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Monday, February 18, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters for America.

Two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump last week include clauses that seem designed to provide Breitbart and other xenophobic right-wing media outlets with fearmongering content about the supposed criminality and dangerousness of immigrants, particularly Muslim ones.

The orders create a feedback loop between the Trump administration and the right-wing media: Both want to crack down on immigration and immigrants, so the administration is providing its media allies with fuel to inflame their audience, building support among Trump’s base for those policy shifts.

A little-noticed clause in Trump’s executive order temporarily banning nationals from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States and barring admission of refugees, signed Friday, states that in order to “be more transparent with the American people,” the federal government will release biannual reports detailing terrorism-related offenses, gender-based violence, and honor killings committed in the U.S. by foreign nationals.

Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement likewise included a clause calling for the weekly publication of “a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens” in jurisdictions that don’t honor federal requests to hold arrestees in jail due to their immigration status (so-called “sanctuary cities”).

Critics note that the data does not support the implication that “large numbers of foreigners are coming to the United States and committing acts of terrorism here.” Likewise, studies show immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.

But the purpose of these orders is not to provide the American people with accurate information in proper context. It’s to scare the hell out of them — particularly Trump’s base — by taking advantage of a network of right-wing outlets that have spent years driving their audiences into a frenzy with horror stories of crimes committed by foreign nationals.

Steve Bannon is the nexus point for this strategy. As Trump’s chief strategist, he reportedly helped draft the Muslim ban. And before joining the Trump campaign, he helped turn Breitbart, where he served as chairman, into the “platform for the alt-right,” in part by driving these xenophobic storylines.

The website infamously has a tag devoted to “Black Crime” that aggregated stories of offenses committed by African-Americans. They’ve used similar practices to dehumanize undocumented immigrants and Muslims living in the United States and abroad.

Breitbart aggregates reports of Muslim “honor killings” from around the globe. As with “black crime,” they have an entire tag devoted to the subject. They have a similar tag for stories about child marriage in Muslim countries, and one detailing instances of “female genital mutilation.” They also regularly suggest that American Muslims are secret operatives of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Breitbart’s reports often portray Muslim refugees as disease-carrying criminals who are a danger to the countries in which they seek asylum, and specifically to those countries’ women. As they have sought to expand their presence in Europe, the website has frequently attacked Muslim communities in European nations and highlighted friction between those communities and white Europeans.

Here are some headlines Breitbart has published about Islam, Muslims, and refugees:

Likewise, Breitbart regularly aggregates reporting on crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. Their singular focus creates the false impression that such crimes are far more prevalent than the data show. Here are some Breitbart headlines on undocumented immigrants:

Thanks to Bannon and Trump, Breitbart’s efforts to stoke fears about refugees, Muslims, and immigrants will have the official aid and imprimatur of the federal government.

The actual numbers of cases the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department will report will likely end up being relatively low, but because they will come in a steady stream, on a weekly or semi-annual basis, the reports will generate a regular set of fresh news hooks for right-wing media to stoke outrage.

This creates a synergy between the right-wing media and the Trump administration. The Trump administration wants excuses to limit immigration and crack down on undocumented immigrants, so they need an inflamed base focused on those issues.

Outlets like Breitbart want to be able to report horror stories about refugees, American Muslims, and undocumented immigrants, both for ideological reasons, and presumably because such stories get good traffic with Trump’s base.

By making the information available, Trump and Bannon help those outlets, and thus gain momentum to push even harsher anti-immigrant policies.

IMAGE: Flickr / Don Irvine

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9 responses to “The Breitbart Clauses In Trump’s Executive Orders”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    The fact that Trump, and his team, are using ancient prejudices and fear to advance their agenda is not even a topic subject to debate…and it is not an alternate fact. What is becoming evident, for anyone capable of rational thinking, is that the centerpiece of Trump’s strategy is a focus on the demonization of Muslims, Mexicans, and African Americans. Most Americans feel repulsed and object to the policies and the message of extreme hatred that is being being advanced, but make no mistake, there are many among us who agree with what Trump says and support his agenda. Ignorance, fear, hatred, prejudice, and a twisted interpretation of Christianity, are the driving forces that influenced the decision of so many Americans to vote for Trump, and who now support his policy decisions, without question and great delight. For them, Trump is a patriot, a man determined to fight for defenseless Americans ready to fall prey of super human foreigners determined to destroy us. He is a committed, misunderstood, and abused hero trying to do what is in the best interest of the American people, in spite of the hateful obstructionism of a tyrannical majority of liberals. To his credit, Trump is exactly what he promised to do throughout the presidential campaign. We have nobody to blame for his ascendancy to the dictatorial power he now has, but ourselves. Had the millions of fellow Democrats who did not vote because they preferred Sanders, or did not bother to vote because they thought the election was in the bag, gone to the polls and voted, we would not be witnessing the destruction of our institutions of government, the erosion of support in our form of government, the replacement of the the values and policies that made this country great, or the replacement of spiritual values that have prevailed since we became a nation with ideas that are the anti-thesis of Christianity, morality, and respect for the sovereignty and aspirations of others.

