Homophonophobes v. Trump

Donald J. Trump is both a racist and not a racist, depending upon the source that one consults.   His comments regarding the rapaciousness of Mexicans during his Presidential announcement speech were both factually accurate and wildly inaccurate at the exact same time, in precisely different words, articulated in the exact same way.  Depending upon the statistics that one consults in order to proof Trump’s words, one could make the case that Trump made factual statements or gross overstatements of the case against the influx of undocumented criminals. From the very start of his campaign for President of the United States, The Donald found himself embroiled in partially manufactured controversies.

In early August 2016, a little over one year after Trump’s Original Sin doomed coverage of the Presidential race to seventeen months of the media’s virtue signaling and race-baiting, Democrat VP candidate Tim Kaine still fumed over those words: “The thing that amazes me is the depth of his trash talking with Latinos, saying all Mexicans are rapists and going after Latino immigrants.”[1]

Two sides of an incredibly divisive cultural debate have been backwards upon the same old man, speaking particular words at his podium while announcing his presidential run—words strung together with a very particular trajectory that only he ever truly understood.  The words once spoken were instantly alienated from their ideal form when they hit the press, subject to interpretation, but Trump meant only a single thing when speaking them. The words were transcribed, distributed, and spoken, but through different signs and symbols.  And the patient ears in the audience, consuming news of Trump’s speech audibly, along with the outraged eyes that flared over what they saw immortalized in print, found themselves staring across a rift in meaning at the opposing army, divided by the no man’s land between pro extempore speech and immutable text.

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In a rambling, a somewhat disjointed piece of populist rhetoric, Trump’s campaign announcement speech for the Republican Party’s nomination on 16 June 2015, was a winding, vulgar, pro extempore masterpiece when measured by its impact.  Shakespeare, it was not.  But the speech rallied the Republican base and a host of disenchanted non-voters who were disgusted by the neoconservative machine that had long defined the Republican Party’s decrepit Bush pulpit and its Reaganite religion.  The base was now enchanted by a heretical prophet of nationalism who had emerged from the Reagan era cloaked in mercantile greatness, and the base marched to the polls to ensure Trump’s primary victory with record turnout to the dismay of the elites.

The Donald’s campaign announcement speech erred a good bit from the outline that his people had provided to the press in advance of the speech that The Donald actually delivered. As Philip Bump of the Washington Post noted, “There were 91 prepared words before he announced his candidacy.  Instead, he took at least 1,700”—eighteen times as many words as he originally planned to speak and the press had originally planned to report upon.[2]  As such, the Trump campaign never actually delivered a copy of the text to the press that stipulated the actual words that the controversial candidate voiced.  There were no teleprompters flanking the stage, and Donald’s eyes rarely glanced down at the podium for guidance.  What the press had received in print as a guide to the speech would prove a scant outline to what followed, and many of the sentences found in that outline never actually found a voice.

Trump had planned to say the following with regard to Mexico:

It is way past time to build a massive wall to secure our southern border—and nobody can build a bigger and better wall than Donald Trump.  A country without borders is, quite simply, not a country.  Mexico is not our friend.  They are beating us at the border and hurting us badly at economic development.  They are sending people that they don’t want—the United States is becoming a dumping ground for the world. [3]

Had he spoken those words, they might have stirred a little controversy, but nothing like what he stirred by deviating from them.  Based on what Trump actually spoke in that outline’s stead, it seems inevitable that, win or lose, history will forever remember Donald Trump as a racist, a bigot, and a xenophobe. Too much propaganda has already been pumped into the public sphere by the mainstream media.  Too many resentful career politicians have fallen to Trump’s sword.  Trump polarized the country and divided skeptical consumers of media from the religious suppliers of media. Biographies and histories the world over will render his words (not as provided in his notes, but as he spoke them aloud and elaborated upon them extemporaneously) with a uniformity of purpose and meaning that will cause future readers to blanch when they first encounter them.  Whatever name the real estate mogul and reality TV star had made for himself in building his “beautiful companies” throughout his life, Trump’s name will be forever sullied in print for generations and likely vilified by a good many North Americans after he takes office or suffers defeat at the polls.

It was that first moment, that first speech, which colored the controversies that arose around his campaign.  And as ignorant armies amassed on either side of the Trumpian divide for over a year both within and without his own party, when stones and missiles filled the skies with witty barbs, hit pieces, and masterworks of propaganda, the #NeverTrump camp always returned to The Donald’s first controversial words as first proofs of the sinister intentions that motivated the Republican Party’s diabolical Prime Mover.  He was a closet member of the KKK, a compatriot of the racist David Duke, a bigot, a racist, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe.

