Donald Trump sparked over a comment he made during a roundtable with California sheriffs in which he was quoted as saying:
“They’re not people. They’re animals.”
Though Trump and his supporters maintain that the comment was not with respect to all immigrants — undocumented or otherwise — but narrowly at MS-13 gang members, many are dubious. Perhaps had this president not been made so many blatantly racist, xenophobic, and generally hateful comments in the past… people would be more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt.
There is a broader argument to be made that diminishing the humanity of people, regardless of criminal behavior, is not something typically seen outside of fascist regimes. Of course, the internet response was almost instantaneous and included many memes juxtaposing Trump’s quote against similar quotes made by other tyrants, dictators, fascists, and assorted deplorables.
The outrage reached such a fever that this White House, of zero transparency and constantly lamenting “leaks” disseminated the transcript.
SHERIFF (Margaret) MIMS (Fresno County, CA): Now ICE is the only law enforcement agency that cannot use our databases to find the bad guys. They cannot come in and talk to people in our jail, unless they reach a certain threshold. They can’t do all kinds of things that other law enforcement agencies can do. And it’s really put us in a very bad position.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a disgrace. Okay? It’s a disgrace.
SHERIFF MIMS: It’s a disgrace.
THE PRESIDENT: And we’re suing on that, and we’re working hard, and I think it will all come together, because people want it to come together. It’s so ridiculous. The concept that we’re even talking about is ridiculous. We’ll take care of it, Margaret. We’ll win.
SHERIFF MIMS: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.
THE PRESIDENT: 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. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.
The transcript did not do much to clear the air. This is why if one has the audacity to say any subgroup “aren’t people” but “animals,” one had better make damn sure that once context is provided in the form of a transcript, it’s very clear to whom they are referring.
Better idea: don’t call people animals
Former Mexican President Vincene Fox called Trump out on twitter following the release of the transcript.
.@realDonaldTrump, you’ve got to get your shit together: migrants are people who have left everything behind – not by choice, to pursue a better life. You must show compassion and humanity. your golden head and a #FuckingWall won’t stop these people’s dreams and hopes. https://t.co/JC1NETBKqP
— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) May 17, 2018
Trump has to know that all of this is killing his reelection chances, doesn’t he? Now that he’s losing evangelical white women, it would be a good idea to keep racism and incendiary remarks to any minority group the absolute minimum.