On Wednesday the White House press briefing briefly turned into rhetorical warfare. Donald Trump’s senior advisor, Stephen Miller, went ballistic on CNN reporter Jim Acosta. The issue was Trump’s latest xenophobic position on immigration reform. Acosta, the son of Cuban immigrants, asked if Trump’s policy amounted to “trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country.” Miller appeared to take the question personally. He lashed out at Acosta, calling him “outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish.”
Miller’s juvenile response typifies the emotional immaturity of the Trump administration. We should probably be grateful that Miller didn’t hurl profanities or feces. But the worst reaction to this exchange came from Fox News on the program hosted by proud Trump Fluffer, Tucker Carlson. Carlson’s guest was right-wing crackpot Mark Steyn, who unleashed a tirade of vitriol and bile (video below). He said that:
“One of the reasons we need immigrants to come here and do the jobs Americans won’t do is because one of the jobs Americans won’t do is drag Jim Acosta out of there, kick him to the sidewalk, and say ‘If you wanna do the Jim Acosta Show there’s a rusting boxcar round the back of the freight yards with three semi-comatose hobos who are interested in it. But nobody else here is.'”
So Steyn ignored everything that Acosta said and dismissed all of the substance of the debate. However, he did propose physically assaulting Acosta and denying him the free press rights guaranteed in the Constitution. The notion of violently attacking a journalist struck Carlson as hilarious. He repeatedly laughed at the thought of a beaten reporter being kicked out of a press briefing. This is what tickles the pro-Trump media during an era in which even the President has encouraged violence against reporters. Trump famously denigrated the media as “the enemy of the American people.”
Steyn went on to adopt a view of the Statue of Liberty that has been a staple of white supremacists for years. He said that:
“The French gave the Americans a pretty great Statue of Liberty. And then the Americans hammered a lousy poem by Emma Lazerus onto it and turned a pretty great Statue of Liberty into a Statue of Immigration. I regret that.”
Steyn is joining the Hate America First crowd by insulting the contributions of a poet whose “lousy” work was used to finance the pedestal of the Statue. But he is also echoing the White House. Miller made a similarly belittling comment at the press briefing, saying that:
“The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of liberty and light in the world. It’s a symbol of American liberty lighting the world. The poem that you’re referring to that was added later is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”
And both of those comments reflect the abhorrent views of avowed white supremacist Richard Spencer:
It's offensive that such a beautiful, inspiring statue was ever associated with ugliness, weakness, and deformity. https://t.co/XYgNwzewIg
— Richard ??Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) January 28, 2017
For the record, the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus made a simple plea of compassion and acceptance:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Notice that there is nothing in there about skilled labor, education, preferred language, or personal wealth. It is plainly reaching a hand out to people in need. It’s a standard based on the necessity of the immigrant rather than the greed of the host nation. Unfortunately, the only standard recognized by Fox News and Tucker Carlson is personal self-interest and unfettered political power. And if that means committing assaults against journalists with whom you disagree, well that’s just hysterical, isn’t it?
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.