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Un-American Activities

| August 20, 2016

trump rally

Warming up a Trump rally in Iowa. (Evan Guest)

If you’ve ever been to Vegas by air you’ve landed at McCarran Airport, named after one of the great nativists of the last century. Pat McCarran was a Democratic senator from Nevada from 1932 to 1954. He was Senator No before more recent Republicans co-opted the snarl as policy. McCarran didn’t like the New Deal. He didn’t like blacks. He hated Jews and refugees, preventing millions of them from reaching our shores during and after World War II. He particularly hated foreigners.

pierre tristam column flaglerlive Joe McCarthy, his red-baiting bromancer, just yelled and screamed to the cameras while flipping off the country from inside his breast pocket. McCarran had real power. He passed laws that changed the face of the country for nearly a generation, making it the fearful and cowardly America it became in the early 1950s under Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Two laws in particular: in 1950, he passed one that bears his name, the McCarran Internal Security Act, originally crafted, of course, by Richard Nixon. It required communist party members to register with the government, created a Subversive Activities board that investigated anyone suspected of anything vaguely anti-American, and barred “subversives,” whether American or not, from keeping or attaining citizenship, or from entering or leaving the country. The act also gave the government the power to detain or deport anyone just suspected of subversive activities, whatever those were. Back then you could be branded a subversive if you subscribed to certain magazines or spoke too generously of unions. Truman vetoed the law. Congress overrode him. Ellis Island in those years became a Guantanamo prequel, filled with indefinitely detained immigrants stripped of all rights. It would take the Supreme Court many years of constitutional disinfectant to clean up the more onerous slime of the McCarran Act.

Two years later McCarran passed another law that Truman vetoed and Congress overrode. That one all but closed the doors to legal immigration and widened the doors of deportation. Anyone seeking a visa whose ideological background was suspect could be denied. Didn’t matter what country that person came from, what religion, what color. It was equal-opportunity bigotry. McCarran didn’t want his America to be, in his words, “overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed.”

Sounds familiar? It should. Pat McCarran ghost-wrote Donald Trump’s “extreme vetting” speech, that seethe of fear and loathing he delivered this week from Youngstown, Ohio (which, by the way, Google identifies as the most racist region in America). If Trump got applause, it was mostly for sticking to his script, which until Trump had not been the most closely observed qualification for being commander in chief, though he went off script to deliver the most scabrous line of the speech: “I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme, vetting.” He actually referred to the McCarran laws without naming them then returned to his stew of fabrications along the lines of U.S. courts being handed over to Sharia law and the nation’s borders being welcome mats to terrorism.

It’s not as if a vetting process isn’t already in place. More than 100,000 applicants are denied visas every year. But you wouldn’t know that from Trump. Just as you wouldn’t know that most acts of terrorism on U.S. soil are the work of good old white American Christians who don’t know ISIS from their ass, but do know their way around assault weapons and ammunition primed by permissive laws and the kind of incitement to violence we’ve now been hearing in Trump speeches.

McCarran is the inspiration behind Trump’s obsession with Mexicans, too. In his last year among the living McCarran was a cheerleader of “Operation Wetback,” Eisenhower’s closest approximation of a Stalinist relocation program as Mexicans, alleged Mexicans and Mexican look-alikes were swept up and bulldozed back to Mexico, not always alive, in a time when words like “wetback” was in the everyday vocabulary of the president but words like “civil rights” were not.

Americans do come to their senses on occasion. There’s a movement in Nevada to remove McCarran’s name from the airport and other landmarks. Luckily for America, enough immigrants who’ve earned the right to vote will join less xenophobic native-borns in a few weeks to ensure that Trump’s name doesn’t appear anywhere beyond the odd building and casino he hasn’t yet bankrupted.

Luckily for Trump, he’s giving himself immunity from his own ideological test. Otherwise, he’d have to be deported.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.

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49 Responses for “Un-American Activities”

  1. Outsider says:

    This story is to Flagler Live what the drunk uncle is to a family reunion; putting up with him is the price you willingly pay to see the family members you really like.

  2. Lin says:

    3,000 Died 9/11 on American soil – al-Qaeda
    Boston bomber – Chechens
    Major Hasan Ft Hood shooter- anti-American American, son of Palestinians brought up Muslim
    San Bernadino shooting – American born of Pakistani parents and other shooter his Pakistan-born wife
    Orlando – Omar Mateen American-born to Afghani parents pledged allegiance to ISIS

    Yet the writer blames white Christians
    Mccarran, Trump, wetbacks, guns but no saying anything about radical Islamic terrorism. Denying the obvious is only circling the truth. And ISIS is now in 28 countries.

  3. Sherry says:

    Another very informative article, Pierre! I had no idea who McCarran was. Wow! It certainly appears that we have com now full circle with overt xenophobia and racism from politicians. I refuse to say “leaders” because they are nothing but cowards! I, for one, would encourage the residents of Nevada to rename that airport and any other place that celebrates the name McCarran.

    Code words like “politically correct”, “thugs”, “them”. . . are all words used sell mass discrimination and bigotry. . . too often ridden behind religious zealotry. As if any loving, compassionate “higher power” would condone such thinking or behavior. against any precious member of the human species.

    That is certainly NOT who Americans should be!

  4. Brian says:

    “Most acts of terrorism on U.S. soil are the work of white American Christians”. Maybe you could arrange a speaking engagement with the children, husbands and wives, and mothers and fathers of San Bernadino and Orlando to spout your pro-Muslim, anti-American point of view. If you really got the word out, maybe you could even attract some families of the 9/11 victims. You could inform everyone that the perpetrators of these acts are really from South Carolina and Alabama. Your desperation in the fact that Trump may actually win is really beginning to show through in your far-left blather.

  5. Tired of it says:

    Congress over rode them. That was the voice of the people speaking. The people that had just gone through the depression and WW II. Those people knew first hand what the results of a mass immigration of foreigners and subversives would do to our country. They were the Greatest Generation and probably the smartest. Look what had happened to our country with allowing anyone in. Those of us that have worked for a living and paid our taxes are on the hook for supporting lazy ass people that won’t get off their collective asses and work. Generations of them. My parents were immigrants back in the early 50’s as were many 10’s of thousands of others that came here.They came to this country, got jobs and were contributing members of society. Tell me what jobs the Obama immigrants are going to do. They are uneducated have no skills and will be nothing but a burden on our society for generations to come. We have enough headaches with what we already have here. You need to wake up and smell the coffee. You are out of touch with the crap you print.

  6. Debbie says:

    A good history lesson, though one seriously doubts Donald Trump knows anything at all about McCarran. And, I would quibble a bit with the article’s title “Un-American Activities.” I really think wth all of Trump’s pro-Russian talk, moneyed connections and Russia-involved campaign staff, he now deserves a more accurate title: Anti-American Activities.

  7. Veteran says:

    During the Cold War we extreme vetted to keep communists from entering the US. Now it’s Islamic extremists/terrorists. Nothing new. Just trying to keep us safe.

  8. Lt Crusher says:

    Ah, the good old days. I never called a Mexican a “wetback”. I refer to them as “BEANERS” !
    Prairie Dog won’t be satisfied until America is full of radical Islamic terrorist and 90% foreigners. He just doesn’t realize there is still a bigger majority or Patriots that will keep that from happening.

  9. Pierre Tristam says:

    I seem to have once again transgressed the evidence-free zone that is our splendid little community of flag-weavers [cq.]. Clearly, astrology will always have more fans than astronomy.

  10. Ws says:

    Oh Boy another story that reaks of liberal bias. I can’t wait until Trump is president.

  11. Mark says:

    “With the shooting that occurred in Orlando this past Sunday, and the discussion of placing a temporary ban on Muslims resurfacing, I thought it would be fitting to remind (or inform) everyone that this would not be the first time something like this occurred. And no, I’m not discussing when former President Carter placed a ban on Iranians.

    An investigative report from 2013 published by ABC News found that the Obama-Clinton State Department took a six-month hiatus from processing Iraqi refugee requests, a move not widely publicized by the media at the time.

    Yeah, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama were okay with a temporary ban on Muslims. That actually happened.

    That doesn’t seem to match up with the rhetoric, especially President Obama’s, on not taking in refugees and temporarily banning Muslims, now does it?” (MRC TV June 15, 2016)

  12. Mark says:

    Ever hear of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Chinese Exclusion Laws (upheld by the Supreme Court in 1889), the Immigration Act of 1917, or maybe the Presidential proclamations # 2525, 2526 & 2527? All these unAmerican activities by our leaders, shameful. Since when is it unAmerican to protect our country and it’s citizens? I am under the impression that that is the number 1 job of the President. it is the height of stupidity to invite trouble to our shores.

  13. BlueJammer says:

    Pierre, weren’t you the armpit fake fart kid in my third grade classroom? You always blew off a fake fart while the rest of us presumptuously waited for the stink. Glad to see you haven’t changed a bit.

