The anti-immigrant movement’s base is founded on racism. The comments made by Congressman Steve King about the importance of “American culture” and the difficulty to “rebuild your civilization with somebody else’s babies” is telling, particularly when they come from the leader in immigration issues at the House of Representatives.
This does not mean that people sincerely questioning the presence of undocumented people on legal grounds are racist. However, such people are in really bad company.
The organizations leading today’s nativist movement, for instance, were all created by one person alone: John Tanton. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA, U.S. English and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) arose from Tanton’s concern that Latinos may bring bad habits and flaws that may harm U.S. society.
Thanks to funding provided by conservative ultra-millionaires and white nationalist groups, Tanton created a network alongside organizations and research centers that lent an appearance of legitimacy to an expression based on racism. In cases such as the CIS, racism is hidden under a technical message, but it shows through when it is revealed that their main figures are Congressman King & co.
The constant demographic changes of our diverse society have led people in some parts of the country to become receptive to a rhetoric of fear and resentment.
That is how politicians such as King and others who represent the Tea Party arrive where they are. They were able to make flourish in Congress the idea that all undocumented people are criminals, which also prevails in the Trump administration.
The Republican Party and the conservative movement now want to distance themselves from a number of racist groups, at least officially, after spending years trying to turn them into political allies.
Both sides are rejecting those closest to neo-Nazism now, but they seem comfortable with white nationalism, currently represented in the White House by the president’s chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Criticizing political correctness opened the door to public expressions of discrimination, chauvinism and racism.
Congressman King has a long history of saying outrageous words and insults to immigrants. Many conservatives and Republicans are angered that their criticism of immigration is being equaled with racism. This would be a good moment to show the difference by publicly condemning racists by their name. Otherwise, silence gives consent.