    • Bill Thompson says:

      Dominic this election seemed different then any that I’ve witnessed in the past. There seems to be something I could not put my finger on, clearly social media had played a great role then ever before. I live in Long Island New York a conservative hotbed if not one of the most prejudice places in the country. As a liberal Democrat I always feel like I have a bull’s-eye on my back. The speed in which false and misleading information spread amongst my peers was frightening. There was no way to possibly keep up with the constant needed corrections. It seems like there was 1000 different points of miss information being disseminated to my relatives and groups of friends. While I am not a conspiracy theorist by nature, I did read an article today that seems to explain some of what I personally witnessed. Take a look at this article and tell me if it fits in with your thoughts.https://motherboard.vice.com/read/big-data-cambridge-analytica-brexit-trump?utm_content=buffercd997&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

      • Dominick Vila says:

        Thank you for the link. It explains, not only how psychometrics can be a useful tool in determining the preferences, preferences, and fears of people, which is vital for the development of a successful political strategy and determines strengths and weaknesses in the various candidates, which can be used in specific demographics to support or destroy a candidate. This explains why Mitch McConnell and his team were so confident when they decided to deny Judge Garland a hearing. They knew that Hillary, and down ballot Democrats, could be destroyed, and that low information voters could be persuaded to vote against their best interest by using sound bites, faux pas by Democrats, and by appealing or exploiting their preferences and fears.

  2. FireBaron says:

    As a reminder, Teflon Donnie’s mother was an undocumented immigrant (i.e. illegal alien) in 1929.

    • Theodora30 says:

      I have never read that. Do you have a link? It does seem clear that Melanie violated her visa by working when it was not allowed.

  3. Theodora30 says:

    I would like to see the media constantly asking who is running the show, Bannon or Trump. Also cartoons with Bannon pulling Trump’s strings, Trump as a dummy sitting on Bannon’s lap or, even better, Bannon with his hand up Trump’s rear. Not only is this an important question, it will also drive Trump crazy if he thinks the public/media believes he is Bannon’s puppet. That, if anything, will get Trump to push Bannon aside.

    • Kathryngcampos says:

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  4. TZToronto says:

    Hmmmm . . . Let’s see. . . . So we’re going to get reporting on crimes committed by aliens. Are they going to present two sets of numbers? The first set will contain the actual numbers of criminal acts committed by aliens; the second set will contain the “alternative fact” numbers of criminal acts committed by aliens. I suspect that the Trumpists will pay strict attention to the second set while ignoring the first set. If pressed on the veracity of the second set, the response will be something like, “The President has numbers that are not available to anyone else, and he knows they are correct. We know that there are more crimes committed by aliens–especially Muslims–than are reported to anyone else. The second set of numbers demonstrates the lie that aliens do not commit crimes. So there! If you don’t like the second set of numbers, SHUT UP!”

  5. Bannon and Breitbart have gone out of their way to paint a portrait that serves the role of perpetuating a primeval urge to create hierarchies among humans using the base instinct for stereotyping any group you deem as a danger to the “privilege” your “group” has acquired through series of social/cultural events and trends.

    For reasons not obvious to us mortals, humanity has been given a trait that predisposes us to want to establish hierarchies in society. Some of the most obvious cases of this are seen in Hindu society today, and was seen in Apartheid South Africa before that system was dismantled by law. This tendency to want to divide and categorize and put groups in neat little categories is mainly a continuation of the desire to establish rankings in society.
    Trump, Bannon, and others like them are just unwitting and foolish actors who insist on keeping humanity thinking in terms of hierarchy and group differences.

    Obviously, ranking in society is great for maintaining order in the animal kingdom, and it has proven helpful for humans from the time we descended from trees and formed groups that walked upright and developed skills to communicate and form complex ordering. But today, as I understand the Message of Baha’u’llah, this hierarchical schema is unworthy or humanity in this New Era which dawned as of May 23, 1844.
    Since His theme is now centered around the Oneness of Humanity, and His call is for all forms of prejudice to be eliminated in order to facilitate this transition from a hierarchical society to a society where everyone plays a vital role in rebuilding society by discovering each person’s unique and latent talents, coaxing out that talent via education and support, and implementing policies to safeguard this training and development of human capacity, then it becomes as clear as the noonday sun that any individuals(s), political parties, racists, and others inimical to the well-being of any and all humans is a violation of this Vision of Baha’u’llah’s—a Vision not possible to share and implement from the time of “Adam and Eve” up to He who is referred to as “The Seal of The Prophets”, i.e., Muhammad.

    Muhammad’s Revelation, Islam, is a culmination of a succession of Revelations that began in synch with the First Cycle of Humanity’s Evolution, from single-celled beings in the oceans who were always distinct because they were “Human”, even though we shared a morphology similar to the other creature around us, and that were destined not to become “Human”, not to develop sentience to the level of “humans”, nor have the ability to recognize the Creator. (This would explain why there is no evidence of a “Missing Link”—we were always human, even though we went through stages of mental and physical change that at some point led to an “ape-like” appearance).
    All of what I’ve described didn’t originate with me, but is based on what I and the rest of the Baha’i Communities across the globe have come to realize in unison via the Message of Baha’u’llah.

    Partisan politics, religious intolerance and fanaticism, wars and tribalism, nationalism. prejudices, injustice, and inequality that prevents development of God-given capacities, and other lower forms of “unities” will always by their nature prevent humans across the planet from ever truly achieving Unity that transcends political/group identities. That such a unity was unattainable in previous Dispensations, and withheld from being spoken of and implemented, was solely due to our lack of capacity to have put such a grand scale of unity(World Unity) into effect prior to 1844.

    Trump, Bannon, Racists and Racialism, Caste proponents, religious zealots and fanatics, Partisan Politics enthusiasts or political extremists of any political stripe, nationalists/socialists/communists and what not, and Class Differences, are by their nature incompatible with “The Oneness of Humanity”, just as water and oil are and can never mix by the laws imposed on such incompatible substances/concepts.

    Therefore, it may just be that the trait which predisposes humans to form hierarchies were largely a step to both help get us to today’s point of evolution, and to test our inner resolve and to exercise and develop our spiritual faculties, much like an athlete trains to develop athleticism, a musician practices to become better, or a student studies to become more learned.

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