Trump Takes on the New Nativists - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Trump Takes on the New Nativists

Call them the New Nativists. The Know Everythings.

Appallingly arrogant, insufferably elitist, wildly disconnected from every day Americans and profoundly impressed by a presumed intellectual and moral superiority that others find decidedly un-conservative at best and bigoted at worst — some of Donald Trump’s critics have not only gone around the bend they have jumped the shark. And some of the anti-Trump criticism is tied tight to an illegal immigration movement that is — it needs to be said — flat out racist. Determined to remake an America based on color-blind principles of freedom and liberty into a balkanized country divided by race and class. Re-creating America as the new old-South Africa — or bringing the social, race-based class warfare of Mexico northward.

From time-to-time this “Summer of Trump” the cry has gone up that Donald Trump is a “nativist.” His stance on illegal immigration is said to reflect the values of the anti-immigrant “Know Nothings” of the 1850s. (In fact, Donald Trump on deporting illegals is in fact merely updating the 1950s deportation stance — actually carried out — of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Right now the biggest debate about the beloved Ike is the size and nature of his planned memorial in Washington.)

Here in the Washington Post the editorial page editor Fred Hiatt writes in part:

When we lived in Moscow, people used to ask my wife and me, “Who are you by nationality?”

“Americans,” we’d say.

Invariably the response would come: “Yes, but who are you really?”

Russia, you see, is a kind of melting pot, like the United States, but ethnicities don’t melt in quite the same way. People consider each other first as Armenians, or Tatars, or Jews (yes, “Jewish” is deemed a nationality), and only second as Russian citizens.

That is the kind of thinking that Donald Trump, and the Republican presidential candidates who are pathetically jumping on his nativist bandwagon, would bring to this country. 

This is, of course, precisely backwards. It is liberals and the New Nativists/Know Everythings who seek to divide the country on racial lines — aka identity politics. And Hiatt’s Washington Post has done nothing but cheer on this racializing of America. 

Over at the New York Daily News, Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote a piece one would think unworthy of a prince of the Catholic Church headlined:

Nativism rears its big-haired head: Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is a sad return to a terrible American tradition

The Cardinal’s mindless rant was similar to Hiatt’s, deliberately replacing Trump’s argument about “illegal immigrants” and twisting it to mean “immigrants” — dubiously casting the son and grandson of legal immigrants who is married to a legal immigrant into someone who, apparently, loathes his wife, mother and grandma and grandpa. Right.

Then there’s Peter Suderman of the apparently erroneously named Reason magazine who headlines

Donald Trump’s Nativist Campaign is Rallying Racist Supporters

The candidate’s aggressive opposition to immigration is a big part of his appeal.

Like Hiatt and Cardinal Dolan, Suderman too can’t resist deliberately using President Obama’s favorite tactic of setting up a strawman argument and then demolishing it. In Suderman’s case he plays the race card, the old left-wing favorite, writing in his story:

Nativism is at the core of Donald Trump’s campaign; it is one of the keys to his appeal. And amongst his supporters and admirers, that aggressive nativism often shades into outright racism. 


And let’s not leave out the appalling column over there at the Federalist by the supposedly sensible Ben Domenech. Domenech headlines:

Are Republicans For Freedom Or White Identity Politics? 

Donald Trump could transform the Republican Party into a coalition focused on white identity politics. We’ve seen this in Europe, and it’s bad.

Doubtless it will come as a surprise to the African-American Jamiel Shaw Sr. — the Trump supporter whose 17-year old son was shot to death execution style by an illegal immigrant gang member — that he, Mr. Shaw, is into “white identity politics.” 

Then there is the Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel out there on Fox News saying that Trump is “whipping up nativist fears… to further his own brand” while the Washington Post’s Philip Bump baldly says that Trump is not “factually” correct on the issue of immigrants and crime — when, of course, Trump is talking about illegal immigrants and crime. Apparently Jamiel Shaw’s son was executed by — who? The Wicked Witch of the West? It shouldn’t be rocket science to realize that there should be a zero illegal immigrant crime rate because illegals should not be in America — period.

The original “nativists” were dubbed the “Know Nothings.” Over here at the United States History site they are defined as follows: nativism is defined as “a belief that only native-born or long-established citizens should have a voice in public affairs.” 

In today’s world this perfectly describes the Post’s Hiatt and Bump, the good Cardinal, Reason’s Suderman, and the WSJ’s Kissel. And so many, many more, though sadly there is even a limit to a long list in cyberspace. (Amusingly, one of the objections raised against Donald Trump is that he is “vulgar” — an accusation hurled in the day at both Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson. Apparently ending slavery and passing civil rights laws should have taken second place to taste. Good to know.) 

The only change from the nativists of the 1850s is that in modern America the term “native-born” or “long established citizens” refers not to America but that slice of America that is the territory of the media and intellectual elites and race-card players masquerading as illegal immigration activists. Violate that territory and by God you will be notified that in fact you have crossed the border of proper and approved chattering class thought — without a passport. And the intellectual equivalent of the Border Patrol is coming to remove you, your credibility, and your reputation as quickly as the troops can be massed. Today’s “Know Nothings” have become in their own minds the “Know Everythings” — and one can only gape in astonishment at the ignorance, prejudice, and outright bigotry that flows from this group.

Take the Cardinal. As noted here in this space the other week, the borders of the Cardinal’s St. Patrick Cathedral are tougher than the U.S. southern border. Noted the Christian Post:

Gay Activists With Charcoaled Hands Denied Mass at NY’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The story said, among other things, this (bold print for emphasis mine):

Joseph Zwilling, director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York, released this statement to The Christian Post in response to the gay rights supporters’ protest:

“Yesterday, prior to the 10:15 a.m. Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, a small group of individuals approached the Cathedral with blackened hands, as a form of protest in response to Cardinal Dolan’s blog post, ‘All Are Welcome.’ Although organizers have attempted to call yesterday’s events by another name, it is clear that they were trying to make a statement, had hoped to get media attention to spread their message, and were using the setting of the Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral as their forum.

“The group was politely told that everyone was welcome at Mass, but that they could not attend if they intended to protest with their blackened hands. The celebration of the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — the central act of worship for Catholics — should not and must not become the setting for protests or demonstrations.”

In other words, no less than the Cardinal’s own church has borders and rules — and if one does not obey them then one is quite deliberately denied entry. Does this make the Cardinal a “nativist” — with protecting the home turf of the Catholic Church an act of out and out bigotry? Apparently so.

But the modern version of “nativists” and the “Know Nothings” are about intellectual turf. Respectability. Taste. Or, to put it mildly, a presumed intellectual and moral superiority that simply doesn’t exist. It is “Know Everythingism,” a snooty, wildly arrogant, and decidedly racial disconnect with the American people who are responding enthusiastically to Donald Trump.

Does it ever occur to these people and others that there are Americans of all colors who believe with John F. Kennedy that “race has no place in American life or law” — and they see the illegal immigration movement as flat-out racist? As when Jorge Ramos writes of Latinos that

The famous and stereotypical idea of the melting pot is a myth. The European immigrants — Italians, Germans and Poles, that preceded the Latinos assimilated rapidly to the American culture. But the Latinos have achieved the feat of integrating economically to the United States without losing their culture. Such a phenomenon has never occurred before.

In other words? Everybody else came to America and became an American — the goal of Latinos is not to assimilate but hold fast to their own ethnic identity. But this is false. That is without doubt the goal of leftist illegal immigrant activists like Ramos, but by no means does he represent all Hispanics. Peggy Noonan discussed as much the other day in the WSJ. Wrote Peggy:

Something is going on, some tectonic plates are moving in interesting ways. My friend Cesar works the deli counter at my neighborhood grocery store. He is Dominican, an immigrant, early 50s, and listens most mornings to a local Hispanic radio station, La Mega, on 97.9 FM. Their morning show is the popular “El Vacilón de la Mañana,” and after the first GOP debate, Cesar told me, they opened the lines to call-ins, asking listeners (mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican) for their impressions. More than half called in to say they were for Mr. Trump. Their praise, Cesar told me a few weeks ago, dumbfounded the hosts. I later spoke to one of them, who identified himself as D.J. New Era. He backed Cesar’s story. “We were very surprised,” at the Trump support, he said. Why? “It’s a Latin-based market!” 

