Republicans go to some fairly absurd lengths to defend Donald Trump, but Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) deserves some kind of special achievement award for his performance following Trump's naked attempt to terrify Americans about Hispanic immigrants this week.
It has been a long-term project of Trump's to amp up the hatred of non-white people, beginning with his campaign announcement that undocumented Mexican immigrants are “rapists,” to his racist executive order establishing an anti-immigrant propaganda office, and right up to this week's rolling presentation of terrifying brown people.
On Thursday, Trump had an ICE official open up the daily briefing with a tirade that was ostensibly about the MS-13 street gang, but which literally featured a backdrop of killer brown bodies behind him. That presentation backfired badly when reporter quickly pointed out that Trump's policies prevent other brown people from helping to fight the gangs.
Even Trump's racist anti-immigrant hotline offers a “sanctuary” policy for reporters of crimes, but witnesses and victims are not protected from deportation.
Then on Friday, Trump traveled to Ronkonkoma, New York, to further whip up fear of immigrants, encouraging police brutality along the way, and also offering this fairly ugly description of the surrounding environs:
“Since January ‘16 — think of this — MS-13 gang members have brutally murdered 17 beautiful, young lives in this area on Long Island alone. Think of it. They butchered those little girls. They kidnap, they extort, they rape, and they rob. They prey on children. They shouldn’t be here. They stomp on their victims. They beat them with clubs. They slash them with machetes, and they stab them with knives. They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful, quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields. They're animals.”
That performance may have earned Trump a rebuke from police organizations, but the Republican congressman from that area is just fine with it. In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes Friday night, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) took the highly unusual step of both “absolutely” confirming Trump's diagnosis of his district as a blood-stained killing field, and chirpily inviting tourists to come and enjoy the nice weather among the murder:
HAYES: Do you think about the place you live, and the place you represent, the adjoining district, as blood-stained killing fields? Is that an accurate characterization of the place in which you reside?
ZELDIN: When these incidents take place, there at that moment, absolutely. These are ... I love Long Island. This is our home. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Especially this time of year, we have a lot of people who come visit us. The weather is beautiful. For those who are watching and want a good place to vacation.
Come for fun in the sun, stay for the slow death by knifing! If there's funnel cake, I might just be down for that.
Trump's various campaigns against minorities are disgraceful, but the degree to which Republican officials who know better are willing to go along with him is even worse. The only way for this nightmare to end is for them to grow a spine, or be voted out of office.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR