In An Era Of Colorlines, Are East Asians ‘Brown’? : NPR

Interesting discussion on “yellow” vs “brown” identities:

It’s time for another Ask Code Switch. This week, we’re getting into the gray area between yellow and brown.

Amy Tran, from Minneapolis, asks:

Can light-skinned Asians (East Asian) call themselves “brown”? I am East Asian, and have a friend who is South Asian. She is much darker than me, and told me that because of my skin color, I cannot identify as brown. I acknowledge that even though I am not technically brown, I do face similar challenges that people under the “brown” umbrella face – gentrification, unfair labor conditions, xenophobia, not to mention micro-aggressions and stereotypes, etc. – and that to exclude me from this “group” is excluding all light-skinned Asians from the oppression we face. What’s your take?

Hi Amy,

I think there are actually two different questions — both very important — that we have to parse out here. One of them is about skin color, and the other is about political identity. And in the conversation about who gets to claim the term “brown,” those are very different things.

So, to begin with, let’s get one thing straight — the colors that people use to differentiate people of different races have never really been about skin color. Black, white, brown, yellow, red? Those terms bear little resemblance to the actual spectrum of coloring found in humans, not to mention they create false distinctions between groups of people who have always overlapped.

And, of course, there are plenty of East Asians who have very brown skin, just as there are tons of South Asians who have very light skin. This cuts across racial groups. Some black people have skin the color of a chestnut, and others have skin the color of pink sand. In the U.S., Latinos with all different coloring refer to themselves as brown.

The racial categories we use today were largely the brainchild of eighteenth and nineteenth century European “racialist anthropologists,” who used things like skull measurements and hair texture to divide people into racial groups. For years, many of these anthropologists referred to four races: red, yellow, black and white. Then in 1795, Johann Blumenbach, a German naturalist, wrote about a fifth brown race (the “Malays”,) consisting of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders.

All that is to say, the way someone identifies racially has never been strictly about physical appearance and always about drawing (arbitrary) lines between groups of people.

So, the idea that you shouldn’t refer to yourself as brown because of your literal skin color, I think, is a bit misguided.

Having said that, Amy, there is a pretty compelling reason not to call yourself brown.

As you’ve rightly pointed out, identifying as “brown” (or black, or white, or yellow) is a political statement. To you, and many others, being brown is about a set of shared experiences, that include things like being subjected to discrimination and stereotyping.

But there’s some important history here, and it goes back to the Yellow Power Movement of the 1960s and ’70s. The Yellow Power Movement was instrumental in fighting for the civil rights of Asian-Americans. But not all Asian-Americans felt represented by the movement. And that’s where the East Asian/”Brown Asian” divide comes in.

The brown Asian movement was a response to the fact that “brown Asians are still really forgotten and marginalized within the Asian American umbrella, to this day,” says E.J.R. David. He’s a professor at the University of Alaska, Anchorage who studies the mental health consequences of colonialism. He also wrote Brown Skin, White Minds, a book about the psychological experiences of Filipino Americans.

David says that when people in the United States talk about Asian-Americans, they’re almost always referring to people of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean descent. But today, those groups only make up about half of all Asian-Americans. And those East Asians, David says, have different educational outcomes, income levels, immigration histories, health outcomes, access to resources and refugee status than brown Asians. (Brown Asians include Filipinos and South Asians, David has written.)

So while there certainly may be similarities between the experiences of East Asians and other Asian Americans, David says that the term brown Asians is meant to differentiate people who have felt invisible. It makes sense, he says, that some people might be offended if the term is taken on by someone of East Asian descent.

“To me, there are terms that only, because of the history of it, and because of the current reality of our situation, I think are best reserved for some people to be able to use, especially if they’re using it for their own empowerment, and for their own group’s empowerment,” David says. And for those people who are not part of it, he adds, “We cannot appropriate that if it’s not ours.”

via In An Era Of Colorlines, Are East Asians ‘Brown’? : Code Switch : NPR


Donald Trump Has Nominated 480 People So Far in His Presidency. 80% of Them Are Men.

Says it all:

And if there is one trend that has defined this current president’s staffing decisions, it has been his proclivity to turn to men when filling out key posts.

Since he assumed office, Donald Trump has sent 480 nominations to the U.S. Senate for positions in the judicial branch and executive branches. Of those, The Daily Beast found, 387 were men—constituting just over 80 of all of Trump’s nominees.

