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2017-09-18 17:34
By Myles Ji



The violent events in Charlottesville, VA, two weeks ago provide a deeper understanding of white disenfranchisement that helped Donald J. Trump get elected to arguably the highest office in the world. This past week, President Trump also pardoned Joe Arpaio, a former law enforcement officer, who was convicted of using unlawful and discriminatory racial-profiling methods to detain and deport illegal immigrants.

These events caused outcry from both sides of the political spectrum, but neither should be surprising as both are inextricably related. President Trump was elected by the contingency of the population that is afraid of change, of losing their socio-economic-racial privilege. And they are in every country and in every one of us to some degree.

To say nothing of education or income level, most Trump supporters and those like them around the world cling to the status quo because it was or is good to them. In poorer areas in the U.S. and the mid-West where support for Trump is evergreen, ICE officers are rounding up illegal immigrants and tearing families apart who have lived in the U.S. for decades. President Trump, his supporters, and his global counterparts like Marine Le Pen in France want illegal immigrants out of the country. But this sentiment of xenophobia doesn’t stop at legalese: It includes anyone who provokes the uncomfortable feeling of “otherness.”

Even in Korea, a country that has maintained a more or less homogenous racial identity, there is much animosity towards immigrants from Southeast Asia. Those against immigrants cite crime and lawlessness, and most of all, a lack of jobs for lawful citizens as reasons for discrimination. But one must beg the question, who will take their jobs in their absence? Who will pick produce at less than minimum wage under the sweltering sun; who will cook their food in restaurants and deliver their food? Immigrants, legal or otherwise, for the most part come to richer countries escaping hardships or persecution, almost always looking for better opportunities for themselves and their families.

Whether conservatives like it or not, globalization, free trade, and exchange of labor is inevitable. There no plausible way the world will revert to protectionist borders or trade, unless of course there is a development such as another global war, which seems more likely if the battle of wills between Kim Jong-un and President Trump escalates.

No one wants war, neither across borders nor civil. But fear does not expel fear, and “hate cannot drive out hate,” as the great Martin Luther King Jr. said. Being appalled by the state of the world doesn’t change a thing. We must try face the ugliness in all of us that engender this kind of hatred. Instead we must look to each other, talk to strangers, and try to bridge the divide.

 

The writer is an aspiring novelist. Write to myji3000@gmail.com.

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