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“Arm Up, Get Guns and Be Ready” Republicans Literally Take Aim at Immigrants

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Heated rhetoric takes dangerous direction


The Republican Party and its right wing media enablers continue to take their anti-immigrant obsessions and distractions into dangerous territory. 

Rather than a chastened party seriously wrestling with how its rhetoric and fear-mongering has contributed to deadly attacks – including the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the Tree of Life Synagogue and El Paso Wal-Mart massacres motivated by Donald Trump’s radical rhetoric – the GOP refuses to take responsibility or rein in its ugly fear-mongering. 

Instead of investigating January 6th, they’re advancing voter suppression and anti-democratic measures across the country. And instead of focusing on the real and demonstrated threats to the country, they are hyping fears over immigrants. Take two recent examples:

  • Lara Trump: people who live at the southern border should “arm up, get guns, and be ready … maybe they’re going to have to take matters into their own hands.” Her comments, made on Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News show, are an open call to foment violence. Recall that in August 2019, a white supremacist motivated by Republicans’ xenophobic “invasion” language and “great replacement theory” ideology drove to El Paso and murdered 23 individuals in a Wal-Mart parking lot. See here for a rundown of some of the dangers of Republicans’ dehumanizing anti-immigrant language.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to hype fears over immigrants. From announcing Texas will finish the stupid border wall to pledging to evict unaccompanied minors from state shelters and housing to other recent escalations on immigration, Gov. Abbott is trying to outdo a primary opponent on who can be uglier on immigration. All of it is an ugly compliment to his recent voter suppression law, his support for more guns in Texas and a distraction from his failure to protect his state and its citizens during the recent energy crisis. 

As a Houston Chronicle editorial states, “For Abbott, actually dealing with a national dilemma is of secondary importance. The more immediate concern is a potential challenge from the rightist fringes.” And a Los Angeles Times editorial says, “Enough of this silliness. This country will not find a way to resolve its considerable problems, including immigration policies and enforcement, so long as political actors mire themselves in theatrics and recalcitrant posturing.” 

According to Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Director for America’s Voice:

The Republican Party is now a radical party more interested in fomenting violence than in strengthening our democracy. The leadership is unable or unwilling to rein in their ugliest elements that have led to real-world violence. 

On August 3, 2019, 23 people were murdered in my hometown of El Paso by a gunman driven by hate and fueled by right-wing rhetoric of an ongoing ‘immigrant invasion.’ The language the killer used in his ‘manifesto’ is not all that different from the language being used by Gov. Abbott and Lara Trump today. 

What they’re doing is putting a target on families like mine, suggesting to Americans that just because you’re brown, you’re a threat. It’s vile. But they don’t seem to care. All they care about is their base and their votes, and using fear and xenophobia to get them, no matter the cost. 

Their unwillingness to learn from the past and move beyond fear-mongering threatens more violence. We have to be better than this as a country, and understand that dangerous words have violent consequences.