“No Sense of History”
By Glenn Young
Today, the Ku Klux Klan (or KKK) is portrayed mainly just as a far-right wing hate group; a white nationalist terrorist organization with few members and limited support. We, as a nation, want to ignore the fact, that at one point, the Klan was one of the most powerful political organizations in the nation (not just the South); and their anti-Black; anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic (and so on) views were considered mainstream, and widely supported by millions. In 1924, around the height of their power, some 6,000,000 people, or about 15% of eligible voters in the nation were “card carrying” members of the Klan; with millions more in sympathy with their concepts of “Americanism.”
The Klan saw themselves then as so important they referred to themselves as being the “Invisible Empire.” And, in fact, for a while, the Klan was that powerful. In that era, the late teens and 20’s of the 20th century, the Klan was possibly the most important political force in many parts of the nation, not just the South. it was the KKK that determined much of our national domestic policy; including immigration laws.
What we are seeing today, through the Presidency of Donald Trump. is really the re-empowerment of the Klan’s ideology from one hundred years ago;
Or to use a Star Wars analogy – what we are experiencing now is the “Invisible Empire strikes back.”
Through Trump, the Klan ideology, in what ever name or organization it presents itself, has reached beyond its Southern base, to again control the Presidency and its awesome powers. For, after all, another thing we don’t want to remember is, that for sixteen years in a row (1912 – 1928) all the Presidents of the United States (one Democrat, and two Republican) Wilson, Harding and Coolidge were overt Klan members, and openly supported much of the Klan agenda.
Harding had his Klan membership ceremony conducted inside the White House, by the serving Imperial Wizard.
President Coolidge allowed cross burnings on the Capitol steps; and sat in the reviewing box for massive Klan parades of 1925 and 1926 in Washington D.C.
For a while, the Klan grew to be so dominant in the national Democratic Party, that the 1924 presidential nomination convention was referred to the “Klan-bake.”
Two points here –
The “Klan” I am referring to is not the group from to the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. In this essay, I am discussing the second version of the Klan; the one that was kickstarted in large part by the “heroic” portrayal of older version of the Klan in 1915 movie, “Birth of a Nation.”
The rapid fall of this second Klan (based on several scandals) cannot be discussed in the limited space available. However, the decline of the organization was not based on loss of support for the ideology, only matters of internal corruption.
By Glenn Young
All the political players involved in the struggles to find answers about the group of people currently living in the United States classified as DACA (Differed Action on Childhood Arrivals) or TPS (Temporary Protective Status) speak in euphemism. Because they do so, we, as a nation, avoid overtly discussing and addressing the potential consequence of not finding “solutions” for these people.1 However, when we remove all the euphemisms, what we are facing is the United States is about to conduct of one of the largest forced peacetime deportations, – or even better stated- “expulsions” of an “unwanted minority populations” in the history of the world. Under Trump orders; some 1.1 million people are about to be expelled from the United States.
Roughly 800,000 DACA young people, and
Some 325,000 TPS people (200k form El Salvador alone)
Strip everything else away, and that is the real bottom line; continually hid by use of euphemisms. To be able to really stop this action, we need to talk about it for what it really is – a mass deportation of an unwanted minority group; but, also an attempt at a mass deportation of a successful minority group. This apparent contradiction of a group being both unwanted and successful will be discussed as we go along.
Initially, there is a need to state that the debates about DACA/TPS (and in fact, most issues of immigration of non-white people to the United States) tends to follow the standard approaches of other cultures that have conducted mass expulsions; the euphemistic terms used against the people under attack are intended to dehumanize the targeted populations.
While our euphemistic language about the minority group is a bit more polite than other places (we don’t call the targeted group cockroaches or vermin), we see this dehumanizing approach when the members of the anti-immigrant political Right states:
DACA people as only illegal immigrants, and lawbreakers simply by the fact that they are here, and
the TPS people are “opportunist” taking advantage of America’s generosity; people just trying to stay well beyond issues for their seeking crisis relief.
“Dehumanization” was a major part of Trumps opening statement for his campaign (calling Mexican immigrants rapist, etc.”). The “reduced” value of them as people continued for the many on the Right of GOP, on even to how the issues in the brief January 2018 government shutdown was framed when the GOP leadership claimed that the Democrats forced the shutdown for the benefit of “only illegal immigrants” over the needs of the military and children in need of health care. This language use is not only clearly intended to create all forms of barriers between the targeted group and the general population, but to provide a base for treating them as if they virtually have no rights; they, by their very existence, are “outlaws.”
America has a long history of the use of this dehumanizing language, mainly concerning the people who were slaves, and then freedmen and was widely used until the Civil Rights movement helped put an end to overt racism. But it was used, in some form or other against almost every large wave of immigrant who came to the United States seeking refuge. Now, the same approach (a bit more polite) has been revitalized in this debate over immigrants.
However, while the Right is clearly making efforts to dehumanize the DACA/TPS people, the so-called Left, and the Center have their own kind rhetoric that tends to also dehumanize; by idealizing or pitying the DACA/TPS people; by focusing on issues such as breaking up families. The approach of the Left/Center is far more an appeal for “pity” rather than a clear statement of empowerment and protection of the basic human rights of these people.
The Democrats have failed to point out that Trump is demanding the US act in violation of many international norms, and even laws concerning the treatment of minority populations.2
The result is neither argument defines the DACA/TPS populations as fully human and entitled to basic human rights. Both sides hide the fact that the efforts to force the DACA and TPS people, along with the other efforts to expel “non-legal people” (mainly non-white people) out of the United States, is nothing less than a traditional “ethnic cleansing” and outright standard practice by authoritarian governments to rid themselves of “unwanted” and “scapegoated” populations.
As long as we continue to speak about these populations in any other terms, other than a minority population being expelled, we allow “their euphemisms” to dominate the debate. We must stop using their euphemisms and speak about the expulsion of these PEOPLE in clear and overt language.
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