(This article was originally published at OnFaith.)
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.
With these inflammatory (and flatly untrue) words, Donald Trump sealed the deal with the people who have made him the Republican frontrunner. “The Donald” tapped into the rage that some percentage of disenchanted, white, working class folks feel toward people of Hispanic origin living in the United States.
When Trump spoke in my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona last month, his campaign had to move the rally to a larger venue. As you probably know, in 2010 Arizona politics produced the most controversial immigration law in the country, SB1070. Although it was supposed to protect Arizonans from the supposed cost of illegal immigration, SB1070 cost Arizona millions of dollars in lost business revenue in the law’s first year alone. Prejudice comes with a price tag.
In the continual media coverage of Trump, we must guard against becoming desensitized to the historical precedent of this brand of politics. A 71-year-old man named Lou at the Phoenix Trump rally inadvertently spilled the beans: “This country today is sad, sad, sad,” he said. “You can’t say anything or they call you ‘a racist.’ It’s like we’re back in Nazi Germany. But look around, man. It’s people here reading and listening to his message.”
Lou hit the nail on the head with the historical allusion, but fails to realize how those racial politics played out and what side that puts him on. Trump supporters openly blame ethnic minorities for their economic problems and long for the days of a purer, paler race in America. Let me be clear — Trump is no führer, but ethnic politics are dangerous, and the world has seen this script before…