But there was a new class of deplorables arising from the fray which came to define the puritanical media Leftists: the homophonophobes.  The homophonophobes had an unusual fear—a fear that Trump was Hitler reborn (really, he’s closer to Teddy Roosevelt), based on the erroneous transcription of a single homophonous pronoun.

As a businessman, Trump surely knew one principle quite well both by precept and by experience: first impressions are everything.  And what is most remarkable, from a cultural standpoint, is that Trump’s name will go down in infamy for no other reason than that pro extempore speech is incredibly difficult to transcribe accurately if the speaker utilizes poor grammar and the transcriber must interpret what is said where the ambiguity in words is most pronounced.  Trump’s infamy will forever hang upon a lack of parallel structure and the transcription of a single pronoun.  That perilous pronoun—that word from which Trump’s entire reputation depends—is a pronoun that has stumped many a man, woman, and child; which, in my time as a grammar professor, cost many of my students vital points in ritual examinations and drilling.  It is, in fact, the holy trinity of pronouns—a tripartite entity governing persons, possessions, places, and things, all joined in a unitary sound.

I must admit that I was a little taken aback by the furor (a wonderfully a propos homophone) that Trump’s statements about Mexican immigration had raised when their initial impact was felt.  In retrospect, the reason that I was surprised can be boiled down to a single fact: I heard Donald Trump’s speech.  I did not read it.  After the initial controversy was sparked, and hearing only a general rumor that Trump had announced his campaign, I did pull up the CSPAN video online to hear his speech in its entirety just to see if the reality TV star was serious. As a listener, I had not heard anything particularly controversial regarding the state of illegal immigration when listening to the speech.  I was surprised to find that I actually thought Trump’s comments were on par.

I had seen the Pew Research reports drawn from the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that, in 2011, 11.1 million illegal immigrants already had residence and employment inside of the United States.  I had seen the far sides of the debate over immigration and illegal access to welfare programs, both in theory and in evidence, well before it finally spilled into the political sphere to stay. And I had read, with some concern, that two Bear-Stearns researchers in 2006 estimated, based on remittances to Mexico, that between 22 and 30 million illegals might actually be residing stateside.  It was surprising to hear that nearly 1/5 or 1/6 of Mexico’s population might have already crossed the borders without documentation.

I also imagined what it might look like if ten states here in the United States were to suddenly be depopulated to a man, the houses, highways, and the fields abandoned to Nature and homesteaders.  And I wondered what Mexico might think should it find that the denizens of those ten U.S. states (1/5 of U.S. territory) had taken up residence within Mexico’s borders, demanding assistance and availing themselves of employment opportunities—all without documentation.

I also began to wonder how the Democrat Party’s promises for amnesty and $15/hr minimum wages could ever exist, side-by-side.  Imagine for a moment, 30 million illegals granted amnesty and full citizenship overnight; and now imagine the decisions their employers must face, who only ever employed them in the first place because the employers could afford to hire illegals only if the employers could also forego the provision of health insurance, minimum wages, and payroll deductions (half of which are paid by employers before employees receive their checks), beside all of the other ancillary entitlements to which U.S. citizens have become accustomed.  Illegals were desirable in the first place because they were not, by law, by entitlement, as expensive as American laborers.  Imagine the immediate unemployment that would result should illegals wake up in the morning to find themselves, citizens of the richest nation in the world, only to show up to work and demand their $15/hr wages from employers who now found that they had no more work to offer these fine citizens.  Imagine the horror of these newly documented immigrants upon finding that they were suddenly too expensive to employ, and that a $20 trillion price tag (“And more!” in unfunded liabilities) had been attached to their suddenly darkening futures, since their previous wages (which may have been in excess of $15/hr in under-the-table payments) had suddenly ballooned on the balance sheets due to Social Security, Medicare taxes, federal taxes, and mandatory insurance provisions; and imagine the hostility that would arise as they saw, skulking over the horizon, the silhouettes of the legions of undocumented illegals filing into the country to take up their recently-abandoned shovels, picks, and baskets and earn the wages out of which they had been priced in the process of obtaining citizenship.

