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What’s your attitude to immigrants and refugees? It may depend on where you live

Dr Timothy B. Gravelle and Tamas Wells

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump initiated his “zero tolerance” policy – detaining and prosecuting anyone who illegally enters the United States. The result, according to Human Rights Watch, was that more than 2000 immigrant children were separated from their parents.

After national and international outcry from the public and politicians, Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the separations, but a month later announced that he intended to end birthright citizenship – the principle that every child born on US soil is automatically a native-born citizen.

Political parties and the public are divided over attitudes towards immigrants and refugees in countries like Australia, the United States and Canada. Picture: Getty Images

These developments, alongside the US Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Trump’s travel ban which again brought with it global protest, maintains the position of border security and illegal immigration as one of the most divisive issues of our time.

The same is true here in Australia. It is clear to see in the government’s policy to detain refugees and asylum seekers in much-criticised and “life-threatening” conditions on Nauru and Manus Island.

Trump’s zero tolerance policy that led to parent and child separations, is mirrored by some of our own government’s policies, including the recent decision to settle children from detention in Australia, but only temporarily.

In countries like Australia, the United States, and Canada, political parties and the public remain sharply and vocally divided over attitudes toward immigrants and refugees.

But what influences these diverging attitudes toward immigration, refugee and asylum seeker policy? And what factors contribute to whether someone is open to, or opposed to, integrating ‘outsiders’?

It turns out that where we live plays a key role.

A PERCEIVED THREAT

Recent surveys conducted around the time of federal election campaigns in both Canada and Australia, reveal a range of factors associated with open or closed attitudes to immigrants and refugees.

Some of these are common sense. For example, political party affiliation is important – if you identify with a Conservative party in Canada or the Liberal Party in Australia then you are far more likely to oppose higher immigration and refugee intake.

People who live in diverse neighbourhoods are often more likely to support open immigration or refugee policy. Picture: Getty Images

Perception of threat also matters.

This can come in two forms – the economic threat of immigrants or refugees competing for jobs, and cultural threat, with anxiety over the implications for national values, identity, and culture.

In Canada and Australia, both of these are important in shaping attitudes. The greater the perceived danger of losing your job or your identity, the more likely you are to be wary of immigrants or refugees.

The diversity of your neighbourhood matters too, but not always.

We might assume that the more experience you have with immigrants and refugees in your local neighbourhood, the more economic or cultural threat you might perceive, the more closed your attitudes will be.

But what we find is the opposite.

DIVERSE NEIGHBOURHOODS

In both Canada and Australia, people who live in diverse neighbourhoods are more likely to support open immigration or refugee policy. The corollary is that if you live in an area with a smaller proportion of immigrants and refugees, you are more likely to have closed attitudes toward any newcomers.

This is not always the case though.

It’s also to some degree dependent on your political party identification. In Australia, new research shows that if you identify with the Liberal party then it doesn’t matter very much whether you are in a diverse neighbourhood or not, you are likely to have closed attitudes to immigrants and refugees.

In Australia, if you identify with the Liberal party, you are likely to have closed attitudes to immigrants and refugees. Picture: Getty Images

This differs for Labor voters, whose likelihood to have more open attitudes to refugees correlates with the percentage of immigrants and refugees living in their neighbourhood.

CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS

On the Australian side, the research draws on data from the Australian Election Study (AES) from 2010, 2013 and 2016 with between 2000 and 4000 respondents each year.

The AES is conducted as a post-election mail survey of the Australian voting-age population. The restricted datasets (containing respondent postcodes) were obtained from the Australian Data Archive.

These data allow us to link Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to survey respondents, and so we’re able to measure not only the size of the foreign-born population in those neighbourhoods, but also how the foreign-born population has changed over time.

The Canadian data is from the Focus Canada study conducted in June 2015 (in the period leading up to the 2015 federal election) by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, involving over 2000 respondents in all 10 provinces.

The Environics Institute provided the survey data with postal codes and city names, allowing us to make the same link between the survey data and estimates of the local foreign-born population taken from the CensusPlus database created by Environics Analytics.

