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SNL must dump Trump

Greg Nash

As the leading Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump is neither a joke nor a clown. He must be taken seriously as the potential GOP nominee, particularly given the weak pool of Republican candidates. Apart from labeling most Mexican immigrants as “drug dealers,” “criminals” and “rapists,” if elected, Trump plans to mass deport over 11 million undocumented immigrants and strip their U.S.-born children of citizenship.

Is this the moral imperative that drives his slogan, “Make America Great Again”? If so, what does that say about the deep-rooted racism found among a segment of the Republican base? Thus, when SNL and its creator Lorne Michaels invite Trump to host NBC Universal’s iconic, sketch-comedy show on November 7, Michaels and the network bosses only legitimize these racist narratives and inhumane policies.

{mosads}While many political pundits, opponents and comics have reduced Trump to a caricature, based on his outrageous and boisterous claims, his critics and those who poke fun at him underestimate the inhumane consequences of a Trump presidency. Throughout history, we have seen how members of the dominant society have classified and objectified people of color in order to exploit them for their labor and land. For example, as part of their mission to remove Native Americans from their ancestral lands—actually, “steal” represents a more accurate legal terminology—and relocate them to reservations, many Americans leaders and average citizens labeled Native Americans as “heathens,” “savages” and “criminals.” Consequently, when the U.S. government passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, American leaders implemented this racist and inhumane policy without too much resistance from a white citizenry who directly benefited at the expense of a diverse group of non-citizens in what is tragically referred to as “The Trail of Tears.”

In the case of Mexicans on this side of the border, during the 1930s and 1950s, the U.S. government launched mass deportation campaigns for both non-citizens and citizens alike. During the Great Depression, under the so-called “Mexican Repatriation,” American leaders found a convenient scapegoat in brown people during a time when white Americans experienced extremely high levels of unemployment. Similarly, in 1954, under “Operation Wetback,” the U.S. government carried out another mass deportation campaign—focusing on cities—during a time when the U.S. was experiencing a post-WWII economic boom.

Ironically, while the U.S. government deported millions of non-citizens and citizens of Mexican descent during the early and mid-1900s, that didn’t stop the U.S. government signing a guest-worker agreement with Mexico to launch the Bracero Program. Under this bi-national agreement, the U.S. imported over four million Mexican workers to toil in the agricultural fields and other areas, like the railroad sector, from 1942 to 1964. In fact, according to academic studies from Princeton Professor Douglas S. Massey and other scholars, these types of global labor agreements only perpetuate and increase immigration from developing countries, like Mexico, to developed countries, like the U.S.

In a time when globalization is on the rise like never before in history, we see American leaders, like Trump, who seek to re-visit and repeat America’s dark past. As Trump doubles-down on his huge U.S.-Mexico wall, which the Mexican government will somehow miraculously pay for, he should learn from President Ronald Reagan’s 1987 speech about the Berlin Wall—a wall that then divided West and East Germany, where the Soviet Union occupied the East. In this famous speech, held in West Germany, the Republican icon demanded immediate and unconditional action from Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev: “Tear down this Wall!” However, instead of following Reagan’s example of tearing down walls that impede human progress and inter-connected economies, Trump likens his huge wall with a “bid beautiful door” to the Great Wall of China—a wall that was built over 2,200 years ago! 

When will the verbal and physical abuse against those of Mexican descent stop? What did this large ethnic group do to deserve such disdain and hatred from American leaders like Trump and his many followers? Don’t they also pay taxes? How about all of the spilled blood of Mexican American solders in America’s wars, starting with WWII to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Doesn’t that ultimate sacrifice count for anything?

Moreover, didn’t workers of Mexican descent help build this country with their labor and determination, despite losing half of their territory in an unjust U.S. war against Mexico from 1846 to 1848? Apart from their labor contributions, what about the many contributions that promote diversity and enrich this country in the areas of the physical environment, architecture, environmentalism, informality, law, history, civil rights, art, dance, theater, comedy, film, music, literature, sports, language, food, drink and much more? And, let’s not forget their strong work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit and family-oriented values that Americans should learn from?

As the proud son of Mexican immigrants and scholar of urban planning and ethnic studies, should I say more?

In short, as long as influential television programs, like Saturday Night Live, provide Trump with a platform to spew his racist views and inhumane policies towards Mexican immigrants and their children, powerful individuals, such as SNL’s creator Lorne Michaels and NBC Universal’s CEO Stephen B. Burke, only reinforce the rampant racial attacks and catastrophic public policies targeting los de abajo / those on the bottom.

Huerta is an assistant professor of Urban & Regional Planning and Ethnic & Women’s Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” by San Diego State University Press (2013).

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