When a school shooting happens, the right is quick to shut down any conversation that lumps all gun owners into the same category. A similar phenomenon happens during discussions of neo-Nazi groups like the ones in Charlottesville, who professed their support of Donald Trump, although the GOP bristles at any comparison of themselves to them.
When the discussion turns to terrorism or crime, however, Republicans have no trouble condemning all Muslims or all undocumented immigrants into criminal categories. Trump once called for a “total and complete shutdown” of members of the Islamic faith traveling to the United States just at around the same time that he referred to undocumented immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. The Muslim ban suddenly became not a Muslim ban once Trump took office and tried to implement it, and now he’s discovered a way to justify his other preferred group of brown people to demonize.
"The 'animals' comments are nothing new: Trump has consistently dehumanized immigrants as a group, comparing all of us to rapists and gang members from the earliest days of his campaign." https://t.co/OCDVrm0Y78 pic.twitter.com/hB55BDAHfT
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) May 21, 2018
In a Monday press release from Trump’s White House entitled “What You Need to Know About MS-13,” a piece of propaganda that covers for Trump’s recent comments about a specific gang known as MS-13, the word “animals” is used no less than 10 times.
‘MS-13 is a transnational gang that has brought violence, fear, and suffering to American communities. MS-13, short for Mara Salvatrucha, commits shocking acts of violence to instill fear, including machete attacks, executions, gang rape, human trafficking, and more. In their motto, the animals of MS-13 make clear their goal is to “kill, rape, control.” The gang has more than 10,000 members in the United States spreading violence and suffering.’
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) May 21, 2018
The statement is riddled with fear-mongering stories of the rabid gangs of undocumented immigrants raping, torturing, and murdering American citizens including women and children. Somehow, this is supposed to explain the pressing need for Trump’s border wall while also covering his thinly-veiled racism apparent in his endless rantings about undocumented immigrants.
There's a reason Trump is doubling down on this rhetoric. He is using the fear of MS-13 to justify policies which hurt all immigrants. pic.twitter.com/UhcpxguslM
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 21, 2018
To be clear, MS-13 is a gang that began in California and comprises a total 0.008 percent of all undocumented immigrants. Yet, just like whipping up fear of Muslims as responsible for all terrorism and fear of black Americans as responsible for all violent crime, the gang’s evils are mentioned in every conversation with Trump on immigration reform.
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) May 21, 2018
What’s more, Trump knows this. He knows that MS-13 is a crime problem and not an immigration problem. He knows that conflating a violent gang member with the average undocumented immigrant is race-baiting and can cause harm to anyone with a brown face in the United States. He also knows that the worst among his base enjoy the confirmation of his biases and that some of them may act out of fear to harm others.
He knows and he does it, anyway.
Featured image via Getty/Mark Wilson