Tag: rhetoric
'Hellfire Missiles' For Mexico: Anti-Migrant Rhetoric Escalates At CPAC

'Hellfire Missiles' For Mexico: Anti-Migrant Rhetoric Escalates At CPAC

Anti-migrant rhetoric took center stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference as right-wing pundits and politicians unleashed a torrent of xenophobia over the course of several days, signaling the central role that nativism will likely play in the 2024 presidential election.

With former President Donald Trump now the de facto Republican presidential candidate, the entire right-wing media ecosystem has embraced his signature anti-immigrant positions. At CPAC, which took place just outside of Washington, D.C., this week, speakers baselessly blamed migrants for a host of perceived social ills and proposed radical policies to punish them and their home countries.

Fox News contributor Tom Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Trump, pledged that his former boss would bomb Mexican drug cartels if given a second term.

“President Trump will declare them a terrorist organization, he will send a Hellfire rocket down there, and he’ll take the cartels out,” Homan said.

Even though launching missiles at the United States' neighbor and largest trading partner poses a number of obvious risks, Homan has long supported designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations to empower federal law enforcement to wage war against cartels on their home soil. Under Trump, Homan was one of the architects of the administration’s family separation policy, and he has extensive ties to the nativist Tanton network.

During a panel discussion about immigration, Homan — who has promised to return to government if Trump gets reelected and once again nominates him to lead ICE — repeated his promise to carry out the largest deportation operation in the country’s history.

"For the millions of illegal aliens that have been released in this country — don’t get too comfortable, because we’re coming looking for you,” Homan threatened. “There has to be an historic deportation operation at the end of historic illegal immigration,” he added.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller made similarly extreme comments and repeated his call for the military to establish “large-scale staging grounds for removal” of migrants. In Miller’s telling, “You grab illegal immigrants, and then you move them to the staging grounds, and that’s where the planes are waiting.”

“The military has the right to establish a fortress position on the border, and to say ‘No one can cross here at all,’” Miller added.

If a future Trump administration attempted to enact Miller’s policy wish list, it would almost certainly run into a number of legal, diplomatic, and logistical obstacles — not least of all that federal law bars the military from engaging in domestic law enforcement.

The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles dismissed the central role immigration played in the development of the United States.

“We are told that we must tolerate the destruction of our borders, and the invasion of our country, because we are a nation of immigrants,” Knowles said. "As a matter of history, we are not, in fact, a nation of immigrants,” he added.

Knowles is exactly wrong, though he is correct that the United States has a long history of anti-immigrant bigotry.

Last year, Knowles said that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely,” a comment he referenced in his speech this year, folding it into his anti-immigrant rant.

“We know the difference between a man and a woman,” Knowles said. “We know the difference between an American and everyone else.”

Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law and current hopeful to co-run the Republican National Committee, fearmongered about the “millions and millions of people flooding into our country illegally” across the southern border who have been “given a red carpet rollout and reception by Joe and Kamala."

Ben Carson, who served as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Trump, warned that immigration is an existential threat to the United States.

Carson asserted: “Our leaders are determined to repeat every mistake that led to the collapse of empires before us.” Among those mistakes, he cited “mass immigration and infiltration by foreigners who don't share our values and culture or even our language."

For months, Trump and his advisers have previewed extreme plans to deploy the military and use law enforcement to deport as many as 10 million people living in the United States without authorization. The speakers at CPAC are joining others in right-wing media in helping to lay the foundation for that horrifying proposition — to standing ovations from an audience that demands nothing less.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Right-Wing Media

Right-Wing Media Escalate 'Civil War' Threat Over Supreme Court's Border Decision

In response to a recent Supreme Court ruling allowing Border Patrol agents to cut razor wire Texas laid along the border with Mexico, right-wing pundits are claiming the Biden administration has sparked a second American Civil War. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, two members of the court’s conservative block, sided with the three liberal justices in ruling for the federal government.

