* * * * *"Even now, after all that's happened, most political reporters find themselves either unwilling or unable to identify Donald Trump's tirades as hate speech. But they fit the textbook definition . . . . This isn't 'tough' or 'hard edged' speechifying. This is hate speech.
"We tend to think in over-literal or clumsy ways about 'hate speech'. Most often we assume that it's a matter of using particular words, referring to a black woman as the n-word or calling a Jew a kike. And these slurs are often the bread and butter of hate speech. But they don't constitute it in themselves. . . .
"Hate speech is rants meant to inflame, inspire fear or rage or violence against a particular class of people. The precise vocabulary is not the heart of the matter. . . . Trump's Wednesday night speech was . . . a tirade filled with yelling, a snarling voice, air chopped to bits with slashing hands and through it all a story of American victims helpless before a looming threat from dangerous, predatory outsiders. . . .
[Trump brought out family members of victims of undocumented immigrants, to tell their stories. Marshall says that investigative journalists have found that some were ordinary examples of spousal/partner violence against women or auto accidents, caused by undocumented immigrants, not all -- as implied -- random, rampant killings by unknown "illegals."]
"But my point here isn't to factcheck the victim stories. There are millions of undocumented immigrants in the US . . . [who are certainly responsible for] . . . murders, auto fatalities, DUIs and much more. After all, they are believed to make up roughly 3% of the US population. . . . The salient point is that [as with some of Trump's examples] immigration policy and status is incidental . . . . "There's no evidence that undocumented immigrants commit more crimes . . . . Indeed, there is solid evidence that immigrants commit fewer crimes than the native born. . . .
"There is a legitimate public policy question about how aggressive we should be in deporting . . . . But the fact that some of them commit crimes is not relevant to the discussion. This is simply a way of whipping up irrational fear and hatred. . . .
"Anyone who is familiar with the history of the Jim Crow South or 1930s Germany . . . will tell you that the celebration and valorization of victims was always a central part of sustaining bigotry, fear and oppression. . . . . [and] a way of provoking vicarious horror, rage, hate and finally violence whether specific individuals were guilty or not. . . .
"I don't begrudge any of these families not only their agony but even their desire to blame whole groups. Grief warps the mind. But there's no excuse for those who have themselves suffered nothing but exploit this suffering to propagate hate. The fact that we've become inured to this, that we now find it normal to see these cattle calls of grief and incitement as part of a political campaign is shocking and sickening. There's no other word for this but incitement and blood libel.
"Watch Trump's speeches, with the yelling, the reddened face, the demand for vengeance and you see there's little to distinguish them from what we see at Aryan Nations or other white hate rallies that we all immediately recognize as reprehensible, wrong and frankly terrifying. This isn't 'rough' language or 'hard edged' rhetoric. It's hate speech. . . .
"This isn't normal . . . in America in the 21st century. And yet it's become normalized. It's a mammoth failure of our political press. . . . It's a collective failure that we're all responsible for. . . . [Because] it has become normalized, we do not even see it for what it is. It's like we've all been cast under a spell. That normalization will be with us long after this particular demagogue, Donald Trump, has left the stage. Call this what it is: it is hate speech, in its deepest and most dangerous form."
* * * * *
This is sobering . . . and, I think, frighteningly true.