Tag: wall

Background Briefing: May 12, 2019


A New Low in Un-Presidential Rhetoric

We begin with the horrifying display of un-presidential behavior at Trump’s Florida rally last Wednesday where he again invoked the specter of caravans of immigrant heading north to invade our country saying “But how do you stop these people?” at which point someone in the crowd shouted out “shoot them” to which Trump responded with a chuckle then, as if endorsing what was said, Trump shook his head and smiled saying “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement”. Jennifer Mercieca, a professor in the Department of Communications at Texas A&M University and a historian of American presidential rhetoric who is finishing a new book about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and demagoguery, joins us to discuss this new low in essentially declaring open season on immigrants trying to cross the southern border. This at a time when the leader of a far-right militia group operating on the New Mexico border was arrested for making similar threats to shoot unarmed asylum-seekers who Trump is demonizing. Now that Trump is in full campaign mode, we are reminded at every rally that Trump is a national disgrace, and that we can only expect this dangerous incitement of racist vigilantism to get worse as Trump fires up his populist base with imaginary white genocide grievance as he distracts those he has betrayed by taking care of the 1%, not the people who voted for him.

 From the Frontier to the Border

Then we look further into the issue of the border and deeper into the history of the border’s role in the construction of our national identity and whether the American frontier ethos has hit a wall, with Trump having found a way to superficially acknowledge the limits of growth without addressing its complexities. In an age where average Americans are realizing that their country no longer wins foreign wars, we will look into how much the imperial appetite has been redirected inwards as this administration further militarizes the border and incites racial terror against immigrants, many of whom came to America seeking refuge from political violence in their countries which in many ways is a legacy of Cold War U.S. foreign policy in Central America.  Greg Grandin, a professor of history at New York University joins us to discuss his new book, The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America” in which he writes “Trumpism is extremism turned inward, all-consuming and self-devouring. There is no ‘divine, messianic’ crusade that can harness and redirect passions outward. Expansion, in any form, can no longer satisfy interests, reconcile contradictions, dilute the factions, or redirect the anger.”


Has Turkeys Despot Gone too Far?

Then finally we speak with Henri Barkey, professor of international relations at LeHigh University who served as a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff and is the author of “Reluctant Neighbor: Turkey’s Role in the Middle East” and has an article at Foreign Policy “Erdogan Just Committed Political Suicide. By overturning an election in Istanbul, he may have triggered a Turkish Spring”. We assess how long it will take for the Turkish people to get rid of their dictator, a question that could also be asked of the American people.