The issue stems from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to stretch razor wire over dozens of miles along the state’s southern border, a cruel policy that has failed in its stated objective of deterring unauthorized border crossings. The Biden administration opposes the measures, and has ordered the Border Patrol to remove the barriers. The stand-off between Border Patrol and the Texas National Guard escalated earlier this month, with federal officials blaming Abbott for the deaths of a mother and her two children who drowned in the Rio Grande. (Texas authorities dispute this version of events.)

For his part, Gov. Abbott pledged that Texas will “continue to deploy this razor wire to repel illegal immigration.” Although it may appear that Abbott is in direct defiance of the Supreme Court, the American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick explained that the ruling overturned an “order saying Border Patrol COULDN’T remove Texas razor wire to process migrants. It didn’t affirmatively rule that the Border Patrol COULD remove Texas razor wire.” Or, as the New Republic's Matt Ford put it, the Supreme Court “lifted an injunction” on the Department of Homeland Security, so there's “nothing in this case for Texas to obey or defy at the moment.”

This simmering confrontation is the new backdrop for an old story. During election years, conservative media outlets generally ramp up their attacks on immigrants. Separately, over the last year, conservatives have become increasingly comfortable calling for, threatening, or warning about a coming civil war in the country. Responses to the recent court ruling have married these two trends.

As the news broke on January 22, conservative YouTube streamer Tim Pool said it “looks like a Fort Sumter-esque type scenario,” referencing the first battle of the Civil War, adding that “it does feel like it could be escalating to this federal versus state conflict.”

That evening, former Fox News star Tucker Carlson posted on X (formerly Twitter), asking: “Where are the men of Texas? Why aren’t they protecting their state and the nation?”

The same night, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) wrote that “the feds are staging a civil war, and Texas should stand their ground.”

Then on January 23, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon appeared to favorably reference that post, saying “as Clay Higgins said” there is “kind of a civil war between the federal government and the state of Texas.”

Hours later, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk fantasized about Gov. Abbott openly defying the court’s ruling at the barrel of a gun.

“So someone says right here, ‘Charlie, what would happen if Texas ignores the ruling? Will the government go to war with Texas?’” he asked.

“The federal government would come in, and some people would say, ‘Well, that's the seeds of a civil war.’ Is that what you want? Where does this end?” Kirk added moments later. “By the way, I'm all on board.”

“If we had an actual governor of Texas that was willing — 100% defy this,” Kirk continued, before advising Abbott on the logistics.

“If you're going to defy, here's how it works: press conference flanked by your most loyal Texas Rangers. ‘I am ignoring the Supreme Court's decision,’” Kirk said, adopting Abbott’s point of view. “‘I will enforce the border of Texas. If you're going to arrest me, you have to go through the Texas Rangers.’”

“If we had more governors on the border, it would be even more powerful,” he added, implicitly invoking the Confederacy. “Get every red state on board. Fly in every Republican governor.”

On Wednesday afternoon Abbott issued a statement invoking “Texas’s constitutional authority to defend and protect itself,” which he claimed is “the supreme law of the land.” Throughout the day, at least nine governors backed Abbott on X, even if they fell short of Kirk’s demand that they travel to the border. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp all posted their support for Texas, as did Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

In the same episode, Kirk told his audience that they had “better buy weapons,” and “have a lot of guns at your disposal.”

That afternoon, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh echoed Kirk. “Red state governors will need to ignore the Supreme Court and do what needs to be done to protect their citizens and the border,” Walsh said. He later added, “The last civil war was unimaginable until it wasn't.”

In the early evening, Bannon returned to the topic with guest Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). “That Supreme Court decision that was made has now put the federal government at war with the state of Texas,” Greene said.

“If they fund a war in Ukraine when Zelensky is raising the white flag, asking for peace talks in Switzerland, and they weaken our border policy while the federal government is at war with Texas, that is truly, possibly the start of a civil war in this country,” she added.

