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Trump’s repeated use of the Mexican rapist trope is as old (and as racist) as colonialism

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Donald Trump took time away from a tax reform meeting in West Virginia on Thursday to say, again, that Latin American men are a bunch of rapists, which is why we need stricter immigration laws in the United States. “And remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower,” he began, referring to his presidential campaign kickoff speech in June of 2015 when he said that Mexico is sending, “rapists” along with drug traffickers and drugs.

“When I opened. Everybody said, ‘Oh, he was so tough,’ and I used the word rape. And yesterday, it came out where this journey coming up,” he said referring to the annual Pueblo Sin Fronteras caravan for immigrant rights currently traveling from Central America through Mexico to the United States, “Women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don’t want to mention that. So we have to change our laws.” (On Friday, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was referring to the Central American women too often raped on the journey to the United States to seek asylum, which is one reason they formed the caravan in the first place.)

When it comes to rallying his voter base, the men-of-color-as-sexual-predator trope has to be the most failsafe tool Trump can invoke, since white men have been using this lie to scare white women and each other into submitting to racism for as long as race relations have existed.

White men have been using this lie to scare white women and each other into submitting to racism for as long as race relations have existed.

The myth of black and brown men as sexual predators towards white women is a deeply psychological motivator that activates people’s basest survival instincts, one that’s been around as long as white men have been colonizing places filled with darker-hued humans. And, it’s clearly been highly effective for getting voters to leave logic behind; It’s part of how Donald Trump won the White House.

The assertion that Mexico is sending rapists to the United States was a test run for how to generate attention in a crowded primary — say something racist and beyond the pale to make the liberals mad, which Steve Bannon’s even acknowledged — that got him more screen time than any of his Republican competitors and continues to gain him media coverage and excite his supporters.

It’s that excitement, that unseemly pleasure that men like Trump apparently take in asserting that we should all fear the sexual predation of non-white men, that makes it so easy for me to believe that the entire racist structure of colonialism is founded upon white men’s sexual insecurities. There is a perverse pleasure taken in making these warnings, in calling us savages, in generating and regenerating the myth that they are protecting “their” women (and thus their pale future) from the voracious sexual appetites of non-white men. They can feel their obsolescence encroaching; they always have.

It takes a rapist to believe that everyone else is intent on rape.

The vilification of men of color also serves as an indicator about some white men’s own malicious intentions: It takes a rapist to believe that everyone else is intent on rape. In the United States, from the colonial period to well into the 1960s, white men raped women of color with impunity even while setting up their white female counterparts as beholden to them for protection against men of color. Through this mind-bending logic, they managed to create a system there were virtually no legal consequences for a white man who raped a black or brown women, while black men could only ever be rapists to white women (and thus strung up at the nearest tree after any accusation, regardless of evidence).

And today we have a white, male president who has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by at least 15 women since the 1980s and who has admitted on a tape — which we have all heard — to being the type of man who gropes unsuspecting women’s genitals with impunity because of his status. This very president won the White House on a platform that accuses nameless, faceless Mexican boogeymen of traveling all the way to the United States, risking life and limb, to commit rape against American women.

And now he has accused them of committing so much more rape in their home country that the numbers are unseen before in human history, in an effort to deny asylum to, among others, the very women he accuses them of victimizing. His voter base laps up his baseless accusations against whole swaths of humanity while chanting “build a wall,” choosing to believe that immigrants of Latino descent are subhuman — the very savages their forefathers once swore they were — and unworthy of consideration as political refugees fleeing violence and extreme poverty.

Donald Trump doesn’t care about rape victims or potential rape victims, whether they’re white women or Central American migrants who have formed a caravan to escape that fate.

Yes, poor people in Mexico and Central America are vulnerable targets for crime, just like they are in the United States. Yes, women traveling alone and across a foreign country with few resources are at risk for being assaulted, sexually or otherwise, just like they are here.

Yet in fact, one international data crunching website says that rape is twice as prevalent in the United States than in Mexico. And we’ve seen ample proof in the past year that even privileged, white women and men in the United States are at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted because sex crimes are, sadly, all too common among human beings regardless of race or nationality and sexual predators come in every skin color.

Donald Trump doesn’t care about rape victims or potential rape victims, whether they’re white women or Central American migrants who have formed a caravan to escape that fate. He’s simply willing to twist the very real fear of a very real crime that doesn’t discriminate by race or country into a racist projection against immigrants that misinforms voters, further victimizes the disenfranchised and drives an even bigger wedge between cultures. And to do all of that for political gain is, quite frankly, the most inhuman thing of all.

Cindy Casares is the founding editor of Guanabee.com and has contributed to The Guardian, The Texas Observer and Latina.com. She grew up on the border of Texas and Mexico and currently resides in Austin, Texas.

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Australia mice plague sees rodents biting people’s feet and crawling over their faces | World News

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A persisting plague of mice in a part of Australia is making life a misery for many with people woken up by the rodents biting their feet – or crawling across their faces.

The infestation in a rural area of New South Wales, triggered after a bumper grain harvest led to a mass breeding season, has caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage and sparked warnings that hard-hit residents face “meltdown”.

The pest invasion comes on the back of one of the worst droughts on record and bushfires.

