MSNBC's Hayes: Trump's Base Wants 'an Ethnically Pure America'

January 12th, 2019 12:27 PM

During Thursday’s edition of All In With Chris Hayes, the eponymous host joined a long list of cable TV personalities who have smeared President Trump’s supporters or anyone supportive of building a wall on the southern border with Mexico as racist. As for Hayes, he delivered a monologue, which concluded with the assertion that the Trump base wants “an ethnically pure America.”

Hayes deserves no credit for originality when it comes to resorting to the “racist” talking point. In recent weeks, cable news personalities have compared President Trump to Adolf Hitler and argued that the idea of a wall comes straight out of the Ku Klux Klan playbook. An MSNBC guest recently argued that President Trump’s base is “scared of anyone who is not visibly white” while CNN’s April Ryan claimed “this border wall thing is about controlling the browning of America.”

Hayes’s monologue merely offered more of the same. Hayes began by arguing that the immigration debate has never been about the wall. According to Hayes, “the wall originated as a device to jog the President’s memory, to make sure to remind him to cater to the most xenophobic part of the base of the Republican Party because there is a cluster of people in the Republican Party who catapulted Trump to his win in the primaries who hate and/or fear immigrants and not only that, these are people who define their political life by stemming and stopping the invasion of people who do not look like them.”



Hayes also claimed that “Donald Trump is at the border and shutting down the government...because he almost certainly correctly thinks his political fortunes are dependent on…people animated by bigotry and fear.” Hayes then delivered his thesis about the motivations of the Trump base: “what they want is an ethnically pure America.”



Hayes brought in Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Seattle, a supporter of the “abolish ICE” movement, to react to his monologue. Jayapal praised Hayes for saying “so beautifully” that “this has never been about a wall.” Jayapal continued parroting Hayes’s talking points, arguing that the President’s ultimate goal is to “make America pure in the sense of not having immigrants, not having folks of color here.”

Hayes praised Jayapal for making a point “about the deal he rejected,” which he elaborated on: “there was a deal that was worked out, it was basically to give legal status to the folks in DACA, who are in a sort of strange legal limbo because the President took away, essentially, the authority and there was a trade for some money for the wall or border security. And the response was yes, but you also have to reduce legal immigration to 1920s levels.” 

According to Hayes, Jayapal’s point only reinforced his thesis “that what they really want is a reduction of all immigration,” especially by people “who do not look like them.” It looks like another job well done for the media-Democratic Party echo chamber. 

A transcript of the relevant portion of Thursday’s edition of All In With Chris Hayes is below. Click “expand” to read more.

All In With Chris Hayes


08:37 PM


CHRIS HAYES: The President was down at the border today for just the latest in a series of stunts he is trying to work himself out of this political quagmire. Now, last night, we reported that the ratings for the Chuck and Nancy part of the show; the response to Trump’s Oval Office speech, actually got higher ratings than Trump’s speech itself. But those were just the preliminary overnight ratings; it’s the top markets. When it was all said and done, the President did manage to eke out a national ratings victory over his rivals; although not on the cable channels. The speech has not, however, achieved any sort of political win for the President and it’s hard to imagine any photo op today that is going to top this. Exclusively, this one exclusively obtained by MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff and Julia Ainsley, it’s one of Trump’s steel slat prototype border walls with a gaping hole in it; the result of a DHS test that found that steel could indeed be cut through with a commonly available saw. The 2017 test showed all eight of President Trump’s prototypes were vulnerable to breaching; that’s according to an internal CBP report. But the reason that we are in the 20th day of a government shutdown is not because of anything actually happening at the southern border. It is certainly not about an actual policy to build an actual wall. Remember, the wall originated as a device to jog the President’s memory to make sure to remind him to cater to the most xenophobic part of the base of the Republican Party because there is a cluster of people in the Republican Party who catapulted Trump to his win in the primaries who hate and/or fear immigrants and not only that, these are people who define their political life by stemming and stopping the invasion of people who do not look like them. The wall is just a symbol to tell those people who feel that way I am on your side. And if you think this is overstating things, consider this. 500 miles away from the border, in Tarrant County, Texas, there is a vote happening right now. It is a vote about whether county Republicans will remove their Party’s Vice Chairman, a Republican, for no other reason than he is a Muslim. That’s it. He’s the Vice Chairman for the party. They want to get rid of him because he’s a Muslim. That’s the only reason. Now, prominent elected Republican officials in Texas have come out against this and that’s fine but the deeper issue is that there are people in the base of the Republican party, we’re talking about activists who attend county party meetings who want that, who want to get rid of a guy just because he’s Muslim and Donald Trump knows that’s his rocket fuel. Those are his people and they are what have propelled his political career. Now, the person who best figured this out before Donald Trump, the guy who is the original wall fetishist, that’s this guy; Congressman Steve King of Iowa. Here he is with then-DHS Secretary Nominee John Kelly, the week before President Trump was sworn in. King brought that same model wall to the House floor way back in 2006. This is a guy who says he told Trump “I market-tested your immigration policy for 14 years.” He’s quoted in that same New York Times article today, as saying “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization - how did that language become offensive?” How did it become offensive? King later realized, I think, what he had said or that he had said it out loud, released a statement denouncing white supremacism. But this is hardly the first time he’s shared similar views. And this brings us to the crux of the problem. Donald Trump is at the border and shutting down the government over this entirely ridiculous enterprise because he almost certainly correctly thinks his political fortunes are dependent on the Steve Kings of the world and the people who love him, people animated by bigotry and fear, people who have come to view their identity as existentially under threat from desperate Honduran moms in flip-flops. Those people cannot be appeased because what they want is not policy. What they want is an ethnically  pure America and that’s why this impasse can’t be solved in any normal deal making terms. Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who was at the southern border last month, helping migrants seek asylum and who worked in, with immigrants and immigrant rights before she came to Congress. Do you think a deal can be made? Or do you think this is fundamentally existential and cannot be made? 

