Trump Has A Selective Criterion For Calling People 'Animals.' One Guess What It Is
Remember when the president of the United States and the leader of the free world plus Indiana said something gasp-inducingly racist?
No, not that. I mean, this:
I'm sorry! I've got my notes all mixed up here. OK, seriously, this is the one we're focusing on today:
Yeah, so that was terrible. But the fun part of having a virulent racist as president -- aside from the potential for the past couple years to become a Kander and Ebb musical -- is the outright denials, dodges, and shameful soft-shoe evasions of what is obvious to anyone because it's not like Trump is subtle.
So, the official word is that Trump wasn’t talking about all Hispanic immigrants, just Hispanic gang members. Hey, if you don’t like Five Guys, does that mean you don’t like all hamburgers? (Short answer: yes.)
"I'm referring to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in. I was talking about the MS-13," Trump said, insisting his comments were clear. "I'm actually surprised you're asking this question."
Trump was unapologetic about his language and said he'd use it again.
"These are animals. They're coming in to our country and we're getting them out," he said. "I referred to them as animals. And guess what: I always will."
I suppose if anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt here, it's Trump. We all know Trump loves Hispanics.
Trump shows his love for Hispanic people by dining on garbage from his own lousy Trump Grill (or Grille?)
And his supporters love him loving Hispanics.
And they all love just everybody.
And that's showbiz, kid!
Of course, just last week, the right-wing hot take was that referring to racists as racists would somehow provoke them to become even racist-er (?) racists.
Bari Weiss gives bad political advice, which apparently is a lucrative profession these days.
Doesn't Trump worry that calling MS-13 members "animals" might provoke non-MS-13 Hispanics to say "screw it" and become gang members? Fortunately, no actual Hispanics are involved in the construction of Trump's beloved taco bowls or he'd be in serious trouble.
By the way, what is MS-13? You should never assume Trump isn't just making stuff up after having fallen asleep in front of the TV while one of the Death Wish movies was playing.
The gang began in the barrios of Los Angeles in LA during the 1980s, formed by immigrants who had fled El Salvador's long and brutal civil war. Other members came from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.
The MS stands for Mara Salvatrucha, said to be a combination of Mara, meaning gang, Salva, for Salvador, and trucha, which translates roughly into street smarts. The 13 represents the position of M in the alphabet.
MS-13 has been accused of recruiting poor and at-risk teenagers. Joining is said to require being "jumped in" - subjected to a vicious 13-second beating - and "getting wet" - carrying out a crime, often a murder, for the gang.
Leaving is potentially even more dangerous. Large chest tattoos brand members for life, and some factions are said to murder members who attempt to leave.
Oh, so some of the "animals" could be desperate, preyed-upon kids seeking refuge, but that bit of complexity makes it hard to depersonalize them. And Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants us to stay focused on our dehumanization goals for this fiscal quarter. She argued Thursday that Trump's "animals" comment might not have gone "far enough." After all, people like animals: There's Lassie, Flipper, that gorilla at the zoo who got shot. Do we want God-fearing Americans strolling through the park with MS-13 members in cute matching sweaters?
Speaking at the White House press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Sanders said: “I don’t think the term the president used is strong enough.” She added: “Frankly I think the term animal doesn’t go far enough and I think the president should continue to use his platform and everything he can do under the law to stop these types of horrible, horrible, disgusting people.”
Look, the Trump administration just has a hard line on not giving a pass to horrible actions no matter the motivations ... unless you’re a literal slaveowner or fighting to uphold slavery. Then it gets more complicated.
[John Kelly’s] comment [that lack of compromise led to the Civil War] was swiftly countered by confounded observers, who pointed out that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that compromising on slavery would be morally unconscionable — and that the country did strike such compromises for decades and they did not, in fact, prevent war.
Kelly's remarks came after host Laura Ingraham asked about a church taking down historical plaques, implicitly raising the larger issue of the removal of Confederate statues and monuments across America.
Kelly said he thought applying contemporary standards of ethics to the past is "very very dangerous" and demonstrates "a lack of appreciation of history." He praised the "men and women of good faith on both sides" of the Civil War who followed their "conscience" in their fight.
The chief of staff also praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as an "honorable man."
Kelly apparently has trouble applying contemporary standards of ethics not just to the distant past of the Civil War but to even the less distant past of the last year, when he employed and praised creepy abuser of women Rob Porter.
White House chief of staff John Kelly called Porter "a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him."
"He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him," Kelly said in a statement.
OK, well, surely “tough talker” Donald Trump would consider a domestic abuser “subhuman.” He's constantly invoking threats to (white) women as the basis of his enmity for certain types of (brown) immigrants.
“We wish him well. He worked very hard. Found out about it recently and I was surprised by it,” Trump told reporters. “We hope he has a wonderful career, and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.”
You’d normally think someone fired for domestic abuse couldn’t count on a glowing recommendation from the president. I’ve been harder in Yelp reviews on restaurants that didn’t put napkins and silverware in my takeout orders. Where’s Trump’s usual joie de asshole?
Well, that was just after a white supremacist murdered a woman in Charlottesville. Let's see what really gets Trump's blood boiling.
I guess Trump just thinks "abusing" the flag is worse than abusing -- either with a fist or an automobile -- women. But maybe I'm being unfair.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.