For the past several years, Republicans have been accused of engaging in dog whistle politics. They say messages that to the casual listener sound innocuous but carry a more insidious message only bigots and racists can hear.
Along comes Donald J. Trump and his message is loud and clear. Illegal immigrants crossing our southern border, predominantly Hispanic, have many murderers and rapists among them. Now, to be fair, Donald has been repeatedly misquoted as applying this statement to ALL Hispanic immigrants. This was never the case. When he first uttered the statement in his announcement speech he was explicit about the target of his slur.
I’ve long been puzzled about why law abiding Hispanics are not offended by people cutting in line. Why does their ethnic identification with these criminals override their outrage? (And make no mistake, illegal immigrants are by definition criminals. They may be some wonderful people but they’ve committed a crime by evading our normal immigration process.)
Then a famous poem by Martin Niemoller popped into my head:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Perhaps Trump’s message announced over his bullhorn has folks worried about the slippery slope? There are already folks on the right who have taken Trump’s message and broadened it to greater restrict legal immigration. There is now talk of ending birthright citizenship. Where does this notion, born of concern over the legitimate problem of illegal immigration, end? How much risk is there that Trump is sparking a toxic mix of nationalism and xenophobia?
What is refreshing about Trump may also be dangerous. There is no guessing about what he is saying. He speaks clearly. There are no dog whistles. It remains to be seen whether what comes out of his bullhorn is good or bad for America.
What do you think? The bar is open.