This morning I came across this on Twitter:
For the first time since I arrived in America in 1976, I feel like an outcast, a minority. That’s Trump’s doing. https://t.co/CjB8KlZQc7
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) September 6, 2017
I suspect, like many, he thinks Trump brought about the situation in America rather than the other way around. Let’s see:
I am white. I am Jewish. I am an immigrant. I am a Russian American. But until recently I haven’t focused so much on those parts of my identity. I’ve always thought of myself simply as a normal, unhyphenated American.
Okay, with you so far.
Last year I experienced the first sustained anti-Semitism I have ever encountered in the United States. Like many other anti-Trump commentators, I was deluged with neo-Nazi propaganda on social media, including a picture of me in a gas chamber, with Herr Trump in a Nazi uniform pulling the lever to kill me. This was accompanied by predictable demands that I leave this country to “real” Americans and go back to where I came from — or, alternatively, to Israel.
So something’s changed, I think we can all agree on that.
That’s harder to do now that the president of the United States has embraced the far-right agenda. Trump came to office vilifying Mexicans and Muslims. As president, he has praised the protesters who marched with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people” and come out against taking down Confederate monuments, symbols of white supremacy.
Well, how about that? I don’t suppose it’s occurred to Boot that his being subject to anti-semitic abuse for the first time and ordinary Americans concerned about immigration being branded as “far right” are two sides of the same coin. Sure, Boot wasn’t being told to “leave this country” a few years ago, but then Confederate monuments weren’t symbols of white supremacy then either, and it was a lot more difficult to be branded a Nazi.
He has pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who became a symbol of racism and lawlessness for locking up Latinos, in defiance of a court order, simply on the suspicion that they might be undocumented immigrants.
A symbol of racism for whom? Those who want to apply a racial angle to anything and everything. Yet when people get into the spirit of things and start bringing up Boot’s race, he doesn’t like it. Well, that’s what happens when you make everything about race, like Boot is doing, and that didn’t start with Trump.
The announced end of DACA hit me particularly hard, because almost half of those affected arrived in the United States before their sixth birthday. In other words, they were about the same age I was when I came here.
My family’s case was somewhat different in that we received legal status as refugees after arriving here, and in time we became citizens.
Similarly, the execution of the Bali Nine leaders hit me particularly hard, because I too had been to Bali. My case was somewhat different because I was not smuggling heroin, and I was allowed to enjoy my holiday in peace.
Not even Trump and his nativist attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have yet figured out a way to strip naturalized American citizens of their legal status — although they’ve explicitly stated that they want to reduce legal immigration by 50 percent.
So this makes them Nazis, does it? Boot complains that times have changed and everything is so unpleasant, but he wants to make it politically unacceptable to discuss issues such as immigration – topics which were very much debated freely during this supposed golden age in which he grew up in America.
What would I do now, at age 48, if I were deported to a country that I have not seen in more than 40 years and whose language I no longer speak?
You might as well ask what you’d do if plonked in the seat of a 747 mid-flight: this is never going to happen, and you know it.
How would I work? How would I survive? In my case it would be a particularly pressing problem, given how critical I have been of Russia’s current president. The risk of political persecution would be all too real for me — as it is for “dreamers” who might be deported to repressive countries.
Hint for those who emigrate: don’t criticise the authoritarian president of your country of origin if you are in your host country illegally. But hey, feel free to slag off the president of your host country in the national press, they’ll love that.
The result of all this hate-mongering is that for the first time, I no longer feel like a “real” American. I now feel like an outcast, a minority.
No, you don’t, this is pathetic posturing. If you had outcast, minority views you’d not get to express them in the Washington Post, you’d be running an obscure blog with 500 readers per day. Like, erm, this one.
That may be precisely what Trump and his most fervent supporters intend. They are redefining what it means to be an American. The old idea that anyone who embraces America’s ideals can become an American is out.
Funny, that’s exactly what a lot of Americans think your side has done: redefined what it means to be American, uprooted conventions, opened old wounds, trashed institutions, and left millions of people feeling isolated and unrepresented. That’s why they voted for Trump.
I find myself increasingly forced to think of my ethnic identity instead of the national identity I adopted as a boy in 1976. That is discomfiting for me, and a tragedy for America.
Well, yes. But it wasn’t Trump who foisted identity politics and race onto people who for years had been content to just be Americans. That was someone else, and the establishment Republicans who Boot supports went along with it. Boot complains that Trump’s policies have made him feel like an outcast in his adopted country, but fails to understand it was ordinary Americans being made to feel like outcasts in their own country which got Trump elected in the first place. Like so many others, he’s put the cart before the horse.