In yet another cabinet shakeup, President Donald Trump forced out Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen for objecting to the President’s demand to continue the forced separation of immigrant children from their families.
The president’s move signals that he is planning an even more hardline approach to cracking down on immigration at the border. Raw Story spoke with psychologist Kevin Washington, PhD, about how Trump’s obsession with non-white immigrants amounts to the advancement of global white supremacy.
Kevin Washington, PhD, is the Immediate Past President of the Association of Black Psychologists and is Head of the Sociology and Psychology Department at Grambling State University. As the founder of Ubuntu Psychotherapy, he advances a culturally sensitive modality for mental health counseling. He contributed his understanding of the cultural and historical trauma of entire peoples to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Professionals Assess a President,” edited by Bandy X. Lee and released last month alongside a major, interdisciplinary conference on presidential fitness in Washington, DC (dangerouscase.org).
Raw Story: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign because she was seen as not tough enough on immigrants and refugees, despite Nielsen being the public face of the administration’s child separation policy. Why would Donald Trump go further on this already contentious issue?
Kevin Washington: The dynamics that surround Donald Trump and his staff is an unending saga. Almost weekly there is someone either resigning, being reassigned or being fired from his incomplete staff.
It appears that Kirstjen Nielsen had a breaking moment with Trump around family separation. This resistance was met with Trump stating that she was not tough enough on immigrants. This can be most unnerving considering how difficult she has made life for immigrants coming from the south of the U.S. border. She has supported the horrific treatment of the immigrants detained at the border. Moreover, she’s facilitated the painful separation of children from their parents in the detainment centers that are more reminiscent of a prison. So, to consider that Trump wants to go in a tougher direction is alarming.
Raw Story: He seems obsessed with cracking down on immigration. What about his personality do you think draws him to this issue?
Kevin Washington: The position that he is taking is consistent with a person who has an extremely narcissistic way of relating in the world. Initially, he wanted Nielson to make decisions that he appeared hesitant to take. Self-serving individuals will sacrifice others in order to make themselves look good. Nielson resists, then it becomes convenient to say he wants to be tougher on the border patrol efforts as he is seeking to gain support for the building of a wall. The wall is a physical manifestation of global white supremacy ideology.
Raw Story: What kind of cultural effect is he having on his followers, and on the nation?
Kevin Washington: It can be said that no U.S. president has overtly advanced the cause of global white supremacy and terrorism than the 45th president of the U.S. It is not that the 45th U.S. president has been a stronger advocate for racism, for racial ideology is woven into the fabric of U.S. and Western culture, and thus one would be hard pressed not find a U.S. president who did not advance radicalized views either consciously or subconsciously throughout the history of the country.
However, it can be stated that the 45th U.S. president has most enthusiastically espoused racial rhetoric that has resonated with those who closely or even loosely identify with the notion that those known as white are far superior than all others that are non-white. He has advocated the dehumanizing, marginalizing and disenfranchising immigrants and African Americans.
The treatment of Mexicans and others from Central or South America is very similar to the physical enslavement of Africans. African families were separated while being detained in shanty houses. There was little regard for enslaved Africans’ safety while they were being detained just as these current immigrants south of the U.S. border are encountering. The language of moving in a tougher direction, with regards to the treatment of immigrants, is harrowing as it seems to give white supremacist ideology free reign to grossly disrupt the lives of these immigrants. This entire process is a violent campaign of targeting immigrants and other marginalized racial, ethnic and cultural groups.
Raw Story: What dangers do you see in this even more hardline approach?
Kevin Washington: The hardline approach that Trump takes exacerbates the psychic trauma encountered by non-white populations while at the time emboldens those holding racist views. Additionally, it further frustrates relations between racial, cultural and linguistic groups and those classified as whites. Populations that have encountered generations of white terrorism see this as an indication that the terroristic acts will not cease anytime soon. It supports those who hold negative views about diverse populations and their desire act aggressively against diverse peoples. This approach promises to set a storm of assaults against non-white people. A call for healing is needed.