Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Right's Insane Immigration Conspiracy Theories

During my time as a Republican Party member and activist, white supremacists and white nationalists were not openly welcomed into the Party.  Indeed, when someone did engage in rants along such lines, most of us rolled our eyes and viewed the individual akin to an insane family member that one tries to keep quiet and out of public view.  Those days are gone and, with the rise of Donald Trump, white supremacy and white nationalism is one of the twin pillars of today's Republican Party - the other is right wing Christian religious extremism, although it greatly overlaps the Party's open racism. A piece in Salon looks at some of Trump's bizarre conspiracy theories and provides a good explanation of the obsession with the now mainstream fringe elements who believe Mexico is engaged in a conspiracy to reconquer the American Southwest and more.  Here are excerpts:
[T]he notion that the Mexican government is orchestrating an invasion of the United States has been a staple on the white nationalist far right for years.
“This is a longstanding conspiracy on the radical right,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “There have been claims for the better part of ten years now that Mexico is secretly planning to reconquer the American Southwest.”
That conspiracy to take over the Southwest goes by the names Plan de Aztl├ín (taken from a 1969 Chicano movement manifesto) and “the Reconquista,” or Reconquest. One theory is that it will happen through the “birth canal,” meaning that Mexican women are being sent to the United States to give birth to lots of children and take power through sheer demographic force. The other is that it will take place through force of arms. The Federation for American Immigration Reform, one of the most extreme but influential anti-immigrant organizations, has lent its support to the theory.
“It boils down to the claim that Mexico is consciously infiltrating its citizens into the United States in order to take back the lands lost to the Americans,” said Potok.
A 2006 article in Front Page Magazine, for example, described “the Mexican invasion of the United States” as “a campaign to occupy and gain power over our country — a project encouraged, abetted, and organized by the Mexican state and supported by the leading elements of Mexican society.”
In 2005, anti-immigrant advocates seized on the Mexican government’s distribution of a safety guide to migrants as evidence that the government was coordinating their outmigration for the economic purpose of ensuring remittances. Rick Oltman of FAIRreportedly said the books were evidence of  “the Mexican government trying to protect its most valuable export, which is illegal migrants.”
The theory probably originated, said Potok, in a small group called American Patrol, based in Southern Arizona, and was popular amongst Minutemen anti-immigrant militiamen during their heyday, from the mid to late 2000s.
“It’s a conspiracy theory that began on a tiny hate group on the Arizona that has spread far and wide and quite deeply penetrated the mainstream,” said Potok.
In 2014, a video circulated of a man who described himself as a former Border Patrol agent, who charged that the influx of refugee children was an act of “asymmetrical warfare” carried out by unnamed malignant forces so that they could sneak in drugs and chemical and biological weapons (he also put suggested that the Ebola outbreak in Africa was spread by intentional conspiracy). The video was cited by right-wing figures including former Congressman Allen West.
Others, including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, accused the U.S. government of being complicit in coordinating the wave of Central American child refugees. That taps into the notion, said Potok, that President Obama wants immigrants and refugees to come to the United States because they will be future Democratic voters. It’s also part of a broader theory that dangerous forces abroad are allied with an internal fifth column of liberals who are aiding the enemy for their own nefarious purposes.
 The reality, of course, is that Mexico doesn’t decide which immigrants come to the United States; immigrants experiencing complex social and economic realities do. But conspiratorial explanations become increasingly appealing as the global forces that shape people’s lives become ever more abstract. Trump isn’t just tapping into racist sentiment. He’s channeling a right-wing account of how the world works that is no longer relegated to the fringe.

No comments: