Rhetoric and the Creation of Hysteria
The anti-immigrant tenor of the debate leading to the need for a wall, the frustrations relating to it, and its resulting political opportunism are not limited to the United States. Throughout the Western Hemisphere and Europe, political leaders are using similar rhetoric of the immigrant “other” in order to rally the base, deflect criticism, and distract public opinion. This article examines this political phenomenon in the twenty-first century by comparatively evaluating the cases of the United States, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile—five democratic nations in the Western Hemisphere in which immigration became a major issue and immigrants are routinely scapegoated by those in power. In doing so, this article answers the following questions. First, why has immigration become a major campaign and policy issue in these countries since the turn of the century? Second, how and why have these nation-states responded to the perceived ills of immigration by enacting laws and policies designed to curb it and deal with existing immigrants? Third, how have populist politicians exploited xenophobia for political gain and—in doing so—have fueled ultra-nationalism across the hemisphere? And fourth, what has been the role of the United States (as the region’s hegemon) in promoting and/or abetting these anti-immigration policies?
Ediberto Roman, Rhetoric and the Creation of Hysteria, 107 Cornell L. Rev. Online 188 (2022) (with Ernesto Sagas)