The trend goes across government, though it is truly accentuated in certain fields. For example, Trump has nominated 282 men for high-ranking cabinet positions compared to 77 women. He has nominated 55 men for tax, armed forces, veterans claims, district, appellate, and supreme court judgeships compared to 13 women. And he has nominated 50 men to U.S. attorney posts compared to just three women.

Numerous executive branch departments have not had a single woman nominated to their ranks. Though some of them have only a handle of confirmable positions, others like the  Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy have had seven nominees respectively to date. All of those nominees were men.

via Donald Trump Has Nominated 480 People So Far in His Presidency. 80% of Them Are Men.

Hate Crimes Up In 2016, FBI Statistics Show : NPR

Relatively low numbers compared to the population, reflecting major data collection gaps:

The Anti-Defamation League, for example, noted that nearly 90 cities with populations of more than 100,000 either reported zero hate crimes or did not report data for 2016.

“There’s a dangerous disconnect between the rising problem of hate crimes and the lack of credible data being reported,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. He called for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to get better nation-wide figures on the problem.

Sim Singh, the national advocacy manager of the Sikh Coalition, agreed. He noted that the FBI statistics count seven anti-Sikh hate crimes in 2016, which he said “represents the tip of the iceberg.”

“If law-enforcement agencies fail to document the true extent of hate crimes against our communities,” Singh said, “our nation will have a hard time mobilizing the political will and resources necessary to prevent and combat the problem.”

The only way to fix the data problem, he added, is for law enforcement to adopt mandatory hate crime reporting.

Still, the FBI data provides an overview of hate crimes across the country.

There were 7,509 victims of single-bias hate crime incidents, according to the reported numbers for 2016. A victim can be a person, a business, a government entity or a religious organization.

Nearly 59 percent of the victims were targeted because of their race. A further 21.1 percent were targeted because of religion, and 16.7 percent because of sexual-orientation.

Of the race-related incidents, more than half were anti-black, while some 20 percent were anti-white. More than half of the religious-related crimes, the statistics show, were anti-Jewish, while a quarter were anti-Muslim.

In cases where law enforcement was able to identify the perpetrator, 46.3 percent were white and 26.1 percent were black.

via Hate Crimes Up In 2016, FBI Statistics Show : NPR

U.S. Congress split over whether criticizing Israel constitutes antiSemitism –

Expect we would have similar divisions if there were hearings on an antisemitism definition, and how it applies to criticism of Israel and Israeli policies:

A U.S. House of Representatives committee heard tough exchanges between proponents and opponents of a bill that would codify a definition of anti-Semitism that incorporates a controversial component addressing attacks on Israel.

The nine witnesses appearing Tuesday at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee were split: Five among those said the proposed addition to federal anti-discrimination statutes is a necessary means of stemming anti-Semitism on campuses, and four who argued it infringes on speech freedoms. The law if enacted would apply to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which addresses institutions — including universities — that receive federal funding.

The witnesses at times directly addressed one another, violating congressional protocol. Barbs were exchanged, with each side questioning the bona fides of the other in defining anti-Semitism. In a bizarre twist, the coauthors of the language that the bill would codify argued opposing viewpoints.

Lawmakers — who also bickered at times — marveled at the Jewish family food fight they were witnessing.

“It’s like throwing a ball and having a scrum and seeing who wins,” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said.

At issue is the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act — a version also is under consideration in the Senate — which would codify the State Department’s definition of the phenomenon, which is used by diplomats to identify the problem and report on it.

Top officials of the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Christians United for Israel advocated for the proposed statute, as did Paul Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General. Opposing were two Jewish studies professors, the director of PEN America –  a speech freedom umbrella, and the head of an outfit that combats anti-Semitism.

Representing the American Jewish Committee, which backs the bill, was Rabbi Andy Baker, the AJC’s director of International Jewish Affairs. Ken Stern, who in 2004 when both he and Baker were employed by AJC  drafted the language in question,  now directs the Justus & Karin Rosenberg Foundation, which combats anti-Semitism. Stern opposes codifying the language into law, although he still endorses the language for its intended use, as a means for diplomats to identify anti-Semitism.

The language, in its current State Department formulation, includes a section that defines as anti-Semitism language that “demonizes” Israel. It breaks down the term “demonizes” as: “Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis, drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions.”

In his testimony, Stern said that the tough standards he would apply in assessing whether a speech at the United Nations by Iran’s president was anti-Semitic should not devolve onto college freshmen. He said it would be especially cruel to young Jews still testing their boundaries within the community.

“Whether or not you can be an 18-year-old anti-Zionist and within the (Jewish) community is not a debate Congress should decide,” he said.
Proponents said that the bill would not inhibit speech because the definition would only be applied when assessing whether a Title VI-banned act — violence or a bid to shut off speech — was anti-Semitic, and not to anti-Semitic speech in and of itself.

“It wouldn’t raise First Amendment problems, it would only be triggered by harassment,” said Clement.

That, Stern said, was “disingenuous” — a federal statute would naturally inhibit speech. “When you prioritize a certain definition it has the weight of having Congress behind it,” he said.

Barry Trachtenberg, a Jewish studies professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, seemed to accuse proponents of the legislation of bad faith. “They are part of a persistent campaign to thwart scholarship, debate, and activism critical of Israel,” he said.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper and the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt fired shots at Trachtenberg, and at Pamela Nadell, the president of the Association for Jewish Studies, saying that academics were not in the trenches. Cooper chided the committee for inviting them. “It’s like inviting people from the Flat Earth Society to a hearing about NASA,” he said. Greenblatt mocked them as being ensconced in an ivory tower.

Cooper seemed visibly uncomfortable, crowded next to Trachtenberg at the witness table, who kept staring at him. Cooper kept emphasizing that the Jewish leadership in its entirety backed the bill, seeming to sideline Stern’s organizational affiliation. At one point Cooper’s insistence that the entire Jewish community backed the bill drew a correction from Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who produced a letter from J Street U, the liberal Middle Eastern lobby’s campus affiliate, opposing the bill.

via U.S. Congress split over whether criticizing Israel constitutes anti-Semitism – U.S. News –

Differences of Opinion: How Canadian and US business leaders think about gender diversity

RBC continues to do interesting research and reports on diversity issues. This Canada-United States comparison being the most recent example (and it challenges Canadian smugness about our diversity policies in the corporate sector). These two charts are particularly revealing, report recommendations follow:

1. Be aware that diversity mandates can backfire.

Surprisingly, mandatory diversity training can often have the opposite effect, increasing bias rather than eliminating it. Research over several decades has shown that corporate leaders and managers are less motivated to increase diversity if they are forced to do so. In one study, Harvard Business Review researchers who analyzed data from hundreds of US firms found that “companies get better results when they ease up on the control tactics.”

Similarly, national policies that promote gender parity, diversity, and gay rights may be viewed as controlling or policing people’s personal opinions and actions. Equal opportunity or pro-diversity legislation may make organizations “check the boxes” to advertise their compliance with the requirements, but may also make them less likely to make practical efforts to reduce gender or other types of discrimination. Rather, engaging leaders and managers to become advocates for change is more effective. Voluntary training to raise awareness, along with mentoring and coaching efforts, participation in task forces or councils, or leadership of affinity groups, works best.

2. Try more innovative solutions.

The most appropriate measures vary across industries and firms, and a decision not to adopt any specific approach cannot be interpreted as a failure. Still, our study shows that companies in both the US and Canada are using only a subset of all the potential strategies. Canadian companies tend to take fewer risks and are less likely to try innovative solutions than their US counterparts. Solutions that have been adopted less frequently in Canada than in the US may provide ideas for further action by Canadian firms. They include:

  • Job auctions or trial hiring (37% vs 43%)
  • On-the-job development activities that provide opportunities to generate business impacts (38% vs 44%)
  • Support for working parents (34% vs 43%)
  • Flex time (48% vs 52%), part-time (31% vs 35%) and childcare subsidies (27% vs 31%)
  • Assessing performance relative to gender diversity targets (37% vs 44%)

3. Build a strong business case for women in senior management.

“Fundamentally, having a workforce and a senior management team that represents the clients and communities an organization serves is both an asset and a competitive advantage,” says Jennifer Tory, Chief Administrative Officer at RBC. “Diversity of gender, thought, and background creates inclusive teams that generate better ideas and solutions. Inclusive teams are strong teams, and strong teams make better business decisions.”

4. Invest in retraining and reintegrating women into the workplace.

One of the biggest challenges in both the US and Canada is the issue of parental leave and how it affects women’s careers. The two countries differ markedly with respect to national policies. In the US, women who take maternity leave do not receive guaranteed payments from the federal government. The Family and Medical Leave Act protects their job for up to 12 weeks; some individual companies and states may offer more generous policies or a short-term disability policy that pays women during their leave of absence. By contrast, Canada is far more generous; its mandated 12-month parental leave is expected to stretch to 18 months in 2018.

