A week or so ago, I watched with shame as an angry mob in southern California surrounded buses filled with frightened, hungry, homeless immigrants, shaking fists, and shouting for them to “get out!”
It was un-American; it was un-biblical; it was inhumane. It worked, as the scared drivers turned the buses around and sought sanctuary elsewhere.
The incendiary scene reminded me of Nativist mobs in the 1840’s, Know-Nothinggangs in the 1850’s, and KKK thugs in the 1920’s, who hounded and harassed scared immigrants, Catholics, Jews, and Blacks.
I think of this sad incident today, the feast of New York’s own Kateri Tekakwitha, a native-American (a Mohawk) canonized a saint just three years ago. Unless we are Native Americans, like Saint Kateri, our ancestors all came here as homesick, hungry, hopeful immigrants. I don’t think there were any Mohawks among that mob attacking the buses of refugee women and children.
During the Putin years, Russia has become the planet’s second-largest magnet for migrant labor, after the United States. The main source of this labor: the Muslim republics of Central Asia. “Putinism has created a huge racially distinct underclass,” Judah writes, made up of Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Chechens, “unprotected by the (ignored) labor code.” In reaction, Putin presents himself as the champion of Russian nationalism, appealing to the Russian people and—not so incidentally—to the European far right, too. Judah shrewdly observes, “As the country became less Russian ethnically, it was becoming more so culturally.”