Some folks say Trump is just the logical extension of a white nationalist strain in the Republican Party that began with Nixon’s Southern strategy; inspired Reagan to kick off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi; germinated HW Bush’s Willie Horton ad; led W Bush’s dirty tricksters to spread rumors about John McCain’s adopted daughter; and culminated in the racist freak-out during President Obama’s two terms in office.
That’s all true. But there were exit ramps along the way. The Republican Party faced a hard choice after Romney’s defeat. They could adapt to changing American demographics or lose. Trump offered a third option: stop tinkering on the margins with voter suppression and dog whistles and go all in on racism, sexism and xenophobia and openly subvert American democracy to keep white folks in power by whatever means necessary.
The vast majority of the party chose door number 3. Now we not-Republicans face a choice: utterly defeat the Republican Party or watch as the U.S. morphs into an apartheid state and its law enforcement organizations engage in a never-ending ethnic cleansing project. Does that sound crazy or extreme? I don’t think it is.
A woman who personifies the shitty choice the Republicans made and the atrocities their leadership figures are increasingly willing to engage in is current Homeland Security Director Kirstjen Nielsen. Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Post yesterday that treats her as a sympathetic figure:
The president has chastised her on several occasions this spring, including a much-publicized meeting earlier this month when he attacked her in front of the entire Cabinet. He has grown furious because his administration has made little progress building the border wall, and his most ardent supporters have blamed Nielsen for not doing more to halt the caravan of Central American migrants whose advance Trump saw as a personal challenge.
He has also seen her as a proxy for Kelly, whose relationship with the president has frayed in recent months. Trump has decided, according to several aides, that Nielsen is a George W. Bush kind of Republican, the worst in his view.
Nielsen has complained that it is almost an impossible task working for Trump, according to administration officials and others familiar with her thinking, and that he doesn’t understand the nuances of immigration law…
“The president has a very rudimentary understanding of what the border is all about and how you secure it,” said a former DHS staffer who worked closely with Nielsen. “And she’s also not one of the border fire-eaters that have his ear right now. She’s in an impossible, no-win situation.”
There might not be a way to “win” on Trump’s terms, but there is a way to do what’s right: Resign, and go on every network and explain why you’re not willing to shit on the U.S. Constitution. But that’s not what Nielsen is doing. Instead, she is indulging the ignorant demagogue in his “shock and awe” scheme to demonize immigrants and rile up the racist, xenophobic base to consolidate (white) power:
The night before Trump delivered his first speech to Congress in February 2017, he huddled with Jared Kushner and Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration… Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he was at a rally, he then read aloud a few made up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, like rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed…
Around the same time, Nielsen was complaining to colleagues — and her then-boss, DHS secretary Kelly — about how the administration botched its travel ban. She panned the president’s statement about the border wall, saying it was unlikely to ever be built. Kelly agreed. The two sometimes joked about it.
In early 2017, Nielsen told at least two colleagues that the president’s rhetoric made it more difficult to run the agency.
Now, five months into her tenure as Homeland Security secretary, the measures Nielsen has implemented — separating families, boosting arrests, increasing prosecutions — have made her a villain to many Democrats and immigrant rights’ groups.
You’re goddamned right it has made her a villain — to anyone with a conscience. Nielsen is a fucking monster for implementing policies that result in incidents like this courtroom scene described in GQ:
Alma Jacinto covered her eyes with her hands as tears streamed down her cheeks. The 36-year-old from Guatemala was led out of the federal courtroom without an answer to the question that brought her to tears: When would she see her boys again?
Jacinto wore a yellow bracelet on her left wrist, which defense lawyers said identifies parents who are arrested with their children and prosecuted in Operation Streamline, a fast-track program for illegal border crossers.
Moments earlier, her public defender asked the magistrate judge when Jacinto would be reunited with her sons, ages 8 and 11. There was no clear answer for Jacinto, who was sentenced to time served on an illegal-entry charge after crossing the border with her sons near Lukeville on May 14.
A yellow bracelet? Why not just make it a fucking yellow star? Fuck any bullshit reporting that tries to portray Nielsen as Trump’s victim. She’s one of his enablers. So is every goddamned Republican who isn’t denouncing Trump on a daily basis and resisting his attempts to destroy everything this country is supposed to stand for.
Earlier this week, Trump called immigrants “animals,” and the wingnut media and credulous, useless, both-sides jack-holes in the mainstream media leapt to his defense when folks pointed out how goddamned racist and literally dehumanizing that dangerous rhetoric is. He also said this at the same round-table (via GQ link above):
“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”
Trump added: “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”
This is straight-up Nazi shit, friends. And anyone who works for Trump or defends his policies is helping a dangerous demagogue take the U.S. further down the road to ethnic cleansing and open white nationalism. No sympathy. Ever.
Trump’s efforts to subvert the Department of Justice and federal law enforcement agencies to cover up his and his cronies’ corruption and collusion has taken center stage in the news lately. But like Hitler before him, Trump is banking on stoking hatred against scapegoats to consolidate his hold on power. Via Salon:
While President Donald Trump recently rejected the notion that the 2018 midterm elections are even more important to Republicans than the 2016 election, his senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller, has basically admitted that the president is so worried about this fall’s elections that he plans to spend the entire campaign season vilifying immigrants.
“The big fight this summer is going to be with the open borders Democratic caucus in Congress,” Miller told Breitbart News in a piece published on Thursday. “That is the fundamental political contrast and political debate that is unfolding right now. The Democratic party is at grave risk of completely marginalizing itself from the American voters by continuing to lean into its absolutist anti-enforcement positions.”
“MS-13” is now code for “murderous hordes of rapacious brown people,” and Republicans nationwide have responded enthusiastically to the dog whistle, with Georgia gubernatorial candidates trying to out-racist one another with competing deportation vehicle ads and a Florida GOP hopeful bringing the ultimate violent racist, sexist wingnut fantasy to life by depicting a brown immigrant man murdering a white woman on a suburban street.
I wish I were optimistic that openly racist appeals won’t work in large swathes of the country, but I know they will. I am optimistic there are enough sufficiently engaged decent people to start turning the tide in November. But I’ll be honest: The possibility of a Reichstag Fire scenario worries me. There’s only so much mileage Trump and Fox News can get out of waving poor Kate Steinle’s bloody shirt.
We’ve got to win. And meanwhile, we’ve got to protect the vulnerable among us. And when this is over, there must be a reckoning — not just for Trump and his co-conspirators, but for the whole rotten bunch, including Nielsen.