And the bad news that was arriving was not all from the socioeconomic side.  In 2014, the Huffington Post featured an article by editor Eleanor Goldberg whose headline had caught my attention and burned its statistic into my memory bank: “80% of Central American Women, Girls Are Raped Crossing Into The U.S.”[4]  Basing its statistics upon a Fusion report (the English-speaking corporate news agency for the Univision Corporation) by Erin McIntyre and Deborah Bonello, Huffpo reported a 20% spike in previous estimates for sexual assaults occurring at the border.[5]

In 2010, Amnesty International had reported that “Women and girl migrants, especially those without legal status traveling in remote areas or on trains, are at heightened risk of sexual violence at the hands of criminal gangs, people traffickers, other migrants or corrupt officials.”  Apparently, the practice of sex-for-citizenship is so common that coyotes recommend that women take contraceptive injections before engaging in pilgrimage.  The route northward through Mexico was littered with prostitutes tricked and indebted into prostitution short of the border.  And, when nearing La Arrocera along the coast of the Gulf of California, the women reportedly prepare for the inevitable.  The practice even has a precise name: “’cuerpomátic,’ or ‘cuerpomático’ (an apparent wordplay on Credomatic, a Central American credit-card processing firm), which means to use one’s body – or cuerpo — as a source of currency.”

I understood that Mexico (a region of the world) was not necessarily sending its best.  It was not solely sending college graduates and programming techs.  It was sending people with real problems; problems to which I was sensitive.  And it was sending people fleeing from socialism, burdensome debts, corruption, prostitution, and cartel violence, with zero net worth, amongst whom numbered—as they would number in any population of peoples—good many criminals, drug dealers, and, apparently, rapists.  Some of the rapists were fellow travelers; some of the rape was committed by unscrupulous coyotes; and none of the rape could fall under the jurisdiction of law, where victims in transit could not 1) reveal themselves as border transgressors to police of either country while admitting where and how the rape had occurred without facing penalty of law themselves as border trespassers, and 2) reveal themselves after crossing the border, having all the while suffered psychological trauma from the rapes they had suffered, since illegal immigrants are not documented citizens of the United States and the rapes had occurred in that lawless state of undocumented illegality on the other side of the border, perpetrated by individuals who also were not citizens, who could not be tracked, and whose whereabouts were unknown.

I cannot imagine a worse state of affairs for a woman looking for better opportunities abroad, to be handed to her tormentors and delivered to safety and liberty, and yet find herself looking at punishment for trespassing should she step forward to accuse those who had unspeakably violated her privacy.  What a terrible burden to bear!  And I further could not imagine, for the unfortunate few impregnated by the migrant predators, what it would be like to cross the border, a future mother without the capital to purchase prenatal care, and have the issue of that rape be the anchor that tied her fortune to America—to say nothing of the hardships faced by a child with the genes of rapist, who would be raised without a father.

What were these sad facts of immigration going to do to the culture of the future?

Fox News, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Bloomberg News, NPR, The New York Times, and a host of other periodicals, both in print and online, provided transcripts of Donald Trump’s most inflammatory comments in his Presidential announcement speech that established, in many readers’ minds, exactly what Donald Trump was saying:

The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.  It’s true, and these are the best and the finest.  When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.  They’re not sending you.  They’re not sending you.  They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us.  They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime.  They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people.[6]

When history tells of Donald Trump’s speech and these central points of controversy, it shall not tell the story that I heard that afternoon.  Instead, it will tell of a Donald Trump who called the nation of Mexico “rapists” en masse out of a gross generalization.  It will tell of a man who, in the year after he called them “rapists” en masse, often utilized the word “Mexico” and “Mexicans” in a rather vague sense, the way a culturally insensitive man would speak in different contexts imprecisely signifying the country, the borders, the continent, the people, the culture, and the language.  He spoke of “Mexico” and “Mexicans” in the sense that a football fan would speak of a rival team, or the way the rest of the world speaks about “Americans.”

“They’re rapists.”

It is a cold generalization presented as an existential fact, empty of evidence and without footnotes.  They, Mexico, and the entire Mexican people—they are rapists.

I did not find this statement offensive when I heard it, but primarily because I did not hear a contraction in “They’re (viz. ‘they are’) rapists.”  I heard, instead, a kind of parenthetical aside as an interjection into that pause between “bringing crime” and the concluding “And some, I assume, are good people.”  I, like many other individuals, heard the following: “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, —their rapists, —and some, I assume, are good people.”

“Their rapists.”  I heard a possessive pronoun as a gloss upon “crime,” added as an afterthought to highlight the specific crime on Trump’s mind.  Mexico, the “They” that was the original subject of the “sending” was the subject that was sending people with lots of problems, and featured amongst those people who were “bringing drugs” were other kinds of “crime” like rape (that is, Mexico’s “rapists”).

That same evening, the ticker tape of every media outlet ran the following tagline across the bottom of their broadcasts: “They’re rapists.”

I remember scratching my head when seeing it scroll across the screen on CNN.  That simply was not true.  I had not heard that statement.  I pulled up the video of Trump’s speech on YouTube again.  I listened to it a second time.

