History Repeating Itself: Xenophobia in Political Discourse

With mere­ly one week until Elec­tion Day, it seems like can­di­date stump speech­es, pun­dit com­men­tary, and the vol­ley of talk­ing points from all sides are every­where you turn. And if you’re any­thing like me, you’re trans­fixed to cable news and media analy­sis about what’s been hap­pen­ing on the cam­paign trail.

Here at SAALT, we’ve been keep­ing a spe­cial eye on what’s being said in this high­ly-charged polit­i­cal atmos­phere par­tic­u­lar­ly as it relates to the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty. In recent years, we’ve unfor­tu­nate­ly wit­nessed a spate of xeno­pho­bic com­ments being made against our com­mu­ni­ty with­in polit­i­cal dis­course. Such rhetoric has emerged in var­i­ous forms, includ­ing chal­leng­ing the loy­al­ty of those who are or per­ceived to be Mus­lim. Sad­ly, this hear­kens back to the sen­ti­ments and actions that led to bias and dis­crim­i­na­tion against South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties in the after­math of 9/11 and raise con­cerns about the over­all envi­ron­ment lead­ing up to elec­tion. We encour­age the com­mu­ni­ty to remain vig­i­lant about such rhetoric.

Be sure to check out SAALT’s three-part toolk­it on xeno­pho­bia in polit­i­cal dis­course, which includes com­ments made by polit­i­cal fig­ures against the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, remarks made against South Asian can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office, and tips on how com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers can respond to such rhetoric, which have been fea­tured by UC Davis Law Pro­fes­sor Bill O. Hing over at Immi­gra­tionProf­Blog.