Scary America

The_Stranger_at_our_Gate,_by_Frank_Beard
Cartoon by Frank Beard published in The Ram’s Horn, 1890

To see how racism remains ubiquitous in the U.S., just look at the response to the tragic murder of Mollie Tibbetts. The suspect, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, has become a rallying cry for Republicans to attack immigrants. Newt Gingrich put it nicely “If Mollie Tibbetts is a household name by October, Democrats will be in deep trouble.”

Thousands of murders are committed each year in the United States, so let’s be clear: saying all Mexican immigrants are a threat because one of them is suspected of murder is the definition of racism.

Multiple studies, including one by the Cato Institute, have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crime. I did a little research on my own and found that the homicide rate in Iowa, last measured at 2.8%, is actually higher than its northern neighbor Minnesota, last measured at 2.4%. Yet, Minnesota’s percentage foreign born is 8.2, compared to Iowa’s 5.1.

Anti-immigrant racism is central to U.S. history, but many political leaders seem to be either blind to this history, or, in the case of Jeff Sessions, to celebrate it.

I was so impressed with the graceful manner with which David Glosser articulated this history and condemned the hypocrisy of his nephew, Stephen Miller. Once again this is why knowing our past is so important.

Of course, some Iowans recognize racism when they see it, including some in Tibbetts family.  I will be praying for them, as well as for Cristhian Bahena Rivera, as Thich Nhat Hanh, among others, has taught me to do.

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