OPEN AND CLOSED ATTITUDES

So, if you vote Conservative (in Canada) or Liberal (in Australia) and perceive economic or cultural threat from outsiders, then you will be more likely to have closed attitudes to immigrants and refugees.

The Australian Government’s policy of offshore detention has received significant criticism. Picture: Getty Images

Living in a context with a high concentration of immigrants doesn’t lead people to a greater perception of threat, in fact, the more that people live in the midst of cultural diversity, the more likely they are to hold open attitudes.

Still, reflecting our politically polarised world, political party identification can override all of this.

For some, the perception of economic or cultural threat from outsiders matters more than the actual threat posed. Some attitudes are impervious to experience.

This data provides us with a snapshot, and an insight, into the diverse range of views in both Australia and Canada when it comes to the politically fraught issue of immigration.

This research was funded in part by The Policy Lab at the University of Melbourne.

Banner image: Getty Images

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0 AU)

This article was first published on Pursuit. Read the original article.

 

Local real estate agent introducing novel solution to Nhulunbuy’s housing crisis

Local real estate agent, the eternally puissant Annabelline Stealmore-Lifeblood is set to introduce an innovative approach to the town’s perennial housing crisis – a Thunderdome in which residents do battle for an affordable home.

The Thunderdome, to be built on the outskirts of Nhulunbuy by yet another interstate construction firm promising local training and jobs, will be governed by one simple rule – ‘two enter, one leaves…with an asbestos-free* (*conditions apply), Rio-owned unit of your choice’.

It is expected that Imparja will secure the rights to broadcast live Thunderdome contests and also a lucrative Saturday night highlights package.

“There’s nothing I like more than watching impoverished plebs batter each other into submission for my personal entertainment,” said one well-to-do local who asked to remain anonymous.

Mel knows the lengths one must go to secure affordable housing in Gove

Some employees from sectors other than mining and government were dubious of the plan.

“Right, so it’s not enough that I have to take out a mortgage to fly in and out of my hometown, that I have to wait 6 weeks for Winellie to regurgitate my mail or that my career prospects are dependent on my ability to look enthusiastic when I hear ‘clean-up on aisle 3′,” said young a young local who also asked to remain anonymous.

“Now the only way I can secure sensibly priced housing is through brutal voyeuristic combat.”

“The region’s decision-makers couldn’t show me any more contempt if one of them came ’round and shat on my dining room table.”

It is understood that DEAL may have once toyed with the idea of offering a small number of sensibly-priced units to local residents who expressed a desire to remain in the region post-curtailment, and continue to plow their below average wages into the local economy, but as that would likely infuriate the region’s plutocracy and particularly real estate agents and their alleged burgeoning list of businesses falling over each other to relocate to the region, it was decided that the Thunderdome plan was slightly less stupid.

Nhulunbuy and the future of a remote township: an open letter to State Capitalism

Dear State Capitalism,

You are sneaky and very shit. I knew this already, of course, but have recently learned it anew in my concern for the future of a certain remote township in North East Arnhem Land. It is everywhere and always implied that the State imposes taxes on citizens so that the government might provide them with services. This is a catchy tune. The Australian constitution certainly implies this – that people pay taxes so that the government can ‘perform all of its functions’, or something to that effect. However, this is not – and has never been – the case. I want to tell you a bit about the history and import of Nhulunbuy.

The historical relationship between Yolŋu people and mining in North East Arnhem Land has been of National significance and formative in terms of the nature of such intercultural engagement, policy and legislation. It was the excision of land from the then Aboriginal Reserve for the purposes of a mining lease and the subsequent Gove Land Rights Case (Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd, (1971)), instigated by the Yirrkala Bark Petition, which eventually laid the foundation for the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 (as a result of the Woodward Commission). More specifically, it was the Yolŋu response to the excision and the decisive action taken by Yolŋu people which forged new and innovative intercultural possibilities in their engagement with their ‘supporters’ (predominantly Methodist Missionaries), as well as the Federal Government and the Courts, in their determination to have their system of land tenure and rights over their estate recognised by the State and Federal Governments and the Australian legal system.[1]

Despite initial opposition[2] to the excision and the lease commitment to build a mine, a port facility and a township the presence of Rio-Alcan has become a part of everyday life in the region. Nhulunbuy township is an important hub of service provision (including local government, health, education and training) and a valued market enclave (with shopping centres, banks, taxi businesses, restaurants, bars etcetera) in one of the most remote areas or regions in Australia. Yolŋu people and communities now rely upon Nhulunbuy in many and various ways and Yolŋu residents have become accustomed to living in close proximity to an ‘around the clock’ industrial-estate-cum-township with all its conveniences and trappings. Yolŋu Traditional Owners have also actively sought to engage and negotiate with mining companies in the region.

May 2011 saw the signing of the Gove Traditional Owners Agreement between Rio Tinto Alcan [Rio-Alcan] and Yolŋu Traditional Owners. President and chief executive officer Rio Tinto Alcan bauxite and alumina Pat Fiore paid tribute to the work of Gumatj elder Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Rirratjingu elder Bakamumu Marika in securing an agreement, and said at the time: “This agreement is living proof of the great long-term benefits that can be secured when mining companies and Traditional Owners work together in good faith for a common purpose”. The deal was reputedly worth between $15 and $18 million per annum to Yolŋu Traditional Owners until 2053.

In November 2013, however, after failed negotiations with Federal and Northern Territory Government over the construction of a gas pipeline, Rio-Alcan announced that they would be closing the Gove aluminium refinery. Media coverage has focused on the loss of over 1000 jobs at the plant with only 350 left in mining, the flow-on effects on the mainly Balanda (white, European) township of Nhulunbuy, the negative impact on the regional economy and the anticipated collapsed value of the township real estate market. However, as Altman points out, there has been little discussion about how the closure will affect Yolŋu people and communities in the region. Altman suggests that the closure is ‘not necessarily a bad outcome for the Yolŋu people’, but I would hesitate to suggest otherwise. Census data may show that ‘there have been few employment benefits to the region, [with] only a handful of Yolŋu from the townships of Yirrkala and Gunyanarra and from homelands in the region actually work[ing] for Rio Tinto Alcan’ (Altman 2014), but social and economic relations are far more complex and enmeshed on the ground.

Nhulunbuy is a purpose built township situated on leasehold land within the boundaries of Aboriginal freehold land. It was established by the former owner of Alcan Gove [Nabalco] to accommodate and support staff involved in the operation of the bauxite mine near Yirrkala (~20km from Nhulunbuy) as well as the alumina refinery at Gove. It has a population of approximately 4,000 people, the majority of whom are non-Indigenous people. It is the fourth largest town in the Northern Territory and the service and administrative centre of the region. Capital, like magic, creates things.

The economy of the entire Gove Peninsula is centred around the mine and refinery. The Gove operation spends more than $300 million annually on local goods and suppliers, with approximately 1400 employees and contractors. The closure of the Gove refinery will mean the loss of 1100 jobs and almost 25% of the town’s population.

With the loss of $300 million annually from the local economy it is likely that small business will find it very difficult to survive. The shopping centres, clothes stores, video stores, sport and recreation stores, taxi businesses, restaurants, mechanics, cafes, bars, etcetera – many of them will close and their owners and staff leave town. The are many and various other features of this modern industrial township – the sports ground, the golf course, the yacht club, public swimming pool, fishing club, surf-lifesaving club, the speedway, the skate park – that may not survive. Daily Qantas flights to Darwin and Cairns, which connect this remote township to the larger centres, have already been cancelled.

With such a dramatic fall in the population of the township it is also likely that the delivery of services will be significantly wound back or deemed unviable. This will affect health, education, training and social welfare – the hospital, the schools, the TAFE centre, the Centrelink office. Staffing numbers will likely be reduced at the Shire Council, the police station and the local Court, which will affect service and capacity in these areas also. There are also questions surrounding the future of housing and infrastructure and the legal status of the township lease, situated as it is, within the boundaries of Aboriginal Freehold land.

