History At Our Door

(Or, Colonial Chickens Coming Home to Roost)

According to The Guardian (reported Thanksgiving Day), Hillary Clinton is “calling on the continent to send out a stronger signal showing they are ‘not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support’”.

Reading more deeply into her reasoning, she is advising this in order to stem the tide of right wing “populism” for which immigration has become the cause célèbre.

Let that rest in your mind for a moment: refugees–people desperately fleeing desperate places; people crossing oceans, vast deserts, and war-torn zones; people vulnerable to some of the world’s worst predators (human)–are the cause of right wing populism and, therefore, must be stopped from coming in.

1520563242744(I know, I know–most of these people are “economic” migrants. Not exactly “fleeing” just trying to benefit from the global north’s prosperity… Well of course they are. People everywhere and at all times have moved to improve their lives. But for people to go through what these people go through when they decide to move… Well, that tells you something about how distressed their current lives must be. And, no, they are not, as Mr. Trump has called them “criminals”. Criminals slip into countries, they do not charge fortified border fences. Only a certain kind of despair can lead to such reckless boldness.)

Interestingly, her recommendation, if not her reasoning, has been picked up by the nativists in our own land (not a pejorative term, simply a statement of what they are) who argue the same: we must close the doors.

Mr. Trump will claim “economic necessity” (America first, American jobs for Americans, etc.), while others who fancy themselves as much more “reasoned” on the issue will claim cultural or “identity” necessity: these people are not like us and they are changing us–changing our identity as a nation (these arguments are fairly mainstream and “respectable”).

And so we must turn them away.

One wonders when history begins for these folks. For Mr. Trump it’s clear, history began when he last opened his mouth. He has no sense of history, values it not at all, and, therefore, can choose its true beginning based on his mood.

For the others, the more reasoned ones, history apparently begin in the late 80s or 90s when the flows of migrants from the global south really took off across Europe and North America. That is when the problems started that have led us to today. What happened before that, what set the stage for all that human movement? Doesn’t matter. That is all pre-history.  As inscrutable as it is unimportant.

But for those for whom we should no longer provide “refuge,” history begins and runs through the 500 plus years since the northern states, who must now block them (according to Ms. Clinton, according to Mr. Trump), first entered their lands.

One must ask how much those “migrants” changed those lands, those peoples, those identities?


And it wasn’t just then–when the current nation states were still in flux with their own identity issues. It was all the time since then, up and through today. We (yes, I am part of this), have seen it as our right to create vassal states from where the “unsupportables” now come. We used their lands for our proxy wars when the fear and hatred of communism ran hot in our blood. From coastal Mogadishu, through then-Zaire, and on to coastal Namibia; from Nicaragua’s highlands to those of Guatemala and El Salvador; we armed the worst, “coup d’etated” the best, and generally played our global war in their dooryards. Or as Peter Gabriel sang: It’s games without frontiers–war without tears. 

It is not hyperbole to say that we caused these human flows. We have given plenty of aid there, but invested nothing. We have dispensed cures, but never healed. And the rich have gotten richer, and the poor have gotten cell phones.

And now history is at our doorstep.

One thought on “History At Our Door

  1. Glad to see you writing Robb, – providing aid but not the cure or solutions, getting wealthier and leaving the poor with cell phones brilliant

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