President Trump referred to people as “animals” — and then doubled down, saying that he was only referring to certain people .
Trump’s comment went during a roundtable deliberation about sanctuary cities in California, after Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims described what she sees as a number of problems with current law enforcement and immigration policy.
Trump responded, “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these individuals are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”
Many honed in on the president’s words, accusing him of dehumanizing all undocumented immigrants from south of the border. The chairman clarified that he was specifically referring to those in MS-1 3 — gang members largely from Central America , notorious for especially brutal, violent crimes.
John Legend beautifully explained why it doesn’t matter if the president was only dehumanizing violent gang members .
When Trump induced these remarks, Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, were in the hospital welcoming their new newborn. Yet the singer still took a moment to explain why dehumanizing the working groups — even violent gang members — is problematic.
“I’m in the hospital with our new son, ” he wrote on Twitter. “Any of these babies here could end up committing terrible crimes in the future. It’s easy, once they’ve said and done, to distance ourselves from their humanity.”
The perspective one gets gazing at a brand-new human being, still unmarked by the world, is as about as pure as it gets.
Legend challenged us all to examine the root causes of violence and look for collective solutions.
“But it’s much more honest and challenging to realize they were all newborns once and think about what in society, their home life, etc. took them from baby to violent gang member, ” he continued, “and then to be considered collective action we could take to mitigate these conditions.”
It’s easy to make black-and-white, us-versus-them, good-versus-evil narrations.
It’s harder to dig deep into what results people to violence and contemplate how we could play a role in preventing it.
Without devolving into personal bashing, Legend pointed out a universal truth: As history has proven time and again, dehumanization of any group of people is a dangerous path.
What builds his comments so obligating is that he put forth his arguments and challenges ideas with a thoughtful nod to the complexity of the issue — and without belittling anyone’s ideology, political affiliation, or appearance.
Thank you, John Legend, for a refreshing example of how to engage in thoughtful and reasonable discourse, even within an undeniably divisive topic.
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