Dan­ger­ous delu­sions

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - OPINION -

Pres­i­dent Trump crossed into markedly au­thor­i­tar­ian ter­ri­tory Wed­nes­day when he re­ferred to some un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants as “an­i­mals” and called for the pros­e­cu­tion of Oak­land Mayor Libby Schaaf.

The de­hu­man­iza­tion of groups tar­geted by a gov­ern­ment leader and the im­pris­on­ment of po­lit­i­cal enemies are not un­com­mon tac­tics in na­tions run by re­pres­sive regimes. But this level of hate-in­duc­ing vit­riol against im­mi­grants and threats against a mayor over a pol­icy dis­agree­ment have no place in the United States of Amer­ica.

Trump’s rants came dur­ing a round­table dis­cus­sion with lo­cal of­fi­cials who share his dis­dain for Cal­i­for­nia’s role as a sanc­tu­ary state.

At one point, Fresno County Sher­iff Mar­garet Mims, al­lud­ing to the gang MS-13, ex­pressed her frus­tra­tion that the new state law pro­hib­ited her from alert­ing U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants in her jail.

“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,” Trump replied. “You wouldn’t be­lieve how bad these peo­ple are. These aren’t peo­ple. These are an­i­mals.”

Trump did not ex­pressly re­fer to MS-13 mem­bers, which led to a cas­cade of crit­i­cism from peo­ple who know from his­tory the dan­ger of strip­ping peo­ple of their hu­man traits. Nazi pro­pa­ganda de­picted Jews as rats. Huti of­fi­cials called Tut­sis “cock­roaches” that needed to be ex­ter­mi­nated dur­ing the Rwan­dan geno­cide.

In her press brief­ing Thurs­day, White House

spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders in­sisted that Trump was re­fer­ring to MS-13 gang mem­bers — a dis­tinc­tion he did not make — and “frankly I think the term an­i­mal doesn’t go far enough” to de­scribe “hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble, dis­gust­ing peo­ple.”

The White House back­track might have been more con­vinc­ing if Trump had not used such overblown rhetoric about Mex­i­can im­mi­grants in the past, re­fer­ring to them as rapists, killers and drug deal­ers who were pour­ing over the border.

Trump’s sug­ges­tion that At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions should “look into ob­struc­tion of jus­tice” by Schaaf is no less reck­less. It’s also based on a false premise that Schaaf ’s de­ci­sion to alert the com­mu­nity of a pos­si­ble ICE raid — and to re­mind im­mi­grants of their rights if con­fronted — al­lowed hun­dreds to avoid de­ten­tion and de­por­ta­tion. An ICE spokesman re­signed pre­cisely be­cause he re­fused to make such a know­ingly false state­ment.

Once again, this White House ap­pears un­bound by the mores of truth or norms of democ­racy.

Pres­i­dent Trump spews ha­tred.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.