Washington Post contributor Daniel W. Drezner may have gotten well over his skis when tweeting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had referred to immigrants entering from Mexico as “filth”, in the prepared transcript for his border speech.
Drezner later retracted his statement with an apology for not correctly noting the context in which the phrase was originally intended. Also, Sessions chose not to give voice to what he had written, and dropped the “filth” reference from his public proclamation.
Context, it seems, is everything. The original statement identifies “criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into war zones” as the intended reference to the filth that Sessions desired to keep out of the country.
However, context is also the reason that many have reacted negatively to Sessions’ forceful declaration.
Drezner and others are quite aware that Candidate Trump built a campaign on the promise to equate Mexicans / Latinos with drug dealers and rapists.
Consider the following comparison of Sessions’ speech and Trump’s first candidate announcement:
TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.
They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
SESSIONS: We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings.
It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.
So just how much value does the Trump / Sessions administration place on those decent undocumented residents which Trump assumes to be good people, those hard-working parents committed to raising their USAmerican citizen children? Not much.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund reacted:
Attorney General Sessions is grandstanding at the border in an attempt to look tough and scare immigrants. It’s yet another example of the Trump Administration treating all immigrants as threats and as criminals.
In the late 1960’s, Recardo Mantalban, the well-known movie and TV actor, successfully challenged the Frito-Lay company on their use of the “Frito Bandito”, the Poncho Villa type mascot used in a multi-million dollar ad campaign. Mantalban stated:
“There are two extremes. One is the indolent, lazy peon with a big hat, taking a siesta… The other extreme was the bandit… In between: nothing, a vacuum, never a decent man.”
In the 1970’s it apparently mattered that a growing Hispanic population was being unfairly stereotyped. The bandito disappeared from advertising.
Yet that was a half-century before the Trump Era wherin sensitivity is no longer in vogue.
Context is everything