The Alt Right has mainstreamed xenophobic discourse to such an extent that even Hillary Clinton is borrowing talking points from them.
Just in time for the Thanksgiving family fighting season, American political maverick Hillary Rodham Clinton has served up a recipe for disaster by suggesting Europe should stop offering “support and refuge” to people fleeing death in wars she supported.
Clinton’s callousness marks a new low point in loathsome victim blaming that assumes the worst about human beings and tries to appease fascism rather than confront it.
Beyond the moral cowardice and indifference to suffering, her plan wouldn’t even work. Europe’s nationalists will not settle for a halt to immigration, just as Hitler did not settle for Czechoslovakia.
The former secretary of state, who famously lost the race for president to Donald Trump in 2016, believes that the rise of right-wing populism in Europe and the United States was the fault of immigration policies that let in too many Syrian refugees, and encouraged racist and xenophobic views to take over politics and push out moderates, such as herself.
“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” she told The Guardian.
“I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message – ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ – because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic.”
And let’s just examine, for a moment, what in fact “lit the flame” of right-wing populism?
Was it the onslaught of Russian propaganda and disinformation that still bounces across the European and American electromagnetic spectrum? That was certainly her line of reasoning in 2017 after she lost to Trump. But now she says the inciting incident was migration itself.
She’s saying that Donald Trump was right: migrants are the problem and racism is just a fact of life. But giving into racists will not satisfy racism.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Clinton does not get out much. She hasn’t seen mothers and fathers carrying their babies hundreds of miles to escape violence and bloodshed. Nor does she have the courage to tell this to their faces, but only in an interview, a safe place, where there are no helicopters bearing barrel bombs looming overhead. She appears to see suffering as a political inconvenience, rather than as a moral outrage.
Clinton’s cowardice is not without precedent in American politics.
There was a general during the American Civil War named George McClellan, first selected by President Abraham Lincoln to fight the pro-slavery Confederacy, the rebels who wanted their own country in the southern states. Lincoln eventually fired McClellan because he was unwilling to confront the Confederacy, replacing him with the far more determined Ulysses S. Grant, nicknamed Unconditional Surrender Grant.
In the presidential election of 1864, in the middle of the brutal and merciless civil war, McClellan mounted an unsuccessful challenge against Lincoln on a platform that would have ended the war against the Confederacy and allowed it to keep slavery but remain part of the United States. It would have been a negotiated settlement that kept millions of black people in chains. Luckily, McClellan lost.
Clinton is like McClellan, willing to sell out people whose existence they see as inconvenient, whose pain is a political headache.
Millions of Syrians did not leave their homes because they just felt like it. That the Syrian Civil War is in a state of a grisly stalemate now was not the case in 2015, when the largest caravans of refugees arrived.
Hundreds of thousands still languish in Greece, and millions more wait in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, unsure if they’ll ever see their homes again.
Indeed, most Syrian, and Afghan, refugees are not even in the European Union, so it’s absurd to say that the EU has “done its part.”
It’s like McClellan saying that the Union army tried to end slavery, a moral abomination, but it was too hard so why not give up?
Clinton’s attitude also reminds me of something Alt Right Twitter personality Richard Spencer told me in 2016.
First, he said his goal was to slowly introduce white nationalism and identitarianism into the mainstream of DC. Clinton’s statement shows how successful he has been.
Second, is his response when I asked him what if refugees sent back to war go back and die.
“Tough shit,” he said. Clinton seems to agree.
On this Thanksgiving, a distinctly American holiday that began in its current form after the Civil War, I am personally grateful that there was an America for my ancestors to flee to, as refugees from the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s.
Just like the Syrian Civil War, the Famine was not just some accidental natural disaster, but a calculated work of racist British imperialism that used libertarian justifications to deny food to starving Irish people. Although the potato crop failed, Ireland remained an exporter of grain throughout the Famine, but few Irish people could afford it. Ireland has never recovered its pre-famine population; Syria might never recover its pre-war population.
The Irish who fled famine also “roiled the body politic” of the United States.
As Yemen today stands on the brink of famine, thanks to war beyond the control of the Yemeni children wasting away from hunger and poverty, let us redouble our efforts to help them however we can, and not shrink away from our duty to protect the helpless and homeless, bleeding at our doorsteps.
Our souls depend on it.
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