Columns Government & Politics Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion Race & Ethnicity

Trump’s nativism harks back to the antebellum slavery struggle

The Wall got Donald Trump elected in 2016, so we shouldn’t be surprised that he has focused on immigration in the final days before the the midterms. It serves as a useful reminder that nativism lies at the core of his claim on the presidency.

This, of course, is just the latest nativist chapter in American history. There was the hostility to German and Irish Catholic immigrants that culminated in the success of the Know-Nothing Party in the early 1850s; the animosity toward migrant workers from China that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; the post-World War I Red Scare that set the stage for the restrictive policy of the Immigration Act of 1924; and the internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor.

But when it comes to the kind of political polarization we’re going through today, slavery provides a better historical context than immigration. Consider the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required citizens and officials of free states to cooperate in capturing escaped slaves and mandated that they be returned to their masters.

Across the North, the law was denounced and defied, and not only by free blacks and white abolitionists running the Underground Railroad. Religious opposition was particularly strong. Two weeks after the bill became law,  the General Conference of the Freewill Baptists, meeting in Providence, condemned it with a series of resolutions, the first of which reads:

Resolved, That we deliberately and calmly, yet earnestly and decidedly, deny any and all obligation on our part to submit to the unrighteous enactments of the aforementioned Fugitive Lave Law. Also, that, regardless of unjust human enactments, fines and imprisonment, we will do all we can, consistently with the claims of the Bible, to prevent the re-capture of the fugitive, and to aid him in his efforts to escape from his rapacious claimants.

Throughout the free states, local vigilance committees protected fugitives, provided them with food and clothing and jobs, and got them to safe places. In Massachusetts, Boston and New Bedford and Springfield and Worcester became what we’d call sanctuary cities, where citizens and public officials alike refused to do what the federal government ordered. Along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio and New York, the slave catchers were kept at bay.

“The crisis caused by escaping slaves was not enough to bring on the Civil War, but there is no doubt that it was a major contributing factor,” writes Vanderbilt historian R. J. M. Blackett in a masterful new book on the law and the response to it. “By their actions the slaves placed themselves at the center of the political debate about the future of slavery.”

By rights, immigration ought to pose far less of a challenge to the American political system than slavery did. Indeed, compared with the bloodletting of the Civil War, the image of a president sending some thousands of troops to the Mexican border to protect the country from a caravan of impoverished refugees recalls Marx’s famous quip about history occurring “the first time as tragedy, then as farce.”

But like slavery, immigration engages some of America’s deepest religious, racial, and geographic sensibilities. Farcical Trump’s political posturing may be, but it seems inevitable that, whatever happens in Tuesday’s election, the issue will continue to bedevil the country for a long time.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

139 Comments

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  • Interestingly, the first state to officially reject Federal authority was in the North, not in the South. The Wisconsin legislature passed a resolution, signed by the governor, stating that Federal courts had no oversight over Wisconsin courts. Effectively, this meant that the Fugitive Slave Act was not going to be legally enforced in Wisconsin.

  • Preposterous. What a waste of pixels. Better that the author served chow in a soup kitchen. More good would have come from it.

  • My understanding of nativism is opposition to immigration based on an irrational belief that immigrants will challenge the receiving culture and its values. The official position of Mr. Trump is opposition to illegal immigration, as well as immigration from countries identified as terrorist. The former has actually been the official position of the United States since at least the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924.

  • “Nativism”. Quite an interesting word. Of course, none of the real native peoples of this land are actually powerful in today’s governments anywhere in the Americas. The ones with power are the latest conquerors, the ones who came to this land, drove out the native people by strength of arms, and set up their own religion, values, culture.

    In this country, the early religion/values/culture established by the conquerors was British, Scots in the 13 colonies, with some Dutch. There was probably some influence from the Spanish who hovered on the fringes of the southern and western states and the French in Canada and Louisiana. Where else the earliest settlers came from I am not sure. It was then gently influenced by those who came from other European cultures, Irish, Italian, French, German. And by the culture of the slaves who were brought here. And by the cultures of the people from Asia who came to help us build railroads, expand into the West. And… All brought pieces of their own cultures, their own religions, their own sense of family, community, skills.

    We have had the opportunity to let our culture change, evolve – impacted by all this mix – maybe in part because we did not have the weight of ancient memory and memorials in our own backyards. We were free from that weight when we kicked the British out. And we became quite powerful. But we are becoming “nativist” now, trying to claim a skin color, a religion, a fixed culture as superior. We became great because we created a smorgasbord which nourished our greatness. Now we want to limit what is allowed to be incorporated in our smorgasbord. Will our greatness wane?

  • Well both support of slavery (and its successor blatant racism) and anti-immigration positions come from white supremacy. Fears of the white Christian (Protestant) status quo being challenged by others.

    However there is a key difference between nativist mobs and fugitive slave posses. Nativists are far more likely to be ignorant of the laws and system they are claiming to support than fugitive posses would. Nativism is one of those positions which flat out requires utter ignorance of the underlying facts of the matter. Hence the reliance on analogy, appeals to fear and facile simplistic language to demonize the “other”.

  • There have been several waves of nativism over the nation’s past…..generally perpetrated by people who thought ethnic cleansing was preferable to assimilating to the existing culture. Naturally, religion was often used as an excuse for land theft, forced conversion, family separation.

    Trump’s latest xenophobia is just more misinformed demonizing.
    https://www.cato.org/blog/14-most-common-arguments-against-immigration-why-theyre-wrong

    Without immigration, the US would never have the population to become an economic and military superpower. The same is true today. As baby boomers retire, the native birth rate will not provide the labor force growth necessary to grow the economy. For a peek at what that looks like, see Japan.

  • Indeed, slave states sought to force Northern states to return “fugitive” blacks. So, into the trash goes the revisionist history that the Southern traitors were fighting for “states rights.” Other than the right to hold fellow humans as property.