“Their rapists…”

It seemed as clear as day.

So why had the news decided upon the worst possible interpretation of Trump’s words?

Who, I wondered, had diagrammed The Donald’s sentences, as the principled First Transcriber, to verify that what was said matched up to what was transcribed, such that any interpretation could be validated?  Were the dishonest mainstream media outlets simply trying to hamstring The Donald from the start (the answer is “Yes”) by colluding to monopolize transcriptions that portrayed his words in the worst light (the answer is “Maybe”)?

I cruised nearly every media outlet.  They all featured the same damning “They’re” in their headlines.  They each provided a singular and identical text upon which they had based their headlines regardless of the outlet’s known, disclosed, or presumed bias.  There was a suspicious uniformity of they’res in their reporting.

On 1 July 2015, Trump called CNN to talk to host Don Lemon in order to clarify his comments on the rape question and to silence the controversy.  I found the interview interesting since it cast a light upon two ships passing each other in the night, looking for the same destination in opposite directions because they had different words in their eyes than in their ears.  Trump, citing the same Fusion report that I had read almost a year prior through The Huffington Post, had been on the same trail I had been in my casual news reading.  Don Lemon, backpedaling as Trump pressed the host on the issue, clearly was one who only saw “They’re rapists” in the Donald’s “Immigration Firestorm” (as featured on the banner during this portion of the interview).  Lemon pointed out that much of the rape was better classed as prostitution—as the price paid to coyotes for smuggling human beings into the states.  This was certainly selective reading.

Trump stated: “I’m talking not about Mexico.  I’m talking about illegal immigration.”

In other words, the “They” that was sending people who were “bringing those problems with us” was not the “They” that was “bringing those problems with us.”  Lemon could only hear in “Mexicans” and “Mexico” the mestizo race and the Democrat-voting Hispanic base—something quite different than what vague nationalistic terms actually signify.  Americans are a people comprised of individuals, a people living in a moderate state of market anarchy, a people inhabiting a geographical space, a people of a specific country, a people governed by specific laws and documents, and a people of diverse cultures and races.  “Americans” is no more a race than “Mexicans,” but Trump was on trial for the presumption that he had impugned a race (and it is not clear that Hispanics [an ethnicity] are a homogenous racial stock of mestizos).  And besides, the rape that was occurring along the Mexican border was rape perpetrated upon migrants from all over Central and South America.  We can see in Lemon’s rhetorical presumptions the machinations of the Democrat mind: illegal immigrants pouring through the border, a new sizeable underclass, could stack the deck for the Progressive agenda going forward, and thus the Left could not tolerate any criticism of that demographic.

Lemon asked The Donald, point blank: “Why did you have to say that they’re rapists, though, Donald?”

Trump, it seemed to me, was still confused that anyone had interpreted him to mean that Mexicans, in general, were rapists, but cut himself off in that Trumpian backbiting manner of speaking in his haste to get to the evidence:

“Oh, well if you look at the statistics of people coming…I didn’t say about Mexico…I say ‘the illegal immigrant’…If you look at the statistics on rape, on crime, on everything, coming in illegally into this country, they’re mindboggling.  If you go to Fusion, you will see a story about eighty percent of the women coming in…I mean, you have to take a look at these stories.”[7]

Lemon then corrected The Donald and urged that a good portion of the rapes cited in those studies were cases of prostitution, as a quid pro quo, or else a capricious coyote’s ultimatum and that it was not fellow illegals planning to take up residence stateside who were raping 80% of the women.  Lemon’s point was partly true but hard to chew as a flat fact.  A proper journalist would have evaluated which part was true and which part was false, how valid the statistics were, and then left the popular outrage to the Left’s outrage machine.

The source Fusion report did not cite statistics with specificity, since the rapes had not been channeled through the criminal justice system, and thus remained vague and anecdotal.  The rapes were subjectively reported by migrant shelter directors, without subsequent criminal investigations to confirm the reports.  But McIntyre and Bonello, and even Amnesty International before them had noted a significant portion of the rapes had been committed by drug runners and fellow migrants.  Good intentions of the majority or not—there were sexual predators crossing the border, and that minority of criminals was reported as having a disparate impact on the vast majority of women and children crossing the border, or at least a significant minority of them.

“That’s about women being raped, it’s not about criminals coming across the border or entering the country,” Lemon insisted as if the rapes were falling from the sky amongst a population of angels, and not linked to the complexities of the illegal immigrant black market.

