Although I am fiercely opposed to Donald Trump's immigration policies, I do not think he is an American version of a fascist dictator. Rather, I see him as the latest version of a long line of Nativist politicians, going back to the 1830's, who have used fears of immigrants and outsiders to advance their political careers. Their targets over the years have varied, starting with Irish Catholics in the early 19th Century, moving on to Asians, Italians, Jews and Eastern Europeans. In almost every instance, their words have coincided with acts of violence against targeted groups, ranging from burning of churches and convents, to expulsion of entire communities from towns and cities ( directed against Chinese residents the American West in late 19th Century) to the revival of the Ku Klux Klan as an anti-immigrant group after WWI. This is my concern about Mr. Trump's rhetoric. It has the potential to turn large groups of Americans against one another, leading to violent conflicts at public events, pitting neighbor against neighbor. This is not something new to American history It has happened before, many times. It left scars, some recent, some more ancient, on almost everyone living in the Brooklyn neighborhood I grew up in, where the vast majority of the people were Jewish, Italian, Irish and Black. I do not wish to see these wounds open again.
I am hoping against hope that when Mr Trump becomes the Republican presidential candidate, he will de-emphasize racially and religiously targeted attacks on immigrants. If he doesn't. we are about to head down a very dangerous road, one which we have traveled before, always with the most painful consequences..