Yolŋu people from across NE Arnhem land depend upon Nhulunbuy for their consumer needs including food, alcohol, tobacco, consumer goods, vehicle maintenance and banking needs among other things. They also depend upon Nhulunbuy as a service and administrative centre, for health, training, social welfare, licensing, policing and legal services, among other things. What will the impacts and effects be if they can no longer access these goods and services in Nhulunbuy? Will they have to travel to another town or centre to access them? Will the loss of access to these basics affect people’s health and well-being? If they have to travel elsewhere to access these things might this affect other aspects of their lives?

Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala and surrounds has also become a nationally significant site or hub of intercultural relations, politics and brokerage. It has seen the establishment of a number of influential intercultural organisations such as the Dhimurru Rangers, Yothu Yindi Foundation, etcetera, and events like the annual Garma Festival which attracts prominent politicians, including the Prime Minister, and social figures from across Australia every year. How will the closure affect organisations such as Dhimurru and events such as the Garma Festival? Or don’t we care?

‘Nowadays,’ writes Graeber, ‘we all think we know the answer to this question. We pay our taxes so that the government can provide us with services. This starts with security services-military protection being, often, about the only service some early states were really able to provide. By now, of course, the government provides all sorts of things. All of this is said to go back to some sort of original “social contract” that everyone somehow agreed on, though no one really knows exactly when or by whom, or why we should be bound by the decisions of distant ancestors on this one matter when we don’t feel particularly bound by the decisions of our distant ancestors on anything else. All of this makes sense if you assume that markets come before governments, but the whole argument totters quickly once you realize that they don’t’ (2011:55).

What is the responsibility of the State or Federal Governments in this situation? Whose responsibility is it to maintain the service and administrative centre in the region? When capital withdraws so too, apparently, does any sense of social responsibility on the part of the Government toward its citizens. Rio Tinto has announced a ‘rescue package‘ to help locals when it closes the alumina refinery, so where is the government rescue package to provide basic services for its citizens?

Please reply.

K thnx bai,

Bree.

p.s. What the **** do you do with all that money if it’s not to provide basic services for tax paying citizens?! Oh.

 

[1] We have seen similar unified, organised, determined and innovative responses from Yolŋu people in their engagement with the Native Title process. (See, for example, Morphy, F. ‘Performing law: The Yolngu of Blue Mud Bay meet the native title process’ in D. Fay and D. James (eds), The Rights and Wrongs of Land Restitution: ‘Restoring What Was Ours’, Routledge-Cavendish, Abingdon, pp. 99-122.)

[2] See ‘Nancy Williams, 1986, The Yolngu and Their Land: A System of Land Tenure and the Fight for Its Recognition, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, Canberra.’

 

This work by Bree Blakeman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Tenant Thinks Real Estate Agent Will Return Deposit

A MAN believes he is going to get his deposit back from a local real estate agent.

Julian Cook plans to move in the coming weeks and told friends he will use part of his returned deposit towards a house-warming party.

Man looking at his empty leather wallet in office.

Cook said: “Once my agent gives me my $2500 and my kidney back, no questions asked and without any attempt to try and keep them for even the smallest stain, then I’ll be good to go.”

“Sure, the apartment’s had a few knocks since I moved in but that’s just normal wear and tear, there’s no way the landlord will try and make out like I’ve somehow betrayed her trust just by living in it. That would be unfair.”

Real estate agent, The Eternally Puissant Annabelline Stealmore-Lifeblood said: “Of course I’m going to return his deposit, just like I definitely put it into that protected no interest deposit scheme thing in the first place. Just like I addressed the numerous issues with the property in a timely and courteous manner without claiming it was the tenant’s responsibility.”

“I am a real estate agent after all. We’re known for being easygoing, likeable people who are more concerned with helping others than getting our hands on their cash.”

Cook’s friend Emma Bradford said: “Maybe there’s a gas leak in the flat and it’s messing with his brain.”

Mark Zuckerberg to give everyone $1000 to stop sharing stupid Facebook hoaxes

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised every Facebook user $1,000, but only if everyone stops sharing stupid hoaxes on his social network.

The move comes after timelines have become inundated with ridiculous claims being shared by people stupid enough to think they could get a lot of money for doing literally nothing but sharing a Facebook post, or to believe their account is at risk of hacking because somebody cloned them.

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World politics explainer: the Iranian Revolution

To understand what caused the Iranian Revolution, we must first consider the ongoing conflict between proponents of secular versus Islamic models of governance in Muslim societies.

It all began with the British colonisation of India in 1858, which precipitated the collapse of classic Islamic civilisation. By early 20th century, almost the entire Muslim world was colonised by European powers.

Read More

Neighbourhood noise

What is music to your ears may just be noise to your neighbour. Try to make sure that your activities at home do not become a nuisance to others by showing them some consideration. Here are some things you can do to keep the peace in your neighbourhood:

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World politics explainer: the assassination of John F. Kennedy

Lloyd Cox, Macquarie University

This is the third in our series of explainers on key moments in the past 100 years of world political history. In it, our authors examine how and why an event unfolded, its impact at the time, and its relevance to politics today. You can read parts one and two here.


At precisely 1pm on November 22, 1963, the 35th president of the United States was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital Trauma Room 1 in Dallas, Texas.

John F Kennedy’s personal physician stated the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. This was officially announced to a stunned public half an hour later. The shock waves of the president’s assassination, the fourth in US history, continue to reverberate today.

What happened?

While the events of that day have been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories, the basic facts are now widely accepted. The president’s motorcade was making its way through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas when, five minutes from its destination, three shots rang out from behind and above the presidential limousine.

Two of those shots found their mark, with the second being fatal. Texas’s Democratic governor, John Connally, who was seated immediately in front of the president, was also hit, though he would recover from his injuries.

Kennedy funeral procession, November 1963.
JFK Library/Wikicommons

Seventy minutes after the attack, Dallas police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, a former US marine who had spent three years in the Soviet Union. However, before Oswald could be properly questioned on his motives, less than 48 hours after the assassination of the president, Oswald himself was also dead.

He was gunned down on live television by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner with links to organised crime. This inspired generations of conspiracy theorists for whom the Kennedy assassination was an expression of unidentified malevolent forces threatening the United States.

The impact of the assassination – speculations about a second gunman?

One of the most ubiquitous and apparently plausible of the conspiracy theories floating around was that there was a second gunman, and that both he and Oswald were part of a wider circle of conspirators.

Despite the Warren Commission, which had been set up by new President Lyndon Johnson to investigate Kennedy’s murder, stating in September 1964 that Oswald was a “lone gunman” and was not part of any domestic or international conspiracy, this conclusion was not widely accepted until the mid 1970s.

Several developments that cast doubt on the lone gunman thesis include a Senate Select Committee established to investigate “Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities” in 1975. It asserted that investigations of the assassination by both the FBI and CIA had been deficient, and that some fundamental evidence had not been forwarded to the original Warren Commission.

Furthermore, Abraham Zapruder’s now famous 26-second silent home movie of the killing was also released to public scrutiny in 1975.

Warning: the video below contains graphic imagery

The heavily scrutinised final moments of Kennedy’s life.

To the untrained eye, the film seems to show that the fatal second shot came from the front of the president’s car. His head snaps back and bodily matter is projected to the rear. Viewed in conjunction with conclusions from the Senate and House Committees, this was presumed by many to validate the claim that a second shooter had fired from the infamous “grassy knoll” to the right and front of the presidential cavalcade.

Subsequently, the theory that a second assassin fired a fourth shot was conclusively falsified. The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) had acquired a police radio channel dicta belt recording of a motorcycle officer who had been part of the cavalcade. When this evidence was reexamined by independent acoustic research experts, they unanimously agreed that the apparent fourth shot was not a shot at all.

Similarly, after reviewing the evidence, ballistic, forensic and medical experts have repeatedly drawn the conclusion that the entry and exit wounds on the president were consistent with having been shot from the rear rather than the front.

So we can conclude with a very high degree of certainty that Oswald was the sole gunman who shot Kennedy. But it does not follow that the conception and planning of the assassination was that of Oswald’s alone.

