By STEVE LEIGH
What is a consistent conservative to do?
It is difficult to be a right-winger in today’s world! Science, facts and common sense continue to get in the way. It is so frustrating when reality butts up against their ideology. This is especially true with Covid and the Climate Crisis, but it affects other issues as well.
Within the right wing, contradictions keep popping up.
Supporters of U.S. imperialism want to maintain U.S. credibility. They want other states to trust the U.S. They want potential collaborators to rely on U.S. support. “We protect our allies” has been a mantra for decades. This means allowing immigration of collaborators from other countries. There is another reason for conservatives to welcome imperial “allies”: They are likely to be a conservative influence on U.S. politics. This was a big issue after the Vietnam War. Now it is an issue with Afghanistan translators, etc.
Yet, there is another strain in right-wing ideology: open racism. This is especially clear among the MAGA crowd. As Trump said, we don’t want immigration from “ shit hole countries.” He tried to ban all Muslim immigrants. Though not totally explicit, Trumpies want to accept white immigrants but not Brown or Black immigrants. They also oppose those with “foreign” religions like Islam. They don’t want to dilute American culture (whatever that is). They fear “white genocide” and replacement of Caucasians with other “races.”
This conflict divides conservatives and the right wing. Brian Kemp, Governor of Georgia and Trump supporter, picked one side of this conflict, at least rhetorically. He said that Georgia would welcome Afghan refugees. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Qanon and space laser fame, denounced him on Trumpian grounds. She claimed to fear security threats from Afghans who had shown their loyalty to the U.S. In reality, she opposes entry of anyone not of European descent and Christian religion.
There was a similar conflict after the Vietnam War. The KKK in Louisiana harassed and attacked Vietnamese refugee shrimpers. Ironically, many of the Vietnamese refugees would have agreed with many KKK positions on U.S. politics. In this case, for the KKK, race trumped politics.
The Biden administration and Democrats in general favor the other side of this conflict. They are so concerned with U.S. credibility that they want to allow Afghan refugee immigration. At least this is their public position. However, as with everything else, their words don’t match their deeds.
The Biden administration made no serious plans for Afghan refugees until the Taliban were at the gates of Kabul. They did not waive paper work to allow expeditious exit. They planned to relocate the refugees to third countries instead of the U.S. They will maintain yearly limits on refugees entering the U.S.
This hypocrisy is consistent with the Democratic position on immigration in general. They are for a limited path to citizenship for some immigrants. However, this comprehensive immigration reform usually requires return to the home country, payment of back taxes, and a long wait. Ironically, undocumented workers actually already pay taxes.
Biden et al. say the U.S. is a “nation of immigrants,” yet they still want militarized borders. They still want to keep the undocumented in a precarious state, making them easier to exploit. They have pro-immigrant words and anti-immigrant actions. Their inconsistent approach gives fuel to right-wing racism against immigrants.
The Left, solidarity activists, immigrant rights supporters, etc. need to take a strong pro-immigrant stance, opposed to both the Republican and Democratic positions. Immigrants and those who “look like” immigrants will never be free of oppression as long as immigration is restricted. We need to demand full equal rights for all U.S. residents, including the right to vote. We need to dismantle ICE, and all border controls. The U.S. had open borders, at least to European immigrants, for over 100 years. There is no reason it couldn’t do so again for all potential immigrants.
(See “The Border Crossed Us: The Case for Opening the US-Mexico Border” by Justin Akers Chacon, Haymarket Books 2021.)
We need to welcome Afghan refugees to the U.S.! The motivation for this should not be to build U.S. imperial credibility as Democrats and some Republicans want. Instead, our motivation should be basic humanity and solidarity. People fleeing oppression and exploitation should have the right to live where they want. Workers of the world cannot unite if borders keep them apart.
Steve Leigh is a member of the Seattle Revolutionary Socialists and of the Revolutionary Socialist Network.
Photo: Afghan refugees (Financial Tribune)