Welcome back to Lady Things! You might notice some changes popping up in the near future as I continue to move my things in, so thanks for bearing with us as I get more comfortable telling you what I think each week.
Before we leave June behind for good and head into July, let's take a moment to reflect on what happened two years ago that finds us where we are today.
You know what I'm talking about, it's been two years since Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency.
It's been two years of this shit.
Two goddamn years.
But more accurately, it's been two years since Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency by saying the people coming from Mexico are rapists and are bringing crime and drugs. I think at the time a lot of people underestimated just how much mileage one could get out of hating on Mexicans, and so this week in honor of the two year anniversary of the month we all moved to Hell, we're going to talk about why people got so darn excited to hear Trump say all those things that he eventually got elected.
After his campaign announcement speech, a number of people rushed to assure those of us who were rightly worried that this didn't mean anything. "Don't worry," they said. "He won't get the nomination," they said. But for those who experience on a daily basis the kind of sentiment he tapped into, it was a giant orange warning sign for his inevitable election, because hating Mexicans is a time-honored tradition in this country. In addition to sowing fear about Mexicans, advocates for more militant border security also cite the threat of Islamic terrorists entering the US as a reason for tighter restrictions, like this guy freaking out about prayer rugs in the Texas desert. Along with the hordes of Mexicans, Central Americans and South Americans spilling over into this country, Muslims are allegedly joining them now and the supposedly lax border becomes responsible for a wave of degeneracy.
We saw something similar happen during the summer of 2014, when an influx of mostly Central American children crossing the US/Mexican border alarmed nativists so much that they staged demonstrations nationwide. Here in Portland, nativists and a bunch of other really mean people gathered in front of the Mexican Embassy downtown in order to protest the city taking in a modest number of the refugee children. I went down to document the event, which included a small but admirable counter protest, and spoke to someone from Numbers USA, a group who focuses on numerical limits to immigration and stopping "extended-family 'chain migration.'" I asked them why they were protesting at the Mexican Embassy when a majority of the children were coming from Central America, even though the answer was pretty obvious to me in that the embassy was the most significant, official location representing countries where they speak Spanish but aren't Spain. I listened as she explained that Mexico is representative of the problems caused by South Americans, like crime, pollution and overpopulation, something they think is exacerbated by loose immigration restrictions.
Later that year in November, Oregon voters swatted down a referendum that would have allowed people in the state to obtain a drivers card showing only proof of Oregon residency. The movement against the ballot measure was driven by a group known for some questionable rhetoric when it comes to immigration.
The time was ripe not just here, but nationwide, for Trump's comments to really resonate with a significant number of people by the time he announced his presidency seven months later. Boosted by +5 Birtherism, Trump was able to ride the wave of public shock into a pile of media coverage and the eventual presidency. But we all know this because time is now split into Before Trump and After Trump.
Like I mentioned in my introductory column, there are echoes of Operation Wetback in the targeting of people who came to Multnomah County Courthouse in order to fulfill their legal requirements. Earlier this month, when a militia member assisted a federal officer in arresting a protester on the streets of downtown Portland, I pointed out the fact that there's been collaboration between federal agents and militias for quite some time now, it's just that it happens on the border. Not to diminish the outcry, but to show that these sorts of acts usually have precedence in regards to people of color.
Look, nobody won on Election Night. Especially people of color, disabled people, children, the elderly, queer people, the homeless, gay people, veterans, working class people, trans people, Natives, people who live in other countries, Muslims, women, immigrants, artists, students, teachers, the environment. I could go on but basically everyone who isn't Donald Trump or a part of Donald Trump's empire. There's nothing we can do now except listen and take guidance from those most affected by this waves of fresh bullshit that threaten to overwhelm us each day.
Well, that was fun. I'll see you all next week.