  • “flat out requires utter ignorance of the underlying facts of the matter”

    This is true. But frequently it is willful ignorance. As we write, armed civilian militia are making their way to the border to protect us from the invaders threatening us from Mexico.

  • hey mr silk:
    1) why do these impoverished people throw rocks at military helicopters, fight with the police and forcefully knock down physical barriers to control a country’s point of entry?
    2) what exactly are they refugees from? Earthquake, hurricane, war, religious persecution?
    3) what made 7,000 people head north now? Weeks before the US election? Who’s paying for this?
    4) what ever happened to the rule of law? Do your students have to follow rules at your college? Or can they ignore them if they are “resisting”?
    Just curious.

  • That is true. And if it actually take place, you can be sure that Trump and his white paranoids will blame it on the “invaders”.

  • Fleeing violence, poverty, and despotic and corrupt governments. Those ills are in part the result of many decades of US interference in Central American countries. The US does not have clean hands here. Having significantly contributed to the misery of these people, there is a moral obligation to provide redress.

    Accepting asylum seekers benefits both the US and the refugees.

  • Nope. Not “just curious.” Actually, just willfully ignorant. There are clearly established grounds to seek asylum and refugees don’t have to fit your righty-tighty “definition,” just follow the guidelines. Even the US military has assessed the situation as being no real threat to America, regardless of the hype.

  • https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Just_asking_questions
    Just asking questions (also known as JAQing off) is a way of attempting to make wild accusations acceptable (and hopefully not legally actionable) by framing them as questions rather than statements. It shifts the burden of proof to one’s opponent; rather than laboriously having to prove that all politicians are reptoids, one can pull out one single odd piece of evidence and force the opponent to explain why the evidence is wrong.

  • These are job seekers – they said so themselves.
    No asylum seekers – let’s at least be honest. But you can’t, because it doesn’t suit your narrative.

  • There you go. The need to judge others and attempt to assign evil intent is a hallmark of holy hypocrite catfishing.

  • I get that.
    You didn’t address my questions. Why in mass? Why now? Don’t you seek asylum at a port of entry or other designated place? Are you seeking asylum when you break through a barrier or climb over a wall?
    In your article, you tried to equate ownership of slaves to individuals opposed to open border immigration policy – those issues couldn’t be more different nor is that even an honest comparison.

  • Are they job seekers or asylum seekers?
    Do they want to be American?
    Or, just hang here a while.
    Maybe if we were honest about what the real intent is, we could address these issues as adults.

  • Mexico essentially gave the Caravan Gang a sincere, wide-open invitation to stay with, live with, work jobs with, raise the kids, and build their futures in southern Mexico. Not perfect, but still an amazing offer.

    The Caravan Gang replied … “No.” They rejected it. Most of them, unbelievably, threw the offer back in Mexico’s face.

    Which tells you that somebody somewhere is being clever with this Caravan mess. WAY too Leftist clever. Exploiting the Central-Am poor folks, women & kids, for political purposes. Trying so hard — too hard — to politically attack Prez Trump.

  • “Maybe if we were honest about what the real intent is, we could address these issues as adults.”

    You first. So far, nothing in you holy hypocrite catfishing has been honest enough to comment on.

  • thats what I thought – you’re not able to string two thoughts together.
    Perhaps you’re riding the snake?

  • But people forget that what constitutes “illegal immigration” is subject to change. Mr. Trump and his administration have done their best to strip as many people as they can of status and to place obstacles in the paths of people who try to regularize status in conformance with the law. Many of the decisions about the granting or revocation of lawuful immigration status is based on discretion. That makes the concept of “illegal immigration” to be a very unstable one, indeed.

  • Way to join in the manufactured hysteria here.

    A president less beholden to a malicious white supremacist voter base would treat it as a humanitarian crisis involving asylum seekers. Instead we have incitement to massacre.

    It’s pretty much guaranteed that whatever claim you make as to basic facts here it will be both incorrect and coming right out of right wing hysteric media.

  • Part of the problem is that, under current law, it’s extremely difficult to get asylum. In the pas few months, the AG has issued a number of decisions to make an already difficult process even more difficult.

  • You have nothing worth addressing. It’s all fiction. Hence my link to an actual information site on the subject. So we don’t have to pretend to take it seriously.

  • 7,000 people are fiction?
    Pushing down barricades at a national border?
    Fighting with police and throwing rocks at a helicopter?
    Do they want to be American? Or just work here?
    Please tell me what’s fiction.

  • Yes, it does. Because it increased polarization in a similar way, not because Trump supports slavery.

  • But as the piece points out, nativism has long been a part of this country’s history. Ben Franklin did not like the German immigrants, because he believed that they would not assimilate. Each succeeding group of immigrants was vilified — some more than others. It’s just that, since the early 70’s, it has not been as acceptable to be as openly hostile — for the most part. But now, we have a president who chooses to openly voice his xenophobia and racism, making it more acceptable for many to follow his lead.

  • And, actually, one may apply for asylum only at the border, or once one enters. If one is outside of the US, one may only apply for refugee status, and that is a very complex process, unavailable to many.

  • That is the point of hearings for asylum seekers as to whether they meet bona fide requirements to substantiate the claim – so it should be judges to conduct hearings to approve or deny claims.

  • It’s sad to see so-called liberals use racist language and ridicule to try to tell people of color how to think and vote.

  • Nope. My posting history is far too quirky to pull a Bob Armzen.

    It’s funny that one of the few people who agree with you on various subjects is the only one we know has used sockpuppet accounts. At least three so far.

  • We’ve dealt with far more people coming in at the same time with far less hysterics and panic mongering. Our president is playing to his ignorant easily riled white supremacist base. As for your assertions, you are far too dishonest to take any of them at face value without corroboration. Your JAQing off is duly noted.

  • Some of the talking heads on TV (including Obama) have said that this election is NOT a referendum on Trump, it is a referendum on us, we the people, on what kind of a people we want to be and what kind of a country we want to live in.