  14. Barbara Kipnis says:

    FBI says there were 172 mass killings (over 4 victims) between 2006 and 2011. Remember Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, University of Texas, Columbine High School, Aurora Colorado. . . . . . . .All good ‘ol boys.

  15. r&r says:

    If you want UN AMERICAN how about the Clintons. Bill deserted the USA to Canada to burn his draft card like the coward he is and Hillary lied to congress and all of us. They both are a couple of con artists and belong in prison.

  16. Fredrick says:


    Paying 400 million for hostages and lying about it
    Being Secretary of state and “commingling” your job and your “charity”.
    Tell lie after lie after lie… that you can pass Obama care because if you told the truth there is no way in hell it would pass.
    Providing hand out after hand out / entitlements keeping people under your control instead of providing a hand up.
    Basically being a life long politician.

  17. Outsider says:

    Debbie, you seem to be overlooking the fact that Hillary allowed Russia to obtain the mining rights to 20% of the United States’ uranium ore in exchange for millions of dollars in “donations” to the Clintom Crime Foundation. Please try to keep up.

  18. Sherry says:

    Awww Pierre. . . remember, the rabid Trump supporters care nothing for facts or analogies or historical enlightenment. Many of them are exactly as ignorant and crude as those on this video:

  19. William Moya says:

    This piece begs the question “what is an American?”. Or to ask it in terms of the context here, is it
    Dalton Trumbo or Roy Cohn? The answer is both.
    I am reminded of and editorial by The Economist written on the eve of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn moving to the United States from Switzerland where he had been exiled, back in the 70’s. It was done was the high caliber and insight that this paper is known for and structure as a form of admonition: in American you would find the best and the worse of humanity. I did not place quotation marks on the previous phrase because I may be paraphrasing.
    Our history, our documents, the players in this drama rival or surpasses those in a Greek tragedy and are riddle with contradictions. The hyper patriotism that engulf us today is a desperate answer to escape and deny what is a spotty history. The cry of exceptionalism, the clinging to the flag, the repetition of the pledge of allegiance at just about any public event are symptomatic of the divisions in our country, this borders on dysfunctional behavior. Fortunately this happens in ethereal America i.e. political America, the real everyday America is doing very well, thank you, chugging right along,.Enjoying life, coping with setbacks, making and inventing new things that help us improve our lives and that of others, caring and helping our brothers and sisters traverse the labyrinth of life.

  20. Ron says:

    Pierre you are not a true patriot. You use our talents to work against our country. You have some pair calling Trump supporters unamerican. Where were you on 9/11? I was on the pile. In my profession we rush in to burning buildings and attempt to rescue trap civilians. We where not thinking about color, religion or race. We just did our jobs.

    You are the complete opposite. You are the unamerican.


    Trump, Las Vegas, fear and loathing, yet not one direct reference to Hunter S. Thompson. I don’t know whether to be impressed or disappointed.


    Maybe we should start referring to the Trump candidacy as Gonzo Politics.

  23. anon2 says:

    I distinctly remember the Oklahoma bombing carried out by white Christians. Less distinct, but not forgotten was the riot led by veterans of WWII against American citizens who came to hear an American Communist sing. The air was rife with anti Jewish slurs and large stones, not to mention the bats they used. I remember Senator Joe McCarthy waving his pages of paper around and screaming accusations against alleged Communists. I remember his hearings and the damage they did to innocent people.

    There are always gullible, ignoramus in every part of the world who harbor hatred towards others because of their religion, race, nationality, or ethnicity. The problem arises when an individual comes out of the woodwork and manages to,galvanize them into violent action.

    As Americans we have our Constitution, a remarkable document. Don’t shred it.

  24. Knightwatch says:

    I applaud Tristam. He pulls back America’s veil of civility and exposes the inbred racist and xenophobic fear and hatred that infects almost half the citizens of this country. These folks wave their flags, go to their churches, whisper in their clubs and hide behind their tolerant masks. Then, like Cicadas, they come out of hiding when someone like MacCarthy, or Wallace, or Nixon, or Trump rings the “populist” bell and awakens them. Then they chant and cheer and rant and hope their latest messiah will make things “great” again when real by-god Americans had the power and the “politically incorrect” will to exterminate native Americans, hang blacks, colonialize Africa and the Middle East, inter Japanese and enforce our white christain dominance over nature.