Trump, almost in disbelief, replied with the most comical reply in the history of the evening news:

“Somebody’s doing the raping, Don.  I mean, you know what, uh, it’s…I mean, somebody’s doing it…you think it’s women being raped…Well, who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?  I mean, how can you say such a thing?”

In Trump’s defense, predicates do tend to have subjects.  Somebody is always doing the raping wherever rape exists.  Transforming rape into a passive sentence construction leaves a question: Who is, in fact, doing the raping?

I contacted several media outlets via email for clarification regarding the transcription of Trump’s comments as my interest in the controversy grew.  In the ensuing months, pundits and hacks battling over The Donald’s steadily increasing “gaffes” kept tracing his “racism” and “nativism” back to his original comments on Mexican rape. I never received a reply from any of the media outlets.  But then I came across, in The Washington Post, a note that sourced the original, “verbatim” transcript that every news source had consulted.  The transcript had been provided by the Federal News Service.

The Federal News Service (FNS) is a privately-owned company that fills a particular market niche that is vital for a news-consuming public in a democratic society with a gargantuan government supplied with a steady stream of puffed-up dimwits filled with hot air and looking for airtime.  The FNS provides transcripts of government proceedings throughout the nation in order to serve mainstream media outlets with “verbatim transcripts.”

The apparent uniformity of transcription that I had seen in the media outlets regarding The Donald’s actual wording in print versus what I had heard had a simple explanation.  The media outlets were passing on the “verbatim transcripts” that the Federal News Service had provided to every single one of the mainstream media outlets.  And the Federal News Service, which apparently did its job efficiently and cost-effectively, was filling in that market niche with remarkable success, as evidenced by the uniformity of reporting.  After some consideration, I am fully convinced that no foul play was involved in the first dissemination of the transcript, even though great laziness was exercised by those media personalities who treated that text as gospel.  Americans, whether religious or not, proved themselves to be a people of the Book after all.

In the past, as an English professor, I had often encountered difficulties similar to what the FNS transcriber must have encountered when I had to suggest to students how best to render their poor grammar into precise form: linking pronouns to antecedents, forcing subjects into agreement with verbs, and establishing parallel structures to prevent a loss of meaning and independence in clauses across catalogs and lists.  Many times, I simply had to recommend to students a complete rewriting of whole paragraphs, directing their focus towards clarification in pronoun usage, since simple intra-clause edits could never recover the meanings the student had intended to convey to second parties. “Just tell me specifically who is doing what, and avoid ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘it,’ ‘they,’ and—especially—‘there,’ they’re,’ and ‘their.’” I generally advised.  The FNS transcriber had no such leeway for editing.

There is a danger in language that is everywhere present because language is a medium of exchange between two or more persons.  That danger is miscommunication.  Pro extempore speech, or even casual conversation, is the agent of that danger, but one that we navigate on a daily basis by interrupting speakers in order to clarify their meaning.  A political stumper has one disadvantage if he relies upon pro extempore speech.  Nobody interrupts the speech, and when the stumper concludes his speech, he leaves the stage and will only field a couple of questions without necessarily clarifying his actual words in print.  Whoever commands the print commands history; and in this case, it appeared that the Federal News Service was going to have the final say on the narrative that wove itself through the 2016 election and the bugbear of race relations that shadowed its progress.

Political animals on the American scene were talking past one another, convinced that they had all heard the exact same words.

Despite the verifiable chronology, in the minds of the public the FNS actually wrote Donald Trump’s extemporaneous speech for him in advance of his delivery.  The text preceded the speech insofar as the dissemination of information was concerned.  Much to my chagrin, this was like something out of Jacques Derrida’s mad ramblings about Deconstruction.

The pro extempore speaker walks a razor’s edge: If he deviates from the notes that he provides to the Press, or he errs from the teleprompter and the precisely worded clauses of a speech crafted to isolate meanings neatly into digestible packages to the extreme prejudice of miscommunication, then the potential for ambiguity—especially in transcription—is manifestly heightened.  There is a reason that politics is disgustingly urbane and prone to cheap aphorisms, needless redundancies, and empty platitudes, and why candidates vet their messages against audiences before going public to see what gets the best reaction to appeal to the middle of the base (those who want business as usual, even if that business is regime-change, central bank inflation, destructive welfare, wealth redistribution, socialism, fascism, currency destruction, and endless war).  It is the same reason why the compulsive dissembler, Hillary Clinton, avoided the press for almost an entire year in order to avoid anything approaching spontaneity.  It is why, whenever she had to face tough questions, she blundered, misstepped, and caused the leftist Press (many of whose administrators and orchestrators are former DNC staffers or Clinton associates) to drudge up tu quoque propaganda in fits of ADHD “whataboutism.”[8]  When Hillary’s email woes were heightened, or when embarrassing DNC email leaks hit the internet, the propagandists launched at windmills full tilt in unapologetic appeals to hypocrisy: “But what about Donald Trump’s comments about Mexicans being rapists?”

