On Friday, the United States ended a 35-day government shutdown, the longest in history, over President Donald Trump’s demand for funding for a wall on the southern border. Hundreds of thousands of workers were missing paychecks; food-bank lines in Washington, D.C., were full of federal employees; and air-traffic controllers were warning of potential catastrophe.
The president’s strategy was predicated on the belief that the more suffering the shutdown inflicted on the American people, the more likely the Democrats were to cave to his demands. But it was all worth it, Trump insists, because the wall is necessary to stem the ceaseless tide of violence from the border. “The only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized,” Trump said during his prime-time address in early January.
The president regularly invokes violent crises perpetrated by scary foreigners. The announcement of his candidacy began with the declaration that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs; they’re bringing crime; they’re rapists.” He called for a ban on Muslims coming to the United States after an ISIS-inspired attack in San Bernardino, California. In his border-wall address, he pointed to crimes committed by unauthorized immigrants, whose victims were bludgeoned to death, beheaded, or stabbed, to argue for the necessity of the wall. But there’s one spike in violence that the president rarely acknowledges or even mentions, and it’s the rise in far-right terror that has accompanied his ascension to the White House.