The rhetorical blade of politicians cuts where it is directed, and in present-day America, it is directed at the throats of immigrants.
It wasn't long ago I took my first foray into the dark techno fever dream of a series called Black Mirror . One consistent theme within the series, besides the dystopian twists technology, could take humanity down, is perception. How we see each other as humans, what judgments we make, how we strip away the humanity of others. One could only ponder in horror at the potential atrocities we as a species could commit in a future where we could literally remove humanity from others.
If you're a fan of the show as I am, you already know which episode I'm talking about . Unfortunately, we don't need scary, dystopian technology to dehumanize others, we already do it , quite well in fact. I know, you're probably thinking, "Oh no, another thinly-veiled reference to our polarized political climate in the United States, told through a pop-culture lens".
Real life can be scarier than fiction.
Black Mirror stops here, it's time to snap back to reality. We have a big problem in our country, and it is one of the oldest forms of manipulation that has stood the test of time. Rhetoric, the words we use to describe perceived problems, or lack thereof, how we persuade others to accept our position or deny that of others, is the subtle blade of orators. The rhetorical blade of politicians cuts where it is directed, and in present-day America, it is directed at the throats of immigrants. The age of Trump is hardly one of subtlety, think of how our discourse is now framed. This is a quote from Pres. Trump, taken from The Washington Post :
"While there are many illegal immigrants in our country who are good people, this doesn't change the fact that most illegal immigrants are lower-skilled workers with less education who compete directly against vulnerable American workers, and that these illegal workers draw much more out from the system than they will ever pay in."
The arguments used against immigrants is misleading.Let's begin with the term we use for immigrants entering the country. One of Pres. Trump's favorite words are " illegal immigrant ", usually followed with a disparaging story enforcing his perspective on limiting illegal immigrants from entering the company, despite the fact that the majority of illegal immigrants are actually longtime residents whose visa's have lapsed . Now here we are, debating the effectiveness of a border wall, stricter immigration policy, and what would satiate that need.Depending on what side you find yourself on this debate, you'd find different ways to find wins, but what you didn't realize is Pres. Trump already won . Think about it, we are debating the usefulness of immigrants to our country , not the reason they are coming to the U.S. We are throwing out the metaphorical window empathy, instead shifting to defending or attacking the usefulness of immigrants, however, we may label them. In the war of values, Pres. Trump has gained a mighty victory.
Why Do Immigrants Come to America? www.youtube.com
Surprise, surprise, politicians want power.
Why would a politician word complicated issues in simple, often misleading ways? They have an aim, a goal to accrue power, and by controlling the conversation and how we speak of a group, they have already gained the upper-hand. When we speak of immigrants with the assumption that they are illegal , it implies negativity, it implies a dose of punishment, of deterrence, is required. The " vulnerable American worker " is pitted against the " onslaught of illegal aliens ", painting a vicious fight between the U.S citizen and immigrants. This conversation must continue, as the collective conversation around immigration has slipped into a place it shouldn't be. In case you aren't convinced by this plea, I'll close on an excerpt from the poem etched at the lowest level of the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands.
" Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus November 2, 1883