    I agree and I am uneasy, I am not sure we the people will choose to live up to their “better angels” as opposed to giving in to their baser instincts.

  • If you’re looking for a country with “clean hands,” you’ll be looking for a looong time, Diogenes. The “responsibility” for the refugees’ condition in their home countries is much more complex than the “Blame America” kneejerk meme. If every country that took advantage of its political or economic leverage was forced to open its borders to anyone who was disadvantaged thereby, no country would have borders.

  • It is racist to presume to know how a person ought to think by virtue of the color of his skin. Every person of color is an individual who is better qualified than you are to decide what his best interest is.

    It’s also racist to use “uncle” as you are wont to do, as it is meant to ridicule a person of color for his stance in a peculiar way which no one would use against a white person.

  • Let’s be equally clear: There ARE rules about who qualifies for asylum. Much of the current acrimony is about exactly what those rules should be. In my opinion, the rules need to be tightened up, but in the meantime it’s clear that “I’d rather be here than somewhere else” won’t pass muster, even under the current rules and their interpretation.

  • There have been a LOT of sockpuppet accounts. Max, Lisa, Darr to name a couple of the top of my head.

    I’m fond of sockpuppetry myself as a way of mocking hypocrisy, although obviously I’ve always used my own account for it which is part of the fun.

  • Yes. “Nativism” of those in power tried to keep out those they did not think would fit into their norms – the “other”, the “not like me.” I think what helped here is that the U.S. was so big and those who were “different” could move out of the enclaves of those who thought they were all alike/similar. And/or, those who were “different” formed their own places – neighborhoods of Italians, Irish, whole towns of primarily German. Then, after a generation or two, the blending started to happen. But probably more important were the wars (early wars against Native American groups, the Civil War, war with Mexico, two world wars) that gave people something else to find they shared beside skin color, religion, ethnicity – another version of nativism, just drawn around a different set of criteria and including more under a broader definition of what is acceptable to be included/ to be acceptable.

    I entirely agree that we have entered a dangerous time when some want to reform enclaves – form a particular national enclave – white, male, of a particular kind of evangelical christianity. Trump is normalizing this, making it acceptable to be xenophobic, to require a particular religious viewpoint to be part of the national group, to play with stereotypes based on skin color, religion, political party, type of profession as indicative of the entire character of a person. Our current president feeds an attitude that is closer to fascism than to the ideal of the democracy described in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. And, it is working – the ugliness grows.

  • But not me. 🙂

    My posting history would be a lot more distinctive if AVclub.com didn’t change over to Kinja, a far less convenient and more moderated system. (A lot of posting about Arrowverse shows and Doctor Who).

    Sockpuppetry is a discussion foul. Unacceptable in any forum. An attempt to shill for one’s self by pretending someone else really likes you and agrees with you.

    Its tacky.

  • “𝙸𝚝 𝚒𝚜 𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚒𝚜𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚞𝚖𝚎 𝚝𝚘 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚑𝚘𝚠 𝚊 𝚙𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚘𝚗 𝚘𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚔 𝚋𝚢 𝚟𝚒𝚛𝚝𝚞𝚎 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚌𝚘𝚕𝚘𝚛 𝚘𝚏 𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚜𝚔𝚒𝚗.”
    There isn’t anything racist about a person of color pointing out to another person of color their publicly manifested internalized racial self-hatred.

    “𝙸𝚝’𝚜 𝚊𝚕𝚜𝚘 𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚒𝚜𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚞𝚜𝚎 “‘𝚞𝚗𝚌𝚕𝚎’…”
    That’s rich, since the term was coined by people of color to refer to one of their own.

    Are you a person of color, or are you a white person presuming to dictate what is racism?

  • I would certainly hope that someone seeking asylum intended to work in the country from which they ask asylum! Now you know that they aren’t seeking handouts!

  • What does it matter. Wouldn’t it be Christian to allow them asylum, allow them to work and better themselves and at some point in the future they could elect to become a citizen of the country that assisted them or eventually return to their native land if it has again become a safe place for them to live?

  • Yes. That would be…. and, I don’t have a problem with that. If you’ve read my other comments; I’ve laid that out.
    The problem is the wall jumping, baby having living here illegally.

  • Humans have babies. Are you going to tie everyone’s tubes in order to enter the US? I’m glad that they didn’t do that to me.

  • Even you. You have used more than one name here. And you have up-voted those who have done the same.

    “An attempt to shill for one’s self by pretending someone else really likes you and agrees with you.” Thank you for disclosing what your personal priorities are.

    “Tacky” coming from you is meaningless.

  • That’s a pretty powerful person who could bring down a helicopter with a rock! There is a pro football team looking for that guy!

  • Just telling you the issues. As a Mexican citizen(?) you seem to have a lot of concerns about people accessing America, but no concerns about the good refugees taking advantage of the US taxpayers.
    I’m wondering why Mexico has a southern border wall. I’m also curious what happens to me if I cross into Mexico illegally?
    Do I get welfare? Do I become a citizen?

  • So you’re one of those who think color precludes racism. That explains a lot.

    “Are you a person of color, or are you a white person presuming to dictate what is racism?” Why? Does it matter to you at all what Floyd, a person of color, finds racist? Obviously not.

    Most “-isms” boil down to one thing, and that is purporting to pigeonhole individual human beings according to their external characteristics. In that you have been a repeat offender here.

  • Hey, you forgot to call me an “Uncle Tom.” I do not feel properly insulted unless you use the proper PC-police insults.

    Now please put some real professionalism into your insults, and commit yourself to quality put-downs, or else go home!!

  • They are normally off the books.
    Are you going to address my other questions?
    What happens if I enter Mexico illegally?
    Why doesn’t Mexico have a physical Barrier at its southern border?

  • Illegal aliens are paid off the books in cash.
    Are you going to address my other questions?
    What happens to me if I enter Mexico illegally?
    Why does Mexico have a physical barrier at its southern border?
    Why do law-abiding refugees throw rocks at helicopters in fight with Mexican police?

