One day, these figures – President Trump and his cohorts, the muck-brained minions of Fox News – will distance themselves from their own words and actions.
They will hedge and equivocate with other political controversies. They will suggest that 2018 was a less enlightened time, that the real-world consequences of their partisan-minded manipulations of the Central American migrant caravan – a winding stretch of desperate folks seeking jobs and safety – was murky at best.
Do not allow Trump and his followers such a luxury.
Document and attribute every word, every half-cooked assumption, every bone tossed to the dogs of the alt-right. Don’t let them forget what they said and did, because the marginalized Latino immigrants that such calamity is meant to intimidate will never forget.
“There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you. There is nothing at all to worry about,” a somber Shep Smith told Fox News viewers Monday, a momentary attempt to soothe even as the remaining shot callers at his network squeezed every paranoid penny out of Trump’s base.
The migrant caravan, a procession of several thousand refugees on foot, is roughly two months away from the southern U.S. border, if they ever come to the U.S. at all. “But tomorrow is one week before the midterm election,” a sober Smith said. “Which is what all of this is about.”
How we’ve come to this point, with a flummoxed Fox News anchor stammering to viewers that they have nothing to fear from an exhausted caravan of half-starved job seekers, the elderly, and mothers pushing children in strollers, is no mystery.
President Donald Trump, and Smith’s own Fox News – that festering, click-bait cauldron – bear direct responsibility for this talk, for wielding their lack of empathy like a weapon, for this toxic mix of hard-hearted and foolhardy. They owe a debt for the unsubstantiated warnings of “unknown Middle Easterners” infiltrating the caravan’s ranks, for the wayward warnings that migrants may somehow spread smallpox and leprosy into the country. (There’s not a single known case of smallpox in the world today, according to world health officials, and scant few cases of leprosy in the migrants’ home countries in Central America.)
Officials estimate roughly 3,500 Central Americans, most reportedly hailing from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, are fleeing gang violence and poverty to the south, inching their way through Mexico and seeking asylum at the southern U.S. border.
It’s a humanitarian crisis, by any measure.
But the reaction from partisans on the right, the plans to deploy more than 5,200 U.S. troops – exceeding the number of troops currently fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq – to defend against unarmed civilians strains credulity and decency alike, prompting condemnations from military leaders who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.
The posturing’s inspired promises of support from armed militias along the border, a “Game of Thrones” style Night’s Watch for gullible xenophobes.
And Trump, seizing upon the chance to divert Americans from their well-documented healthcare concerns, doubled down on the nationalist balderdash in an interview airing Sunday, announcing his plans to use his executive order powers to scrap automatic citizenship to children born in the U.S., 14th amendment to the constitution be damned. Is it legal for Trump to do such a thing? No, no, not even close.
But such rubbish ranks near the top of the wish list for any self-respecting immigration hawk who anguishes over the prospect of an American baby born to an undocumented immigrant.
Call this cable-news and partisan-fueled calamity what it is. Do not mince words.
This imagined crisis of pox-ridden, undocumented invaders from beyond the borders is racist and nationalist propaganda, fed by a truth-starved president and a major media news network—with its live feed of the “invasion”—that shames journalism and the Americans that it serves.
It may be hard to imagine today, but there will come a time when an increasingly diverse America no longer has the stomach for the tiki torch radicals, when once-powerful figures in politics and the media will be shunned for their association with such race-baiting hysteria as Trump’s migrant man of straw.
Whether it’s one week or one year or one decade, the caravan will dissipate and this election with it. And leaders will be remembered for their words and deeds on this matter, whether they want to or not.