A certain president* who had trouble disavowing neo-Nazis at a rally that ended in a murder and who had to be persuaded to explicitly by his son-in-law and daughter to denounce anti-semitism after a mass killing at a synagogue claimed last night in an interview for Axios on HBO (I’m not linking to it) that the US is “the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits.”
Not true. The idea of birthright citizenship is a big enough deal that there’s a highfalutin’ Latin term for it: jus soli (“right of the soil”), and many countries have it.
It’s easy to dismiss Trump’s statement, made a week before the mid-term elections, as a stunt — but it’s more than that. It’s an attempt to prime people to take an idea that was formerly out-of-bounds and move the Overton Window so that it’s now possible to discuss, and eventually make palatable. It’s all in the service of making overt bigotry acceptable again, and it’s more than just a stunt:
Hey, Democratic friends: YES, the attack on birthright citizenship is a political stunt. Yes, it’s unconstitutional and his reasoning is based in lies. But it’s also a terrifying attack on many people. PLEASE do not call it a distraction or argue we should ignore it.
— Christina Reynolds (@creynoldsnc) October 30, 2018
Now what we need is for more media organization to stop simply and uncritically reporting Trump’s statements, but make factual corrections when needed:
We have deleted a tweet about President Trump’s claim that the U.S. is the only country that grants birthright citizenship because it failed to note that his statement was incorrect.
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) October 30, 2018