  • “𝚃𝚑𝚎𝚢 𝚊𝚛𝚎 𝚗𝚘𝚛𝚖𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚢 𝚘𝚏𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚋𝚘𝚘𝚔𝚜.”
    No, they are normally with false IDs, so they pay taxes on their wages that remain in the system because they don’t file for a refund.

    “𝚆𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚊𝚙𝚙𝚎𝚗𝚜 𝚒𝚏 𝙸 𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝙼𝚎𝚡𝚒𝚌𝚘 𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚎𝚐𝚊𝚕𝚕𝚢?”
    I don’t know, that doesn’t usually happen.

    “𝚆𝚑𝚢 𝚍𝚘𝚎𝚜 𝙼𝚎𝚡𝚒𝚌𝚘 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚊 𝚙𝚑𝚢𝚜𝚒𝚌𝚊𝚕 𝙱𝚊𝚛𝚛𝚒𝚎𝚛 𝚊𝚝 𝚒𝚝𝚜 𝚜𝚘𝚞𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚗 𝚋𝚘𝚛𝚍𝚎𝚛?”
    Our southern border is with Guatemala and there is no wall or fence. The only barriers are natural; rugged mpuntains, thick forests and portions of the the Usumacinta River, the Salinas River, and the Suchiate River.

    The photos that have been passed around social media and conspiracy websites as being of a border wall on Mexico’s southern border are actually photos of the present walls between the US & Mexico in portions of the southwestern states and the two border walls between Israel and the Palestinian Terretories.

    “𝚆𝚑𝚢 𝚍𝚘 𝚕𝚊𝚠-𝚊𝚋𝚒𝚍𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚛𝚎𝚏𝚞𝚐𝚎𝚎𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚛𝚘𝚠 𝚛𝚘𝚌𝚔𝚜 𝚊𝚝 𝚑𝚎𝚕𝚒𝚌𝚘𝚙𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜 𝚒𝚗 𝚏𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝙼𝚎𝚡𝚒𝚌𝚊𝚗 𝚙𝚘𝚕𝚒𝚌𝚎?”
    I don’t know, I’m not there, nor do I know of the circumstances regarding the alleged activity.

    Sections of Mexico are ruled by narcos and currupt police. They have earned bad reputations concerning their mistreatment of immigrants from Central America.

  • What “Mr. Trump and his administration” are trying to do is to shift the standards of admissibility toward a merit-based and well-controlled pattern of immigration, and away from the uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) admission of anyone who shows up wanting to be here instead of where they came from. Any change from any status quo will inevitably inconvenience and disadvantage those whose advantage is based on the status quo – regrettable, but unavoidable. The real question is, are the changes being implemented rational and desirable from the standpoint of U.S. immigration policy.

  • I really do not know what to make of the caravans heading north to the United States.

    Restive masses have collectively crossed borders and settled inside a sovereign nation’s borders before. They might have been fleeing persecution or other unpleasantness to seek a better life elsewhere. Where a well established civilization is suddenly the recipient of an unexpected influx of such populations, there is going to be an adjustment period for all involved.

    If the group is exceptionally large, in contrast to persistent infiltration, it is likely to provoke a much more active defensive reaction from the intended host country. A nation without an adequate policy on unchecked illegal immigration can lead to destabilization and other problems depending upon the education levels and cultural differences of the improper entry immigrants from the population of host nation. It can also lead to resentment on the part of those filling out forms and doing other things required to enter legally.

  • Uncle Ruckus seems more appropriate.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrZZQzyhp7g

    You are a black man who apparently supports the agenda of white supremacists and discrimination in general. Go figure.

    I just found it hilarious when you had a friendly conversation and found common ground on many political points with Roy Hobs. Our resident neo-nazi.

  • The United States has the longest and largely singular record of success in absorbing refugee waves. Trump’s lame attempt at fear mongering dishonors the nation, its principles and history.

  • Trump has been largely playing fast and loose with following those rules and how asylum claims are accepted. Even to the point of kidnapping children and holding them for ransom to get people to waive their asylum claims.
    https://boingboing.net/2018/07/03/heres-the-insane-form-trump.html

    Your opinion about the rules are not worth discussing since you are most likely completely ignorant of what they were from the outset.

    A president who takes hostages rather than follow our laws is unworthy of respect.

  • Lets be more honest here. Trump is playing to neo-nazis here by attacking the parts of our legal immigration system which actually are functional and helpful. The only “merit” being considered by the administration (and yourself) is white and christian.

    Family based immigration accounts for 60% of our legal immigrants and the overwhelming majority of our new permanent residents and citizens. It also accounts for the largest % of our new businesses and entrepreneurship. Employment visas are entirely for white collar work and the majority of them are from foreign companies investing in our nation. Attacking both cuts off money and jobs flowing to our nation. But I guess white supremacy is more important to you and conservatives than a healthy and growing economy.

    “the uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) admission of anyone who shows up wanting to be here”

    Doesn’t exist. So you are railing against a fiction and willing to attack our country in service of it.

    The Trump Administration’s immigration policy is a confused, malicious mess meant to attack people in service of the most vile parts of our society. It has no legitimate purpose.

  • They pay rent, meaning property taxes are being paid by landlords
    They pay for goods and services, meaning sales taxes are being paid
    They do not earn enough to even have taxable income.
    They are ineligible for public assistance.

    Its telling that the “Red” states are net tax benefit recipients compared to “Blue” state’s. Blue states also have the highest concentration of immigrants legal or otherwise. Your average “redneck” is living off the largesse of immigrants and liberals.

  • It is a humanitarian issue. What you are mischaracterizing with vague language and nonsense rhetoric is a refugee wave of the likes which pales in comparison to the numerous ones this country has dealt with in the past. I can rattle off numerous times this has happened on a much larger scale.

    This is a nothingburger if we had an administration not beholden to white supremacist nonsense and panic mongering.

