On Wednesday night, the president of the United States shook off a supporter’s cry to shoot incoming migrants and asylum seekers with little more than a one-liner and a cheeky grin. That’s where we’re at in 2019.
The exchange took place at a Trump rally in Panama City Beach, Fla., The Daily Beast reports. Trump claimed that “15,000 people” are “marching up” to the border, which is guarded by only “two or three border security people who are brave.”
“Don’t forget, we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons. We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that,” Trump said, before asking in reference to immigrants, “How do you stop these people?”
One attendee yelled “shoot ‘em” in response, prompting a chuckle and a shake of the head from our commander-in-chief as the rest of the crowd laughed.
“That’s only in the panhandle you can get away with that statement, folks. Only in the panhandle!” Trump said, smiling. Watch for yourself below.
That interaction is exactly how Trump’s white supremacy works. He lets bigots get away with violent statements like that by joking, shrugging it off and, in some ways, emphasizing the jingoistic nature of the proposal by tying it back to where the supporters are from. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez astutely pointed out back in March that the subtext of Trump’s attitude towards racism is “[If] you engage in violent acts of white supremacy, I will look the other way.”
Trump’s comments at the Panama City Beach rally echo what he said on Sean Hannity’s program in March about shooting immigrants being “very effective,” but not endorsing their murder outright:
Now we are capturing these people. We are getting them but we don’t do it like other countries. Other countries stand there with machine guns, ready to fire. We can’t do that and I wouldn’t want to do that, okay? It’s a very effective way of doing it but I wouldn’t want to do it. We can’t do it.
The scourge of white supremacy is not a uniquely American phenomenon, but Trump sure is doing his best to make it a core part of his vision for our country.