Eric Levitz sums up why Trump’s kidding-on-the-square — a kidding that is an integral part of fascist discourse — about vigilante violence against immigrants is so dangerous, and why it’s outrageous that it’s not being taken more seriously:
To review: Trump’s decision to brand Central American families fleeing adverse conditions in their home countries as an army of invading criminals has inspired armed vigilantes to flock to the border; these vigilantes have been illegally detaining migrants at gunpoint; some militia members are reportedly contemplating executing detained migrants en masse; and the president nevertheless keeps saying that shooting border crossers would be an effective way of deterring a major threat to the United States — and that he actually cannot think of any other effective means of doing so under our nation’s existing laws.
Three months ago, a Democratic congresswoman suggested that Congress’s attempts to suppress criticism of Israel were “all about” AIPAC’s “Benjamins.” Ilhan Omar did not utter a single disparaging word about “Jews.” She did not lament the influence of Jewish money in politics. She merely accused a lobby that seeks to influence U.S. policy toward Israel — in part, by organizing donor networks that back sympathetic candidates — of being good at its job.
But violent anti-Semites exist. And the notion that Jews control U.S. policy with their money is something that many anti-Semites believe. And so Omar’s decision to (somewhat reductively) attribute all pro-Likud agitation in Congress to a predominately Jewish organization’s money led to front-page news stories, bipartisan censure, and a formal congressional condemnation of anti-Semitism.
On Thursday morning, Trump’s decision to laugh off the suggestion that the only way to stop asylum seekers is to shoot them — at a time when militias are routinely detaining migrants at gunpoint — barely registered as news. The remarks appeared nowhere on the home page of America’s paper of record. Congressional Republicans felt little pressure to disavow the president’s behavior.
This is the dehumanizing language with which Trump started his presidential campaign, and it’s going to get more and more people killed as his party backs him to the hilt.