And even my CNN GOP sparring partner Ana Navarro concedes she has Hispanic friends who are pro-Trump, and doubtless they are pro-American as well.

But what is good enough for the American Hispanics Peggy and Ana speak of, plus the “Italians, Germans, and Poles” — not to mention the English, Irish, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians (see: Bobby Jindal) and all the rest in the American melting pot simply isn’t good enough for leftists who happen to be Hispanics.

Take a look over here at Victor Davis Hansen in PJ Media headlining:

How Illegal Immigration Finally Turned Off the Public

If there were not a Donald Trump, he would likely have had to have been invented. 

Writes Hansen in part: 

Over the years immigration activists successfully deconstructed the complex issue of illegal immigration into a race and class morality tale of privileged whites picking on poor brown people. The operative buzzwords were “racism,” “nativism,” and “xenophobia.” That theme is now mostly bankrupt given that every great lie eventually falls from its own weight.

It was rarely the host, but more often the activists on behalf of the guests, who framed illegal immigration in racial terms. Activists foolishly fabricated the controversy as “we noble Latinos” against “you prejudiced non-Latinos.” They forgot apparently two obvious truths: one, thirty percent of Americans are not so-called white; and, two, most people resent ethnic chauvinism.

… Sometime in the last five years, the public woke up and grasped that Latino elite activists were not so much interested in illegal immigration per se, but only to the degree that the issue affected other Latinos. Were 3,000 Chinese illegally entering California per day by ship on the Northern California coast, Latino activists and politicians would probably be the first to call for enforcement of federal immigration law.

It is difficult for the National Council of La Raza to attempt to airbrush away vocabulary like “anchor baby” and “illegal immigration,” while insisting that its own nomenclature “La Raza” has nothing to do with race. The public knows that La Raza means “The Race,” and that those who founded that organization chose that racially charged noun for the precise purpose of ethnic triumphalism — in the way that every infamous 20th-century Latinate racist demagogue from Mussolini to Franco found a use for Raza/Razza, a mostly taboo term in Mediterranean Europe today. In an age when the Washington Redskins earn a presidential rebuke, it is inconceivable that the chief illegal-immigration advocate is a federally subsidized group known as the National Council of La Raza. No other organization would dare use such a term. In the public mind illegal immigration has gone from the old narrative that racists were enforcing the law to keep out mostly brown people to a new generation of racists who are trying to subvert the law to bring in mostly brown people.

Bravo to Victor Davis Hansen. 

And note well, to Hansen’s point exactly Fred Hiatt’s Washington Post editorial board insists the name of the Redskins should be changed because it “is a racial slur with no place in civilized society” — yet huffily defended Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor from charges of being “‘racist'” for her past affiliation with the Hispanic advocacy group, the National Council of La Raza. Suffice to say, precisely as Hansen notes, “The public knows that La Raza means ‘The Race,’ and that those who founded that organization chose that racially charged noun for the precise purpose of ethnic triumphalism — in the way that every infamous 20th-century Latinate racist demagogue from Mussolini to Franco found a use for Raza/Razza.” Exactly. And the Post openly endorses this wretched racial business.

What all those Trump supporters out there recognize instinctively — be they of African, Italian, Polish, German, Jewish, Irish, Asian or — yes — Hispanic descent is that they are having the race card played on them by an arrogant intellectual elite who are determined to remake America into a race-driven society. Worse still, the thought of some is to use the Party of Lincoln to accomplish this.

The Know Nothing nativists of two centuries ago have re-emerged as the New Nativist Know Everythings. And the guessing here is that large numbers of what might be called “Melting Pot Americans” supporting Donald Trump will go out of their way to make certain the New Nativists have as much success as their predecessors the old Nativists had. Which is to say they were eventually ridiculed into oblivion.

A more appropriate fate for the New Nativists who are the Know Everythings would be hard to imagine.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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