Blaze TV’s Steve Deace also invoked the memory of the Civil War. “Basically, the Supreme Court has told Texas your choices are: be invaded or secede,” Deace said.

On January 25, Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade adopted the same framing on Fox & Friends.

“It feels like almost like a soft civil war,” Kilmeade said. “You’ve got all the Republicans saying, ‘Can we secure our borders?’ the Democrats saying, ‘I want this to go away’ and blaming Republicans, the President against the governor of Texas — the most independent state in the union. I mean, this is getting a little crazy.”

Fox News sounded little different than the fringe. “This is a constitutional crisis,” said conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in a video titled: “Supreme Court Decision Provokes Civil War in Texas.”

The story was the same in the right-wing blogosphere, too, with conservative news site PJ Media asking, “Is Joe Biden Mounting a Civil War at the Border?”

Conservative influencer Jordan Peterson posted: “So is it the case that @TheDemocrats are truly ready to go to war with Texas?”

While right-wing media figures fantasize about a new civil war, their rhetoric has real implications for immigration policy. They are stoking xenophobia and nativism, and endorsing cruel policies that are already injuring and killing some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Evangelical 'Christians' Parrot Trump's False And Vindictive Rhetoric

Evangelical 'Christians' Parrot Trump's False And Vindictive Rhetoric

Despite facing four indictments, one demographic's support for Donald Trump has increased over the last eight years — right-wing evangelical Christians.

According to NBC News, "In 2016, Trump garnered just 22 percent of Iowa’s evangelical vote, according to caucus entrance polling. In the latest NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll, 51 percent of likely Iowa evangelical caucusgoers said that they are backing Trump for the GOP’s 2024 nomination."

In a Wednesday, January 10 report, NBC News' Dan Gallo, Vaughn Hillyard, and Jake Traylor note that many evangelical ministers are displaying their staunch support for Trump through the form of prayer.

"The invocations have become their own political call to action, sometimes punctuated with applause lines and partisan language, invoking the same falsehoods and vindictiveness that Trump himself spreads," they write.

Gallo, Hillyard and Traylor note:

Celebrity pastors, such as Paula White and Kenneth Copeland, who preach the 'prosperity gospel,' have long stood by Trump’s side, giving him early credibility in their corner of Christianity. Now, the pastors taking the political stage across the country are most often local pastors with more immediate followings — further proof that Trump’s reach goes well beyond the television megachurches and into local congregations that were once more skeptical of a somewhat vulgar New York real estate tycoon and casino owner.

Reverend Joel Tenney of Coralville, Iowa, told "several hundred supporters" at a December rally, “We have witnessed a sitting president weaponize the entire legal system to try and steal an election and imprison his leading opponent, Donald Trump, despite committing no crime. We have witnessed a sitting president weaponize the entire legal system to try and steal an election and imprison his leading opponent, Donald Trump, despite committing no crime."

The Iowa pastor, praying that God "would help us to re-elect President Donald Trump," said the 2024 presidential election "'is part of a spiritual battle' with 'demonic forces at play.'"

According to NBC, Iowa Pastor Barney Bornhoft "prayed at the beginning of an Ankeny, Iowa, rally in December for 'a hedge of protection' around Trump, while offering something of a midprayer commentary: 'I don’t believe we have any idea the pressure that he’s under,' calling the cases against the former president 'ridiculous.'"

Bornhoft told the news outlet, on one hand, "it is awkward for a minister to take the same podium as Trump, but added: 'Part of who he is on stage kept us out of war years ago, kept us with a border that was closed.'"

He added, "There’s been a lot of presidents behind the scenes who curse, who do a lot of different things. I hate to say it this way, but the office at times requires it."

Tenney emphasized to his audience, "When Donald Trump becomes the 47th President of the United States, there will be retribution against all those who have promoted evil in this country."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.