Max Boot: "I came to this country 41 years ago. Now I feel like I don’t belong here.”Historians in the News
tags: immigration, Trump
I am white. I am Jewish. I am an immigrant. I am a Russian American. But until recently I haven’t focused so much on those parts of my identity. I’ve always thought of myself simply as a normal, unhyphenated American.
Ever since I arrived here, along with my mother and grandmother, from Russia in 1976 at age 7, I have been eager to assimilate. And I’ve done a pretty good job of it. I don’t have any accent, and I haven’t written much about my origins — which, at any rate, don’t have much to do with my job, which is writing about military history and American national security policy. So people are often surprised to find out that I wasn’t born in the United States. When I tell them where I’m from, they often ask, “Were your parents diplomats?” Nope. My parents were Russian Jews who fled the oppression of the Soviet Union and found a haven in the Land of Opportunity.
But that didn’t seem to matter much. Until Donald Trump came along.
Last year I experienced the first sustained anti-Semitism I have ever encountered in the United States. Like many other anti-Trump commentators, I was deluged with neo-Nazi propaganda on social media, including a picture of me in a gas chamber, with Herr Trump in a Nazi uniform pulling the lever to kill me. This was accompanied by predictable demands that I leave this country to “real” Americans and go back to where I came from — or, alternatively, to Israel.
At one time it was easy to dismiss such sentiments as the ravings of a handful of marginal losers. That’s harder to do now that the president of the United States has embraced the far-right agenda. Trump came to office vilifying Mexicans and Muslims. As president, he has praised the protesters who marched with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people” and come out against taking down Confederate monuments, symbols of white supremacy. He has pardoned former sheriff Joe Arpaio, who became a symbol of racism and lawlessness for locking up Latinos, in defiance of a court order, simply on the suspicion that they might be undocumented immigrants. And now Trump has set in motion the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which prevents 800,000 law-abiding people from being deported because their parents brought them to the United States illegally. ...