Virus as Vehicle: How COVID-19 Advances Trump’s White Supremacy Plans

The physical paralysis of the present has fostered a flourishing of discussions about the future. As conservatives hanker for a pre-pandemic past, progressives have reached a consensus that the old normal was what made so many people vulnerable; the pandemic revealed just how lethal social inequality can be. The web is abuzz with debates on what the new normal should look like and how to get there. The pause has made us think about the world we want and dare to believe that we can get there.

But there is also at least some recognition--not enough--that we cannot expect an AHA! moment of historic paradigm shift. The pandemic in itself will not rip off capitalism’s guise of inevitability to give rise to a more caring, sustainable society with human values at the core. This is not the time when, after pining in confinement, the human race realizes the error of its ways and eventually emerges holding hands and singing on a daisy-covered hillside.

That’s not going to happen. What we’re facing is the battle of our lifetimes. The rightwing in many ways is better poised to seize this moment than we are, and it has made huge strides in the few months of the crisis so far. For the Trump administration, the first agenda to push on a demobilized society has been--you guessed it—the white supremacist crackdown on immigrants of color.

There’s no need for a conspiracy theory here. The sequence of policy attacks on the immigrant community since the pandemic began tells its own story, backed up by Tweets and White House statements. What’s important to remember is that although obscure laws and scrambled explanations regarding public health have been used to justify the attacks, they have no scientific application whatsoever. The anti-immigrant offensive began far before the pandemic—the coronavirus just cranked it up a notch.

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Laura Carlsen is the director of the Americas Program in Mexico City and advisor to Just Associates (JASS) .

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