Looking Forward: The Rise of Nativism And Its Impact on Immigrant And Minority Communities

by: Anibal Manzano

Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, Brexit, and the 2016 Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump represent the global rise of nativism. France’s National Front wants to leave the euro and favors French people over immigrants in giving out state benefits[1], the pro-Brexit campaign was largely based on anti-immigrant, nationalist messages, and Trump unabashedly launched his campaign by promising to build a wall on the USA-Mexico border and having Mexico pay for it[2].

As a South American immigrant in Florida, I have come to deeply appreciate this country’s push toward acceptance, diversity, and inclusion. However, I believe this movement is limited or nonexistent in other parts of the country, namely rural areas.[3] These regions’ inhabitants, when confronted with pro-nativist messages, may ask themselves whether our communities should integrate or disband. Should we be living in segregated societies to prevent cultural clashes? Wouldn’t it just be easier if we “kept to ourselves?” These political campaigns do not take place in a vacuum—they permeate our daily lives and impact our perception of political issues, the state of our communities, and how society can move forward.

The rise of hate crimes against immigrant and minority communities in France, the United Kingdom, and the USA exemplify a troubling state of affairs—it showcases the belief that intimidation, threats, and violence against these communities is the way we move our society forward. Indeed, hate crimes against Muslim and Jewish communities soared in France; with anti-Muslim offenses tripling and anti-Semitic offenses doubling in 2015 relative to 2014.[4] Also, the United Kingdom’s National Police Chiefs’ Council reported that there had been a 46% spike in reports of hate crime to the police in the week immediately after the Brexit referendum.[5]

The US has also experienced an increase in hate crimes towards several groups; Muslims being one of the most targeted. This past May, the Huffington Post reported a lady walked right past a Muslim woman, who was wearing a hijab in Washington, D.C. The assailant sat down and started talking about the Muslim woman, “[s]aying ‘F-ing Muslim. Trash, worthless piece of Muslim trash. You all need to go back to where you came from. . . . [I]f Donald Trump wins the nomination I’m going to vote for him so he can send all of you all back to where you came from.”[6] The Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University has reported “anti-Muslim hate crimes increased in 2015, coinciding with attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, and the rise of Donald Trump, . . . who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.”[7] So, “[a]s horrific as this incident was, it was not unique.”[8]

Still, other minorities in the US have also experienced increased hostility. The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations released its Hate Crime Report on September 29, 2016, where it reported hate crimes against Latinos increased 69 percent relative to 2015.[9] Lastly, Chobani Founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, was scathingly criticized and threatened for employing refugees in response to the global refugee crisis.[10] In fact, some called for boycotts of Chobani products; one critic tweeted “Be sure you boycott Chobani Yogurt! The Muzzie that owns it is hell bent on filling Idaho with Muslims.”[11]

As this US Presidential election season comes to a close, I cannot help but think about where we are headed as a country and global community. I am as convinced as ever that this election is more about the type of country we want to be—a nation that stands for ideals of innovation, diversity, and inclusion or the shadow of a withdrawn global leader. That is the choice US voters face today.

I also think back to Kimberle Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality in Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex.[12] Crenshaw argues that to make the most effective laws, we must consider the needs and problems of those who are most disadvantaged in our society; those who are at all the intersections of discrimination. In considering these members, we all benefit; those who are singularly disadvantaged (i.e., are part of the flow of discrimination of one group) and those who are not part of any disadvantaged group. When they enter (e.g., have access to opportunities), we all enter.[13]

In a sense, the nativism goes contrary to Crenshaw’s theory. Society’s most vulnerable groups today include the minorities, immigrants, and refugees we discussed. However, no concern is afforded to these communities. And, arguably, these campaigns will likely disenfranchise their core voting base.

The following years will undoubtedly be challenging as these movements gain momentum. However, I am optimistic about where we are headed as I continue to meet peers of my generation. As we confront these challenges, I would encourage you to consider how we move forward, but before doing that also thinking about what “forward” means to you.

[1] Angelique Chrisafis, ‘The nation state is back’: Front National’s Marine Le Pen rides on global mood, The Guardian (Sep. 18, 2016), https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/18/nation-state-marine-le-pen-global-mood-france-brexit-trump-front-national.

[2] Suzanne Gamboa, Donald Trump Announces Presidential Bid By Trashing Mexico, Mexicans, NBC News (Jun 16, 2015), http://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/donald-trump-announces-presidential-bid-trashing-mexico-mexicans-n376521.

[3] Carlos E. Garcia and T. Davidson, Are Rural People more Anti-Immigrant than Urban People? A Comparison of Attitudes toward Immigration in the U.S., Journal of Rural Social Sciences (2013): 80-105, available at

http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=sociology_pub (Finding overall opposition to immigration overall opposition is more pronounced in rural areas.)

[4] David Chazan, Hate crimes against Muslims and Jews soar in France, The Telegraph (Dec. 30, 2015), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12075018/Hate-crimes-against-Muslims-and-Jews-soar-in-France.html.

[5] Alan Travis, Lasting rise in hate crime after EU referendum, figures show, The Guardian (Sept. 7, 2016), https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/sep/07/hate-surged-after-eu-referendum-police-figures-show.

[6] Christopher Mathias, Police Are Looking For An Alleged Trump Supporter Who Attacked A Muslim Woman, Huffington Post (May 3, 2016), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/muslim-woman-attacked_us_57289b7ae4b0bc9cb0447aed.

[7] Isaac Chotiner, Donald Trump and the Spike in Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes in the U.S., The Slatest (May 9, 2016), http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/05/09/donald_trump_and_the_rise_of_anti_muslim_hate_crimes.html.

[8] Id.

[9] Dennis Romero, In the Era of Trump, Anti-Latino Hate Crimes Jumped 69% in L.A., LA Weekly (Sep. 29, 2016), http://www.laweekly.com/news/in-the-era-of-trump-anti-latino-hate-crimes-jumped-69-in-la-7443401.

[10] Elizabeth Chuck, Chobani Founder Gets Threats, Calls for Boycott for Employing Refugees, NBC News (Nov. 2, 2016), http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/chobani-founder-gets-threats-calls-boycott-employing-refugees-n676776.

[11] Id.

[12] Kimberle Crenshaw, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics, University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol. 1989: Iss. 1, Article 8, available at: http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclf/vol1989/iss1/8): 80-105, : Iss. 1, Article 8, a.

[13] Id.

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