There’s No Fig Leaf Left to Cover Trump’s Racism

No matter how barbaric his immigration stances became, Donald Trump and his advisers like Stephen Miller always at least tried to excuse them by pleading safety and security. Trump’s speeches and tweets are full of references to MS-13, “bad hombres,” criminals, drugs, gangs, and every other inchoate fear of the Other plaguing the nightmares of Fox News viewers. An expensive, useless, and impossible wall was supposedly needed to keep the bad people out. Unconstitutional bans on Muslims were enacted for “national security.” Even the appalling and abusive child separation policy was excused as a necessity to deter waves of potentially dangerous migrants from crossing the border.

It was all a lie, of course. Immigrants commit crime at lower rates than citizens do. There is no immigration crisis. But even from a pure propaganda standpoint, the administration tried to maintain a fig leaf of cover to hide the shameful racism behind their actions.

But there’s not even the pretense of a veneer to cover this gross attempt to strip birthright U.S. citizens of their citizenship.

It’s difficult to know where the crackdown fits into the Trump administration’s broader efforts to reduce legal and illegal immigration. Over the past year, it has thrown legal permanent residents out of the military and formed a denaturalization task force that tries to identify people who might have lied on decades-old citizenship applications.

Now, the administration appears to be taking aim at a broad group of Americans along the stretch of the border where Trump has promised to build his wall, where he directed the deployment of National Guardsmen, and where the majority of cases in which children were separated from their parents during the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy occurred.

The State Department would not say how many passports it has denied to people along the border because of concerns about fraudulent birth certificates. The government has also refused to provide a list of midwives whom it considers to be suspicious.

Lawyers along the border say that it isn’t just those delivered by midwives who are being denied.

Babies delivered by Jorge Treviño, one of the regions most well-known gynecologists, are also being denied. When he died in 2015, the McAllen Monitor wrote in his obituary that Treviño had delivered 15,000 babies.

Needless to say, there is not even the remotest justification from a criminal or national security point of view for this. These are people who have served in the military, who have lived for decades as law-abiding U.S. citizens. This isn’t even a Willie Horton level racist dogwhistle. It’s a straightforward attempt to remove as many non-white people from the United States as they can legally get away with.

It’s not just racism. It’s a form of ethnic cleansing, without pretense or cover.

Which ties in perfectly with this:

Another Trump administration official has been outed for his ties to white nationalism. According to leaked emails obtained by The Atlantic, a policy analyst working for the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security, who has since resigned, was included in emails with known white supremacist leaders.

The emails showed that analyst Ian M. Smith had been in contact with known white nationalists, including Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer, and Jared Taylor, who founded the white nationalist publication, American Renaissance. Smith was included on emails organizing events, such as an “Alt Right Toastmasters” night in 2016.

One email exchange from October 2015 between Smith and Ben Zapp, a real-estate agent with ties to the Alt-Right shows the two joking and using Nazi slang. While discussing Friday night plans, Zapp used the term judenfrei, meaning “free of Jews,” to which Smith responded, “They don’t call it Freitag for nothing.”

And this:

Ron DeSantis, the Trump-endorsed congressman who won Tuesday’s GOP primary for Florida governor, is an administrator on an active Facebook group where conservatives share racist, conspiratorial and incendiary posts about a litany of targets, including black Americans and South Africans, the “deep state,” survivors of February’s massacre at a Florida high school, immigrants, Muslims and, in recent days, John McCain.

DeSantis was listed as one of the group’s 52 administrators and moderators as of Wednesday. His involvement in the group was first noted by a researcher for Media Matters for America on Tuesday.

There is no question what is happening here. This is not about partisan politics. This is white supremacy against decency and basic morality.

And yes, it can happen here if we allow it.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.