In a way, that could “create unintended consequences” for women’s advancement in Canada, says the University of Toronto’s Dart. She notes that although both parents can share the leave, men are often reluctant to take time off. “In many Scandinavian countries paternity and maternity leave are mandatory. Both men and women leave the workplace for a time when they have children, so there is less of an opportunity for gender bias. It has to be mandatory. You have to make it an equal playing field.”

In Canada and other countries where equal parental leave is not mandated, being away from the job for so long could be detrimental to women’s careers, she adds. “Women step out, often because of family pressure, and find it very difficult if they want to come back later on. They have lost their professional networks and they don’t know if their skills are up-to-date. Many companies don’t actively work on bringing women back to work; it is easier to advance the women who have stuck it out.”

5. Make a concerted effort to change societal perceptions.

Here’s where male role models, influencers, pressure groups, and governments play a big part. “With regard to progressing in their career, women are working really hard, but they need networks and sponsorship much earlier in their career,” says Jennifer Reynolds, CEO of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA), a public-private partnership that supports the financial services industry. “We need to actively challenge senior management on that, and we have to have men in this dialogue.”

Dart advocates going even further. “There is a very large gap in the middle part of the pipeline,” she says. “There’s always more commitment that we need to see in senior leaders. We need more CEOs and board chairs to advance their support of women. But this battle is not lost at the corporate front. This battle is lost at the home front. The expectations of women, the roles they are supposed to play, are different in different cultures. That’s where we need to start: changing role expectations.”

Source: Download Here

Big Oil Has A Diversity Problem : NPR

Good profile of US oil patch and diversity. Assume similar in Canada but I welcome Canadian oil patch reader comment and insight:

Oil industry leaders say they want be more welcoming to women and minorities. Both groups are underrepresented across much of the oil industry, compared with the U.S. workforce as a whole.

One example is the category “oil and gas extraction,” where Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show only 20.2 percent of workers are women, compared with 46.8 percent in the overall workforce. African-Americans make up only 6.2 percent in the same category, compared with 11.9 percent overall.

At oil companies, “for both women and for African-Americans, they tend to be among the worst performing in terms of both pay gaps and employment representation,” says sociologist Don Tomaskovic-Devey. He directs the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and wrote a report about these federal labor statistics.

Tomaskovic-Devey says some firms probably do a better job than others. He says it’s difficult to know because those numbers aren’t available. “The key thing to understand is when diversity is a managerial priority, it happens,” he says.

The great crew change

A few people at the top of the oil business do want to make diversity a priority. One reason is something the industry calls “The Great Crew Change.” After the oil bust in the 1980s, a lot of companies stopped hiring. That has left the industry with an aging workforce that includes many who are headed toward retirement.

Winkel co-authored a 2016 American Petroleum Institute research report detailing how many women and minorities work in the oil and gas business now and how that could change in the future. It projects the industry needs to attract 1.9 million new workers by 2035 to make up for retirements and growth in the oil business.

“We know from the Census Bureau that we will be a majority-minority country by 2044 … Those changing demographics demand that we pay more attention to diversity than, perhaps, we have in the past,” says Winkel.

You can see evidence of the industry’s desire to at least appear as if it’s changing in advertisements for big oil companies. One from ExxonMobil shows a string of mostly women and minority workers wearing hard hats and holding signs that tout the benefits of the industry.

This ExxonMobil advertisement features a string of female and minority workers that are much more diverse than the oil industry’s actual workforce.
ExxonMobil YouTube
Chevron’s Twitter posts highlight the company’s commitment to diversity in its suppliers.

The company has made diversity and inclusion one of the core principles highlighted in its mission statement called “The Chevron Way.”

“Staffing our workforce for the future is a priority and we actually start focusing on our talent pipeline with kids as young as 5 years old,” says Rhonda Morris, vice president of human resources at Chevron.

Big oil companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil spend millions promoting science and math to children around the world — in part hoping that it will lead to a more diverse workforce. At colleges, those companies recruit women and minorities and then offer them mentors. And for existing employees, there are programs such as unconscious bias training.

Ray Dempsey, the chief diversity officer at BP America, says this is good for business. “There’s data that you can find from many, many sources that talk about how much difference a more diverse and a more inclusive workforce can make on your fundamental business outcomes.”

Dempsey says executives already embrace diversity. The focus these days is on middle managers where the hiring and firing happens.

