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To Put The President's 'Animals' Comment in Context

Robert Franklin

Posted on May 17, 2018 17:32

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President Trump created a firestorm in the media earlier this week when he made certain commentary about a certain group of people being "animals." Trump's opponents are appalled. His supporters are calling for everyone to consider the context of the phrase. Let's consider the context.

Immigration has been a thorn in President Trump's side for as long as he's been leaving Big Mac grease on every surface of the White House. His immigration rhetoric has been some of his most virulent, bringing to the concerned public images of efforts by dictators to dehumanize a group of people before implementing extermination policies. For an administration that has been frequently accused of practicing fascism, immigration appears to be where the most potentially fascist positions originate.

It is with this in mind that commentary President Trump made on Wednesday regarding California's sanctuary policies raised considerable controversy. During a meeting at the White House with the media present, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims complained that, due to California's sanctuary policies, "there could be an MS-13 member I know about" but "cannot tell ICE about," to which Mr. Trump replied:

"We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in -- and we're stopping a lot of them -- but we're taking people out of the country. You wouldn't believe how bad these people are. These aren't people. These are animals."

It may be possible that, in context, however incoherent, the President was referring to members of MS-13 as "animals." This is the position taken by everyone with the ability to speak in the Trump Administration. Donald Trump, Jr. has pointed this out. So has Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Even the Associated Press retracted a tweet about it, citing that their commentary weren't clear that the President was speaking about gang members when he made the comment.

But, let's not miss the point here. Whether or not the President was speaking deliberately about MS-13 when he made his comment is not even close to the point. This President has adopted a strategy to dehumanize Latino immigrants since the very beginning of his campaign for the Presidency.

The Trump Administration has continuously blurred the line between Latinos looking to build a better life for themselves, and Latinos who push hard drugs, murder and dismember those who get in their way. To the President, every Latino here is potentially an MS-13 member, and for his paranoid, amnesiac faithful, as well as ICE, this is true as well.

When President Trump announced his xenophobic candidacy, he proclaimed that Mexico isn't sending "their best," instead sending across the border people who "have lots of problems" who are "bringing their problems [to] us." He said they're "bringing drugs" and "bringing crime." He called them rapists.

After taking over the Presidency, he issued executive orders that greatly expanded ICE's ability to target, detain, and deport any undocumented immigrant, regardless of whether or not they had a criminal record. He appointed Thomas Homan to lead ICE, who hired anti-immigration advocate and white nationalist Jon Feere as a "special advisor."

Trump's campaign and Presidency have been fueled by anti-immigrant, white nationalistic, dehumanizing rhetoric, so the calls for "context" from his legion are irrelevant. His political history provides all the context anyone needs.

Robert Franklin

Posted on May 17, 2018 17:32

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Source: Slate
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