    The US has a moral obligation to take in refugees.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_St._Louis

    History has proven that objections such as yours have been entirely wrong. You have over 2 centuries of being wildly incorrect. Every refugee wave we have absorbed has left our nation more prosperous, more diverse and better off.

    We would not have such an issue with illegal immigration if we had far saner immigration laws and enforcement. The main problem of your spiel is the utter ignorance you are showing for the laws and system we already have. You are clearly unwilling to address the actual laws involved here. Looking instead for overgeneralized tripe.

    Manual labor visas, portable employment visas, proportional punishment for immigration violation with actual due process, all would have alleviated the problem. But since short sighted bigots and ignoramuses completely unaware of our existing system and laws tend to set the tenor of immigration, we are a long way off from sane policies here.

  • Well, I had a feeling my attempt to appeal to rationality would be met by splenetic outbursts of Progressive emotionality, and sure enough, you responded on cue. “Neo-nazis?” Your reach for historical horrors to compare Trump to, goes beyond political hyperbole. What’s “beyond hyperbole?” Not much but wild-eyed extremism.

    But you’re falling down on the wild-eyed job. You failed to apply your usual litany of abuse and invective – failing to call me a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe and/or a misogynist. What gives? I’m feeling neglected.

  • There is nothing rational in dishonest language designed to hide a self-destructive white supremacist agenda. Neo-nazis is a much more honest shorthand for your position than simply “alt-right”. If you feel offended by such a label, tough luck. Honesty is important here. .

    You seek to cut the nation’s economy off from a stable workforce, foreign investment in the nation, entrepreneurship and its basic principles. Family based immigration works, pure and simple. The “diversity lottery” is effective for its goals. Our current immigration system has major problems with employment visas which will never be addressed by nativist bigots. Taking in refugees has always been a winning strategy for this nation.

    Immigration is our nation’s strength, not its downfall.

  • Let me explain the protocols of human interaction (especially “debate” and oppositional rhetoric): you’re entitled to the respect (or lack thereof) that you give to others.

    The indignity and contempt you heap upon your rhetorical opponents entitles you to – what? Three guesses.

    If you treat rational arguments as nothing more than masks for corrupt attitudes, there is nowhere for rational discussion to go. It’s no longer a matter of discussion, understanding, negotiation and compromise – the essence of “politics;” you’ve turned it into a pure clash of attitudes, Good versus Evil – the essence of “theology.”

    And since you’ve stepped over into my field now, let me assure you that you’ll be treated here with all the respect you deserve.

  • It has been a very long time, indeed, since there had been a practice of the “uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) admission of anyone who shows up wanting to be here”. That you would say that indicates either that you are unfamiliar with immigration law, or that you simply want to spout.

  • Yes. There are rules about who qualifies for asylum. However, a much larger group of people may apply. As Mr Silk says, there is nothing illegal about presenting oneself at the border and asking for asylum.

    I have never heard of anyone applying for asylum because “I’d rather be here than where I came from”. Since the so-called caravan has not yet reached the border, and since no one of that group has yet applied, it’s not clear how you would know that this would be anyone’s reason for applying.

  • I think that it would be highly educational for you to volunteer for one of the many non-profits that assist undocumented people. You ought to get to know their stories and the situations that they are escaping.

  • I get it that you are spineless and naive to think you can cloak frothing at the mouth bigotry espouses with more neutral looking language. But I am not fooled by it for a moment.

    But fact is your position is garbage. Attacking a perfectly working system which happens to undermine white supremacist goals. You deserve contempt because you support a contemptable position. If the tone bothers you, tough luck. I make no apologies for being far more honest about the situation and positions than you are willing to be.

    Peddle your tone trolling and snowflake reactions elsewhere to someone who doesn’t know you or your position well enough.

  • Yes, I go right down to the border and wait for the next guy to finish climbing over the fence. Then I will ask him why he can’t follow directions and wait in line like he is supposed to.

  • Members of the caravan have already been interviewed on TV saying they didn’t want to accept asylum in Mexico because they wanted to be in the U.S. instead. 70% of the caravan consists of adult males, not families, and the majority of those are economic migrants, looking for a better life. The only thing they’re “fleeing” is domestic destitution.

  • I’ll “peddle” my comments where they are needed – but thanks for the unsolicited advice. Here’s a piece of advice from the other side: You’re in Theology now, and “but…but…I’m RIGHT” won’t cut it in theological debate.

  • So far two comments of tone trolling and moaning with nothing of note to show for it.

    I guess you were all out of canned points to make.

  • There are no “restive masses” clustering around our southern border at the present time. The “caravan” that has gotten so much attention has splintered, according to news reports. I found a USA Today report for you, because that source cannot be accused of being liberal. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/11/04/migrant-caravan-donald-trump-honduras-immigration-southern-mexico-us-mexico-border-military-troops/1885039002/
    If you read the piece, you will see that over half of the people in that “caravan” have asked for asylum in Mexico. They don’t necessarily want to come to the US. They are simply trying to escape intolerable conditions in their home countries.

  • Projection. As usual, you have evaded, avoided, deflected and declined to answer the point I unmistakably made. So let me repeat it: “If you treat rational discussion as nothing more than masks for corrupt attitudes, there is nowhere for rational discussion to go.” You have eliminated the possibility of conducting a rational discussion with your own rhetorical behavior, but retch up the “tone-trolling” red herring if anyone points that out .

    I’ve said this before, but your latest makes it crystal clear, so I’ll say it again. You have nothing to offer any conversation with someone you disagree with but insult, invective and condemnation. – and that goes to content, not “tone.” Saying “You’re a bad person” as an answer to a dispute doesn’t advance the discussion – it ends it. The only available response to that is “No, I’m not!” And the only available outcome to that is to fight, not to continue the discussion.

    But of course, you will never admit that it was your doing.

