Should Donald Trump drop out of the race? Yes. He should drop out of the human race.
He is an animal. Apologies to animals.
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) October 10, 2016
She posted that the day after the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged in 2016. For the comparatively lesser offense of belonging to a gang whose motto is “rape, control, kill,” her view is more nuanced:
.@AnaNavarro accuses President Trump of "dehumanizing people" by referring to "animals" during a discussion on immigration: "It's what the Nazis did. It's what slave owners did. It's not what Americans do," she says, advising him to "measure his words" pic.twitter.com/FUUEtLpFxb
— New Day (@NewDay) May 17, 2018
She’s going to end up defending herself with two points. Per the clip, she refuses to believe Trump’s “animals” comment was aimed solely at MS-13. He was asked specifically about them, yeah, but since the beginning of his candidacy he’s identified rape, crime, and drugs as core problems of illegal immigration writ large. If we’re going to look at the “full context,” we need to look beyond that specific Q&A to understand him. The other defense will be that we expect better behavior from presidents than we do from Republican pundits, especially ones whose entire value to their employers is badmouthing their own party. It’s one thing for Navarro to chatter about some politician being an animal, it’s another for someone with the power of life and death and an ocean of persuadable voters to do it.
Although, really, part of populism is that we *shouldn’t* expect better behavior from our leaders, right? Presidential-ness is an elite construct, made by and for cucks! Or rather, the standards of presidential-ness shouldn’t be set by people who’d preclude the occasional musing about “animals” even when describing psychotic gang-affiliated killers.
There’s no point continuing to debate what Trump “really” meant, though, since it boils down to how much of a benefit of the doubt you’re willing to give him. Not much in my case, but I can believe that he holds MS-13 in contempt, as he should, and that the mention of them drew out a knee-jerk reference to “animals.” Navarro has no esteem for him at all — she’s on TV a lot talking about him and unfailingly finds something to criticize, whatever the topic — so she reads it as a racial dog whistle. To some extent whether you’re on Trump’s side here is a basic, basic question of whether you can imagine yourself calling a truly terrible person or group of people like MS-13 “animals.” I can. And obviously Navarro can, since she has. That’s what makes her critique a little surprising: She’s not against dehumanization per se, as so many of Trump’s critics the past few days have claimed to be.
Update: People are tweeting at me in response to this post, “INDIVIDUALS ARE DIFFERENT FROM GROUPS,” i.e. it’s fine to assess a single person like Trump as an animal based on his own behavior but perilous to do so with a group of many different people like … uh, MS-13? We shouldn’t paint the “rape, kill, control” gang with a broad brush? The individual/group distinction is facile here unless you’re with Navarro in viewing Trump’s comment as a dog whistle aimed at illegals generally. And needless to say, if you’re of the view that Trump or any other single person is an “animal,” then the idea that dehumanizing rhetoric is always and necessarily pernicious is out the window. Which, of course, it is: Activists from both parties routinely describe the other in terms as bad as or worse than “animal.” The tears over “animal” language are crocodile ones — no pun intended.