Trump’s Closing Argument: Hate

I hope you’ll allow me a point of personal privilege, because yesterday Donald Trump came to my home state of Minnesota to spew his hate.

“Here in Minnesota, you’ve seen first hand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with very large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval,” the Republican nominee told a rally in the solidly Democratic state, two days before the presidential election.

He then claimed: “Some of them [are] joining Isis and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world.”

“Everybody’s reading about the disaster taking place in Minnesota,” he added, before claiming, falsely: “You don’t even have the right to talk about it.”

Many of us took great offense at that. Democrats like Senator Al Franken, Vice Chair of the DNC R.T. Rybak, and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges all took to Facebook immediately to respond. Here is Rybak:

I am disgusted that Turmp landed his plane in Minnesota only long enough to spew hate over the tarmac. He has absolutely NO IDEA what the Somali community has done in this city and state. Yes, there have been challenges, but thousands of stories of a success. I would like to say that if he met the thousands of Somalis I know, if he saw the young people full of hope, the small businesses that have been started….I could go on….But the fact is it would not matter because he has made no attempt to understand how a people who faced almost unspeakable violence and trauma, have gone through tremendous hardship, become a part of our community and made us all better. This is what immigrants have been doing for generations and I for one am proud to live in a community that represents the values of the Statue of Liberty. Thank you to all the Somalis who have given so much and thank you for knowing that this hate filled man does not represent what is great about this city, state and county. Fly away, Donald; we know better.

Initially everyone wondered why, in the final days of the campaign, Trump would bother with a stop in Minnesota. Perhaps now we know the answer to that question. In a state that has the largest Somali-American community in the country, it provided him with the opportunity to spread the immigrant hate beyond Latinos and go after yet another group. That ramps up the fear that underlies his closing argument in this campaign.

It is interesting to note that the brief video of “massive illegal immigration” was not shot along the Mexican-American border, but in Hungary at the height of the Syrian migrant crisis last year. I’m not convinced that is unintentional.

Many people, including Josh Marshall, the ADL and (once again) Sen. Al Franken, have been outspoken about the raw, unadulterated anti-Semitism contained in that ad. These are old hatreds that are being recycled by the Trump campaign for the modern era. It brings together all of the old tropes of the white supremacists in this country’s history (including the Klu Klux Klan).

Regardless of what happens in tomorrow’s election, this is something Steve Bannon has been working on developing for years now. According to him, this “movement” is “just at the top of the first inning.” I suspect that he has known all along that Trump wouldn’t win this election. But it brought his hateful ideas to the fore and gave him a national platform on which to score some runs.

It is important for all of us to recognize the game that Bannon is playing these days. It is nothing more than a movement fueled by the ugly hatred this country has battled against for most of our history. This time it is our generation’s turn to step up to the plate and take it on.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.