Trump and the Art of Know-Nothing Allegations

Trump and the Art of Know-Nothing Allegations July 19, 2019

As he continues his attacks on the four dark-skinned Democratic Congresswomen, he’s focusing more and more on Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia but has been an American citizen since she was 17 years old (not 8, as I previously have wrongly stated). And he demonstrated a technique he loves to use, the allusion to something terribly scandalous about his enemies while preserving plausible deniability that he’s actually making an accusation.

After spending time with dozens of religious leaders in the White House, the President made his way to the South Lawn to travel to yet another re-election rally. On his way he stopped to talk with reporters, and to continue his attacks on four progressive Democratic Congresswomen he has targeted since Sunday.

Speaking about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Somali refugee who came to America when she was a young girl, President Trump amplified an entirely unfounded rumor that’s been making its way online – and he labeled it “a fact,” for which there is no evidence.

“There’s a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother. I know nothing about it. I hear that she was married to her brother,” Trump told reporters. “I don’t know but I’m sure that somebody would be looking at that.”

Hey, I’m not saying it’s true that Trump has sex with goats. I’m just saying there’s been a lot of talk about it and I hear she did. I don’t know anything about it, but I’m sure someone is looking into it. Voila, the accusation is made while allowing him to say he didn’t actually make it. He isn’t saying it, someone else is. That’s just what he heard. Many people are saying it, you know. I’ve heard stories about Vladimir Putin importing special goats for Trump on his trip to Moscow. I don’t know, it’s just what I’ve heard, but I’m sure someone else will look into it. It’s the equivalent of adding “I’m just saying” to a statement as though that somehow absolves one of all responsibility for saying it.

“You look fat. I’m just saying.”

“You saying I’m fat?”

“No, I was just saying it, so I didn’t really say it. I don’t think that, I was just saying it.”

The perfect non-accusation accusation.

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