Every week politicians find new ways to wage war on migrants. And they are openly using language designed to encourage racism and violence.
US president Donald Trump this week made comments that echoed Tory Enoch Powell’s racist Rivers of Blood speech in 1968.
Then, Powell warned that continued immigration would lead to race riots in Britain.
This week Trump warned of “terror, bloodshed and suffering” if government officials did not support Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agents.
Ice enforces the forced separations of families at the US/Mexican border, and the incarceration of migrant children. A report last week found that over 500 are still in custody.
Trump repeatedly portrays migrants as violent criminals. In an event to “salute” Ice officials at the White House on Monday, he said, “We will never surrender our nation to the forces of anarchy and chaos and crime.
“We will not allow our communities to be consumed by deadly poisons and violent predators. The poisons are flowing across our border.” This level of racism is not confined to Trump.
Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini was refusing to allow 177 people on board a coastguard ship to disembark on Tuesday.
The refugees and migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, had been stuck on the Diciotti ship for five days.
Salvini spoke of those on board as though they were cargo. “The ship may land in Italy, as long as the 177 migrants are distributed, in a spirit of solidarity by the EU,” he said.
Salvini has promised to deport up to 500,000 “illegal” migrants from Italy.
Meanwhile Greece’s Syriza government signed a deal with Germany last week that will see Germany send more refugees back to Greece.
This will make conditions in overcrowded refugee camps even worse.
Refugees and migrants don’t cause crime, poverty or violence—they suffer the brunt of them. But politicians hope to use racism to deflect attention from how their policies have damaged ordinary people’s lives, and to divide us against each other.
And their vile racism gives fascist groups more credibility and more confidence.
It is crucial for anti-racists to be organised and active. We need to build Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism to take on the racists and the fascists.
The likes of Trump are powerful. But he is worried about the widespread resistance to his attacks.
Trump bemoaned what he called “a new wave of anti-borders, anti-law enforcement extremism” this week.
Anti-racists are the majority. We need to use our collective strength to defend migrants and push back racism.