Friday, May 25, 2018


The Washington Post reports on the level of discourse in the White House on the subject of immigration:
The night before Trump delivered his first speech to Congress in February 2017, he huddled with senior adviser Jared Kushner and [Stephen] Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration....

Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he were at a rally, he then read aloud a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later.
This is precisely how immigration has been discussed for years in the wingnuttosphere, even before Trump -- as a series of anecdotes carefully curated to make undocumented immigrants seem unspeakably evil. In this White House discussion, Trump made up the names and the crimes, but I'm sure his aides fed him real news reports for his campaign rallies. That's how right-wing websites and TV and broadcasts discuss immigration: Look, here's an illegal who committed a crime! Here's another one! And another one!

It doesn't matter to right-wingers that the data doesn't match the perception created by the anecdotes. To them, the rate of crime by the undocumented must be tremendously high -- otherwise, why would there be so many anecdotes?

I think you could pick any group of Americans -- left-handers, people born in Indiana -- and if you made it your life's work to compile and publicize every story about crimes by members of that group, you could persuade credulous people that the group was excessively criminal-minded. My legal first name is Stephen. What would it look like if someone decided to draw attention to every crime committed by people named Stephen, in order to demonstrate that people named Stephen need to be banished from this country? Let's Google it and see what we come up with.

L.A. Times, May 3, 2018:
A sex offender who led police on a wild pursuit from Los Angeles to Kern County in a motor home with his two children was arrested Thursday, authorities said.

Stephen Houk was detained in Barstow around 4:30 p.m., more than 100 miles from where police last saw him, according to Nicole Nishida, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department....

Houk was wanted on suspicion of evading, child abduction, child endangerment and weapons violations after he allegedly pointed a revolver at his wife during a dispute Tuesday morning in Santa Clarita, authorities said.
CBS News, May 17, 2018:
A man described as an estranged ex-boyfriend and former business associate of the woman killed in a Southern California office building explosion has been arrested on suspicion of possessing an unregistered destructive device, the FBI said Thursday. The arrest of Stephen Beal, 59, followed a search of his Long Beach residence by authorities, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a statement., April 12, 2018:
A convict who escaped from an Oklahoma prison in 1981 was arrested Thursday in Houston.

Stephen Michael Paris was taken into custody by U.S. marshals Thursday morning at his workplace.

"Mr. Paris has been an escape convict for the past 36 years," said Richard Hunter, chief deputy, United States Marshal for the Southern district of Texas., April 22, 2018:
... Kauai local surfer and fisherman Stephen Koehne [was] arrested for extortion, robbery and terroristic threatening....

According to police, Koehne was arrested after he and several others posed as rescuers for people trapped by the flooding on Kauai. “The boat operators would pull up on the shore and invite people onto the boat, with the idea they would carry them over to by where the St. Regis Hotel is, to get them to a place of safety,” said Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar. Then, when they were about 200 yards offshore, the would-be rescuers demanded money before going any farther.
WIS TV, May 4, 2018:
A murder suspect wanted out of Sumter County and arrested by Richland County is believed to be connected to the body found in Lake Marion that has been ruled a homicide.

Stephen Wayne Stinnette, considered "extremely dangerous" was seen in the Two Notch Road-Parklane Road area initially before being reportedly taken into custody.
KABC, April 17, 2018:
Authorities arrested a homeless man in San Bernardino County who is suspected of causing the 2013 Silver Fire, which burned more than 20,000 acres and destroyed about 60 structures.

Stephen Patrick Medlock, 53, was arrested on March 8 after authorities received a warrant by Cal Fire investigators looking into the Silver Fire.
This is just a collection of random crime stories, except that all of the suspects are named Stephen. It doesn't tell us anything about the character of other people named Stephen, and it doesn't prove that people named Stephen are more prone to commit crimes than people with other names.

But this is how conservatives talk about undocumented immigrants -- they cherry-pick the worst stories about these immigrants, and when they've recounted enough stories of this kind, they persuade one another that those illegals are really evil.

And now we have a president who bases his policies on this kind of thinking. It's appalling.

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