But he says there are other things about the oil industry that are difficult to change, like where the oil or gas is located. Dempsey says it’s often in remote places, “versus the urban centers where minorities — communities of color — tend to be and, frankly, where people from those communities tend to want to live and to work.”

Dempsey says the industry needs to do more to make rural places welcoming to women and minorities.

via Big Oil Has A Diversity Problem : NPR

Canada stays civil amidst the polarization of American media: John Ibbitson

Good piece by Ibbitson:

CNN has a new commercial that features a picture of an apple. “Some people might try to tell you it’s a banana,” says the narrator. They might even scream that it’s a banana. “They might put BANANA in all caps. … But it’s not. This is an apple.”

The ad was, of course, immediately attacked by right-wing columnists. “Trump Derangement Syndrome has struck CNN and is taking a terrible toll,” wrote Thomas Lifson at American Thinker.

The American media have become so deeply polarized that each side has now lost any ability to listen to the other. Each accuses the other of committing fake news – stories based on false facts that are intended to deceive. But the deeper problem resides in columns and editorials and blogs and tweets that take implacable stands, distorting facts and belittling opponents, ignoring or disrespecting other points of view.

On Thursday, on the RealClearPolitics aggregator website, you could find headlines such as “The Bone Spur Bozo in the White House,” and “Does the Dems Dossier Trick Count as Treason?”

So why aren’t Canadians screaming at each other the way the Americans are?

One answer is that “we don’t have Donald Trump as prime minister,” observes Janni Aragon, who teaches political science at the University of Victoria. The President personifies the anger embedded within American discourse. But Prof. Aragon adds that the differences in media reflect differences in the political cultures of the two countries.

America, she says, is a land divided. In Canada, “divisiveness is not as strong.”

There isn’t a single political leader in Canada whose platform mirrors the nativist, anti-immigrant, authoritarian strains that we see in President Trump and his supporters. Nor, with a few minor, on-the-fringe exceptions (We’re talking about you, The Rebel), do Canadian media cater to racist phobias.

Why not? There could be several reasons.

Since the first Loyalist settlers arrived in the late 1700s, Canadian political culture has been tinged with what has been called a “tory touch,” an upper-class British tradition that stresses collective obligations over individual liberties. This sense of noblesse oblige underlies many of the value assumptions of the mainstream media.

Our small and scattered population also contributes, says Kirk Lapointe, who held a variety of positions in Canadian media (he was once my boss), and who teaches journalism at the University of British Columbia. There are so many Americans, he points out, that fringe publications can profitably publish, giving extremists a voice. But Canadian publications must cater to more moderate views in order to win a large enough audience to make a profit.

Mr. Lapointe hosts a Vancouver radio talk show. In his experience, extremists don’t attract listeners. “I see a fair amount of revulsion when someone like that tries to grab the microphone,” he said in an interview.

Canada’s large immigrant population is also a steadying influence. With four in 10 Canadians either an immigrant or the son or daughter of an immigrant, nativist voices have little hope of dominating the print, broadcast or digital conversation.

Pollster Michael Adams has published a book, Could It Happen Here? that compares Canadian and American political and social values in the age of Trudeau and Trump. To cite just one powerful statistic: According to one poll, 50 per cent of Americans believe that “the father of the family must be the master in his own house.” In Canada, the figure is 23 per cent.

To explain these differences, Mr. Adams refers to a chronic streak of paranoia that has long run through American politics, and Horatio Alger-like belief that anyone can make it to the top – so if you don’t, the system must be conspiring against you. He also cited the baleful influence of evangelical religion, gerrymandered Congressional districts and increasing income insecurity.

“In this paranoid atmosphere, people feel entitled not only to their own opinions but also to their own facts,” he believes. “And now, in the age of the internet, each is his own publisher and editor locked inside an ideological bubble with fellow travellers.”

This paranoid polarization infects the right more than the left in American politics. There is no progressive equivalent to Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart News. But the left is not immune to intolerance.

At the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) last week, a small group of protesters self-identifying as antifascists interrupted a forum on, of all things, how best to challenge hate speech. “No Trump, no KKK, no Fascist U.S.A.” they yelled, shutting down a question-and-answer session that resumed later in another room.

The discourse in Canadian politics and journalism is far from perfect. Indigenous Canadians, especially, do not see their values and priorities reflected in either Canada’s political culture or its media. Newsrooms are far less diverse than the communities they cover.