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL: It is fundamentally existential if he continues to insist on a wall and, you know, you just said it so beautifully, Chris, this has never been about a wall. He actually could have gotten funding a couple of years ago or a year ago for a wall. It was part of a deal that was proposed. Not all of us agreed with that deal but it was proposed to him and he turned it down because his ultimate goal is, as you said, to make America pure in the sense of not having immigrants, not having folks of color here and shutting down every form of legal immigration; all to throw a bone to those people. And the only thing I can hope is that the people that he’s throwing the bone to are actually a minority of people. What’s interesting, Chris, is if you look at where immigration fared in the 2018 elections, we actually found people turning away from this view that it was too racist, too bigoted, too xenophobic and, you know, people coming over because, you know, most people in America, I think, do remember that they are one generation, two generations just a little bit removed and they were uncomfortable with the level to which this has gone and so I hope that this can backfire on him and I hope it continues to backfire on him because he has never been interested in being a President for the whole country. He’s only interested in throwing out red meat. And I just have to say, as an immigrant myself, it is, it is so deeply offensive to see the harm that he’s causing to people across the country, people who are terrified, who don’t feel that they belong. The people who are seeking asylum, who no longer can get in, even though it’s legal to seek asylum and not just at a legal port of entry. You know, all the people who have come to this country because of what we represent, the deep harm that is being done, and the violence that’s being committed against Muslims through hate crimes, against, you know, Latinos, against folks of color. There is real damage, not only to real people but also to our soul and our psyche. 

HAYES: You made the point about the deal he rejected. I’m glad you brought that up because it strikes me as key. There was a deal that was worked out, it was basically to give legal status to the folks in DACA, who are in a sort of strange legal limbo because the President took away, essentially, the authority and there was a trade for some money for the wall or border security. And the response was yes, but you also have to reduce legal immigration to 1920s levels. 


HAYES: Which struck me as the tell because when they talk about the border, they’re talking about unauthorized immigration. But what they really want, I mean…is it your understanding and is it the understanding of your colleagues and everyone in that Congress that what they really want is a reduction of all immigration? 

JAYAPAL: No question about it. The proposal that they would have put forward would have dramatically cut legal immigration, would have ended family migration as we know it, would have ended…you know we’ve already seen refugee levels go down tremendously, now he’s shutting off asylum, he tried to ban asylum seeking at the border. So every single place, he is cutting legal immigration. This has never been about, you know, undocumented immigrants coming across the border. It has always been about limiting legal immigration, unless, of course, Chris, you happen to be a housekeeper that’s working in Mar-a-Lago on his grounds and then maybe that’s different. But for the vast majority of the country, what he wants to do is say that we’re not going to allow people into this country anymore. That’s been the agenda of Steve Miller. It is a long-time agenda of these white supremacists who are fueling him at the base and that is what is so disturbing. That’s why it’s not about a wall, it’s not about security. It’s actually, you know, it’s not even about undocumented immigration or comprehensive immigration reform, it is about the character and the nature of this country and who makes it up and what they’re trying to get to. 

HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much for making time.