  • “Open borders” (to any migrant who wants to be here) is a position openly espoused by the Progressive arm of the Democrat Party; failing full open borders, the effort has been to get as close as possible to that goal by relaxing the “asylum” requirements to the maximum extent politically possible. Anyone who denies that political reality is not dealing realistically with the situation.

  • You imply that I (and others) do not understand nor sympathize with the plight of the poor, persecuted, etc. You, or others on this page call us racists or worse because of our opposition to open borders or illegal entry.
    The fact of the matter is – listen closely – most conservatives do NOT have a problem with Immigration. What they are against is ILLEGAL immigration and the consequences of it.
    One final note, the US cannot; not even if it wanted to – absorb the entirely of Central America and still remain the United States.
    I’m sure my friends here will cry out racism and the like; but that is a fact.
    If you hate America in its current form; you are probably for open borders. If you would rather have controlled immigration with the intent of assimilation; you’re probably a fan of controlled borders.

  • Three posts where you avoid any substantive discussion of the subject posed to engage in tone trolling.

    I guess you really can’t support what you said before or you just can’t handle going “off script”.

  • The standards for the approval of asylum are set by law. Only Congres can enact laws. There is no reason to believe that there is going to be any consensus is Congress on the topic of immigration law for the near future. As you said, “[a]nyone who denies that political reality is not dealing realistically with the situation.”

  • Very few people are in favor of open borders.

    What constitutes “illegal immigration” is subject to change. It appears to me that many of those who decry “illegal immigration” are actually in favor of very restricted immigration.

    If I hate America ???????!!!!!!!????????????

  • Disagree. The Democratic Party is in favor of unlimited immigration. I have yet to hear one member (of today’s Democrat party sound like Obama, Reid and pelosi of old that called for securing the borders and controlling immigration.
    Yes – I do believe there are those on the left who fundamentally wish to change the demographics of the US.

  • Is this far enough “off script” for you: There is no point in engaging with you in disagreement – about anything. The exchanges all end the same way: “Bigot!” “Racist!” “Nazi” – “your motives are corrupt, so nothing you say even deserves to be heard!”

    That’s a slightly more sophisticated version of fingers in ears; “la-la-la – I can’t HEAR you” – and just as effective in a serious discussion.

  • Unfortunately, you are correct. Congress is the culprit in our constipation on immigration. Also unfortunately, both parties are complicit, so the upending of the power structure in the House doesn’t increase the prospects of improvement.

  • The borders are secure. That’s why just about everyone who tries to enter without authorization gets caught. Immigration is being controlled. So why would anyone be calling for something that already exists?

  • You’re on crack.
    How many people come through tunnels?
    How many people come via Coyote?
    How many come over fences?
    How many come in hot semi-trailers?
    Put the pipe down.

  • This was a poll of 980 persons. The categories of “liberal” and “Democrats” overlapped to some extent. What’s clear from the results is that 114 people (or fewer than 12% of the respondents) stated that they preferred “basically open borders”.

    It’s not really clear what how either of those terms (open or secure borders) were perceived by those who responded.

  • Oh, I think they probably perceived it the way the rest of us here do. Particularly in light of an even more recent Harvard Harris poll in which an even higher percentage of registered voters (26%) approve of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s statement (which he didn’t actually say, btw) that it is the right of everyone in North America to go to the US and that there should be massive border crossings. And an even higher percentage than that (36%) would allow anyone who manages to cross the border to stay, which is de facto support for open borders.

    What we have here is a substantial and growing subset of liberals who support everything about open borders but don’t want to call it that. At least for the time being.

  • You are annoyed at being called a bigot, but not refuting it in any way with a discussion of the topic or substantive facts. Poor snowflake.

    Sorry, but only white supremacist bigots are stupid enough to attack legal immigration policies which not only work but have benefitted our country immensely.

    You have not refuted or disproved. Your opinion of me is worthless. Calling me a bigot means nothing. I am not the one trying to use the government to maintain a demographic majority for its own. sake. I am being honest about my position. You are just a liar who is annoyed their pretenses are being ridiculed. Poor snowflake.

  • “Open borders” is really a very general term that means different things to different people.

    It’s often used as a rallying cry by those who want to limit immigration and, perhaps as a pie in the sky aspiration for some. However, given our current law, we are so far from anything even close to actual open borders that those who are worried about the prospect should exhale, stop worrying, and focus on something else.

  • “Poor snowflake” is all you’ve got, isn’t it? Save your pity for yourself. Let’s be clear: Name-calling doesn’t bother me. You fling your invective around so liberally (or is it “Progressively”) it just becomes background noise – “static” to be filtered out. I don’t care what you call me. No, what “bothers” me is your TACTIC of trying to END the “debate” by declaring that the “real” motive if your opponent is corrupt (thereby asserting your claim to psychic powers) and is therefore unworthy of a hearing. Why don’t you just stuff cotton in your ears? At least that would let the rest of us know you’ve quit listening.

  • 5 posts in and counting you can’t even bother to refute or defend my statements on why your stance on immigration, attacking family based immigration and diversity visas is nothing more than white supremacist garbage.

    There is nothing to debate. You gave me canned scripted talking points you neither understood nor are capable of supporting.

    I explained my position and left you in a tone trolling froth. Poor thing.

  • Why should I “defend your statements?” Because you have trouble defending your own? With thinking like that, it’s no wonder.

    But that aside – “refute” your statements? Your statement is that I’m a bad person. There IS no “refuting” that, because “good” and “bad” depend on the perspective of the observer – so you’re always safe from “refutation” when you deploy that tactic. It must be a great comfort to you that your sense of moral superiority remains inviolate.

    And “canned talking points?” NOW I’m offended! Everything I said is 100% original, pulled strictly out of my own mind and vocabulary. You can’t recognize true originality even when you’re standing face-to-face with it – probably because you have so little of your own.

    But you’re right about one thing: there is nothing to debate. You ended the “debate” with your moral posturing. Go curl up for a warm and fuzzy time with your favorite delusions. I’ll see you again the next time you proclaim your self-righteousness to end a debate – probably sooner than later.