And Prof. Aragon warns of the tendency of American cultural influences to “trickle up” across the border. Polarized American media risk polarizing Canadian media through the sheer power of proximity.

Nonetheless, as President Trump sends out one angry tweet after another, Canadians retain deeper wells of moderation and goodwill than their American cousins.

In this country, just about everyone seems to agree that an apple is not a banana.

Source: Canada stays civil amidst the polarization of American media – The Globe and Mail

Political typology: Race and discrimination, opinions about immigrants and Islam | Pew Research Center

As always, Pew’s findings, broken down by political leaning, are of interest and highlight just how divided the United States is on these issues:

Views of immigrants and nation’s ‘openness’

When it comes to attitudes about immigration, Democratic-leaning groups hold almost universally positive attitudes toward immigrants and support the idea of America being open to people from all over the world. Virtually all Solid Liberals say that immigrants strengthen the society and that openness is “essential” to America’s identity as a nation (99% each).

The only group on the political left that holds ambivalent views of immigrants is Devout and Diverse, a group that is racially and ethnically diverse and also has the lowest family incomes and levels of educational attainment of any typology group.

The Republican-leaning groups are sharply divided in views of immigrants and the nation’s openness to people from around the world. About three-quarters of Country First Conservatives (76%) say immigrants are a burden on the country – the largest share of any typology group. Country First Conservatives also are most likely to say that the U.S. risks losing its identity as a nation if it is too open to people from around the world (64% say this).

Compared with Country First Conservatives, Core Conservatives and Market Skeptic Republicans have more divided views of immigrants and whether too much openness risks the nation’s identity. New Era Enterprisers have the most positive views among Republican-leaning groups: 70% view immigrants as a strength and 65% say America’s openness is “essential to who we are as a nation.”

Islam and violence

A large majority of Core Conservatives (79%) say Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its followers.

And roughly the same percentage of Solid Liberals (83%) say Islam does not encourage violence more than other religions.

The views of other typology groups divide along partisan lines, with one exception. As with views of immigration, Devout and Diverse differ from other Democratic-leaning groups in their views of Islam and violence.

Devout and Diverse are divided – 47% say Islam is more likely to encourage violence, 44% say it is not – while sizable majorities in other Democratic groups say Islam does not encourage violence more than other religions.

How Immigration Foiled Hillary – The New York Times

This is a really good long read and analysis of the tensions in rural America over immigration and related issues.

While the Canadian electoral system (ridings) makes lop-sided margins in cities and rural ridings less significant, it nevertheless is a reminder of the need to find ways to alleviate the concerns and apprehensions of rural voters:

Democrats point to a thousand reasons that Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election. Here is another.

In political circles, it’s common knowledge that in four key states President Trump unexpectedly carried counties that Democratic presidential campaign strategists had failed to recognize as crucial terrain — sparsely populated areas of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In “What I Got Wrong About the Election,” for example, published right after Clinton lost, David Plouffe, who had managed the Obama campaign in 2008, wrote that

Trump’s margins in rural and exurban counties were off the charts. For example, in Madison County, an exurban area outside Columbus, Ohio, Mr. Romney’s margin over Mr. Obama was 20.4 percentage points; Mr. Trump’s margin over Mrs. Clinton was 39.8.

Plouffe added that this “happened in thousands of counties throughout the country, and it added up quickly.”

What Democrats missed was the profound political impact recent immigration trends were having on the more rural parts of the once homogeneous Midwest — that the region had unexpectedly become a flash point in the nation’s partisan immigration wars.

In a Brookings essay published last month, John C. Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center, a local think tank, writes that the region is experiencing a “steady stream of immigrants from Mexico, Central America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.”

As a result, Austin continues,

Immigration has become an unambiguous factor in this racially charged Midwestern landscape. While immigrant-rich states like Arizona, California, and Florida are often at the center of immigration policy discussions, the political debate about the role of immigrants burns hottest in the heartland.

Austin went on, in an email, to provide more detail about the power of immigration to move white voters into the Trump column:

The “rural” voters here are some farmers, but more likely, as in the hinterlands outside Flint, Monroe, Toledo, Erie, or Janesville, Wisconsin, they are mostly white, working class blue collar workers or retirees, many, sadly, who fled their small cities to escape blacks. They are anxious about the economic prospects for their future, their aging communities (the kids have fled), making folks mad. And now all these immigrants come and are changing the society!! Just as Macomb County, where working class white voters fled Detroit in advance of blacks, now sees nearby communities like Hamtramck becoming (in their view) a Bangladeshi bazaar — and they don’t like that. And they are easily fanned to blame those folks.

