Donald Trump Jr. Is Basically Tweeting About White Genocide Now

Albin Lohr-Jones/Avalon via ZUMA Press

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Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) isn’t going to lose on Tuesday, but that’s not why this comment from Donald Trump Jr., the president’s oldest son and of his most popular surrogates, is so important:

Often when conservative politicians talk about their opposition to large groups of non-white immigrants, they couch it in the rhetoric of “bad apples.” Saying you’re worried about MS-13, for instance, is a more socially acceptable argument than simply saying you don’t like Central Americans—people who should know better might even defend you when you do it. In this tweet, Trump isn’t offering misplaced fears about, I don’t know, Al-Shabaab or something. He’s not couching it in anything, there are no dots to connect; he just doesn’t want Somalis, full-stop. Having Somalis in your community is bad, on its surface, simply because they’re Somalis—that’s it, that’s the argument.

Trump’s comments have to be understood in context. Maine already has a large population of Somali-Americans, to go along with a large community of Sudanese refugees. According to the Portland Press Herald, “In 2000, Lewiston’s black population numbered a couple of hundred…Today, it is between 6,000 and 7,000, among a total of 36,000 residents, the majority of which are Somali families.” Those immigrants have had to overcome at times fierce resistance from the community they moved into. Per the Press Herald:

Soon after Somali immigrants began arriving in February 2001, the attacks of 9/11 occurred. The movie “Black Hawk Down” was playing. People feared Muslims. The community, Nadeau said, “didn’t understand who our new residents were. It was a very different time.”

Racial slurs were hurled at local Muslims, a pig’s head was tossed into a mosque, white supremacists visited Lewiston. And all of this generated national and international news coverage.

In 2002, the mayor of Lewiston wrote an open letter to the city’s Somali residents, asking them to tell Somalis in Somalia to stop coming to Lewiston. (King, as it happens, was Maine’s governor at the time, and defended the mayor, but also told Somalis very directly, “you’re welcome here.”) Trump is saying they’re not real Mainers, but even more than that, in deploying a white-nationalist concept like “repopulation,” he’s saying that after two decades, they never will be.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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