Sunday, December 8, 2019 -
Print Edition

Nativism

Confession: I haven’t watched one minute of the impeachment proceedings. I’m old enough to remember the last impeachment and I figure I’ve given enough hours of my life to such a spectacle. 

But I don’t need to watch the proceedings to know that the treatment by some of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is a new low point in American political discourse. 

Or perhaps a return to a previous low point, specifically the mid- to-late 19th and early 20th centuries, when nativism was a major force in this country. It spurred, at various points, every- thing from the formation of political parties to the Ku Klux Klan. 

To recap: Vindman immigrated with his family to the US from the Soviet Union. He was naturalized as a US citizen and pursued a stellar military career that led him to the upper echelons of the National Security establishment. 

This type of trajectory should shape the Vindman narrative as the epitome of an immigrant success story. 

Yet, some opt instead to cast aspersions. Most notably, the charge of dual loyalty. This is in shockingly bad form considering this man’s military rank. What would it say about the national security establishment if it couldn’t properly vet its own high-ranking officers? 

Vindman originates from a coun- try where Jews were exiled, enslaved and executed because of accusations of dual loyalty. One would hope America is better than that. I still believe it is. 

If you dispute Vindman on the facts, fine. But to launch xenophobic ad hominem attacks on a per- son who has served his country loyally for decades is repugnant. 

Jews have been the target of nativist attitudes. So have Germans, Catholics, Chinese, Southern Euro- peans, Eastern Europeans, et cetera. No ethnic group is safe from nativism. That is why nativism is an attitude that should offend every American. 

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News



Shana Goldberg

IJN Assistant Publisher | shana@ijn.com


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