Residents in the small town of Tottenham have been left exhausted as they struggle to deal with the swarm.

They have spent every morning since February sweeping away thousands of dead mice before laying out fresh bait and traps to kill more.

The onslaught did start to improve a few weeks ago with colder and wetter conditions.

But drier weather has caused the plague to ramp back up.

Tonnes of grain cannot be sold because it’s been contaminated by mice droppings and truckloads of hay will be burnt because of the damage.

The local school has also been inundated.

Principal John Southon said “kids don’t blink” when mice regularly scurry across their desk.

He has told students to bring their lunch in sealed containers.

Mr Southon said: “They are in every aspect of our lives, our homes our cars, washing basket.

“Eventually people are going to have a meltdown because it’s constant and wears you down.”

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Ireland’s health service shuts down IT systems over ‘significant ransomware attack’ | World News

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Ireland’s health service has closed down its computer systems after what it described as a “significant ransomware attack”.

The Republic’s Health Service Executive (HSE) said it had shut down its entire IT network as a “precaution.”

It said COVID-19 vaccinations were not affected by the attack.

“There is a significant ransomware attack on the HSE IT systems,” the HSE said on Twitter.

“We have taken the precaution of shutting down all our IT systems in order to protect them from this attack and to allow us fully assess the situation with our own security partners.”

It added: “We apologise for inconvenience caused to patients and to the public and will give further information as it becomes available.

“Vaccinations not affected are going ahead as planned.”

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Israeli ground forces launch attacks on Gaza as fighting worsens | World News

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Israeli ground forces began launching attacks on Gaza in a widening of hostilities as Israel braced for more internal strife between its Arab and Jewish citizens following Friday prayers.

The Israeli military said air and ground forces were firing at the Hamas-run enclave, though it does not appear to mean the start of a ground invasion, with Sky News witnessing troops launching artillery and tank rounds from Israel’s side of the border.

“I said we would extract a very heavy price from Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a videotaped statement. “We are doing that, and we will continue to do that with heavy force.”

Streaks of light are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercept rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
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Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system has intercepted many of the rockets launched from the Gaza Strip

Thousands of Israeli forces along with tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery are massing along the frontier with Gaza, preparing to push inside if given the order, in what would be a hugely significant escalation.

Unperturbed, Palestinian militants continued to launch rockets from the strip towards Israel into Friday morning.

At least 109 Palestinians have died since the exchanges began on Monday, including 28 children and 15 women, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Palestinian militants have said 20 of their fighters are among the dead, though Israeli officials said this figure is much higher.

Almost half of the deaths happened on Thursday – the deadliest day so far.

On the Israeli side, seven people have been killed, including two children and a soldier.

But this is a crisis on many fronts, as decades of Israeli-Palestinian trauma erupt into clashes on the streets of many towns and cities inside Israel – with Arabs and Jews, who had lived together peacefully, turning on each other, prompting warnings of a risk of civil war.

Synagogues have been attacked, cars torched and individuals beaten up by mobs in the worst internal violence in decades.

New protests could erupt following Friday prayers, with al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City a potential flashpoint.

It was at this walled compound – one of the most sacred sites in Islam, which is also revered by Jews and Christians – that violence between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters on Monday sparked the first volley of rockets from Gaza into Israel that ignited the wider crisis.

A Palestinian boy looks at ruins of buildings which were destroyed in Israeli air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip. Pic:  Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Shutterstock
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The blockaded strip is home to some two million Palestinians who have no means to flee. Pic: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

There is of course a regional dimension as well.

On Thursday night, three rockets were fired towards Israel from Lebanon. They landed harmlessly in the Mediterranean Sea in what appears to have been a show of solidarity with Gaza by Palestinian groups in Lebanon rather than the start of a separate offensive.

With so much at stake, frantic diplomatic efforts are underway to try to broker a ceasefire.

Egyptian officials have been speaking with both sides as have officials from the United Nations. The US has dispatched a senior diplomat to the region and Russian President Vladimir Putin has added his voice to those calling for both sides to de-escalate.

In Washington, President Joe Biden said he spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu about calming the fighting but also backed the Israeli leader by saying “there has not been a significant overreaction”.

He said the goal is to “get to a point where there is a significant reduction in attacks, particularly rocket attacks that are indiscriminately fired into population centres”, and called the effort “a work in progress”.

The UN Security Council is due to hold its first public session on the situation on Sunday after the US objected to an open session on Friday, apparently wanting to give diplomacy a little longer to have an effect.

However, with bombardments between the two sides – unprecedented in their intensity – entering their fifth day, there is no obvious sign that diplomacy is cooling heads.

The Israel Defence Forces has hit close to 1,000 targets in Gaza, including multi-storey buildings, rocket launch sites and individual Hamas military commanders. But this blockaded strip of territory is also home to some two million Palestinians who have no means to flee.

Overnight, masses of red flames illuminated the skies as deafening blasts from the outskirts of Gaza City jolted people awake.

The strikes were so strong that people inside the city, several miles away, could be heard screaming in fear, according to the AP news agency.

At the same time, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a fellow Palestinian militant group, have fired close to 2,000 rockets towards Israel. Many were shot down by the country’s air defence system but some have penetrated deep into Israeli territory, including the commercial capital of Tel Aviv, sending families racing into shelters.

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