The dominoes collapsed quickly after Trump’s speech, and the outrage machine kicked into full gear.  In late June, Univision canceled its contract with Trump to cover the Miss Universe competition, which was a financial hit against Trump and Comcast’s NBC Universal.  Quick on their heels, NBC, Grupo Televiso, Ora, and Macy’s cut ties with Trump.  In July, Trump announced his intention to sue Univision for breach of contract.  His public persona was under assault.  His reputation was struggling against the Times.

The excuse that Univision provided for its break with the Miss Universe competition was that Trump’s controversial comments regarding Mexicans (and not the Mexican-born rapists who were actually crossing the border illegally) were highly offensive to Spanish-speaking Univision viewers in the U.S. (but probably not to the women who had been raped by those rapists, both of whom actually existed).  In August 2015, Jorge Ramos, the Mexican-born American news anchor for Univision and Fusion TV, interrupted Trump during a press conference to ask about his controversial immigration comments and proposals. This was a hilarious farce since Jorge Ramos and Univision had originally provided the evidence that Trump had utilized when making the comments under question!  Trump had already stated that he would stand beside his comments, hedging here or there that he hadn’t impugned all Mexican immigrants, and not even all illegals.  But for those convinced that he had said “They’re rapists,” and that the government, people, races, and cultures bound up within the borders were the antecedent to that all-inclusive “They’re,” Trump looked like he was walking his comments back, whereas Trump saw the outraged press as adding too much to his comments.

Trump, having already faced a month of controversy with Univision over “They’re (Their) rapists,” which he had pledged to stand by, dismissed Ramos, told him to “sit down,” and eventually after the protest to “Go back to Univision.”  Ramos protested even yet, and Trump had him ushered out of the press conference in order to move past the interruptions and get to his prepared comments.  When the press box complained loudly about Trump’s actions, Trump had Ramos readmitted.  Ramos, in indignation, reported afterwards that, “He tried to stop me when he realized that he didn’t like the question.”[9]

Ramos never considered the ambiguity involved, the possibility that he might be outraged for no reason, and that it was his own hyper-irrationality and confirmation bias which had stirred him to a rabid pitch in pursuit of evidence for Trumpian nativism and racism.

Trump, never one to temper or frame his words with consistent coolness, doubled-down on the misinterpretations.  He offered a third interpretation of his speech in print based on the second interpretation already in the Press of what he actually said in the first place.  The irony of all ironies, he decided to issue a three-page clarification of his comments that utilized the Federal News Service’s transcript as a source text in order to defend himself in his own words (which were not his) to the “dishonest media.”

The speech that he had spoken, because it was manufactured on the spot, could only afterward be reconstructed in print for Trump’s edification with the assistance of a foreign transcript that the FNS had provided to media outlets, the which had generated the outraged headlines in the first place.  But now the transcript was making a complete circuit back to Donald Trump for explication.  Trump, the very source of a transcript (which did not source the words Trump spoke because the FNS transcript had a fixed singularity of meaning through static homophonous pronouns without clear antecedents), became the vehicle of the transcript that misquoted him.

On 6 July 2015, Trump released this clarification of his text, with visual cues spliced into the FNS transcripts like stage cues, and even a couple of grammatical quick fixes that Trump was capable of interjecting without having to rewrite the text wholesale:

I don’t see how there is any room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the statement I made on June 16th during my Presidential announcement speech.  Here is what I said, and yet this statement is deliberately distorted by the media:

“When Mexico (meaning the Mexican Government) sends its people, they’re not sending their best.  They’re not sending you (pointing to the audience).  They’re not sending you (pointing again).  They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us.  They’re bringing drugs.  They’re bringing crime.  They’re rapists.  And some, I assume, are good people…”[10]

Trump now unthinkingly claimed the “They’re” and thought he could convey his real meaning without delving into grammar and rhetoric, accepting his own words in the FNS’s script secondhand.  In a way, he was accepting a source text that he did not speak, which had contributed to the media bias that was both dishonest and a happenstance of interpretation resulting from homophonous pronouns.  Despite his reliance upon the FNS transcript’s blunder, Trump did take issue with the meaning he had intended to communicate:

What can be simpler or more accurately stated?  The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States.  They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.  This was evident just this week when, as an example, a young woman in San Francisco was viciously killed by a 5 time deported Mexican with a long criminal record, who was forced back into the United States because they didn’t want him in Mexico.  This is merely one of thousands of similar incidents throughout the United States.  In other words, the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government.

