Wednesday, August 02, 2017


Why is this the lead story right now at

Really? That's the top story at the right-wing news source of record? Not the Justice Department's new focus on "reverse racism" in college admissions? Not the new bill intended to reduce legal immigration?

Here's that Fox story:
MS-13 doesn't fear prison, President Trump or even death. But there is one thing that scares the hell out of tattooed members of the murderous Central American gang: La Sombra Negra.

Spanish for "The Black Shadow," La Sombra Negra is a mysterious paramilitary organization that is part death squad, part vigilante group, and dedicated to responding in extreme kind to MS-13's ruthlessness. MS-13 members captured by La Somba Negra purportedly have been sexually tortured and dismembered before being dispatched with a bullet, their bodies left to be discovered by family or fellow gang members.

While La Somba Negra, believed to be made up of police and military members, is not active in the U.S., where President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have declared war on MS-13, they have proven a major deterrent to the gang's activities in its homeland.
Fox News is currently obsessed with MS-13. Fox has apparently persuaded its viewership that every young male undocumented immigrant in America is a member of the gang, and thus there are tens of thousands of MS-13 members hiding under innocent American patriots' beds this very minute. This dovetails, of course, with President Trump's lurid denunciation of MS-13 as "animals" who "take a young, beautiful girl—16, 15 and others—and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die." So yet another story about the group at Fox could just be seen as giving fans the cocktail of fear and outrage that they crave.

But I'm seeing a subtext here: Wouldn't it be nice if America had something like this! The vigilantes in this story aren't portrayed as monsters -- the suggestion is that they deal with the MS-13 problem in a brutally efficient way.
Salvadoran police officials have tried to downplay the re-emergence of La Sombra Negra – claiming that the spate of murders is the work of rival gangs – but the legend of the vigilante death squad is once again taking hold in one of the world’s most deadly countries.

“Morally I support this type of expression because people are tired of the wave of delinquency,” Guillermo Gallegos, the current head of El Salvador’s National Assembly, told La Prensa Grafica.....

The fear the group has instilled in MS-13 has become so pronounced that gang members have been covering or removing their infamous tattoos, cutting down on using gang signs and, in some extreme cases, asking judges in the U.S. to grant them asylum because they fear for their lives if they return to their home country.

To make matters worse for MS-13 and other street gangs in the region, La Sombra Negra appears to have influenced copycat groups who have adopted their violent tactics to combatting crime.

A death squad called Los Exterminio purportedly was responsible for at least 40 murders of gang members in 2016 – including the execution-style massacre of seven alleged MS-13 members along a country road in El Salvador.
There's a nod at the end of the story to the notion that, yes, "it is still up to the police and courts to dispense justice," although it's also noted that "once groups like La Sombra Negra and Los Exterminio carry out their deeds, the violence in a region does go down."

Death-squad vigilantism is hardly the solution to gang violence -- MS-13 persists even though La Sombra Negra began targeting gangs in the 1990s. There's been a revival of La Sombra Negra in El Salvador since 2014 (the La Prensa Grafica article quoted in the Fox story is from that year), yet MS-13 doesn't seem to be greatly diminished.

But I'm sure Fox viewers would like to imagine an extralegal solution to this overhyped problem in America. I'm sure they'd be delighted if Donald Trump unleashed some death squads.

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