr. Dinnerstein describes an anti-Semitic speaker warning of “200,000 Communist Jews at the Mexican border waiting to get into this country,” adding that “if they are admitted they will rape every woman and child that is left unprotected.”
Today, these tropes feel familiar but in a new context. Mr. Trump started his political career by amplifying rumors that President Barack Obama was secretly Muslim. He resurrected the disgraced slogan “America First.” In October, he warned that Hillary Clinton was meeting “in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers.” Mr. Trump called for refugees to be kept out of the country, smearing them as agents of a sinister foreign ideology. Breitbart, the website formerly run by Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, has run a stream of alarmist articles about refugee rapists.
In the Trump administration’s conspiratorial nationalism, avowed anti-Semites hear their overarching narratives reflected back to them, their prejudices tacitly approved. Mr. Trump himself does not appear to harbor personal anti-Jewish animus: He has a beloved Jewish daughter and close Jewish advisers. Yet he and members of his circle have broken long-established social and political norms by mining the anti-Semitic far right for images and arguments.
During the presidential campaign, Michael T. Flynn, who would briefly serve as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, retweeted someone attacking CNN with the words, “Not anymore, Jews, not anymore.” (Mr. Flynn later apologized.) Mr. Trump himself tweeted an image, first circulated online by white supremacists, featuring Hillary Clinton’s face and a Star of David superimposed over a background of $100 bills and the message “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” (Mr. Trump insisted he’d done nothing wrong.) Under Mr. Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart defended online anti-Semitism as subversive good fun and published a column attacking the conservative writer Bill Kristol as a “renegade Jew.”
In power, the new administration, too, seemed to be trolling the Jewish community. In January, the White House released a statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention Jews. A spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, told CNN the omission was intentional, because the administration “took into account all of those who suffered” — echoing the position of neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers who seek to play down the genocide of Jews.
At an inauguration ball, Sebastian Gorka, a Breitbart editor who was soon to become a White House adviser, wore a medal associated with a Nazi-collaborationist Hungarian group, the Vitezi Rend. The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, reported that Mr. Gorka was a sworn member of the group. (Mr. Gorka claimed he wore the medal to honor his father, from whom he “inherited” Vitezi Rend membership.)
This is where we are now: A senior administration official dons fascist paraphernalia, defends himself by saying he did so out of filial loyalty, and suffers no political repercussions.
Naturally, many Jews find this chilling, but we should not lose sight of the real import of Mr. Gorka’s appointment. He may flirt with anti-Semitic iconography for sentimental reasons, but he owes his career to his apocalyptic view of America’s war with radical Islam. The Islamic State, he claimed last year, “is already well entrenched on the shores of the United States.” When the National Cathedral hosted a Muslim prayer service in a gesture of ecumenical good will, Mr. Gorka published a Breitbart column headlined: “Muslim Brotherhood Overruns National Cathedral in D.C.”
Last year, Michael Anton, now a White House national security staffer, wrote a pseudonymous essay arguing that “mass immigration has overwhelmed, eroded, and de-Americanized formerly American communities.” He was particularly contemptuous of Muslim immigration. Yes, he allowed, “not all Muslims are terrorists, blah, blah, blah, etc. Even so, what good has Muslim immigration done for the United States and the American people?”
To be an American Muslim or a brown-skinned immigrant and know that people like this are in power must be terrifying. Mr. Trump and his appointees have consistently denigrated and dehumanized these minorities in ways we’d never tolerate if they were talking about Jews.
The president and his cronies talk a lot about representing “the people,” but they don’t mean all Americans. “The only important thing is the unification of the people,” Mr. Trump said at Eugene, Ore., campaign rally last year, “because the other people don’t mean anything.”
Naturally, a government that decides certain groups of people “don’t mean anything” shakes many Jews to the core. But the horror of the president’s vision isn’t that “the other people” might include Jews. It includes people. Even in this brutally tribal moment, that should be enough.
Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn), a columnist for Slate, is the author of “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism” and, most recently, “The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West.”
The Emerging Reign of Terror: The Evolving Profile of Institutional Bigotry Under Trump
Airport detentions are collective punishment against communities of color, aimed at intimidating people into passivity.
By Michael Schwartz / AlterNet
March 28, 2017
Rally for Standing Rock Sioux Outside E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, DC during hearing for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Photo Credit: Anne Meador/Cool Revolution/Flickr CC
We need to been alert and prepared, as the fog of neoliberal Obamaism lifts to reveal the stark outline of the Trumptatorship. The telltale early signs can be read by the dreadful events that first occurred – and continue to occur with a dreadful drumbeat –at the airports; where seemingly (but not actually) random travelers are swept up without warning, dragged into detention areas,and then are subjected to “aggressive interrogations.” And often enough dragged away in shackles (!) to flights out of the country.
Soon after the spectacular initiation of airport detention began, the ever-vicious ICE agents intensified and broadened the targets of their horrifying surprise assaults on Latino households, where seemingly (but not actually) random families are fractured by often physically brutal kidnapping of previously secure family members, followed by incarceration, expulsion procedures, and/or rapid deportation. These and other horrors are occurring with amplified visibility and frequency, even before the ever evolving formal Muslim ban, the amped up deportation regime, and the “license to kill” local policing policies are implemented.
Consider these examples of border detention which, according a recent PEN America – the watchdog group for artists and writers’ rights – are representative of the “aggressive interrogations at the border that leave [the victims] humiliated, angry, and bewildered”. Here are three excerpts from the PEN report on border detention targeting writers and artists:
• The bestselling children’s book author Mem Fox, an Australian citizen, was detained in late February at the Los Angeles International Airport while in route to a conference in Milwaukee. She was detained for nearly two hours by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials who reportedly believed she was traveling on the wrong visa, although Fox says she has traveled to the U.S. over 100 times before without any incident. Her interrogation was so aggressive that she “felt like I had been physically assaulted.” Fox, whose most recent book I’m Australian, Too is a celebration of immigration and Australia’s multicultural heritage, eventually received an apology from the U.S. embassy in Australia.
• Henry Rousso, a celebrated French historian of the Holocaust who was born and raised in Egypt, was detained for 10 hours at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Rousso, author of The Vichy Syndrome, about France’s struggle to reckon with its World War II history, was traveling to a symposium at Texas A&M University. Border officials questioned him about his visa and accused him of attempting to work illegally in the U.S.. Rousso was first told that he would be deported, but was eventually released after Texas A&M learned of the situation and intervened.
• Aaron Gach, an American media artist and founder of the Center for Tactical Magic, contacted PEN after he was detained on February 23 on his return home to San Francisco from an art show in Brussels. Gach was subjected to detailed questioning regarding an art exhibition in which he had participated in Belgium, including questions about why he was invited, who invited him, and how often he takes part in such exhibits. Gach’s pieces included in the exhibition focused on issues related to incarceration in the United States; he is unsure whether he was detained in connection with his work. Gach was repeatedly asked to allow CPB agents access to his personal phone by turning it over and providing his password; when he finally agreed, the phone was removed from his sight for several minutes before being returned to him.
There are three agonizing threads to highlight from these unfortunately common examples – and apparently multiplying even while the Muslim ban is enjoined by the courts – of the treatment of travelers in U.S. airports on international flights these days. The first is that these incidents are actually among the mildest and least damaging among (possibly tens of) thousands of detentions of international (and now even domestic) travelers. All three were soon “cleared” of suspicion and allowed to go on their way after “only” hours of detention.
Yet these relatively mild experiences were still excruciating. Australian writer Mem Fox felt like she had been “physically assaulted,” French historian Henry Rousso said, “we must now face arbitrariness and incompetence at all levels,” and Aaron Gash, an American citizen, was forced to hand over his cell phone and password during an interrogation about his participation in an international art exhibit.
