Perception is reality in politics. This is one of the most unfortunate things in our American polity because it means that uninformed opinions and half-truths can quickly become gospel and influence how our policy-makers legislate. It’s doubly unfortunate when the well-lubricated machine that pumps out perception is almost uniformly left-leaning.
I mention this just because we’re currently having a debate about the Trump administration “ripping” children from their parents simply because said parents wanted a better life in this country.
Of course, the better life involved parents crossing the border illegally with their children, which is definitionally a crime. Also, it’s probably inadvisable to detain children in any event when they can be transferred to a much more comfortable facility.
While some of these individuals are seeking asylum, most of them are from Central America and could likely seek asylum in countries like Mexico should they have a credible fear of returning home. The New York Times reported back in April that “(s)ome migrants have admitted they brought their children not only to remove them from danger in such places as Central America and Africa, but because they believed it would cause the authorities to release them from custody sooner.”
If we were to do let that happen, it would create a perverse incentive to bring children into the country, usually on a journey whose conditions are less than ideal.
But never mind all this. The Trump administration is ripping children away! They’re like Nazis, according to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, for simply enforcing the law of the land. All of which brings us to Melania Trump, who made the mistake of calling for both sides — particularly the Democrats — to work together to solve the problem.
Melania Trump issued the statement Sunday after weeks of demagogy from the media and the left.
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) June 17, 2018
“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” the statement read. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”
The statement clearly expressed hope for a solution but only if “both sides of the aisle” could agree. This is key, since the Democrats have mostly been unwilling to countenance any plan that includes actual border security. She also said she wanted to see us govern “with heart,” but not at the expense of laws.
So, how did the media take this?
— The Hill (@thehill) June 18, 2018
Melania Trump, in a rare policy statement, seems to break with Trump administration here on zero tolerance enforcement at border https://t.co/xsDJr6851m
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) June 17, 2018
Yes, apparently now she’s “blasting” Trump’s policy. Or not going far enough. One or the other.
Melania Trump's statement mischaraterizes the situation. It's not "both sides" that are separating immigrant parents from children.
It is the Trump admin's policy and the Trump admin's policy alone. Trump can stop it whenever he wants. https://t.co/vjVfmdcCRV
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 17, 2018
Please do not use the Melania Trump statement to soften the administration’s action on immigrant children. It says nothing and doesn’t even come directly from her. This is a Trump policy. Period.
— Christina Reynolds (@creynoldsnc) June 18, 2018
And this isn’t even counting Kathy Griffin’s tweet, which cannot be embedded in these pages due to its vulgarity.
There wasn’t a whole lot of, “Gee willikers, that sounds like a thoughtful statement asking both sides to come to the table in order to come up with a comprehensive solution to the problem. I may not agree with her or her husband, but as statements go, it wasn’t the worst.”
My guess is that this has nothing to do with the relative popularity of the phrase “gee willikers,” which is probably extraneous to the sentiment as a whole.
This is the well-oiled opinion machine that has generated outrage on this topic without a whole lot of accurate reporting on it.
Melania Trump’s statement is taken as both a rebuke of her husband and not enough at the same time. Few seemed to take it for what it was — the first lady opining on a major issue and hoping a solution could be reached.
I guess that’s a form of perception that simply wasn’t going to sell — which is why more and more Americans are starting to lose trust in the mainstream media.
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