A pair of South Boston men are being held without bail for urinating on, and savagely beating a 58-year old Latino homeless man. The two brothers, Scott and Steve Leader, allegedly assaulted the man because he appeared to be Hispanic. Scott Leader cited Donald Trump in defending his behavior, telling police:
Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.
Both brothers have extensive criminal histories, and Scott Leader served a year in prison for a post 9-11 hate crime. In 2001, Leader attacked a Moroccan man inside a Dunkin Donuts restaurant, shouting ethnic slurs and accusing his victim of being a “terrorist.”
On Wednesday night at a campaign event in Derry, New Hampshire, Donald Trump was asked about the Boston hate crime and whether his speeches were inciting anti-Latino violence, to which Trump replied:
I haven’t heard about that. I think that would be a shame. I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.
While Trump was probably unaware of the specific details of the attack when he answered the question, his response is disturbing to say the least. America will not be made great again by citizens “passionately” ripping blankets away from homeless people, urinating on them, and then beating them half to death.
When politicians demonize specific racial or ethnic groups, it is only a matter of time before self-styled vigilantes take the law into their own hands and start attacking people simply for what they look like. The Boston brothers appear to be easily manipulated miscreants who will attack whatever minority is the right-wing bogeyman of the month.
Just as the post 9-11 hysteria gave one of them the motivation to beat up a North African who “looked Muslim”, Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant hysteria has given them the impetus to start beating up people they think might be Mexicans. Trump’s xenophobia is ugly, and so are the actions of some of Trump’s misguided and mendacious followers. For all of Trump’s heated rhetoric about criminals crossing the border, it is two Boston brothers, not an illegal immigrant, who are responsible for this recent and hideous hate crime.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.