In February 2017, Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster and strategist, conducted four postelection focus groups with white voters who had cast ballots for Trump in Macomb County, Michigan, an area he has been studying since 1985. The participants were not Republicans. They were whites without college degrees who identified themselves as independents, as Democratic-leaning independents, or as Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008, 2012 or both.

“Immigration is a powerful issue for these Trump voters, representing a demand that citizens come before noncitizens, Americans before foreigners, and that we take care of home first before abroad,” Greenberg wrote in his report for The Roosevelt Institute:

They believe that we have “opened up our borders, they pretty much made it a free for all” which means fewer jobs and greater demands on government services and more concerns about safety.

Greenberg’s report is replete with revealing quotes from the focus groups:

I went and finally signed up for Medicaid, and I’m standing in the damn welfare office, and I’m looking around at all of these people that can’t even say hello to me in English. But they’re all there with appointments for their workers, which means they have the health care, they have the food stamps…. If you can come from somewhere else, why can’t we all get it?


My grandson’s school, I went to as a child, there are hardly any — I’ll just say American families there now. It’s mostly Middle Eastern and people all standing outside waiting for their kid, to pick them up at the end of the day, and nobody’s speaking English. Everyone’s speaking other languages, which, there’s nothing wrong with other languages.


You know what, like where I’m working, at Kroger, how many Spanish people I wait on. The universal language — I don’t care, if you smile — hello, I don’t care what country you’re from, but some of these people, they act like they can’t do that, even. It’s like, “You know what? You’re in America.” Get with either — you can learn to say hello, goodbye, thank you, in our language. This is America.

Three developments are taking place in the rust belt simultaneously.

First, as recently as 2000, many of the key Midwestern counties that moved from blue to red in 2016 had very few minority residents. Since then, their immigrant populations began to increase at a rapid rate well above the national average. Second, at the same time that immigrants are moving in, younger native-born residents are leaving in droves to seek employment elsewhere, while the remaining white population is aging and is often hostile to change. It is the perfect formula for cultural conflict, and Trump proved to be the perfect candidate to exploit it. Finally, these changes are taking place in a region that Austin points out is home to “15 of the nation’s 25 major metro areas with the sharpest black-white segregation,” making it even more unreceptive to nonwhites than other sections of the country.

One way to understand what has been taking place recently in the Midwest is through the use of a measure called the diversity index. This index ranks geographic areas — states, counties and ZIP codes — on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the number, the more likely that two people chosen at random will be different by race and origin. Put another way, a higher number means more diversity, a lower number, less diversity. (The diversity index for states and counties can be found here.)

Arrayed on a diversity index, Michigan with an index of 42, Wisconsin at 35, Ohio at 36, and Pennsylvania at 41, all rank in the bottom twenty — i.e., the least diverse — of the fifty states. The diversity index for the entire country is substantially higher at 63. Examples of states with very high diversity indexes include California at 79; Nevada at 73; Texas at 70; and New York at 70.

A rapid rate of growth in the percentage of immigrants in communities that have in the past experienced little diversity is particularly explosive.

Benjamin J. Newman, a political scientist at the University of California-Riverside, described this phenomenon in a 2013 paper:

Growth in local Hispanic populations triggers threat and opposition to immigration among whites residing in contexts with few initial Hispanics, but reduces threat and opposition to immigration among whites residing in contexts with large pre-existing Hispanic populations.

In other words, communities that are close to 100 percent white will react intensely to a modest increase in foreign-born residents, while highly diverse communities will shrug it off.

…In a prescient 2010 paper, “Politicized Places: Explaining Where and When Immigrants Provoke Local Opposition,” Daniel Hopkins, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, described the crucial interaction of the rate of change in the level of immigration with the politicization of the immigration issue by national figures:

When faced with a sudden, destabilizing change in local demographics, and when salient national rhetoric politicizes that demographic change, people’s views turn anti-immigrant.

In an email, Hopkins elaborated on his thesis: “sudden influxes of immigrants generate hostility, likely because they destabilize long-time residents’ sense of their communities’ identity.”

Looking back on the 2016 election and the importance of the immigration issue, what stands out is the failure of the Clinton campaign to address the immigration concerns of the Obama-to-Trump voters who played such a key role in the outcome. Campaign strategists may not have been aware of the intensity with which these voters viewed the issue, or they may have decided that given their target voters, the Democratic Party was not at liberty to moderate its unwavering pro-immigration stance.

