MSNBC host Chris Hayes claimed Thursday that President Donald Trump was using coded racial language in a Twitter endorsement of Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for Virginia governor.
Trump had praised Gillespie for being “strong on crime” and someone who would “save our great statues/heritage,” referring in the latter case to the candidate’s position on keeping Virginia’s Confederate monuments in place.
Hayes responded by equating the two phrases, contending that each are racial dog-whistles aimed at fearful white voters.
“It’s perfect because ‘strong on crime’ and ‘save our great statues/heritage’ mean exactly the same thing,” he tweeted.
Hayes said Trump’s use of “strong/weak on crime” language comports with the thesis of his book “A Colony In A Nation.” One of the central arguments of the book is that America has confined racial minorities to de facto colonies, where they are brutally policed based on a historical concept of “white victimization.”
“White lives matter, and it hardly needs to be spoken,” Hayes writes in ACIAN.
Trump’s tweet on the subject of crime and Confederate monuments was the perfect distillation of his racial messaging, Hayes said Thursday.
“Was literally just writing an afterword for paperback of ACIAN about Trump’s use of strong/weak on crime,” he tweeted. “This tweet is *perfection*.”
During his candidacy and now as president, Trump has made cracking down on crime a central part of his image as “law-and-order” Republican. Critics have accused Trump of ginning up fear about a crime wave even though overall crime levels are lower than they were in the 1980s and 1990s. Like Hayes, many of Trump’s opponents say the president’s use of terms like “inner city,” “MS-13” and “Chicago” are dog whistles aimed at his white voter base.
The administration says Trump’s focus on crime is warranted, given a worrisome spike in murders over the last two years. Violent crime rose by more than 4 percent nationally in 2016, with homicides spiking by 7.9 percent. (RELATED: The FBI Just Confirmed What Sessions Has Been Saying About Violent Crime)
It was the second straight year of rising crime — violent crime climbed 3.3 percent in 2015, with homicides surging by 11.4 percent.
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