For the Globe and Mail, I wrote about Trump’s trip to Mexico and his horrifying immigration speech:
The proposed Mexican wall is fantastical. It is as fantastical as the wall being built in Atlanta, a wall that guards nothing but the sanctity of bigotry. The Trump fans, endlessly mocking political correctness, are building themselves a safe space. Their safe space is a shrine – to Mr. Trump, to audacity, to doing things because one can, not because it serves the public good. Such is the Trump campaign.
The wall was never truly about Mexico, but it was always about borders. His antipathy toward Mexicans – and Muslims, and blacks, and other minorities – was aimed at capturing the allegiance of whites. His campaign was born this way, and it thrived this way, until he became too erratic and vulgar. His support stagnated, then fell.
Now he is attempting to appease the groups he insulted – visiting Mexico, reaching out to blacks – but his message still targets white voters. He needs to reassure them he is not a bigot so they can reassure themselves they are not either.
Mr. Trump followed up his Mexico excursion with a rally speech in Arizona. Surrounded by cheering fans, he reverted to form: energetic and paranoid, portraying the divide between the U.S. and Mexico as a divide between safety and danger. Any illegal immigrant who committed a crime stood in for all illegal immigrants. When not murdering “good Americans,” they were leeching off the system, stealing resources and jobs.
Early in his speech, Mr. Trump bemoaned the “illegal flow of drugs, cash, guns and people.” In his world view, objects are the same as human beings: dangerous and disposable, so long as they come from Mexico.
He spoke of “compassion for Americans,” but the Mexicans and Mexican-Americans he insulted merited none. His rage in Arizona stood in stark contrast to his meekness earlier in the day. Confronted with the humanity of his enemy in Mexico, he faltered; surrounded by adoration, he struck from afar.