Donald Trump has not been the only person responsible for the most primitive forms of racism and xenophobia recorded in his four years of government.
His team and, of course, the Republican Party itself (as much as the Democratic Party) are responsible for the xenophobic management of the migration problem, responding to the demands of a right-leaning electorate drawn from all social classes and all parties.
Trump simply expresses in a dramatic way a reality that has been part of the United States’ society since its very foundation.
Xenophobia and racist ideology did not appear with Trump nor will they disappear under Biden.
One only has to think back a little to remember that under Democrat administrations – Obama’s, without going further back – the number of immigrants expelled by the United States has been equal to and not in a few cases higher than those expelled by Trump.
In reality, the history of this nation is linked to various forms of xenophobia discriminating in many ways and to different degrees against European immigrants (Italians, for example), Latin Americans and Caribbeans, Asians and, of course, Africans.
But the xenophobia has, inevitably, its class factor: the poor are discriminated against while the rich and those who suit for reasons of political convenience are welcomed without any difficulty.
Nor was there discrimination or any shyness about receiving Nazi scientists with open arms or those who had worked in the Third Reich’s intelligence or espionage teams, or war criminals who offered to work for the United States authorities following Hitler’s defeat.
The same thing happens with servicemen who have convictions in their countries of origin (Salvadorians and Colombians, for example) as well as paramilitaries and drug traffickers involved in serious crimes (Colombians, especially) who find easy refuge in the United States.
The case of Cubans and Venezuelans is another significant example similar to that of the Vietnamese boat people. They are welcomed without problem because it suits Washington’s strategic interests.
The criterion of self-interest also allows the authorities to ally anti-immigrant rhetoric with the country’s economic needs, since discrimination ensures that a good number of those affected end up as cheap labour on the job market at least for one or two generations.
It is true that xenophobia is a universal evil, but here it acquires dimensions that turn the “American dream” into a nightmare.
The same thing happens in Europe. Xenophobic policies and discrimination have always been practiced on the Old Continent.
In the past they discriminated against Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and Yugoslav workers who migrated to what were then the rich northern nations, just as they discriminated against those who came from the former colonies or from Latin America.
Today, the drama of immigration allows all sorts of public policies with a xenophobic tinge to flourish and social behaviours arise which are fed by the demagogy of a far-right with fascist tinges.
Xenophobic and racist parties and associations, which are not far short of equalling the KKK, are flourishing in several European countries. Some even form part of the government (Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria).
And what to say about racism in Latin America and the Caribbean?
Racism, which in so many ways feeds xenophobia, in not an invention of the Trump administration, despite his firm support of the most violent groups of the so-called “white supremacy”.
Racism justified the policies of extermination of the original population (the American Indians), as it did slave labour with the black Africans.
The emancipation of the latter was a positive step but in many ways there was no change for a long time, and judging by current events it is a cultural reference point for a large part of the population and for the state itself (the police, judges).
The Nazi theories did not seem strange to part of the population of the United States and appear now in the programmes and slogans of the far-right, so tolerated by the Trump administration.
There is little new, then, on the United States’ social and political scene. Fortunately, xenophobia and especially racism are rejected by ever-larger sections of the population. However, Trump, despite his defeat, obtained several million more votes this time than in the previous election.
But the Democratic advances are not sufficient to diminish the effective power of the right in the institutions.
Putting too much trust in Biden is just an illusion.