The JFK Act

As a result of renewed interest generated by the Oliver Stone film, JFK, Congress passed the JFK Act in 1992. This led to the public release of over 4 million pages of documents pertaining to the assassination.

It was on the basis of an exhaustive analysis of this material, in conjunction with all of the earlier government reports and secondary literature, that David Kaiser published the first book about the assassination written by a professional historian with all of the archival evidence available to him.

The Road to Dallas: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy cites archival evidence that firmly links Oswald to a network of organised crime figures, anti-Castro Cubans and far-right political activists, all of whom had motives for wanting the president dead. While its conclusions are not watertight, the book’s judicious judgements provide the most compelling account yet that Oswald acted as part of a broader conspiracy.

Kaiser’s essential argument is that a cabal of organised crime figures and anti-Castro Cuban exiles most likely recruited Oswald to be the trigger man in an attempt on the president’s life.

The interests of organised crime figures, many of whom had had commercial operations in Cuba disrupted by the revolution, coincided with those of wealthy anti-Castro Cubans who had been exiled to the United States.

Robert (left), Ted and John Kennedy posing for a photo together.
Wikicommons

Both groups were profoundly hostile to Kennedy and his brother, Attorney-General Robert Kennedy. Their administration had not only failed to invade Cuba and restore mob and Cuban private property, it had also waged a relentless campaign against particular organised crime figures.

There is solid evidence that Oswald had direct or indirect contact with at least two such figures, while also being in contact with a wider group of anti-Castro activists.

Kaiser surmises that the overlapping networks of mobsters and Cuban exiles hoped that the assassination of Kennedy, for which Oswald would be paid handsomely, would provoke a US invasion of Cuba and the restoration of their private property and commercial operations.

This, of course, did not happen. Instead, there was a very different set of short and long term consequences.

Contemporary relevance

In the short term, the new president, Johnson, seized the opportunity offered by a nation’s grief to crush the Republican challenge at the 1964 election. He used that result as a mandate to vigorously pursue his liberal, Great Society programme and civil rights agenda, which greatly expanded the role of government and advanced the rights of African-Americans and other ethnic minorities.

Longer term, it was Johnson’s liberal programme that provoked a conservative, white backlash that would gather strength under the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office as Jacqueline Kennedy looks on.
Wikicommons

In the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections, Nixon adopted his infamous “Southern strategy”. It deployed the coded racial language of “states’ rights” to split away white southerners from the Democratic Party whom they had traditionally supported.

Nixon’s law and order rhetoric simultaneously appealed to the anxieties of what he claimed was a “silent majority”, who had been shaken by urban turmoil and the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. Respectable fears and the politics of race converged with paranoia stoked by conspiracy theories involving all of these assassinations.

This white backlash and the realignment of many white working and middle class Americans to the Republican Party accelerated in the 1980s under President Reagan, and was consummated in the 2000s during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

A significant sub-section of white America could not reconcile themselves to the legitimacy of a black president after 2008. This expressed itself in the “birther” backlash against Obama, and the generalised hatred that greeted the new president from the political right.

It is that same backlash, albeit taking new forms, that we today witness in the strange spectacle of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Trump had been a central protagonist in the birther controversy, and has consistently played on race-based fears and prejudice to energise his supporters.

Where once Nixon and Reagan spoke in the coded racial language of states’ rights, Trump now speaks in the forthright language of stopping Muslim immigration, kicking out Mexican murderers and rapists, and building walls between us and them.

The vindictive, emotional politics of fear and rage is his standard currency. He has concentrated in his rhetoric and actions the most noxious elements of American politics in the half century that has passed since Kennedy’s untimely death.

The political reverberations of the Kennedy assassination, then, continue to be felt in all sorts of unlikely ways.

The paranoid, racialised and faux anti-elitist politics of the American right did not begin with the backlash against Kennedy and his administration. But his presidency and assassination, and the anxious political forces it set in motion, are an important milestone in their development. The American right today, with Trump as its figurehead, is the direct political descendant of this dark chapter in American history.The Conversation

Lloyd Cox, Lecturer, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.