When U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Donald Trump’s wall “an immorality,” right wing pundits pounced. They conflated Pelosi calling the wall immoral with the message that all Democrats want open borders.
The president defended his monument by claiming the country needs a “powerful wall” to deter the next migrant caravan on its way, news he most likely saw on FOX. In reality, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s policies are humanitarian and Mexican immigration has been streamlined to encourage the refugees and migrants looking to come to the US to stay in Mexico.
But that’s not the narrative the right-wing pundits have been pushing for years, and being gaslighted to view immigrants as criminal invaders has led to a Pavlovian response of outrage from supporters. They have found a kindred spirit in the president and his henchman Stephen Miller, purveyor of overtly racist policies.
A deal was struck to fund the government through the holidays, but when Ann Coulter called out the commander and chief in a tweet for not securing funding for his monument in the legislation, Trump pulled out of the agreement. The premise, or ruse he used was that there was a crisis at the border. But the crisis has been proven to be one of refugees fleeing violence in the northern triangle of South America, not of criminals and rapists from Mexico.
The irony is that the government shutdown has created much more danger than any problem with the southern border. Essential workers in Transportation, Justice, and Homeland Security have been unable to get a paycheck while keeping us safe. This has hurt morale and increased absences from work in vital departments. In a January 25 public statement, FBI director Christopher Wray said of the situation, “it’s mind-boggling, it’s short-sighted, and it’s unfair.”
It is also just dumb, and Trump’s inability to feel empathy or shame has as much to do with it as his vanity.
The president’s rallies have an eerie simlarity to George Orwell’s two-minutes-hate in 1984. The call and response of “Build the wall!” “Who’s gonna pay for it?” “Mexico!” and the ever popular “Lock her up!” Lock her up!” have the authoritarian structure designed to simplify complex issues and scapegoat.
Pelosi called the wall immoral in the sense of it being a monument to xenophobic ideology. A master salesman sold a “big, beautiful wall” at rallies as a monument to himself in a time when statues celebrating Civil War heroes are being stored or placed in museums. The wall is seen as an icon to substitute their removal and give affirmation for racist views.
Caught between Coulter and Pelosi, Trump had nowhere to go but to cave. The Coulters of the world are hammering, and some of the MAGA crowd will choose to side with the pundits. But the allure of acceptance despite character flaws like bigotry and hate are tempting. That is the cement that keeps Trump’s wall “strong” and “powerful,” two of his favorite words.
The leader with the actual experience in brinksmanship and the mettle to see it through won this round. Pelosi has gained power, and Trump is once again diminished by his own vanity. You have to wonder if he will allow himself to recognize that fact.
Top image: “Border Fence beside a street in downtown Nogales, Arizona separating the United States from Mexico,” photo by Lindasj22.