by Anthony Signorelli
Given my two previous posts on Alon Confino’s book A World Without Jews and the new Trumpian Imagination, I am watching current events unfold with increasing alarm. According to Confino, 1930s Germany was characterized not by top down policies directed at the Jews, but rather by bottom up action taken at the very local level to disenfranchise Jews in Germany. Hitler, during this period, does not mention the Jews in his public speeches. But the disenfranchisement, isolation, and ongoing elimination of Jews from German society was ongoing. How was that? In a way very similar to what we are beginning to see in terms of local actions in America that support the overall goal Steve Bannon articulated regarding “long term demographic reshaping,” i.e., getting rid of the “people the who are not white like us.”
To wit, it is beginning to take hold at lower levels of government with Trump saying very little:
- Texas passed and the governor signed a law this week outlawing sanctuary cities in the state.
- Republican congressman Raul Labrador said at a town hall meeting in Lewiston, Idaho, on Friday, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.”
- Texas passed a law allowing discrimination in the adoption process on supposedly religious grounds.
There are many similar laws being passed elsewhere—these just happened to be published today. On any given day, more and more local governments are stepping up to do the administration’s bidding without even being asked to. This is grass roots disenfranchisement similar to 1933-1939 Germany; we have seen this before.
On top of that, other policies that are federal in nature are designed for reasons most of us are not thinking about. Here are two:
- Trump added a signing statement to the spending bill keeping the government open indicating his intent to eliminate programs specially designed to support historically black colleges and universities, native American housing block grants, and minority business development.
- The ACHA passed by Congress has many people up in arms about their health care coverage, as it should, but there is an additional target in that bill—immigrants who do the health care work, especially in nursing homes, residential care, and even home health aides. Those jobs will disappear due to lack of funding, and the people will have no opportunity to replace their jobs.
Now, taken separately, as most people do, each of these is its own individual travesty. But while everyone is outraged at the moral atrocity, the administration has this exactly within the crosshairs of its own policy—disenfranchising and making life miserable for these immigrant minority groups simply by evaporating their opportunity.
Realize this: Since Obamacare was enacted, we added 1.1 million jobs in healthcare—a large number of them filled by immigrants—especially for senior care, home health aids, and lower level hospital staff. If you wipe out those jobs through Obamacare repeal, you not only discover a trillion dollars to donate to the rich, but you also make life miserable for a whole demographic of people.
Consider it in the bigger context. ALL of these occurrences are designed to make life harder for the poor, the marginalized, the immigrants, and the people who are not white like us. Make no mistake—there is a theme to these policies. If you can make America into something other than a land of opportunity for immigrants, you can get them to stop comping. If you can make it hostile for them on the streets, they will stop coming. If you eliminate their health insurance, their schools, and their economic opportunity offered by minority business development programs, you can marginalize them and make it unattractive to have more of them come here. And that is exactly what this administration wants.
That is what it means when Bannon says: “Long term demographic-reshaping project.” Make life miserable enough, and these “people who aren’t like us” will go away. As Confino described in his book, this is exactly what happened in 1930s Germany. By the time WWII broke out in 1939, the population of German Jews in Germany had dropped from almost 700,000 to 185,000—a 70-75 percent drop. Not because of concentration camps and gas chambers—those had not even been thought of yet by most accounts—but because the Jews had been so systematically disenfranchised that they actually could not live in Germany any more and nearly all of them emigrated. That is demographic reshaping. That is what Bannon is up to. It was tried once before, and it worked. He is now using the same model with the same goal.
 Confino, Alan. A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide. Yale Univerity Press, 2014. p156