John Harwood: MS-13 gang members are people too

As Jazz pointed out this morning, the media went wild last night and this morning over President Trump referring to immigrants as “animals.” Except that wasn’t a very generous or accurate look at what Trump said. In fact, he was responding to a statement made by one of the attendees at his sanctuary state roundtable about MS-13 gang members. That seems like some fairly important context to mention, but a lot of allegedly serious news outlets didn’t bother.

This morning as people on the right began not-so-gently pointing out that Trump was talking about a violent street gang, some news outlets responded by trying to correct their misleading reporting:

That’s the right approach. Just acknowledge you got it wrong or, at least, that you didn’t present the full picture. Seems pretty simple, but not for everyone apparently. CNBC’s John Harwood decided to double down. Even if President Trump was talking about MS-13 members, he’s still wrong to call them animals:

Technically, he right. But the fact remains that it’s pretty much the nature of this particular gang to brutally murder and terrorize people. From the Washington Post last November:

As many as 10 members of the MS-13 street gang lured a man into a park in Wheaton, Md., spoke with one another over walkie-talkies as he arrived, stabbed him more than 100 times, decapitated him and then cut out his heart, according to police documents made public Wednesday in Montgomery County District Court.

Hopefully, we can all agree that’s exceptionally bad behavior. But that’s not unusual for this gang. Here’s another story reported by Fox News last July:

“MS-13 suspected that some of the men were from a rival gang, and directed the female associates to lure them to a community park…where a group of MS-13 members would be waiting to attack and kill them,” federal prosecutors wrote in the letter…

“One of the targeted victims ran immediately and escaped, but the group of MS-13 members and associates attacked and killed Llivicura, Lopez, Tigre and Villalobos, using machetes, knives and wooden clubs,” prosecutors wrote. “[The four victims] were surrounded by more than a dozen MS-13 members, including the defendants, and engulfed in a horrific frenzy of violence as they were brutally bludgeoned, sliced and stabbed to death.”

So, yes, we all understand that MS-13 members are human beings but they’re some of the most violent, ruthless human beings to be found anywhere. And because that’s true, the president is right to want to protect Americans from them and to get them off our streets. And it’s worth noting that what Trump actually said was, “These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country…” Deportation for violent criminal gang members seems like a pretty good idea to me and I bet it will to most Americans too, especially if that gang is MS-13.

Eventually, Harwood did admit there were some “human beings” who probably didn’t deserve our defense. I guess that’s something:

Addendum: Some are still claiming Trump was speaking broadly here about all immigrants but it’s worth noting that he has condemned MS-13 members as animals at least twice before.

So he’s used this word to describe MS-13 before, in public. That’s the long-term context here.

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Jazz Shaw 8:31 AM on December 04, 2022