But the real significance of these events – and many others – is that the suffering extends far beyond the individuals who suffered through these nightmares. Because these people are “so innocent”, because these detentions seem to have fall at random on them,… the shock, alarm and pain falls on everyone who identifies with these people, everyone who says to themselves “if they can be detained, then so can I.” This new wave of detentions are actually the cutting edge of collective punishment.
To the cognoscenti, this seems to be more than a bit excessive, since the term “collective punishment” has been recently applied to military attacks on arbitrarily selected members of a community. The U.S. practiced collective punishment for years in Iraq or Afghanistan – and Russian forces practice it currently in Syria – by destroying buildings or even whole neighborhoods because insurgents had been known to frequent the area. The logic is categorical: any person in the designated territory – whether or not they are suspected of a specific crime or misdeed – can be punished as warning to everyone that they are subject to attack if insurgents are known to frequent their neighborhoods.
It is this categorical logic that gives the arbitrary targeting its collective impact. The damage caused, for example, by U.S. air raids in Iraq, extended far beyond the direct targets whose homes and lives were destroyed. The raids impacted on the concentric circles of people related to the direct targets, whose lives were disrupted (or ended) by the direct attack, or by the injuries to the family members or to people upon whom they depended or cared about. And – at the next level – the raids impacted on unrelated people in the same category, because the attacks served notice on them that they too – if insurgents had frequented or been rumored to frequent their neighborhoods – could be subject to attack. They were therefore also punished – since they altered their lives to prepare for or avoid the possible attack. So categorical punishment – even when visited upon a tiny minority of the targeted “category” – becomes collective punishment experienced by the whole community.
It would be hyperbole to equate these excruciating but still relatively innocuous detentions to the collective punishment visited on Iraqi and Afghani communities by the U.S. military and the analogous treatment of Syrian communities by the Russians. But the parallel is nevertheless a valuable one because the difference of severity does not alter the fact that the airport detentions are already punishing a huge number of people who could themselves be targets. This fearful ripple effect was fully expressed by the Pen America coverage of the detentions:
In the wake of reports like these and the expectation that a new travel ban will be issued at any moment, PEN America is hearing from artists, writers, poets, and other cultural and intellectual figures who are newly worried about making trips to the U.S., afraid of being turned away at the border, made to submit to invasive searches of their smartphones, interrogated about their political opinions and religious beliefs, or being subjected to arbitrary tests of their abilities. In a few short weeks, a pervasive fog of fear has encircled our borders, and it will deter countless people from even attempting to visit the country. PEN America is hearing from artists, writers, poets, and other cultural and intellectual figures who are newly worried about making trips to the U.S., afraid of being turned away at the border, made to submit to invasive searches of their smartphones, interrogated about their political opinions and religious beliefs, or being subjected to arbitrary tests of their abilities.
These detentions are thus just another (much milder) form of collective punishment: anyone who fits into the categories that the ICE agents consider suspicious are potential targets for hours-long detention or worse. And what PEN America reports is that this target group includescase “artists, writers, poets, and other cultural and intellectual figures.” The whole community is now fearful that they will experience “aggressive interrogation” and/or “being turned away at the border.” The entire community is thus placed in the situation of altering their life style. Deciding whether to forego a trip to avoid the “risk,” or to create contingencies if they are held up long enough to disrupt their plans, or take extra precautions to insure that they have contacts and documents that will ameliorate the ICE actions or shorten the detention. Everyone in the artistic community must worry before traveling to – or returning to – the United States, and create a kind of contingency plan around “worst case scenarios” just in case they become targets of “aggressive interrogation.”
The PEN America reporters were specifically concerned about the impact of airport detentions on artists and writers, but it is quite clear that they are only one of several communities who should consider themselves warned by these events. And once the “warning” takes hold, the collective punishment begins, with people changing their lives in decidedly negative ways in order to forestall, preclude, or avoid being subjected to ICE’s “aggressive interrogations”.
