Just imagine if your ranting racist uncle had been made president of the USA. Well, you don’t have to picture this as that appalling scenario has happened already.
With every assault on immigrants, Donald Trump seals his reputation as that embarrassing relative. His latest unseemly outburst comes as a prickly spot of self-defence following the controversy about separating migrant children from their parents at the border.
The only encouragement to be drawn from this horror show lies in the response to this cruel zero-tolerance policy. The separation tactic of forcing nearly 2,000 children to be pulled apart from their parents has drawn intense criticism from all sides – with Laura Bush, former Republican First Lady, saying in a tweet that “…this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart”.
Trump being Trump ignores the growing chorus of condemnation and blames the Democrats – lashing out as always.
His argument that the Democrats were to blame was dismissed by Hillary Clinton, who said it was an “outright lie” to claim that family separation was mandated by law.
Clinton added: “We are a better country than one that tears families apart, turns a blind eye to women fleeing domestic violence and treats frightened children as a negotiating tool.”
That “outright lie” is important and Trump should be called out every time he tells one of his gristle-packed porkies. He told another one when he lashed out at Germany for admitting immigrants and swiped at Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that crime in Germany was “way up” because of immigration. This is wrong and was pointed out as such on the BBC – an encouraging move – and is referred more delicately in today’s Financial Times as “an incorrect assertion”.
Trump needs calling out every time he spits out one of his weaponised lies. I’d go as far as to say that the media’s most important job is to keep track of Trump’s lies.
The Washington Post is doing just that with its Fact Checker feature. As of May 1, the paper calculated that Trump had made “3,001 false or misleading claims” since taking office 466 days earlier. This important work should be congratulated.
My first thought on hearing Trump’s latest rancid rant was to make the obvious point that the USA is a country of immigrants – that’s everybody who cannot claim direct lineage to the original native inhabitants.
The USA has in the past officially recognised its role as a land of immigrants, although the New York Times reported in February that the federal agency that issues green cards to people from foreign countries has stopped characterising the country as “a nation of immigrants”. The agency had quietly dropped the honourable phrase about securing “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants”.
I’m not interested in repeating the Trump-era weasel words that have replaced that fine statement. But it doesn’t matter, for the USA is and always has been a country of immigrants – as witnessed by the German/Scottish twerp who is president.