A portrait of Andrew Jackson now keeps a watchful eye in the Oval Office, often appearing over President Trump’s left shoulder. White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon likes to cast the president as Jacksonian.

While historians will debate the similarities between the two presidents, the choice and prominence of this portrait is significant.

President Andrew Jackson is often remembered for his relocation of the Indian tribes, and his policies are credited for the Trail of Tears, making the indigenous Cherokee North Carolina’s first illegal residents.

Jackson’s Fifth Annual Message to Congress in December 3, 1833 is most telling:

“My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes can not exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition
Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.”

This was an official address to the Congress and country, published in newspapers throughout the land — what we now call the State of the Union Address

In his first presidential campaign speech, Donald Trump, in declaring candidacy, shocked a nation by stating:

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.

They are not you! Not the right people! They are other than you, and they must be removed. Perhaps we should ask, Is that what it means to “make America great again”?

Forget the millions of young American citizens in jeopardy. Or the “Dreamers” — the hundreds of thousands of young adults with no legal status and no memory of another country.  

And totally dismiss the million of hard-working-at-two-jobs undocumented parents whose vision of the American Dream is that their US citizen children might become productive citizens.

Forget that these people are, by culture, family-oriented and generally conservative in their values. Forget that these millions of people rent apartments or own homes, buy food and other items from major retailers — fully participating in our economy.

They pick our fruits and vegetables, build our houses, tend our lawns, replace our roofs, cook our food, bus our tables, clean our homes and take care of our children.  Their legal status may vary from person to person, but they have something in common. They believe in this country, with a faith we do not deserve.

What these immigrants have in common is not drugs. “They” are not sexual predators. Nor, for that matter, are “they” White Europeans! “They” are a mixed people. Partly of Spanish (European) descent while not fully Spanish. Partly Native American with a brown tone to their complexion.

Several years ago researchers studied the dna of various groups of Mexican people.

But Mexico is a land of mixture, captured in the term “mestizo” that describes someone of European and Native American heritage. The researchers wondered whether the genetic signature of the Aztec, Maya and other cultures had been overwhelmed by the genes of the Spanish conquistadors over the course of the last half millennium.

They were shocked to find that the indigenous component of mestizo samples replicated the same geographic differences found in the indigenous samples. Conquest had not swamped the genetic signal of ancient Mexico. http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-mexico-dna-20140613-story.html

In other words, many Latin Americans are, in great part, Native North Americans with an ancestry that predates the arrival of European settlements, whether Spanish or British. But to our president they are not the right people. They are not white people. Chief Birther and Pre-candidate Trump made that clear in his remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, 2013

Now, I say to myself, why aren’t we letting people in from Europe? I have many friends, many, many friends – and nobody wants to talk this, nobody wants to say it – but I have many friends from Europe. They want to come in. People I know. Tremendous people. Hard-working people. They can’t come in. I know people whose sons went to Harvard; top in their class, went to the Wharton School of Finance, great, great students.

These white and right people were clearly contrasted from the “11 million illegals” – those brown and wrong people who are already here, but couldn’t be trusted to vote Republican if they became citizens.

So much for democratic populism. Like Andrew Jackson, our president is an advocate of white superiority who may also leave a legacy of removal.

About Larry Eppley

Larry Eppley's background is diverse. A former pulpit minister, he was a real estate agent before spending about ten years as a computer software trainer and IT support specialist. Now retired, he teaches English as Second Language classes for Spanish speakers, as well as a weekly bilingual Bible class.


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