    If this so-called “silent majority” ever gains full control in this country, America will experience its own personal dark age, and all that we once stood for in the past, and all that we could achieve in the future, will become mere myth… another Camelot.

    Don’t do this America. The world needs us as we are, not as some Star Wars-like death star.

  25. Geezer says:

    I see that some of us long for the days of McCarthyism and Jim Crow.

  26. Pogo says:


    Your audience knows so little history they didn’t get the reference to in the article’s title.

    Anyway, trolls gonna troll. At long last – they DO have no decency.

    Good night, and good luck.

  27. Kathryn says:

    Nice racial slurs, everyone. Glad to see your support for the Latino community is at an astounding high. Are you kidding me?

  28. Debbie says:

    You can’t BE for Donald Trump and not BE LIKE the racist, xenophobe, bigot Donald Trump. You are who you hang out with.

  29. Geezer says:

    It’ll be a surprise if Trump is still a candidate come Election Day.
    His boat has sprung a large leak.

    Trump is shark chum.

  30. YankeeExPat says:

    Donald Trump goes to Louisiana flooding site, spends a minute handing out Play-Doh, leaves…/trump-disobeys-louisiana-governor-bravely-deliver-play-doh-flood-v…

    Play-Doh is manufactured in China.

  31. daveT says:

    For the author to call people at these rally’s or people that support Trump ” Un-American” is pure BS. The author never fought for this country and those that did have given you the author the right to write articles in a free society. If it wasn’t for a few great presidents we might be under some Hitler type of rule or even Communist rule and thank you to all of those Veterans for fighting for freedom. I’m not a Trump supporter (plus I’m a 17 year Vet) but insinuating that Trump supporters are UN-Americain well a lot of men and women that I do know that are Trump supporters and are military veterans, their choice and are as American as you can get and love this country. UN-Americain is a poor choice of words.

    Other than that, the article is pretty spot on. Your note about Visa’s. ” More than 100,000 applicants are denied visas every year.” but also take note, according to the US Visa site more than, 10,891,745 were issued in 2015.

  32. IMO says:

    If President Truman vetoed the this man MaCarran’s legislation but the Congress then overroide the veto how can any ecuated man make the statement “McCarran didn’t want his America to be, in his words, “overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed.”

    Reads more like like the Congress didn’t want their America to be, in his words, “overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed.”

  33. Marlee says:


    thank you, thank you for this reminder of our dark history.

    You know, I never imagined that it could be repeated again.

    Once again, people are motivated by hateful fear and rhetoric.

  34. Sherry says:

    @ Ron. . . Wow! Have you got some catching up to do! It was your Republican friends in Congress who did their best to block the 911 First Responders bill. You know, the one that financially aids those police and fire fighters who rushed in to save lives. . . and, who now suffer terrible ill effects. There’s plenty of info. out there. . . even artcles listing the names who voted against the bill. . . talk about Un-American! Take a good read. . . This from The Hill:

  35. Geezer says:

    Donald Trump will deploy any measure to appeal to uneducated and bigoted Americans,
    so that they vote against their own self-interests so that he can achieve his own.

    It all looks like a grand experiment because Mr. Trump is pulling out all the stops to be a bombastic, ill-spoken spewer of racist and isolationist rhetoric. It appears as if he’s doing his level best to lose as badly as possible in the upcoming election. He has alienated just about every group, minus uneducated white males. This has to be the ultimate publicity stunt ever perpetrated in the US!

    Maybe he’s a nice man who is simply using his platform to expose the worst members of our society,
    and teach us all a lesson of how the mainstream media makes or breaks presidential candidates,
    and how pervasive bigotry is in the “land of the free.”

    ¡Muchas gracias El Donald!

  36. Mark says:

    If it is so bad here and us Americans are so unAmerican why is everybody wanting to come here? If we are so bad why isn’t everyone trying to illegally emigrate to some other country? Doesn’t add up. Make your own country the utopia you want it to be and stay there. But, I guess it is just easier to take it from someone else than work for it. I guess if I have it then you deserve it more than me, for little or no effort on your part other than showing up at my doorstep. And I better give it up or I am a bigoted, racist unAmerican. Makes perfect sense. Where are your statistics that show most acts of terrorism are perpetrated by “old white American Christians”. I challenge you to prove it. Do you even know what the definition of terrorism is? Terrorism was rampant before Trump’s crass and truthful speech was publicized by the biased media.

  37. footballen says:

    Wow some of you are really really passionate. Or is it something else?