Part of what Trump stated was true.  Kate Steinle, a young San Franciscan woman, was murdered by a 5 time deported Mexican without documentation.  The evidence was indisputably true.  But what is more germane to the subject at hand and more delightfully humorous, Trump again displayed a lack of attention to his pronoun’s antecedents in the same way that he displayed that inattention to them at the crucial moment in his Presidential announcement speech.  Trump notes in his apology that “The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people” to cross the border, and that “They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”  The “They” in the second sentence has the potential to pour more gasoline on the flames.  Is the “They” the “The Mexican Government” or “their most unwanted people”?

Still, the evidence Trump provided, which did support what Trump had originally intended to convey on 16 June 2015, did not fit the narrative that was now plastered all over the internet and the cable news.  Trump’s Republican colleagues, who mimicked him in railing against political correctness (though harboring a great love of it), virtue signaled through what was left of the primaries, slandering and libeling Trump as a racist for his words addressing Hispanics (even those Hispanics who were, in reality, crossing the border after committing or suffering rape en route to the United States). The FNS transcript seemed capable of moving the world, as it trespassed over the border and crept into foreign tongues.

Univision reported Trump in Spanish for its Spanish-speaking readers and viewers: “Ellos están trayendo drogas, está trayendo crimen. Son violadores.”[11] There could be no doubt.  “They’re rapists,” in any tongue, in any country, on any continent.  Understanding his interpretation of Trump’s words, one could not fault Ramos much for his virulence with regard Trump, causing him to query: “Por qué habla de los mexicanos con tanto odio?”  That is, why does Trump speak of Mexicans with such hatred?

Then again, there is much to criticize in Ramos’s incompetence as a journalist and intellect, as well as the network that did not have the standards (or people with principles) in place to check the outrage machine with facts and skepticism.  Ramos found verification for his bias and did not look for clarification of the points; and, ironically, he was actually outraged—I am convinced it was real—over evidence that he and his network had originally provided to the news sources that Trump had consulted.  Why waste the perfect opportunity to virtue signal and play the victimization card?  There is so much money to be made in that racket.

Skepticism, unfortunately, is now a dirty word in journalism, where party hacks masquerading as reporters look to confirm bias and never to get to the root of things.  Nobody posed the vital question to The Donald: “When you said ‘They’re,’ did you mean ‘They are’ or ‘Their’?”  More uncomfortable questions would have arisen on both sides: “Who is doing the sending?”  “Who is doing the bringing?”

And, indeed, “Who is doing the raping?”

Somebody was doing the raping, and the raping was going to have very real consequences in the future when the mothers of anchor babies were raising a significant portion of the population in Democrat-controlled states (where minimum wages were going to price those families out of the market if amnesty arrived under a Clinton presidency, causing an unemployment spike and new illegal immigration spike in tandem with the population spike).

Recovering original intent is and was an impossibility, for humans are capricious beings who calculate the impact of their words with varying levels of success.  We act in the present to obtain future goods on the margin, but we do not know that those goods will relieve our present uneasiness as we now evaluate that uneasiness with the alternatives available to us.  The alternatives are ever changing, and every action—even apologizing for misspeaking—is an action looking towards a future understanding of past events.  The truth of the matter is that the Truth about Trump’s real meaning does not matter anymore.  The statements must be evaluated for evidence and correctness.  If they are not analyzed according to the evidence, then what arises is a veritable doctrine of Original Sin.  While Trump can be criticized for impreciseness and a lack of grammar and coherent composition, facts and evidence are on his side.

Not all Mexicans are rapists, and nobody actually believes that Trump believes that all Mexicans are rapists, except for the political operatives who are still looking for confirmation bias because they are, themselves, religious Leftists who see the world as Left and Other.  And nobody believes that all illegals are angels, or that—if 80% of the women are raped as the price of passage—the women and children issued from that conflict will be well-adjusted, will have supportive family structures, will find secure futures, and will assimilate with a moderate effect on crime rates.  Nobody in either prevailing faction actually believes what they are saying to counter the narrative that they believe the other side is raising only in defense of a base ignorance or prejudice.  It is a game of hypocrisy headhunting, not of sleuthing for facts and evidence with a skeptical mind.  The game is being played by a host of pseudo-intellectuals who actually believe that they are smarter than the rest of us—we, the skeptical basket of deporables, who have the nerve to question the media’s standards of journalistic integrity.