Before we consider these other – larger and more seriously threatened – communities who are already in the cross-hairs of the Trump Administration ,we should call out a less visible, but nevertheless important pattern in the airport detentions. The targets in the PEN America report are a little surprising precisely because they do not fit into the categories that Trump has explicitly announced as his targets. Nor are they exceptions, many other aggressive interogations at airports involve native-born American citizens, travelers from non-Muslim countries, and – non-Latino “suspects” of illegal immigration. In this context, the the detention of artist and U.S. citizen Aaron Gach is valuable, since the interrogators offered a clue to the category that accounts for his detention:
Gach was subjected to detailed questioning regarding an art exhibition in which he had participated in Belgium, including questions about why he was invited, who invited him, and how often he takes part in such exhibits. Gach’s pieces included in the exhibition focused on issues related to incarceration in the United States; he is unsure whether he was detained in connection with his work. Gach was repeatedly asked to allow CPB agents access to his personal phone by turning it over and providing his password; when he finally agreed, the phone was removed from his sight for several minutes before being returned to him.
What may not have been clear to Gach is surely clear to the anyone who knows anything about the various United States “homeland security” forces. Their interest derived from his (artistic) activism opposing (racist) super-incarceration, which automatically puts him in the “enemy” camp. And their successful effort at invading Gach’s cell phone was part of the mega policy of the U.S. government – pioneered by the Bush II administration and secretly perfected by the “fully transparent Obama administration – of tracking (and targeting) the “networks” surrounding any activist they consider dangerous. The Trump administration has broken ranks with its precedessors by admitting that they are doing this, most recently (and perhaps inadvertently) in their currently enjoined “Muslim” ban, in which they articulated the intention of excluding people who “bear hostile attitudes” toward the United States. In ICE’s world, anti-incarceration activism is apparently a symptom of such “hostile attitudes,” making Gach eligible for detention and “aggressive interrogation.” Moreover, it also makes his cell phone contact list eligible for the same treatment.
The other two people highlighted in the PEN America report also fit into the Trumpian version of “hostile attitudes” to the United States. Australian author Mem Fox had authored more than one children’s book celebrating open immigration, particularly from the non-white Global South. French Historian Henry Rousso was doubly doubly suspect. In the first instance, he was raised in Egypt – a clear sign of possible (probable? inevitable?) “hostile attitudes.” In the second instance, his extensive scholarship on social catastrophes – including the Holocaust – contains considerable indirect and direct criticism of the U.S. government.
The method in the madness of harassing U.S. citizen like Aaron Gach – who cannot be prevented from returning to the United States, is that the detention (which made author Mem Fox feel “like I had been physically assaulted”) is punishment enough to signal all other activists challenging U.S. government policies – that ICE (and other police agencies) are willing to apply “aggressive interrogation” or worse whenever they come into their jurisdiction. So, without any formal prosecution these acts of categorical punishment – judiciously distributed across time and space and amply publicized to the activist community – are aimed at creating chilling effect on activism in general and resistance to Trump policies in particular.
But these two targets – artists and activists – are the sideshow when it comes to collective punishment by the Trumptatorship (and, sad to say, its two predecessor regimes).The central targets of the exclusionary policies practiced by the U.S. government for the past several decades, taken to extremes after 911, and now publicized and amplified by the Trump administration – Muslims, Latinos, and other peoples of color. The French historian, Henry Rousso, was painfully aware of the harsher detention experienced by travelers without the privileged institutional protection he eventually activated: “This incident has caused me some discomfort, but I cannot stop thinking of all those who suffer these humiliations and legal violence without the protections I was able to benefit from.” Among the further humiliations he witnessed was an instance of expulsion, the dreadful, life disrupting, and humiliating punishment that loomed over all the detainees:
By 9:00 p.m., there were only half a dozen people left. I was the only European, the only “Caucasian.” Two police officers arrived and headed for the gentleman seated in front of me, maybe a Mexican. They were coming to take him to the boarding gate. Then they handcuffed him, chained him at the waist, and shackled him.
