Slate: Trump's MS-13 Rhetoric Similar to Lynch-Mob Sympathizers

July 31st, 2017 5:42 PM

To vociferously oppose MS-13 is to, in so many words, descend from the rhetorical lineage of lynch-mob sympathizers in the Jim Crow south. So says Slate’s Jamelle Bouie in his Thursday piece “Make America Afraid Again”:

“Rhetorically, Trump’s Youngstown speech recalls the openly racist language found in the early 20th century among white reporters, pamphleteers, and politicians who expressed the prejudices of the era. In Southern newspapers, for example, writers described the alleged crimes of black offenders with gruesome and sensational detail, usually to justify lynchings and other forms of extrajudicial violence.”

Except it’s totally different. The attempt at thoroughfare between lynch-justifying southern Democrats and those who berate the actions of a gang whose brutal crimes were only possible by a refusal to enforce existing immigration law borders on the moral criminalization of believing in national sovereignty.

As The Wall Street Journal's Jason Riley pointed out in his book False Black Power?, the perpetuation of racial politics in the United States relies and inherently profits upon a “backwards-looking racial narrative” that dredges through the annals of past racial injustice to link today’s GOP, via rhetoric, policy, or ruminations about the “Southern Strategy” with (Democrat) conservatives of the past who opposed integration and supported slavery.

To be sure, America has not been, and likely will never be, expunged of individual bigots, racists, and society’s true deplorables. But the moral equivocation between the most horrific acts of America’s history and current policy debates seems a cheap tactic to force modern political actors into avatars of either Martin Luther King or Strom Thurmond. And don’t dare bring it up, unless you’d like to end up cast in moral air with the latter.

Trump has certainly said and done things that have evoked (warranted) criticism from many of his peers on the right. It seems, however, that racialism and identity politics has become so politically profitable for the Left that lurid analogies like Mr. Bouie’s undermine other, more salient criticisms