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Is Anti-Immigrant Racism Fueling the Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Fight? By Roger Algase

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Update: October 16, 1:20 pm

At this writing, sanity seems to have prevailed in the Senate and a deal to reopen the government and avoid a potentially catastrophic debt default, at least short term, appears to have been reached. It is still not clear if the House will go along.

But it is becoming even more obvious to more and more people that the Tea Party's racism against brown minorities played a major role in its furious opposition to the ACA and its incredibly destructive campaign to shut down the government and bring about a default.

In the October 15 Washington Post Harold Meyerson continues with the same theme that Larry Cohen mentioned in his October 14 Forbes Article discussed below. See
A tea party purge among the GOP.

Unlike Cohen's article, Meyerson's piece does not mention the Tea Party's hatred of immigrants specifically. But it does mention the Tea Party's zeal to restrict minority voting rights and the Confederate Flag waving of some of its supporters, which are certainly related to its opposition to immigration reform.

Hopefully, the public will start to realize how serious the consequences of failing to recognize and combat Republican right wing racism are. This may lead to a better chance of passage for CIR, once more American voters understand that the same racist attitudes that shut down our government and threatened to cause a world wide financial meltdown are the main obstacle to enacting immigration reform.

The original post follows:

Is it a coincidence that the same people who have been blocking immigration reform have also shut down "nonessential" parts of the government and are threatening to blow up America's and the world's economy? Not according to an October 14 article by Larry Cohen in Forbes, which is not exactly a left wing publication.

Cohen's article Shutdown Power Play: Stoking Racism, Fear Of Culture Change To Push Anti-Government Agenda makes quite interesting and enlightening reading. More than that, it is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the real reasons why the Tea Party and its allies are so furious at "Obamacare" and so insistent on trying to keep the government shut down and force America to default on its debts.

Cohen begins:

"At first it seemed mystifying that reasonable voices didn't prevail to prevent a government shutdown. The scorched-earth effort by the Tea Party caucus and compliant Congressional leaders to undo President Obama's signature accomplishment didn't seem smart in terms of outcome or politics. The anti-government zealots who picked this fight may well have miscalculated; at the moment their strategy looks like a failure.

But these folks are playing for the long term, building their brand an inflaming their base even as they infuriate the nation. They've also cynically played on - and reinforced - the racial fears of their followers and intensified the polarization of the nation."

Cohen then goes on to describe the results of focus group studies carried out by Democracy Corps, led by two Democratic political consultants, with three groups of Republicans - evangelicals, Tea party supporters and moderates.

He also writes:

"What's striking for the first two groups is how much their anger and political stance is motivated by a dread of cultural changes taking place in this country and their fear and animus toward people of color and immigrants."

He then quotes from the study:

"While few explicitly talk about Obama in racial terms, the base supporters are very conscious of being white in a country with growing minorities... It starts with food stamps and unemployment benefits; expands further if you legalize the illegals, but ensuring the uninsured dramatically expands those dependent on government.."

Cohen continues:

"There is a desperate quality in the comments and attitudes of many interviewed in these focus groups...They don't like the new multicultural America that Obama represents and feel marginalized and alienated...

If you have this perspective, you see the demographic shifts occurring in this country, you may fear what will happen when the US is no longer a white-majority nation. You may support election laws that discourage voting and adamantly reject any immigration reform that expands the number of people of color who can vote. And you may support any crisis, manufactured or not, that will bring government to a halt." (Emphasis added.)

Never mind that Barack Obama, America's first black president, may go down as the president who has deported the most brown people in history. See Fawn Johnson in the National Journal: Actually Obama Has Been Terrible for Immigrants, October 10.

Never mind that in an asymmetrical battle to uphold democracy and the rule of law against a determined opposition that wants to overturn both and is stirring up racism against immigrants and all people of color in support of its battle, Obama is sticking to the notion of sharply limited presidential power.

George W. Bush and the Republicans had no such compunctions when they invaded Iraq, passed the Patriot Act and tried to legitimize the use of torture. Nor did Obama himself show much interest in limitations on presidential power when he turned NSA loose.

Is it not time for the president to suspend deportations of 11 million aspiring immigrants in the interests of standing up against the Tea Party's racist agenda, and to announce on national television that if Tea Party fanatics continue to keep part of the government shut down, he will declare every federal employee essential (except ICE - they have been working so hard - don't they need a vacation?) and raise the debt ceiling on his own using his 14th amendment power in the interests of national security?

Is Obama afraid that Ten Cruz, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann will impeach him if he acts courageously to stand up for millions of brown immigrants impacted by continuing mass incarcerations and deportations, and for Americans of every race and color who would be devastated by a prolonged shutdown and a failure to raise the debt ceiling? Let them try.

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Updated 10-19-2013 at 12:47 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. Turned-off-by-the-pcness's Avatar
    You honestly believe that the shutdown, with CIS still open but not Nasa for instance is motivated by some fear of "multi-culturalism?" There are major arguments to be made against most politicians, but this? And the flip-side of that coin, is that not everything the President does is proper merely because his father was from Africa.

    All this stupidity about America becoming "non-white." Why should that matter? And few even consider that the US is only place in the world that categorizes little a billion Christians who are probably 90% European culturally and genetically as "non-white" because of their surnames. Talk about racism. How do you categorize Cruz and Rubio?
  2. Lynn Atherton Boxham's Avatar
    Though a few people might be racist, I am sure we could find an equal amount in some Democrat groups (Union members?) who feel very threatened by their fear of job loss. I think both those who fear cultural change and those who fear job loss are mistaken and I have fought long and hard for increasing immigration and doing away with the bureaucracy which is so destructive to a free flow of labor, as well as capital and goods.

    The Democrats have lost credibility with their constant emphasis on racism. Rather than address the concerns the restrictionists cite, they have defaulted to constant charges of racism which have not helped answer those concerns in any intelligent manner. These concerns can be answered when gaining new voters is not the primary concern.

    Just as the terrible bureaucracy of the Immigrations system is not desirable, so too, there are many economic reasons to view the onset of another huge bureaucracy as unnecessary and unworkable. With close study it becomes apparent the ACAct and other bureaucracies and dispensation of entitlements are more damaging than helpful to alleviating poverty. (the same applies to corporate receipt of monies distributed by all levels of government also).

    I would suggest the constant mantra of charges of racism be dropped and a more intelligent approach to the needed dialog be used by Democrats. So far only the libertarians (and a few Republicans) are attempting to answer the concerns in a logical and just manner.
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I will agree that racism is not the only motive behind the Tea Party. See The Libertarian Billionaire Agenda Propelling the Tea Party monster that Has Shut Down Congress.

    This article also exposes the Tea Party as an "astroturf" organization. One might also ask why Heritage Action, which was a driving force behind the shutdown and opposition to the ACA, not to mention Heritage Foundation's anti-immigration "study" authored in part by someone who wrote a Harvard Ph.D thesis implying that Latinos are genetically inferior to whites, is refusing to reveal who its donors are (except for the admittedly pro-immigration billionaire Koch brothers).

    Roger Algase
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Also, one could certainly ask why Republican legislatures in many states are trying so hard to stop minority American citizens, especially African-Americans and Latinos, from voting. What does voter suppression have to do with either protecting American jobs or the "libertarian" goal of smaller government (except by keeping middle class and poorer people who might benefit from certain government programs away from the polls)?

    And what is "small government" about spending more money on locking up and deporting immigrants than on all other federal law enforcement activities combined?

    Roger Algase
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