    And please — spare me the “tone-trolling” nonsense. I troll tactics and content. You give me a lot to attend to.

  • Still tone trolling.

    So why do you hate effective legal forms of immigration which greatly contributes to the welfare of our nation?

  • Still repeating yourself.
    “Tone-trolling,” tone-trolling,” “tone-trolling.”
    I’ve already shot that one down, more than once — but you have no response…except to repeat yourself. Stuck in a loop?

  • You are still dodging an issue you brought up but can’t defend. You are a waste of bandwidth. You haven’t done anything except act like a whinybaby

    You are annoyed at your position being honestly described as white supremacist. Despite the fact it comes from white supremacuet sources (like NumbersUSA) is not rational, dishonestly stated, harms the nation and only serves a goal of keeping people of color out and maintaining a white majority.

    You haven’t responded to this in any way. You apparently are incapable of going “off script”

    Your fee fees are hurt by honest assessment of your view. How sad.

  • You really are Johnny One-Note, aren’t you? It may yet come as a surprise to you, but I don’t care what opinions you have of me. Your “opinions” are worthless and irrelevant, because they are well-settled (ossified, really) before any words are exchanged…which means they aren’t “opinions” at all, but simply “prejudices” – and you’re full of them. I have very little interest in hacking away at your delusions, because you have absolutely no interest in self-examination. It would be the definition of “wasted effort.”

  • Says the person who has spent 6+ posts avoiding substantive discussion of a topic to whine about being honestly called a white supremacist. Missing any sort of defense of your originally stated position.

    If there was a nobel prize for useless whining, you would have won it a while ago.

    So how is your position not a white supremacist one? Since you are demanding the nation hobble itself in order to keep a white majority in a senseless fashion.

    Until you can talk about that, all you are is a poor whiny little snowflake.

  • My “position is not a white supremacist one” because my position has nothing to do with race. It’s that simple. My position is that American immigration policy should be based on merit – on bringing in a population with the skills and education levels that will contribute to the welfare of the nation, as opposed to an unskilled, uneducated population in the millions that is difficult to assimilate and constitutes a drain on our resources (but they ARE voters, and that’s the point from your point of view). Skill and education are not racial categories. Any race can acquire them. If you’re finding “racism” there, it’s because you’ve injected it. Progressives are the real racists and dividers of this nation.

  • Hey, now you got out of your funk and started to defend your position. By lying about its goals and purposes of course.

    Of course it has to do with race. Its purpose is to prevent white people from losing a population majority. It does nothing else of value.

    Hence your attack on legal immigration, which is hugely successful and useful for the nation. The only objections being, that it erodes a white majority.

    This is why white supremacists make a big deal of family based immigration calling it “chain migration”. “Merit based” immigration is entirely the brainchild of white supremacists. “Merit” being white and christian and little else. The point being to cut off the flow of legal immigration to next to nothing. Hobbling the nation, slowing entrepreneurship, slowing foreign investment in our nation.

    ” as opposed to an unskilled, uneducated population in the millions that is difficult to assimilate and constitutes a drain on our resources”

    Like Donald Trump’s parents!

    Sorry, but there is no evidence to prove any of your assertions are correct. Quite the opposite.

    The legal immigrants you attack are the ones developing skills here, bringing investment into the country, forming new businesses and expanding our economy. Creating resources. Being an ignorant or just dishonest, you are also unaware (or unwilling to admit) that the majority of immigrants and permanent residents are barred from eligibility for public assistance.

    “(but they ARE voters, and that’s the point from your point of view)”

    You mean the naturalized citizens who are contributing to the nation and even a good number of those taking up positions in government. Adding to voices being represented by our nation.

    We have never needed to limit immigration to pre-existing skills and education before. This has always been a place for people to pick up such skills and education without the barriers many countries have. So there is no need to use such criteria.

    People coming to our country with the criteria you are calling for have always been few and far between. Given the huge success of those who do not come here in such a way, it can only be read as a way to justify drastically reducing legal immigration for its own sake.

    It only serves racist agendas since the majority of immigrants in family based immigration are people of color.

    Your entire position is based on hiding an obvious racist agenda.

  • “That you would say that indicates either that you are unfamiliar with immigration law, or that you simply want to spout.”

    That is pretty much the case for all nativists like him. Willful ignorance of the immigration system and laws is a requirement to such positions.

  • ““Open borders” (to any migrant who wants to be here) is a position openly espoused by the Progressive arm of the Democrat Party”

    Actually it is a fictional strawman position when a bigoted nativist is cornered in an argument they are losing. Instead of addressing the issue they simply argue against the fictitious position.

    “relaxing the “asylum” requirements to the maximum extent politically possible.”

    Which is hardly a bad thing either considering the immense success in integrating asylum seekers and refugees in the last 45 years (under the current Immigration laws). Every former refugee community has integrated into the nation and contributed to its success politically and economically.

    You would not have Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio without it. 🙂

  • “Hey, now you got out of your funk and started to defend your position.

    No – not “now.” That’s always been my position. Never been in a funk – I was exposing your “tone-trolling” tripe (or “funk”). I don’t know whether you’ve forgotten what I said, or didn’t pay attention to it in the first place, or just tactically evaded it. But boy, it didn’t take long (about a second and a half) for you to revert to type in your response: “Your entire position is based on hiding an obvious racist agenda.” I guess you can conjure up anything you want to see once you get your eyes closed, but here’s what’s LOGICALLY “obvious”: There is (obviously) no way to “refute” such an allegation, so your self-righteous self-image is still safe from being troubled. As for the image you have in the eyes of others, that, I’m afraid, is not in your control.

    And – one more time – I am trolling for tactics and content; I don’t give a flying whatever which names you call me – I’ve long since learned to compartmentalize that static and shove it into a back closet. If you relapse again into your “tone-trolling” BS, it’s not a “loop,” it’s compulsive/obsessive, and I decline to be your foil for that game.

  • Too bad there isn’t an honest element to your entire spiel. Family based immigration and diversity visas, and refugee/asylum entries have hardly been the trouble you claimed they were. Quite the opposite. They create economic growth and contribute to the nation. However they are almost entirely people of color these days.

    Hence your objection to them.

    It meant to promote white supremacy while pretending it as another purpose. In fact “chain migration” the derogatory term for family immigration comes right out if white supremacist rhetoric. As dies the entirely false claim it brings unskilled people who do not integrate with our nation.

    We had over 5 major refugee waves here since 1963. They have all produced well off communities. Hardly the multi generational slums like Europe.

    You are a dishonest bigoted fool pursuing white supremacist motives. Nothing else explains the lying and desire to harm our nation with such ridiculous plans entail. Your feelings about that assessment mean nothing.

    You clearly can’t defend your position. I am surprised Prof Silk let you rant for so long. You have nothing of value to say. Bye bye snowflake.

  • Thank you for that link, Alexandra, a most interesting read. Not an issue that is easily solvable, since the originating countries have issues that are not easily solvable; though as you point out, Mexico is assisting.

  • Thank you for your comments, Spuddie. While people think there is something wrong with denying access to people who are fleeing difficulties from elsewhere, there are those who think there is something disturbing about a huge collective mass of said individuals attempting to cross the border without due process while others still wait who have already submitted their papers.

    At this time though, the situation, while still ongoing, has diminished somewhat, as Mexico has taken on many of the migrants and the caravan has splintered.

    The problems which many of these Central Americans flee are not so easily understood and or repairable. Wars can stop. Famines pass, however lands that are criminalized by various decentralized interests to the point where people think they must leave, is a potential for a large and endless migration stream that has no satisfying answers on what is the right and prudent thing to do by the host country.

  • “here are those who think there is something disturbing about a huge collective mass of said individuals attempting to cross the border without due process while others still wait who have already submitted their papers.”

    Yes, I call people such as yourself easily panicked tools, ignorant of our history, and looking for excuses to demonize people of color in a socially acceptable fashion.

    This country has dealt with much larger refugee groups coming to this nation in much more desperate straits. This is nothing compared to those past. We dealt with far more people coming here much more quickly with several groups. The major difference being we have a white supremacist president who wants to create “white panic” to shore up his support base.

    Fact is every time we had such refugee waves, fools like yourself make the same old arguments and do your best to treat these refugees as less than human. Looking for excuses to turn them away, to what is likely their deaths. History has consistently shown people like you to be wildly incorrect. Each of the communities formed by these refugees have greatly contributed to our nation.

    In 1939 you would have probably been in the crowd which turned this ship away
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_St._Louis

    We can’t solve the problems of the world, but we as a nation have a duty to be the place people aspire to go to. The place which takes the trash the world throws out and turns them into treasure.

    Bill Murray put it best
    “We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog. We’re mutts!”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXjqTyQuq4w

  • Yes, it is easy to be swept away by emotion and rhetoric which obscurificates the tension between ideals and pragmatics, between science and religion. Science for example, gives us the ability to do something, religion gives the conscience of whether or not we should do it. Some of the ideals of the United States as exemplified by the plaque mounted on the Statue of Liberty state “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” of course are tempered by the pragmatics of uncontrolled immigration.
    again, Thank You for your comments Spuddie.

  • A nice roundabout way of tone trolling. Your over generalized language demonstrates your ignorance of the subject and willingness to pawn off dishonest rhetoric as if it requires being taken at face value. It does not.

    You clearly no not read what is directed at you and give canned spiels. Essentially what a fool thinks sounds intelligent, but really isn’t.

    Since there is no “uncontrolled immigration” you are giving me bullcrap strawman arguments rather than a serious discussion.

    Your position is nothing more then trying to put a gloss on white supremacist garbage based on flat out lying and avoiding obvious motives behind your position.

    Science or even facts have nothing to do with the garbage you post.

  • Yes, “Immigration” and “illegal immigration” overall is a charged subject, for example the two terms are often used interchangeably. Again, thank you for your comments Spuddie.

  • No, the issues are not easily solvable, but we have not been working to solve them, and so, have enabled them to deteriorate. It will take much effort to change things in Central America.

  • You talk about a fictional thing. “Uncontrolled immigration” is a dishonest loaded term for people opposed to virtually all immigration. It does not exist. All immigration is “uncontrolled” to those using the term.

    Since your premise is fictional, it is not objective nor rational despite your non-specific neutral sounding language. You are simply trying to polish a terd of white supremacist based anti-immigration claptrap.

    “If you are interested in TRUMP and racism, check out HpO’s comments”

    Yup. He is very prolific in his quote mining and misrepresentation of Trump’s actual positions. He is also a compulsive liar who doesn’t bother to attribute his cuts and pastes in an honest manner.

  • Thank you for your most interesting comments which contribute greatly to issue enlightenment.

    There must be some other HpO quotes your are thinking about, I was referring to these:

    To clarify the “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America. To anyone who acted criminally in … racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered.​ … As a candidate I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge. We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear. We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams, in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in our souls.”
    – US President Donald Trump, August 14, 2017.

    (1) White House, Statements & Releases, Statement by President Trump, Issued on: August 14, 2017, Diplomatic Room, 12:38 P.M. EDT.
    (2) “Trump denounces white supremacists, ‘racist’ violence”, CNBC, August 14, 2017.
    (3) “President Trump: ‘Racism is evil…'”, C-SPAN, YouTube, August 14, 2017.
    (4) “Trump Condemns Hate Groups, Calls Racism ‘Evil’ Days After Charlottesville Violence”, NBC News, August 14, 2017.
    (5) “‘Racism is evil,’ Trump says, condemning ‘white supremacists’ and hate groups”, Washington Post, August 14, 2017.
    (6) “Donald Trump Condemns Charlottesville White Supremacy”, Time, August 14, 2017.

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