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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Trump's most 'divisive' comment should have united all Americans

Jamiel Shaw, whose 17-year-old son was killed by an illegal immigrant, was featured by President Donald Trump during his address Wednesday. Shaw spoke at a Trump rally during last year's campaign. (AP photo)
Jamiel Shaw, whose 17-year-old son was killed by an illegal immigrant, was featured by President Donald Trump during his address Wednesday. Shaw spoke at a Trump rally during last year's campaign. (AP photo)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 01, 2017 09:01 pm
Donald Trump talked a lot about the need for American unity in his address to the nation, but the surest sign that goal will remain elusive was provided by a moment that should have offended absolutely no one — yet somehow did. Addressing four people in the gallery of the House of Representatives who had lost family members to crimes committed by illegal immigrants, the president reiterated a plan to create the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) within the Department of Homeland Security and promised to provide a voice "to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests . . . (these are) very brave Americans whose government failed them."

The Democratic side of the aisle responded with an audible groan, after which one TV commentator logically wondered: Whose side are these people on?

It is one thing to debate immigration policy or the value of the president's proposed southern wall, but when Americans victimized by the ultimate crime are essentially shunned by the very people who have sworn to protect them, the answer to that question is not at all clear.

"The way they did that was so disrespectful. But it’s bigger than them, so I just keep on moving," Jamiel Shaw told Fox News following Trump's address. "I just ignore them like they do me. I was like, man you know, what do they want? They don’t want nothing but division, bickering. They don’t want to solve no problems." Nor was Tuesday the first time Shaw had been scorned for his effort to publicize the 2008 execution-style slaying of his 17-year-old son, Jamiel II, by an illegal immigrant. Speaking at a Trump rally during last year's campaign, this grieving African American was targeted by — consider the irony — Black Lives Matter activists.

Was Trump's creation of VOICE and recognition of Shaw and the other victims blatantly political? Of course. Trump has pledged to curb illegal immigration, starting with criminal aliens, and support for that effort will only grow as stories such as Shaw's are gathered and publicized. But why would a crackdown on foreign nationals who have committed crimes in this country trouble anyone elected to represent the interests of the American people and defend the nation's laws and Constitution? Trump is already signalling a willingness to soften his position; the least the open-borders crowd could do would be to side with American victims over foreign killers.

Such is the state of Trump-dominated American politics today, however, that old alliances are fraying quite literally left and right. A few years ago most Republicans wanted the federal government to stay out of health care, but Trump won cheers from the GOP section by promising to replace Obamacare with something better. Democrats, who supposedly want that very thing, seemed unimpressed.

Likewise the president's support of protectionism and the need to make it more difficult for companies to ship jobs overseas. Good ideas, perhaps, but more consistent with Bernie Sanders' platform than the traditional GOP free-market approach. So why weren't Democrats cheering even more loudly than Republicans?

Trump's newfound presidential tone and apparent willingness to cross old political barriers may in fact allow Democrats and Republicans alike to support at least some of his proposals if, as Shaw suggests, they're really more interested in solving problems than profiting from them politically.

Ordinary Americans, at least, seem to want just that.  Seventy-six percent approved of Trump's speech, according to a CBS poll, and optimism about the administration increased among Republicans (by 83 percent) and Democrats (24 percent). But what about politicians who grown at the thought of publicizing criminal behavior by people who shouldn't be here in the first place.

"By job is not to represent the world, but the United States," Trump said. Although some may disagree, it's equally true of Congress.

Whoops

The president didn't mention "fake news" Tuesday, but I printed just that in my column about the city's plan to put the entrance to its $250 million sewage tunnel on the site of an old industrial building at 800 Glasgow Ave. As it turns out, the building was formerly occupied by the Wayne Home Equipment Co., not the Wayne Pump Co. as I reported. Even more coincidentally, Wayne Home Equipment also manufactured some varieties of pumps. Wayne Pump's operations actually were nearby in the Combs Street area devastated by fire in 2013.

Confused by all these Waynes and pumps? Me too, obviously.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.



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