Email #242: “joking”?

I saw that President Trump mentioned you by name in his speech to Long Island police officers late last month:

“We’re also working with Chairman Bob Goodlatte on a series of enforcement measures — and he’s a terrific guy — to keep our country safe from crime and terrorism — and in particular, radical Islamic terrorism. A term never uttered by the past administration. Never uttered. Did anybody ever hear that term? I don’t think so. But you heard it from me.”

The speech received negative attention because a paragraph earlier the President told the officers “please don’t be too nice” when making arrests:

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?”

New York police commissioner James P. O’Neill responded: “To suggest that police officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement as well as the public.” Other law enforcement officials and organizations condemned the remark too, but Blue Lives Matters tweeted, “It was a joke,” and Tom Rogan of the Washington Examiner also said, “Trump was clearly joking.” What is your opinion? Was the President making a joke, and if so, was the joke irresponsible?

Regarding President Trump’s reference to you, I was not aware that you were working on radical Islamic terrorism. Could you please explain what the President meant? He did go on to mention legislation that you are working on:

“That includes cracking down on sanctuary cities that defy federal law, shield visa overstays, and that release dangerous criminals back into the United States’ communities. That’s what’s happening. They’re releasing them. So many deaths where they release somebody back into the community, and they know it’s going to end that way. That’s the sad — they know it’s going to end that way.”

While we disagree about whether jurisdictions should have a choice to allocate their local tax dollars to make their police serve as federal immigration officers, the President’s argument is one of the worst I’ve heard in favor of your legislation. Sanctuary cities are not releasing dangerous criminals. They are simply not investigating the immigration status of the people they arrest. And what does the President even mean when says “they know it’s going to end that way”? Does he believe these cities release murderers knowing that they are going to commit more murders? Or was he just joking then too? Joking or not, if the President tries to use this argument to persuade the Senate to pass your anti-sanctuary legislation, it is doomed to the same fate as the American Health Care Act.

I presume you continue to support President Trump because you still imagine he’s the best chance you have of advancing your own legislative agenda, but he is proving counterproductive even at that.

But at least he thinks you’re “a terrific guy.”

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: