To critics and supporters, Donald Trump is synonymous with a new nativism, an anti-immigrant sentiment that is either bigoted or necessary, depending on where you stand.
It’s interesting, then, that not much has been said about the fact that Trump’s own mother was an immigrant from Scotland. Trump’s paternal grandparents, meanwhile, were immigrants from Germany, who even Anglicized their name, which was Drumpf.
So, it’s tempting to slam Trump as a hypocrite. If we’d erected the kind of anti-immigrant walls Trump likes to talk about, his own mother and grandparents may never have made it into this country.
But even that is kind of pointless because there’s a type of person out there (Trump is probably one of them) who just loves to talk about “good” and “bad” immigrants. They feel immigrants in the old days came here to work hard while today’s immigrants have no interest in working, which would certainly be news to the millions of people who rely on immigrant labor to make their food, clothing or other services available and affordable.
Even the Trumps changing their German name hits a soft spot among certain neo-nativists, who believe past immigrants were much more willing to leave the old country behind and “become American.”
Right. So it must be Syrian refugees who are “clinging” to the old country this week in downtown Manhattan, celebrating the San Gennaro feast, right?
And it must be Mexicans and their anchor babies who march down Fifth Avenue every March 17 to honor a foreign-born saint, right?
Either way, to focus on Trump is to make the mistake of ignoring some of his supporters – people who are truly disturbing, and in the process are dragging Irish heritage into the mud with them.
Consider a fellow named Michael Hill, president of an outfit which calls itself the League of the South (LOS).
“The League of the South is not a ‘neo-Confederate’ or ‘Southern heritage’ organization, although we certainly do honor our ancestors and our largely Christian historic inheritance as Southerners,” King writes on the group’s web site.
If that sounds great to you, fine, but you should also know that LOS also supports secession for the southern states.
“A free South will have a name and place among the nations of the earth. And we will understand the meaning of the term ‘nation.’ It means people of historic European stock. We will not be a ‘melting pot’ or a misnamed ‘nation of immigrants.’ Others already have their own countries; the South is ours. From this premise flows our immigration policy.”
Elsewhere, the LOS web site claims the south is “occupied by the American Imperial Regime. But we are fully a nation still – a distinct people with common racial and/or ethnic characteristics (Anglo-Celtic, for instance), a unique history and culture, as well as a common language and a majority religion.”
For the sake of clarity, the LOS web site refers to Anglo Celtic folk as “peoples of the British Isles.”
Because all of those “peoples” are all the same and get along so well, right?
In a recent New Yorker magazine article, Hill and other LOS members spoke fondly of Trump’s candidacy, mainly on the basis of his stance against immigration and presumably his defense of some “Anglo Celtic” ideal.
Someone should tell these clowns that not so long ago a self-appointed group of “real Americans” believed it was “base, brutal Celts” (in the words of anti-Irish diarist George Templeton Strong) who were, in fact, ruining this nation.
And someone should tell these knuckleheads that “Anglo Celtic” harmony is a nonsensical fantasy that exploits past victims of bigotry (the Irish) in the hopes that they can be recruited for some new crusade.
Sadly, this is nothing new, since a refashioned version of a Celtic Cross “is one of the most important and commonly used white supremacist symbols,” according to the Anti Defamation League.
The Irish had to teach this nation to be tolerant. It was not easy.
That Irish imagery is now being used in the name of intolerance is all the more sad, and all the more reason to reject the neo-nativist movement.
* Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.