What is the first thing you think of when you think of New Jersey? Is it the beaches? The food like disco fries and porkroll? Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi? How about the unrelenting xenophobia and jingoism? Well all them are a piece of what New Jersey is about.
While no state is immune from their history, being from New Jersey where there is this assumption that the only bigotry comes from the south, that must be shown as false. New Jersey residents like to pretend that they are progressive simply because we grew up without the segregation from the south. While that is somewhat true, structural violence caused by capitalism has still kept NJ cities segregated economically. Newark, Irvington, and Trenton, are some of the more well known socioeconomicaly affected areas.
But even in a small town like Cliffwood in Monmouth County you see the socioeconomic segregation thanks to the proverbial other side of the train tracks that goes through County Rd in Cliffwood. One side is more economically and socially secure then the other side. That alone helps allow the lack of understanding when it comes to immigrants escaping economic strife in their homeland as you grew up accepting your neighbor’s burden on your block.
So it comes as no surprise when local radio station NJ101.5 asks whether or not it’s “about time” to deport those with temporary visas and the responses would make any dictatorship build on nationalism proud. You’d think you were transported to Birmingham Alabama in the 1950s.
Everything about these responses are horrifying. The fallacies of you must take care of our own not only reeks of white supremacist propaganda and Nazi Germany esq rhetoric, but it shows the hypocrisy of these people as the same ones upset that a non American family of 5 is on food stamps will be upset when an American family of 5 is. They don’t want to help people., they simply don’t want to help brown people and use a flag as an excuse.
The willingness of allowing a government, historically comprised of rich white cis men declaring who is legal and who isn’t, also is extremely worrisome. No human is illegal. Which brings up borders which are simply invisible lines in the sand, where one capitalistic regime ends and another begins. They exist to maintain and expand property while controlling who is allowed within, that is all.
So don’t allow any narrative that has the state of New Jersey and its residents on a pedestal of progression. While not all residents are jingoistic and oppressive, there’s too many that are. Too many family members, classmates, friends, and coworkers who are. And it’s past time we start holding them to a higher expectation.