Over the past few years, President Trump has demonstrated an appalling appetite for casual cruelty and a sociopathic lack of empathy when it comes to the well-being of people of color, especially those fleeing violence and instability in their countries of origin.
But a new report from the New York Times makes it clear that his desire to inflict pain on Hispanic immigrants teeters on the edge of sheer sadism, along with a fanatical obsession with ensuring that his border wall was as inhumane as it was impenetrable.
White House aides recounted the surreal meeting from last March in which Trump ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico. When he was told he couldn’t do that, his mind showed a rare spark of creativity in his efforts to come up with novel solutions to the border issue, each as horrifying and insane as the last:
“Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.”
The desire to shoot migrants in the legs was almost certainly inspired by the actions of the conservative-beloved Israeli Defence Force, which has pioneered the art of deliberately maiming Palestinian protestors by the thousands as they approach the Gaza border fence — even going so far as to develop a new kind of “butterfly” bullet that explodes as it enters the body.
Trump’s acting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement chief, Thomas D. Homan — the unfeeling ghoul who oversaw the separation of tens of thousands of children from their parents and their subsequent incarceration in abusive detention centers — tried to wave away the president’s ideas as just “frustration:” “The president was frustrated and I think he took that moment to hit the reset button.”
There is only so much the American mind can take before it succumbs to numbness by the incessant barrage of outrageous actions, offensive statements, and heart-wrenching cruelties that Donald Trump has flooded us with. But it is our moral imperative to keep our outrage in perspective.
We must recognize that while the ridiculous Ukranian whistleblower scandal is certainly a serious transgression, it is, at its heart, essentially nothing but the ultimately meaningless squabbling of privileged elites over the propriety of their children’s handouts and the arcane rules that govern the intelligence community.
Nobody’s going to get hurt and in all honesty, if the events of the past three years is any metric to judge by, absolutely nothing is going to come from it.
But here is credible evidence of the President of the United States expressing a desire to mangle and maim the bodies of immigrants desperately seeking a better life in the United States; to see his wall covered in blood and to see the electrified bodies of the innocent devoured by alligators.
These are the visions of a racist madman who has already committed a litany of appalling human rights violations and who has thousands upon thousands of deaths on his shoulders, and we must begin treating the treatment of migrants by the Trump administration with the seriousness that our conscience demands — and begin treating the President’s crimes against humanity with the severity they deserve.
Expanding the impeachment inquiry beyond the Ukraine probe would be a great start.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.