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Trump rejects American ideals of diversity

Eugene Robinson on

Without the support of Republicans, Lyndon Johnson never could have pushed through the landmark Civil Rights legislation that outlawed discrimination and put an end to Jim Crow. That was then; this is now, when minorities overwhelmingly vote for Democratic candidates because they perceive the GOP as indifferent or hostile.

There is nothing inherently racist about the free-market conservatism that Republicans cherish and advocate. But there is everything racist about the white ethnocentric theory of American identity that Trump champions with remarkable frankness.

That's what the immigration battle is really about. When Trump and his allies say they want to end "chain migration" -- in which family members sponsor other family members for entry -- they mean they want to halt the influx of immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries. When Trump says he wants to bar Haitians and Africans, he aims to admit fewer black people. When he pines for more Norwegians, he wants to welcome more white people. (Not that Norwegians, at the moment, are that eager to move to Trump's America.)

Republicans say they want a "merit-based" system of immigration. That has a nice, neutral sound. Who can argue against merit?

But Trump has made clear that what he means to do is halt or reverse the demographic trends that are making this nation increasingly diverse -- trends that are wholly consistent with American history.

A century ago, there were nativists who railed against Irish, Italian and Eastern European immigration, claiming that unwashed hordes from poor countries were "mongrelizing" the nation. We now have a president who rejects American ideals of diversity and inclusion in favor of racial purity.

Sens. Cotton and Perdue, Secretary Nielsen, Reps. McCarthy, and Goodlatte, do you want a race-based immigration system, too? Please don't pretend you didn't hear the question.

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Eugene Robinson's email address is eugenerobinson@washpost.com.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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