Our VoiceImmigration

Converging Bigotry: Nativist Movement Begins to Focus on Muslim Immigration


Aaron Patrick Flanagan • Jan 31, 2014

The present Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) debate, as political debates tend to do, has produced much ugliness from the organized nativist movement, both anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim alike. While both rail on separate-but-not-mutually-exclusive talking points, the anti-Muslim sphere has begun focusing more and more prevalently on the issue of immigration.

While hocking baseless, packaged fears regarding how religious and ethnic demographics come to distort our national character beyond recognition, the players that comprise this anti-Muslim sphere of nativism are revealing a primary motivation for their work: the preservation of “the native” over the welcoming of “the new.” Such inclinations are regularly assigned to groups within the established anti-immigrant movement, but less regularly to their counterpart.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies

It’s not uncommon for anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim leaders to cross-contaminate, with many of their collaborations existing as poorly kept secrets. Clearly, core sentiments about “outsiders” contribute to their mutual toxicity.

Back in April of 2011, for example, head of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, Mark Krikorian, declared, “I’m afraid that in the Islamic world democracy faces the problem of a vicious people, one where the desire for freedom is indeed written in every human heart, but the freedom to do evil.” Despite displaying all the hyperbole of a comic book writer, Krikorian’s bigotry stands starkly. Another example: NumbersUSA and its staffers working closely in 2013 with ACT! for America and others against immigration reform.

Crucial to the success of accomplishing meaningful reform, then, is recognizing that the bloc of nativists working to destroy such efforts extends well-beyond the fuzzy borders of the well-defined nucleus of the anti-immigrant movement. And these anti-Muslim nativists are now more frequently amplifying the anti-reform white noise of their counterparts.

One only needs to scan the last month or so alone to find many examples.

After calling for a complete moratorium on all Muslim immigration, Pamela Geller recently reiterated her impetuses for doing so. In her year-end reflections for Breitbart News, Geller claimed Muslim immigration is contributing directly to the continued “Islamization of America.” She followed this up on January 14 by side-stepping the history of America’s own settlers, writing, “Muslims are the first group to come as immigrants to the West determined to replace Western government and social structures with Islamic ones. Millions of Muslims come to Western countries with a ready-made model of society and government (sharia) which they believe to be superior to what we have here, and they work to institute it.”

On Jan 8, Debbie Schlussel published on her blog about the recent murder in Brooklyn, NY of a Muslim by a Muslim immigrant, “This is yet another stone cold preview of what’s to come if and when immigration amnesty gets passed this year by Republicans and Democrats.” She titled that blog, “Your Day in Amnesty, Religion of Peace.” Then on Jan 15 she insulted refugees from Syria: “[A]ren’t we Americans the vulnerable ones, since we will have to deal with these intolerant savages imposing themselves and their ways on us and our country.”

Allen West

On Jan 18, on his own website in a piece titled, “The Stealth Jihad of Islamic Immigration,” former-Congressmen Allen West writes, “A creeping sharia has immigrated into our America and like a cancer is spreading and attempting to take over its ‘host’ […] I will say it again, when tolerance becomes a one-way street it leads to cultural suicide. And neighborhood by neighborhood, it is a slow, dripping death.” Bizarrely, West’s apocalyptic tenor rings of neo-Nazi and eugenicist Roger Pearson’s most infamous prophesy that, “If a nation with a more advanced, more specialized, or in any way superior set of genes mingles with, instead of exterminating an inferior tribe, then it commits racial suicide.”

On January 28, Daniel Greenfield over at David Horowitz’s virulently anti-Muslim FrontPage Magazine writes from a cynical-populist angle, casting immigrants as chess pieces in a game of vote-snatching. His piece is entitled, “Amnesty Ends the American Dream,” and in it he bleats about Irish, Nepalese, Mexican, and nearly every ethnicity of immigrant, writing, “American immigration has been ingeniously designed to bring in immigrants who are less likely to be employed than the white native population in either the first generation or the second generation so that the first generation provides cheap labor while the second generation provides cheap votes.”

With motivations so transparently rooted in nativism, those of us supporting broader immigration reform must acknowledge these anti-Muslim activists in the same manner in which we regard our long-established opponents in the anti-immigrant movement. Nativism is nativism, and to divide like-minded bigots into separate categories splinters our allies while strengthening those we oppose.

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