  38. Knightwatch says:

    Hey, Mark, I’m with you on this. I don’t think “old white American Christians” are necessarily all terrorists, but they are predominantly “Trumpers” and, therefore, enablers of Trump’s outrageous racist, xenophobic, childish behavior. The question is, does he represent them, or do they represent Trump? Either way, they are completely out of step with the modern world. Their time is over.

  39. Common Sense says:

    Actually it isn’t fear of terrorism that motivates the Trump minions. It is their deep seated feelings of inferiority that makes them fear anyone different. You see, they may actually turn out to be smarter, kinder, more hard working, more enterprising than they are. They may make it obvious that being a white, American male isn’t so special.

    That is why they have done their utmost to keep down Native Americans, Black Americans, Japanese Americans, Jews, the LGB, etc., because if they succeed it means the haters are exposed for what they are…nothing much.

  40. BlueJammer says:

    Pierre, and all, thank you for your stimulus. Whether we agree with you or not, you succeeded in provoking us to think.

    And here I thought I was getting too old to do such a thing!

  41. Ron says:

    Hey Sheery. Wait a minute did Donald Trump vote against the 9/11 bill? No he did not. Are you telling me that all the democrats voted for the bill? Besides the editor of this piece was fired from the Daytona News Journal for his anti America views.

    But I do agree with you that all politians are corrup. They voted in favor for the bill to advance their agenda. They could care less about first responders or your issues. It is all about them. It has been that way for along time. Wake up! We finally have a candidate that is brining out the corruption in both parties.

    Donald Trump is not a politian. He is not taking money from lobbyist or Wall Street or the Koch brothers who are running the Clinton campaign. Hillary is a puppet. Just like all the politians.

    But you go ahead an vote for Hillary and you will have the same old corruption. I will vote for real change an vote for Trump. But do not call me un American. The media is corrup and bias. They are trying to manipulate this election.

    We the people need to wake up!

  42. Sherry says:

    Greetings from beautiful Ireland! Thanks dear Geezer for your great humor, insights and comments! I always enjoy reading your thought provoking, and often funny, words.

    Common Sense. . . your latest post “hit the nail on the head” for me. As the Buddhist believe, the opposite of LOVE is not Hate. It is FEAR! All negative emotions are FEAR based. Many people in our country are so ignorantly insecure that they seek out and are perpetually manipulated by the “like minded” , insecure peddlers of FEAR and HATE. All “school yard bullies” and chest beating pontificators are AFRAID. They are obsessed with filling their empty, loveless souls by connecting with other Haters and spreading the cancer of inhumanity world wide.

    Like the physical cancer, the FEAR and HATE cancer can lie dormant or undetected for many years. . . slowly eating away at your core. Then something happens to bring that miserable state to life. It seems
    that Trump, Rush, and others like them, have reached into the bowels of human insecurities and brought the senseless, horrific disease of INHUMANITY to the surface.

    The cancer of INHUMANITY cannot continue to spread indefinitely simply because LOVE, eventually, always conquers fear and hate. I may not live long enough to see the fear of “Different” be completely a thing of the past, but I hope this election will be a huge step in the direction of Equality, Equal Justice, Compassion, Tolerance, Understanding, Forgiveness, Acceptance and yes, even LOVE of our fellow human beings!

  43. Edman says:

    What really amazes me, but no longer surprises me, is the nasty belligerent tone to comments by conservatives who disagree with facts. It seems they think loud and brash is a reasonable rebuttal to anything they disagree with even if what they disagree with is independently vetted and proven to be true. I wish they would at least try to learn the history and background of the issues they seem to be so fond of; let the truth set you free !!!

  44. Fredrick says:

    And yet you Clintonites will but up with this sort of garbage….

    They are both idiots but give me one that speaks his mind and I can deal with it. Better that than one who just lies to you over and over again.

  45. IMO says:

    “…Love always conquers Fear and Hate…”

    I can’t help laughing at such an assine statement.

    Sheery…by nature man is inherently evil. Evil must be eradicated and LOVE isn’t going to do that. Strength eradicates EVIL.

  46. Geezer says:

    Dear Trumpsters:

    I am recalling a scripture……oh, here it is:

    “Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.”
    Job 35:16, KJV

    Thinking about you,

  47. DaveT says:

    And just think, in November we are going to elect the most untrustworthy person in centuries to the office of president not to mention a person that is not respected by the people that will elect her. But I guess it beats the alternative.

  48. Pogo says:

    Ah yes, – almost as good as getting your drinking water from a cesspool.

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