In the 1990s, I was part of a team that lobbied against Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic. Stopping ethnic cleansing, as well as USA recognition of the new Republics born from the collapse of communist Yugoslavia, were our goals.
It took a long time to gain recognition and even a longer time to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide by Melosovic, and his henchmen. Ground zero for the majority of the atrocities during the war was Bosnia. Ethnic hatred whipped up by the Serbian and Croatian governments fed the crimes.
I well recall sitting in a Rules Committee hearing during a markup of a rule for an appropriation bill we were tracking. The authorization contained a provision for twenty-five-million dollars to help pay for refugee relief that I had authored.
My Croatian client saw a young man enter the room. He turned to me, and said with a sneer, “Look at that guy over there. He’s Serb.” I asked him how he knew? He said, “They all have a look.” As it turned out, the young man in question was a Congressional aide who sat next to Representative Helen Delich Benchley (R-Md) who was the chief Serb apologist and champion in Congress. He was just a random Congressional staffer not connected to Benchley.
The ethnic hate whipped up by Croatian ultra-nationalism had spread to the USA. It was a racist moment, and it made me uncomfortable.
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
That was in 1995. Flash-forward to 2018. Like Croatia and Serbia in the 1990s, the USA has an ultra-nationalist President. There is no debate about it, Donald Trump is the most racist American President since the Civil War.
His rhetoric about Mexicans reminds me of the Tudjman-era Croats as they wrapped themselves in nationalism and waged war against the Serbs and Muslims.
Donald Trump wraps his ethnic hate in fears of National Security as well as the Flag. Americans seem to like more than one dimension when we hate.
In the land of Trump, and to his racist base, Mexicans are all drug dealers, criminals, and job stealers. They do not allow facts to get in their way. The majority of Mexicans in this country are hardworking and family oriented. They go to church, take care of their homes, and want to live in peace.
They are naturally conservative, and most are against abortion. Mexicans would be the perfect target audience for the Republican Party before it embraced White Nationalism as the party cause. To the GOP of Trump, they are a pox on America that must be rounded up and deported, to make us a purer nation.
“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources--because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”
― Lyndon B. Johnson
Fox News is beating this same drum of ethnic hate. Fox aired a program proclaiming the border with Mexico had moved north in Arizona. It was a show pandering to the fears and anger of the racist audience viewing the program.
Mexicans are not the only group slated for Trump’s broom. Muslims are in the crosshairs too.
The fundamentalist religious bigots that support Donald Trump on faith-based grounds are steadfast in the belief all Muslims are terrorists. Terrorism is a red herring in this case. They hate Muslims solely because of their faith.
Those who hold those views of Muslims are as backward and hateful as the Crusaders in Byzantine times who fought to “liberate” Jerusalem from the people who lived there.
Donald Trump has Muslims he likes, and Muslims he does not like. He loves the Saudi Royal Family. Is it not ironic that Mr. Trump loves the very nation that sent us the 9/11 hijackers? So much for the National Security argument, Trump puts forward.
If you look at the list of the Muslims Trump does not like; it dovetails with the Muslims the Saudis dislike. Is that a coincidence? I do not think so.
The only thing stopping Donald Trump in his hate for Mexicans and Muslims is the courts. So far, his immigration proposals have been deemed unconstitutional. It has happened so many times; it leads one to wonder if anyone working at the White House knows what is in the US Constitution?
Some are likening Donald Trump to Milosevic. The charges against Milosevic at the Hague were for genocide and war crimes in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, including the mass murder of Bosnia Muslims in Srebrenica. What Donald Trump is doing with immigration indeed does not reach that level. The charge Trump is America’s Melosovic is overblown hyperbole, and political hate.
“I take issue with many people's description of people being "Illegal" Immigrants. There aren't any illegal Human Beings as far as I'm concerned.”
― Dennis Kucinich
Trump apologists like to argue that Trump is merely applying the law, and those deported are here illegally. That is true. What makes a person’s stay legal or illegal is a law passed by a legislative body. What do you do when the law is unfair and morally bankrupt?
Of course, we change the law. At least that is what we do in a civil society. In an ultra-nationalist nation, the forces of hate and bigotry try to keep the unfair laws on the books, or possibly expand them.
That brings us to the Dreamers. In a free nation, the will of the country is supposed to carry weight with those who write the laws. In an ultra-nationalist society, the intention of the strongman to carry out hate is what drives laws, rules, and regulations. Pew Research published a poll which proves the US public supports the Dreamers and opposes Trump’s wall. You can read the survey here.
Can we argue that Donald Trump is carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing? Ethnic cleansing is not a crime in International Law. It is an affront to civilized society, and morally repugnant.
The term ethnic cleansing used in the Balkans War gave an out to the West in turning a blind eye to genocide. There is no legal definition.
Two reports authored by the United Nations Commission on activities in the Balkans provide the only definition we have for ethnic cleansing. In their final report, the Commission states that ethnic cleansing is: “a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”
I cannot argue the Trump Administration is practicing ethnic cleansing based on the UN definition. I can say there is an intense flirtation with the concept.
The hate Trump and his supporters throw at Mexicans and Muslims fuels the same hate we saw in the Balkans in the 1990s. The hostility by Trump and his racist base is so intense; they are perfectly willing to close down the Government rather than show compassion and to reaffirm our Nation’s rich immigration heritage.
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