From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:
Since When Does NBC Have a Problem With ‘Controversial’ Personalities?
Donald Trump in his announcement speech, June 16:
The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.
It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East.
Nearly two weeks later, NBC decided the remarks are too offensive to continue their relationship with Trump.
Now, it’s entirely possible – probable, even – that NBC was looking for a way to formally separate itself from Trump during his presidential bid anyway. (See if they still refuse to work with him again in say, 2017, or so.) Ratings dropped for The Celebrity Apprentice’s last season, and the show had spent two years off the air.
But are we really at the point where Trump’s uncouth assessment of illegal immigrants is enough to get someone persona non grata in network television? Is it a jerky thing to initially describe the 5.9 million or so Mexicans who entered the United States illegally as “people that have lots of problems” and “rapists”? Sure. But a lot of people on television say jerky things all the time.
And before anyone says “Trump said all Mexicans are rapists!”, note his very next sentence is, “some, I assume, are good people.” Some may find that condescending, but he at least acknowledges his preceding statements paint with too broad a brush.
Trump is speaking hyperbolically, but he’s doing so about a real problem some would prefer to ignore. From the FBI’s 2013 report on gangs:
Immigration violations also present a significant challenge to law enforcement in the region. In many cases, gang members who commit criminal activity in the region are not US citizens nor lawful permanent residents. Once deported, gang members attempt to reenter the United States illegally in order to rejoin the gang and engage in criminal activity. [Customs and Border Protection] survey respondents indicate in some southwest border sectors, the percentage of non-US citizen gang members was as high as 80 percent.
In 2013, ICE freed 36,007 convicted criminal aliens from detention who were awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings; 426 had sexual assault convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions, 1,075 aggravated assault convictions, 9,187 dangerous drug convictions, and 193 had homicide convictions.
A wise mind recently observed to me that there are two separate conversations going on in America right now. One is the increasingly-restricted conversation of the progressive aristocracy – sometimes turning on its own members for comments deemed insufficiently sensitive, as in the cases of Trevor Noah, Amy Schumer, Stephen Colbert and Alec Baldwin.
And then there’s the conversation going on in the rest of the country, which probably includes tons of comments other people would find offensive – from hypersensitive social-justice warrior types to folks who bristle at the F-bomb to people who tire quickly of other people’s inane ramblings.
When somebody sufficiently high-profile speaks in the “rest-of-America” language long enough, it’s just a matter of time before they say something the progressive aristocracy deems “beyond the pale” and requiring economic censure in the form of firing, not just social censure in the form of “what a jerky thing to say.” The pale is getting awfully small these days. In progressive aristocracy America, it’s ipso facto xenophobic to point out that quite a few violent criminals enter the United States across our insufficiently-guarded borders.
Trump speaks the “rest of the country” language. For those of us who don’t think terribly highly of him – I’d like to see the deep thinker really lay out how he’s going to make Mexico pay for a border wall – Trump’s bluntness and directness is one of the most likeable traits.
Elsewhere in the Jolt, I look at some Trump comments from 2011 indicating that, at least then, if he wasn’t quite endorsing a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants, he wasn’t ruling it out, either.