Donald Trump, just like Richard Nixon before him, ran on a “law and order” platform, vowing to be the best president ever on national security. He swore to ban all the Muslims and build a useless wall to keep out all the dangerous raping, drug-dealing Mexicans.
It is what he never mentions, however, that may be an even bigger problem.
Together, we're going to restore safety to our streets and peace to our communities, and we're going to destroy the vile criminal cartel, #MS13, and many other gangs…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2017
Trump and the candidates who’ve run for office as Republicans since Trump’s campaign, including Ed Gillespie, the Virginia gubernatorial candidate defeated by Democrat Ralph Northam, use MS-13 and the racist perception of all brown people as inherently dangerous to stoke fears among their base of angry white folks.
‘The latest boogeyman is MS-13, a gang network…Trump portrays MS-13 as an alien threat — one that was “let into the country over a fairly short period of time” and has “literally taken over towns and cities of the United States” — but it’s as American as the Crips and Bloods. It began not in Central America but in Los Angeles in the 1980s, where it was originally a much more benign gang of teenagers who liked to smoke pot and listen to heavy metal.’
‘Scare stories, often told in racialized dog-whistles, tend to portray MS-13 as a highly structured international cartel targeting law abiding (read: white, U.S.-born) citizens. In reality, it’s best understood as a loose network of mini-gangs that adopt the franchised name of MS but act largely independently. As is the case with gangs throughout American history, whether Italian, Irish, Chinese, or Jewish, their victims are mostly their own communities — for MS-13, in Central America and the United States.’
What is most interesting about Trump’s endless talk about MS-13, whom he has used as horror stories of raping and killing young girls with impunity thanks to President Obama’s lax justice for undocumented immigrants and his refusal to see them as the dangers they are, is Trump’s failure to mention a dangerous and more quickly growing gang in the United States.
It isn’t difficult to imagine why Trump would refuse to call out the alt-right, nationalist, neo-Nazi groups who call for violence against Jews, black Americans, and Latinos, among others. These are Trump’s base, emboldened by Trump’s dog whistle racism that sometimes walked over the line to full-throated, blatant racism.
While these groups openly admit that they’re “trying to make” themselves even “more capable of violence,” Trump relies on the white anger of being the “silent majority” (another Nixon-era term) who have been denied the right to be prioritized over black and brown Americans in the ways that they are entitled to be.
Perhaps the biggest lie surrounding the Trump administration’s focus on MS-13 (which includes many American citizens as well as undocumented immigrants) while ignoring groups of American-born white citizens whose violence is increasingly becoming a concern, is Jeff Sessions’ manipulation of data to attack sanctuary cities. When he attempted to use statistics from The Washington Post as proof of these lawless cities, the publication was quick to point out how very wrong Sessions’ presentation of those facts really are.
‘Municipalities that chose to designate themselves as sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants experience crime rates no higher than they otherwise would. We state this clearly throughout our study.’
It isn’t sanctuary cities making non-white citizens, and even white citizens who understand the echoes of a racist past in which the KKK and neo-Nazis murdered and tortured folks simply for being of a different race.
Twitter was equally disgusted by Trump’s endless MS-13 rants.
Featured image via Getty/Mark Wilson