President Trump is no stranger to verbal missteps and political “incorrectness.” One merely has to visit his twitter posts to encounter grade-school level name calling and unnecessarily unpresidential racial remarks. Usually, Trump puts his foot in his mouth entirely on his own, and rarely needs help from the media to showcase his lesser qualities.
So its interesting just how much “out of context” spinning the media has done today regarding Trumps comments on immigrants. Quick to jump on board an erroneous conclusion, media outlets claimed that Trump had referred to all illegal immigrants as “animals.” The media cruxifixction was rampant and quick, making comparisons between language used by the Nazi party in the 1930s to describe Jewish people as “vermin.” Pop culture news sites, like Vox, breezed over the context of the quote in order to paint a version of Trump that is unapologetically racist and volatile.
While it is true that Trump has a past history of racially prejudice statements – “bad hombres” comes to mind – in the case of calling illegal immigrants animals, the context works in his favor. To be fair to Trump, he was most likely referring to a specific group of violent illegal immigrants called the MS-13.
Coming into the United States from the Mexican border, the MS-13 gang is known for gruesome acts of violence, from kidnapping to chopping up the bodies of rival gang members. Calling these types of criminals “animals”, is not a difficult comparison to make. However, the media’s insistence on attacking Trump and taking these words out of context has actually served to do the opposite of the media’s intent.
By wrongly attacking Trump as racist for calling immigrants “animals”, the media has helped to contribute to dehumanizing language. By generalizing Trump’s original statement and connecting the term “animals” to include a larger racial and cultural group, these misguided media outlets are solidifying this label. In this instance, it is the media, and not Trump, that are guilty of dehumanizing people. And that is dangerous.
Trump knows the power that the media can yield – why else would he be so adamant about “fake news”? And this out-of-context reporting by various outlets is no exception. It is the responsibility of the media to tread carefully. There is enough hate being promoted from the Trump presidency. Please do not fuel the hate.