For Trump and Others, A "Great" America Means "Xenophobia"
by Dev Sheth | published Sep. 25th, 2015
Immigration has always been a sensitive issue in the US. It is part of its history and its tradition, and yet it is a fact that having a strong opinion on it can offend a surprising number of people.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been an extremely entertaining one so far. It has captured the imagination of the people, some finding faith in a leader that claims he will “Make America Great Again” while others try to gauge the depth of chaos he would possibly plunge the world into with his policies. His stance on immigration has already drawn flak, culminating in an argument with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos at a press conference in Iowa.
Within the heated exchange, Trump asked Ramos to “go back to Univision” in response to Ramos asking his questions out of turn. Along with his willingness to be politically incorrect, that thinly veiled racism is part of the problem with Trump. An alarming, if minor number of his supporters are primarily drawn to Trump because of it. Trump is well aware of that fact, and while he refuses to accept it, he is still playing to that segment of his audience more than anything else. He consistently dodges questions about how he will deliver on his promises, instead choosing to speak in a divisive rhetoric that opts out of entertaining genuine facts and figures. When Trump says he's not racist he may be right, but he's clearly giving that impression to make sure that he gets the supremacist vote. Unfortunately, his words are inspiring actions and Ramos isn’t the only one on the receiving end of this cultural spite.
With his HBO series Last Week Tonight, John Oliver has gained widespread popularity for his sugar-coated yet hard-hitting investigative reports. Wildly popular in the entertainment spectrum as he is, Oliver has been responsible for what is being termed “the John Oliver effect.” His coverage has resulted in the FCC changing its stance on net neutrality as well as bringing an end to unfair bail requirements in New York City. He does run into trouble from time to time, however, and like Ramos there is one particular group of people that consistently ask the Brit to "go home."
Oliver has dismissed his own journalistic credentials, incidentally in an interview with Ramos, claiming to be a comedian instead. His mentor and former host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, makes the same claim, and yet when his opinions aren't received well Stewart never has to deal with zealots telling him to leave the country.
Another British journalist who has faced this issue is Piers Morgan. Widely outspoken in his support for gun control regulations, Morgan ran into trouble time and again while he hosted CNN’s Piers Morgan Live from 2011 to 2014. Morgan has professed disbelief at the lack of introspection of the gun culture despite widespread public outrage at mass-shootings across the country. In the absence of persistent political debate on the matter, Morgan vociferously argued for stricter gun control regulations. In response, an online petition was filed with the White House to deport Morgan to Great Britain. The man behind the petition, conservative radio pundit Alex Jones, appeared on Morgan’s show for a debate as well. Morgan’s show was eventually cancelled, with him returning to the UK.
The underlying connection among all of these incidents is the manner in which these journalists are treated for having the views they’re entitled to hold and promote. Despite their repeated declarations of their affection for the US, the level of abuse they face is largely based on their countries of birth. This bias against journalists from abroad working within the US is symbolic but emblematic of a larger problem. Somehow, there still remains a considerable section of the US population that still discriminates, and does so consciously.
To ignore the severity of the concerns these journalists raise and focus instead on where they come from is short-sighted and naïve. Why does it matter that they’re not Americans when the guns they're reporting on are still killing Americans? Or when the people wrongly incarcerated are still innocent Americans with no financial means to bail themselves out? The anti-colonialism that British journalists face, in particular, is almost hilarious. Neither Morgan nor Oliver are gun-wielding colonialists attempting to take over the United States.
It is about time we focus on the issues that are killing Americans everywhere, through gang wars or mental breakdowns, from Genesee St., Rochester, to Sandy Hook, Newtown. Let the messenger walk.