The likelihood is rather high that the entire brouhaha is the result of miscommunication and confirmation bias (not disinterested journalism looking for facts and evidence), but nobody cares in the realm of politics.  Politics is about scoring points and securing favors, not discovering truth.  And when the Press becomes the agent of scoring points and securing favors, and not discovering truth, then the Press is no longer the Press.  It is Agitprop.  It might be divided Agitprop—the Agitprop of faction.  But it is propaganda nonetheless. In our own age, the Press is weaponized by political parties until language is a way of counting coup in the game of endless hypocrisy headhunting.  When the game is being played without a set of fixed principles, it is a game of cultural relativism and rule gerrymandering.  It is a game of gotcha.  It is a game that is played by corporate media megaliths who are staffed by political operatives and former party elites who grant those corporate megaliths exclusive access to the political players that they wish to interview.  It is a game of banalities: a game that weighs a vote for the Iraq War in the Senate and a decision to topple Gaddafi’s stable regime against a rather noncommittal comment about the Iraq War by a private citizen posed on the Howard Stern show, which is interjected in between segments featuring pornstars talking about sex toys and strip club grind sessions.  It is a game between the bombastic and authoritarian real estate mogul who has trouble standing on steady ground since he cannot keep both of his feet out of his mouth at the exact same time, and the infinitely corruptible, authoritarian, socialistic, shrewish, perjuring, drone-striking, bribe-taking, regime-changing, fainting, email-deleting, FOIA-request-circumventing, race-baiting, border-abolishing, habeus-corpus-suspending harpy of a former Secretary of State whose “smart power” politics unleashed the migrant crisis upon Western Civilization, setting the stage for generations of conflict, disaster, terrorism, cultural upheaval, and civil unrest.

There are no winners in this game.  But at least if Western Civilization is to crumble, collapse, and pitch full-tilt into its collective decline like a Hillary Clinton marionette center stage at the 9/11 Memorial, emerging momentarily from Chelsea’s apartment for convenient photo ops in the race to the bottom to signal that, “Everything is fine!  No need to panic!”—at least it is a decline that has nevertheless been quite entertaining and thought provoking in its revelation to date for reasons not at all related to how either big government candidate shall reform public policy and tax codes to increase the debt and destroy the currency while hastening that decline.  At least the show has been a hit, with record ratings, campy writing, and hilarious plot-twists, as we round the corner towards that final punchline where the media is banking on the millions (perhaps billions) to be made en route to November Sweeps.

But this time around, when the Original Sin is raised to discredit Trump, perhaps we can find a little humor in its resurgence as we watch these power-drunk Alexanders fumbling for the brazier in order to lay waste to what little is left of each other’s reputations to the delight of the Press, who cares not a jot for truth and integrity in journalism.  I begin a little better to understand why Nero’s first thought was to coolly reach for his lyre as he saw the glow of a fire outside his palace walls, to pluck its strings lovingly, and to sing a little ditty as the decrepit empire burned to the ground around him, reducing the labor of the generations to ash and rubble.

Notes:

[1] Fiske, Warren.  “Tim Kaine falsely says Trump said ‘all Mexicans are rapists.’”  Politifact.  8 August 2016.  

[2] Bump, Philip.  “Donald Trump’s spectacular, unending, utterly baffling, often-wrong campaign launch.”  The Washington Post.  16 June 2016.

[3] Original outline of the Trump speech can be found here via Dropbox, courtesy of the Washington Post.

[4] Goldberg, Eleanor.  “80% of Central American Women, Girls Are Raped Crossing Into The U.S.”  The Huffington Post.  12 September 2014.

[5] McIntyre, Erin and Deborah Bonello. “Is rape the price to pay for migrant women chasing the American Dream?”  Fusion. 10 September 2014.  (Note: the hour-long Fusion documentary is still available via YouTube)

[6] The Washington Post Staff.  “Full text: Donald Trump announces a presidential bid.”  The Washington Post.  16 June 2015.

[7] My transcription from CNN Tonight on 1 July 2015.

[8] This Soviet method of propaganda “represents a case of tu quouque or the appeal to hypocrisy, a logical fallacy which attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting the opponent’s failure to act consistently in accordance with that position, without directly refuting or disproving the opponent’s initial argument.”

[9] Stelter, Brian.  “What really happened between Jorge Ramos and Donald Trump.”  CNNMoney.  30 August 2015.Trump.

[10] Walker, Hunter.  “Donald Trump just released an epic statement raging against Mexican immigrants and ‘disease.’” Business Insider.  6 July 2015.

[11] Ramos, Jorge.  “Trump(etazos).”  22 June 2015.  Univision. 

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