Speaking at a rally in Pennsylvania Donald Trump ratcheted up the fear of the “other” among his largely white audience. Where there is a perception that white privilege is threatened – and that’s Trump’s message – you can be sure fear will flow in direct proportion to Trump’s lies. And he lied a lot:
Her plan will import generations of terrorism, extremism, and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities. When I’m elected president, we will suspend the Syrian refugee program.
And we will keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country. I can tell you that. We will keep them out. We have enough problems, folks. We have enough problems. We have plenty of problems, we don’t need these. Here in Pennsylvania, you’ve seen firsthand the problems caused by refugee programs with large numbers of poorly vetted refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, support or approval.
A Trump administration will not admit any refugees without the support of the local community where they are being placed. It’s about time that people know. You have people being brought into your community, nobody knows who they are. Even your governors and your top politicians aren’t told. We’re gonna change that. And we will pause admissions from terror prone regions until a full security assessment has been performed and until a proven vetting mechanism has been established.
We only want to admit those into this nation who will support our country and love our people.
According to the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale, who has been tracking all Trump’s lies, Trump has, up until Friday, told 68 lies about Clinton’s policies and 34 about refugees/immigration, and the claims used in Pennsylvania have been used repeatedly elsewhere.
These fall into a standard trope: “Thousands of refugees are being admitted with no way to screen them” (Oct 5); “Hundreds of thousands of people coming in from Syria when we know nothing about them” (Oct 9); “We have no idea who they are, where they come from” (Oct 15); and more of the same.
After last night, you can add more of the same to the list.
The “no vetting” was introduced during a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire on June 13 and PolitiFact quickly jumped on it, calling it “False.” As PolitiFact explained,
While there are concerns about information gaps, a system does exist and has existed since 1980. It involves multiple federal intelligence and security agencies as well as the United Nations. Refugee vetting typically takes one to two years and includes numerous rounds of security checks.
It does not take much imagination to suppose Trump’s vetting process would take something on the order of…eternity, meaning no Syrian refugees admitted ever.
Trump’s lie that Clinton would bring in “thousands” of refugees also ran into a fact checking buzzsaw as PolitiFact ruled his claim that, “Hillary Clinton’s plan would bring in 620,000 refugees in her first term, alone, with no effective way to screen or vet them” was “False.” You know, because Clinton never said that.
Trump also played on fears that Muslims don’t assimilate – you know because they’re not like the “us” (meaning Trump’s largely white audiences) – but Pew Research Center says “Muslim Americans appear to be highly assimilated.”
Of course, Trump wants his audiences to believe these refugees are terrorists – strapping young men willing to go on shooting rampages – when in fact most of them are women and children.
As for not knowing where they go, the Philadelphia Inquirer fact-checked this Trump claim last November and pointed out that Trump is wrong to point the finger at the government:
“Donald Trump suggested the government steers Syrian refugees to states with Republican governors. But nongovernmental agencies, such as World Relief and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, place the refugees, not the government, and those decisions are based on family ties, employment and other factors, not politics.”
In fact, as a look at refugees by The Atlantic found, and this was true wherever they looked, refugees embraced their new community and their community embraced them – sounding, in fact, a lot more like Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump – when they said things like “We embrace each other” or “They make our community stronger.”
In fact, you begin to wonder if the people who aren’t assimilated are Trump’s base and it is certainly arguable whether Trump’s supporters love our people. If there is love in Trump’s words or their responses, I can’t find them.
Trump has again made up a new reality having nothing to do with that the rest of us inhabit, and sown fear where none belongs, agitating the white supremacist audience he says he has no time for, and whose support he claims to reject.
This is Trump keeping “on message” folks, taking his hate and fear right down the stretch to the polling places where, in many places, his armed supporters will be waiting to make sure you cast the right vote.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.