The immigration stance of the Clinton campaign contrasted with Obama’s record. While Obama called for immigrants who were brought into this country as children to be allowed to stay, he stressed policies calling for the deportation of criminals and in fact deported more people than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton.

The campaign’s public stance on Immigration Reform declared:

Hillary has been committed to the immigrant rights community throughout her career. As president, she will work to fix our broken immigration system and stay true to our fundamental American values: that we are a nation of immigrants, and we treat those who come to our country with dignity and respect — and that we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them.

Eight of the nine policies described in Clinton’s statement are pro-immigration, and the ninth refers only peripherally to enforcement:

Enforce immigration laws humanely. Immigration enforcement must be humane, targeted, and effective. Hillary will focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety, and ensure refugees who seek asylum in the U.S. have a fair chance to tell their stories.

The Clinton campaign has come under some fire from fellow Democrats on immigration. In a June American Prospect essay, Stanley Greenberg wrote:

The Democrats have moved from seeking to manage and champion the nation’s growing immigrant diversity to seeming to champion immigrant rights over American citizens’. Instinctively and not surprisingly, the Democrats embraced the liberal values of America’s dynamic and best-educated metropolitan areas, seeming not to respect the values or economic stress of older voters in small-town and rural America.

The contest for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination will test whether and how the explicitly liberal stance adopted by Clinton might evolve. This is a moral and political challenge for left-liberal parties throughout the Western Hemisphere. On one hand, there has been the prospect of “an emerging Democratic majority.” In the United States, Obama won the White House twice relying on just such a majority.

An issue that first came to the fore 52 years ago after passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act has yet to be resolved. The task for Democrats is how to come up with a non-xenophobic, non-racist answer to this problem.

Still, Trump’s 2016 victory — as well as Brexit, Marine Le Pen’s episodic successes (33.9 percent of the French presidential vote last May), and the emergence of the anti-immigrant AfD in Germany last month as the third largest party in the Bundestag — all demonstrate that backlash politics continue to gain ground and remain a powerful force.

Trump Administration To Drop Refugee Cap To 45,000, Lowest In Years : NPR

A smaller percentage than others. USA already had far fewer refugees than others in 2016:

EU USA Canada Australia
2016 Population





Refugees resettled or granted asylum





Per capita percent





The Trump administration plans to cap the number of refugees the U.S. will accept next year at 45,000. That is a dramatic drop from the level set by the Obama administration and would be the lowest number in years.

The White House formally announced its plans in a report to congressional leaders Wednesday, as required by law.

The number of refugees the U.S. admits has fluctuated over time. But this cap is the lowest that any White House has sought since the president began setting the ceiling on refugee admissions in 1980.

Refugee resettlement agencies are disappointed with the 45,000 cap, which they say falls far short of what is necessary to meet growing humanitarian needs around the world. They had recommended a limit of at least 75,000.

Last year, the Obama administration set the cap at 110,000. Only about half that number have been admitted, after the Trump administration put the entire refugee resettlement program on hold under its travel ban executive orders.

“Churches and communities, employers and mayors, are heartsick at the administration’s callous and tragic decision to deny welcome to refugees most in need,” said Linda Hartke, the president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, one of largest resettlement agencies in the country.

The debate over refugees is often framed as a clash between humanitarian goals and national security.

But Trump administration also argues that the U.S. spends millions of dollars a year to screen and resettle refugees and to help them once they arrive.

“For the cost of resettling one refugee in the U.S., we can assist more than 10 in their home region,” President Trump said in a speech to the United Nations earlier this month.

Once they arrive, refugees qualify for many social services, including health care, food stamps and cash assistance. Many of those costs fall on state and local governments, and some states are pushing back.

Earlier this year, Tennessee took the federal government to court over refugee resettlement.

“The bottom line is the federal government is coercing the state of Tennessee to spend Tennessee taxpayers monies in ways that some individual Tennesseans disagree with,” Republican state Sen. John Stevens told member station WPLN in March.

But many mayors across the country see refugees as an economic boon for their cities.

“These people are paying taxes. They’re buying houses. They’re going into our schools,” said Stephanie Miner, the mayor of Syracuse, N.Y.

Miner, a Democrat, says refugees are helping revitalize the city’s north side, which was home to Italian and German immigrants before them.

Source: Trump Administration To Drop Refugee Cap To 45,000, Lowest In Years : NPR