Australian children’s book author Mem Fox, in her detention diary provided a another glimpse of how others – particularly those who did not speak English – were treated:
I heard things happening in that room, happening to other people that made me ashamed to be human.
There was an Iranian woman in a wheelchair, she was about 80, wearing a little mauve cardigan, and they were yelling at her – “Arabic? Arabic?”. They screamed at her “ARABIC?” at the top of their voices, and finally she intuited what they wanted and I heard her say “Farsi”. And I thought heaven help her, she’s Iranian, what’s going to happen?
There was no toilet, no water, and there was this woman with a baby. If I had been holed up in that room with a pouch on my chest, and a baby crying, or needing to be fed, oh God … the agony I was surrounded by in that room was like a razor blade across my heart.
They made me feel like such a crushed, mashed, hopeless old lady and I am a feisty, strong, articulated English speaker. I kept thinking that if this were happening to me, a person who is white, articulate, educated and fluent in English, what on earth is happening to people who don’t have my power?
And, of course, these airports detentions are only one aspect of the repressive treatment that members of communities of color – especially African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims – experience when entering or living in the United States – and now while traveling within the couontry. The ascension of Trump has been a kind of denouement for the policies that have evolved over the years since 911, and each community is already experiencing – and can expect a Trump amplification – of the repressive policies. For Muslim communities from the Middle East and Northern Africa, the Trump amplification will be formalized in the court-vetted Muslim ban . For Latino communities, the Trump amplification will be enacted in the officially unfettered ICE raids that are already underway; and for African Americans it will be the pending “police lives matter” Executive Order that promises police something approaching a license to kill.
The amplifications of repression against communities of color – either promised or already enacted – by the Trump administration constitute the use of collective punishment to institute a regime of state terror on these communities. The horrible experience of airport detention, which made Mem Fox “feel like such a crushed, mashed, hopeless old lady,” is only a taste of what is already occurring. A more pungent – and horrifying – example can be found in this casual headline by Reuters:
“Parents fearing deportation pick guardians for U.S. children.” With five million children facing the possibility of parental deportation – a process reminiscent of the fracturing slave families by selling off the parents – immigrant communities must begin planning for the adoption and protection of the children. Activist Juanita
Molina articulated the nature of the terror experienced by the targets of the family-fracturing policy to Guardian reporter Julia Carrie Wong: “It’s almost like it’s psychological warfare that’s being waged against people of color to create a constant feeling of fear and uncertainty.”
The way in which the reign of terror reaches the individual targets of collective punishment was fully expressed by Sheridan Aguirre, who was brought to the U.S. as a two-year old and has been protected from deportation for four years by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. After his peace of mind was shattered by the news that two DACA recipients had been detailed. He told Guardian reporter Wong: “I’m feeling persecuted, alienated – like this administration is trying to terrorize me and my loved ones.”
Stony Brook State University
IraqViews is a not-so-occasional posting from Michael Schwartz regarding the situation in Iraq, U.S. policy in the Middle East, and everything else tangentially related to it.
Guest Blog Scientific American
Anti-Immigration Rhetoric Is a Threat to American Leadership
Our embrace of international students and faculty has given the U.S. a leg up on all other countries in the race to lead in innovation and discovery
By Samuel L. Stanley Jr. on March 20, 2017
Iranian-American engineer and entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari was a co-sponsor of the Ansari X-Prize for private spaceflight. Credit: NASA Wikimedia
America’s universities are the best in the world. The quality of the students, faculty, teaching, infrastructure, the commitment to academic freedom, and the extraordinary research opportunities attract the best and brightest people from around the globe to the United States. And our nation is far better for it.
