Washington, DC – Over the weekend, Donald Trump held his first 2024 campaign rally this year where he echoed his usual election grievances and amplified white nationalist rhetoric. Of note was the location for the event – Waco, Texas – the site of the 1993 standoff between the Branch Davidians and law enforcement which has become a symbolic shrine to many in hard-right, violent movements. As expected, the former President and current candidate shouted lies that the borders are “open,” that the country is facing an “invasion,” and that immigrants and other “thugs” are coming to kill Americans. As America’s Voice pointed out in, “‘The Potential for Violence is the Point,’ Trump’s Waco Rally Continues His Pattern of Courting Political Violence”:
“From Charlottesville to January 6 and telling the Proud Boys to ‘stand by’ on the Presidential debate stage, there is no shortage of examples of Trump inciting or offering his tacit approval for political violence from his supporters and white supremacists.
One key element of this disturbing trend America’s Voice has been closely monitoring is the mainstreaming of the great replacement conspiracy theory. A racist conspiracy about a coordinated invasion of non-white migrants to replace white America that has inspired the domestic terrorists who attacked El Paso in 2019 and Buffalo last year. This racist fiction is now a regular part of Trump’s stump speech.”
Trump’s rhetoric at the rally was not only a lie, it’s dangerous. Calling out immigration as part of an organized “invasion” is the foundation for the recent acts of horrific violence committed by hard-right extremists. Writing for the Baylor Lariat, Cathryn Meisner observes:
“Throughout his speech, each time the border was mentioned, the crowd collectively booed.
‘We’ve been standing up to the globalists, the communists, we don’t even talk about the socialists anymore,’ Trump said. ‘The RINOs, the big money, special interests, the open border fanatics.’
…Trump then hit on the border crisis, a hot topic in Texas politics.
‘Remember, the people after me are the ones who are throwing your borders open to millions and millions of illegal aliens,’ Trump said. ‘They are flooding your towns with deadly drugs and selling your jobs to China, mutilating your children … setting fire to your life savings, releasing violent criminals to prey on innocent people. Justice will be done when we have drawn this repulsive political class out of office.’”
Kathleen Belew, Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University, analyzes the significance of Trump’s Waco rally in an insightful Twitter thread:
“We aren’t talking enough about the Trump rally in Waco this weekend. This site is important to the white power movement and other extremist groups because it signifies not only a moment of federal overreach, but a response by extremists: the Oklahoma City bombing.
…This is the same logic we see in the manifestos of white power mass-shooters in Charleston, El Paso, Christchurch, Philly, Buffalo. This is the same fear that the white power slogan 14 Words references
…As a historian of the white power movement and Waco, this is the most blatant I’ve ever seen this rhetoric and ideology at a Trump rally, and that includes ‘Stand Back and Stand By’ and the Jan 6 speech. This continues to escalate. We aren’t through yet.”
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“It is jarring to see the leading Republican presidential candidate advance white nationalism and spew such vile rhetoric against immigrants without any criticism from members of his own party. While this extremist rant wasn’t a surprise, the silence from leading Republicans is a reminder how the MAGA movement has taken a hold of the GOP. Extremism, anti immigration and disinformation has become a central operating principle of a party that is off the rails. ”
- Read the new America’s Voice memo on how Republicans and right wing are amplifying “open borders” misinformation
- Read the Vanity Fair exclusive by Caleb Ecarma: “How The Right’s “Open Borders” Myth Might Be Fueling The Migration Crisis”