Email #86, Subject: “more crime”?

I received your call at 7:10 yesterday evening inviting me to join a “telephone town hall” already underway. As a result of being contacted after the event had begun, there was no possibility of my asking you a question because so many other callers were ahead of me in line. I was called late even though I have signed up to participate in these events literally every single morning for weeks.

As the event was ending, you told callers who did not get to ask questions to remain on the line and leave messages on your voice mail. You promised “I’ll get back to you” and “We will respond to you.” I very much hope you will keep that promise.

You conducted a survey during the event in which you stated that sanctuary cities “have more crime.” As I was listening, I googled the words “sanctuary cities more crime fact check,” and a list of websites appeared. Because the Washington Post has been accused of having a left bias, I ignored its fact check page and looked at several others.

They all told me that your statement was false.

Ben Gonzalez O’Brien, a professor of political science at Highline College, conducted a study with professors from Riverside and the University of California. They found no evidence for your claim:

“We find no statistically discernible difference in violent crime rate, rape, or property crime across the cities. Our findings provide evidence that sanctuary policies have no effect on crime rates, despite narratives to the contrary. In past statements, Trump has cited individual instances of crime, such as the Kathryn Steinle shooting in San Francisco, rather than any evidence that sanctuary cities ‘breed crime.’ If this was the case we would expect to see higher crime rates in sanctuary cities when compared to cities with similar demographic characteristics, or an increase in crime after a sanctuary declaration was made. In our research, we have found no support for either of these propositions. There is no generalizable or statistical evidence that crime increases after a city becomes a sanctuary.”

You said twice that sanctuary cities have “more crime.” Why? You even mentioned Kathryn Steinle. Why? It’s difficult to believe that you are merely ignorant of the facts. 57% responded that sanctuary cities should not receive federal funds–the response you were clearly trying to get given your repeated emphasis on a false statement designed to create a negative impression.

I don’t want to call you a liar, but what else do you call someone who makes a false statement with the intention of convincing others that it’s true? I understand that our President has normalized such behavior and so it must be very tempting to imitate him. But you know better. And your constituents deserve better.

Lying serves your short-term goals. You got the survey response you wanted. But that corrosion of integrity is also causing long-term damage to you, the Republican brand, and government in general. An argument that requires a lie is not an argument. It’s misinformation and propaganda. It’s simply wrong.

Until last night I was neutral on the issue of sanctuary cities. I saw both their good intentions and their worrying disregard for democratic laws. Now, because of your collapse of integrity yesterday on the phone, I will staunchly support them.


Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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