Last year six recipients of the Nobel Prize were working at American universities: the three winners of the prize in physics, the two winners in economics, and one of the three winners in chemistry. All six were foreign born. Bob Dylan was the only Nobel laureate last year born in the United States. And 2016 was no fluke. In all, 42 percent of the Nobel Prizes awarded between 1901 and 2015 went to individuals working/living in the United States, and nearly one third of those recipients were born outside the U.S. Our ability to attract the world’s leading scientists to our universities has helped us maintain global leadership in innovation and discovery, a tremendous component of our economic strength and national security.
But it is not just faculty that have come to U.S. universities to pursue their research. We also have been the destination of choice for outstanding graduate and undergraduate students from around the world. At Stony Brook University and many other top research universities, the majority of our graduate students in STEM fields are international students. Many of these talented students stay on after their education and become contributors to innovation and economic development in our country. The economic impact of international students on the U.S. economy was nearly $36 billion dollars in 2015, with $4 billion in New York State alone. Just on my campus, roughly 10 percent of the startup companies at our business incubator are led by foreign born scientists with much of the workforce coming from recent international doctoral students. And the impact of international students on our campus is not just economic, they add to the diversity of culture and ideas on our campus, broadening the experience of every student at Stony Brook University and better preparing them for the 21st century world.
But now this is all at risk. New immigration policies, coupled with xenophobic rhetoric and actions both before and after the election, are undoing the compact between the United States and those seeking opportunity from around the world. The first executive order nearly resulted in the deportation of the President of Stony Brook’s Graduate Student Organization, a former Fulbright Scholar, who had been studying in the United States for 10 years. The campus was dramatically unsettled, with an initial loss of the sense of security and welcoming inclusive environment that we have worked so hard to establish.
And the impact is not just local. Research universities are seeing an immediate effect on the recruitment of international faculty and students. Stony Brook University has seen a decline of roughly 10 percent in international applications for graduate school this year, a figure that seems to be on a par with the decline seen at other institutions. The reasons for these declines may not be solely based on anti-immigration policies and rhetoric, but some accepted applicants to Stony Brook, especially from countries targeted by the first Executive Order, have stated explicitly that they will choose a Canadian or Australian university instead, based on the uncertainty of U.S. immigration policy and the fact that they are being singled out based on their country of origin, not on their academic credentials. And the recent suspension of expedited processing of H1-B visas, which is of significant concern to the Technology Sector, could also have a chilling effect on the ability of Universities to attract outstanding international faculty and scientists to help sustain our research and educational missions.
Rather than creating pathways to citizenship like DACA, the anti-immigration rhetoric, and now acts of violence against immigrants to the United States, is sending a message to the world that the United States, and by implication, our universities, no longer will be a welcoming and safe environment for international students and faculty. “They” should look elsewhere, and, unfortunately for us, they will.
It may not be too late to make this right. Policy needs to be based on facts, not fear. Recent data from Homeland Security on the relative risks posed by recent immigrants to the U.S. vs those who have been residents for years should be incorporated into our approach to security. Continuing DACA and moving to a policy that “staples a Green Card” on to the diploma of graduates of U.S. universities would go a long way to helping address our workforce issues in technology and reassuring the world that we do still want best and the brightest to study and work in the United States of America.
Our embrace of international students and faculty has given the U.S. a leg up on all other countries in the race to lead in innovation and discovery. We augment our extraordinary homegrown talent with future leaders from around the world. But time is short, the new policies and rhetoric are taking their toll, significant damage is being done, and if we surrender our global edge in innovation and discovery, we may never get it back.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Samuel L. Stanley Jr.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, is President of Stony Brook University, one of the nation’s leading research institutions. A highly distinguished biomedical scientist, Dr. Stanley is known for his research focusing on enhanced defense against emerging infectious diseases. Named one of 10 University Impact Champions by the United Nations HeForShe global initiative for his efforts on gender equality, Dr. Stanley is also a champion of academic-industry collaborations and an advocate for social progress in the field of higher education.