M D Nalapat
IT would be less than fair to call President Donld J Trump a racist. It is correct that he has in the recent past been unrestrained in his invective against Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Ayaana Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Representative Elijah Cummings and Jessie Jackson. None are of European ethnic origin. However, Trump has been equally dismissive about Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, not to mention others of European ethnicity. However, the Republican Party that functions under President Trump is unrecognizable from the oarty that Abraham Lincoln twice led to victory in the presidential elections. Of course, where racial justice is concerned, the crime laws passed under President Bill Clinton and vociferously backed by the then Senator Joe Biden resulted in targeted injustice to African American youths. The repeal of the Glass Steagal Act, again by Clinton to applause from Biden, played a key role in creating the conditions for the “Greed Recession” that followed the 2008 Wall Street meltdown. Barack Obama, under prodding from the Clinton machine (to which he was subservient for years) stood aside while millions lost their homes, even as he and Nancy Pelosi approved bailouts of nearly a trillion dollars to the hyper rich.
Democrats have therefore been no different from Republicans where it comes to cosying up to money. However, these days there is an increasing volume of no longer subliminal ethno-centric slogans of the Republican Party, which is now unabashedly distant from the days when Abraham Lincoln got signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to an audible gnashing of those who in substance strayed so far from the teachings of Jesus Christ as to consider slavery of those whose ethnic origin was Africa, the natural order of things. Slaveholders and those who tolerated or encouraged such a vicious system used to go to church every weekend, and regarded themselves as “Good Christians”, just as the practitioners of apartheid did in South Africa a century later. During Lincoln’s time, the Republican Party got transformed into an instrument of social change because of the influence of Lincoln and others of European extraction who took seriously the motto that “all men are created equal.
These days, the Republican Party is indistinguishable from what the Democratic Party was in Lincoln’s time, a Party which had adopted 150 years ago the creed later carried out in practice by Adolf Hitler to murderous effect, that there were “Herrenmensch” (Master Races) and “Untermensch”, (Inferior Races). There are risks in ignoring the fact that ability is unrelated to ethnicity or faith. The National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) led by Hitler considered atomic physics to be “Jewish science”, as most of those researching the subject were of that faith. While many such experts were criminally killed by Hitler’s NSDAP thugs, enough escaped to the US to bring to the attention of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ( the third most consequential US President after George Washington and Abraham Lincoln) to the possibility of developing weapons of such power that their use would ensure victory in war. With help from Jewish scientists, Roosevelt launched “Tube Alloys”, the project which resulted in the first ever detonation of a nuclear device on 16 July 1945.
Many believed that the 1933-45 experience of Germany (whose “Herrenmensch” were thrashed into pulp during 1943-45 by the Russian “Untermensch”) would have prevented policymakers across the world from regarding ethnicity as the key to success. However, it did not. The European Union, for instance, kept its doors closed for the most talented individuals of cities in India such as Chennai and Hyderabad, while its western members welcomed into their millions from Eastern Europe who had rudimentary education and capabilities, in the (silently expressed) belief that a European – any European – was preferable to any Asian. The drive to block immigration into the European Union from countries in Asia was led by Germany, although it must be said that under Angela Merkel, the character of the country was permitted to change completely as a consequence of the entry into Germany of what will easily cross two million new citizens from North Africa and other locations outside Europe, without any test or screening whatsoever. Within two generations, Germany will have an entirely different chemistry as a consequence of the bold decision by Chancellor Merkel.
Angela Merkel changed Germany by welcoming migration into the country. Trump is changing the chemistry of the US by blocking migration in ways that are often disturbing, although it must be said that similar scenes occurred during the Obama years, although the media did not pay a tenth as much attention to them as they do to the situation under President Trump. There is a swagger among under-educated and under-employed heterosexual males of European descent, a distinct feeling that the US belongs to them and others of the same complexion, so that those with a permanent tan should be kept out. Such a stance goes against the currents of demographic change and the Zeitgeist (spirit) of the 21st century. The Republican Party is going back to where much of the Democratic Party was in the 1950s, and it is not a pretty sight, ad while it may ensure that Trump win his second term in the 2020 polls, in the longer run, bias towards a particular race will cost the Republican Party heavily in a country where demographic change is impossible to stop or even slow down.
—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.