Conservatives Hate All Immigrants

Immigrant Rights

There has been much talk about how the Boston Marathon bombing changes the calculus of immigration reform. At first that surprised me. The Tsarnaev brothers were here legally. How does that have anything to do with illegal immigration. But then only last night it hit me: I’ve been dumb, naive, or both.

I’m very pro-immigration. I think diversity makes us better. With all the problems that our country has, I am proud that much of the world would like to come here. And that makes me highly sympathetic toward people who come to this country illegally. Many of them have risked death to come here. Many have died trying to come here. These are not criminals. Everyone should celebrate the fact that these people risk so much just to join us.

Just the same, I’ve often been confused by the arguments that immigrant rights opponents make. It seemed to me that they conflated legal and illegal immigration. Surely this was an error. The people who were complaining about immigration were only concerned about the illegal kind. Everyone was for legal immigration, right?

That’s where last night’s epiphany comes in. These conservatives who claim that the Tsarnaev brothers change the immigration debate mean that their concern is not just illegal immigration. These people have a problem with immigration itself. In fact, this is just a continuation of the centuries old problem of hatred and discrimination toward immigrants.

Most of my readers probably think that I’m fairly cynical. In fact, it is one of the better aspects of my writing. But I remain, deep down, optimistic and positive. I really do want to think the best of people. And sometimes that means I miss what people are really thinking unless they come right out and say, “I’m a bigot! I’m a bigot!”

Because let’s be clear: the Boston Marathon bombing and the Tsarnaev brothers have nothing to do with the underclass of undocumented residents who our system implicitly creates. And anyone who conflates them just doesn’t like immigrants. And frankly, unless you are 100% Native American, you’re on flimsy ground.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

4 thoughts on “Conservatives Hate All Immigrants

  1. I believe a lot of people cling to a notion of themselves based on some group identity which is the only thing they have. That’s obviously not the case for rich twerps who are gung-ho about hating The Other — they’re validated by their social status, they hate because it fills some psychological need.

    Most people aren’t rich. And most people who aren’t rich aren’t doing very well. Believing yourself superior to others because of your nationality, or ethnicity, or religion, or political stances, is a kind of emotional self-defense. You’re constantly reminded of your inferior position by the necessities you can’t afford. Challenging that arrangement means going up against a social system which is very powerful, very daunting, and has inoculated us with its values almost since birth. It’s less intimidating to hate those you see as weaker than yourself (foreigners, the poorer) — and since you’ve internalized the validity of those more powerful looking down on you it makes sense to transfer that hatred to others. It’s the psychology of colonialism, and many people have written about it.

    I was thinking about this today, reading a letter to the editor about the "slaughter of innocents" — as always, when that phrase is used, about abortion. The same people who oppose abortion generally are in favor of US aggression against foreigners, cruelty to immigrants, a barbaric prison system, any safety net they don’t use themselves, and so on.

    It’s easy to attribute these views to religion, which plays a huge part. I wonder if religion, though, doesn’t just provide a sense of superiority that compensates for the slings and arrows of outrageous inequality we all deal with, and which those who can’t question inequality feel more sharply than those who can. (We go through the same shit of being poor and all that entails, but when we see the wealthy we’re less likely to feel inferior for having failed and more likely to just be annoyed/disgusted/amused by rich folk.)

    Because our oligarchs always claim superiority on moral grounds (they are braver, they are more useful to the world), having to struggle for everyday expenses isn’t merely annoying and exhausting — it’s disheartening, it can make people feel worthless. (Tell poor people they’re just as good as the rich and promise them ways to prove it by becoming rich, and you’ll make a mint.)

    When you look at the prejudices of broken people, they’re always justified by the same kind of moral superiority rich jerks use to justify their vast incomes. Women who have abortions aren’t making a difficult moral choice — they’re slaughtering innocents. Immigrants and the poor are lazy. Foreigners are full of murderous hate. Again and again we hear these descriptions.

    Which may be why our side’s rational responses don’t satisfy the emotional needs of those we present them to. We can say immigrants contribute to our society and family planning makes for happier families and foreigners are people just like any of us — how does that make the turded-on, anguished people feel any better?

    I’m wondering if religion is not the cause of irrational prejudices; inequality and social injustice are. Religion just takes advantage of damaged people, and doesn’t help them. Like a weight-loss drug; it didn’t cause obesity, and it won’t fix obesity, but it profits wildly from obesity.

    Just a thought — I’ve run into some broken religious people lately, obviously broken by our society, and I felt sadder for them than angrier at their stupid pastors. (Who are stupid — no doubt about that.)

  2. @JMF – I think this clip speaks to much of what you’re talking about. As I always say: economic inequality creates most of our problems:


    "An old man who was so full of hate that he didn’t know that being poor was what was killing him."

    Speaking of abortion, I am reading about Thomas Aquinas’ "No Embryos in Paradise." His argument would make early term abortions acceptable. What I think is interesting about this is that whether you think human citizenship begins at conception is a philosophical argument and nothing written in stone. I wish even one out of a thousand Christians knew that.

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