If there is anything to be learned about the election of President Donald Trump, it’s got to be: Never underestimate the lengths people will go to in the name of xenophobic paranoia.
This week the lesson continued when a rape case in Rockville, MD, made national news. Last Thursday, a 14-year-old high school student was walking to class when a fellow student stopped her and allegedly solicited her for sex. According to police reports shared on Twitter, when she said no, the male student allegedly then forced her into a boys’ bathroom, where he and another friend raped her repeatedly.
Because the accused, Jose Montano, 17, and Henry Sanchez Milian, 18, are both undocumented immigrants, the case is now being called the “public face of an immigration debate raging in this country.” At an emergency meeting held by school officials for concerned parents, protesters showed up carrying signs decrying sanctuary cities and states and imploring an unknown someone, maybe anyone, to “Save Our Daughters.”
The details contained in the police report are horrifying. The way this young woman was allegedly treated — at her own school, a place she deserves to be safe and to feel safe — is depraved and inhumane. If the allegations are true, she will probably not be okay for a long time. What I know for sure is that she will never again be the same.
But the way the crime has been usurped as a rallying cry for fears about undocumented immigrants is also disturbing. White House press secretary Sean Spicer answered a question about it in a press conference on Tuesday: “The president recognizes that education is a state-run and a local-run issue, but I think it is cause for concern what happened there,” he said, The Washington Post reported. “And I think the city should look at its policies, and I think that this is something authorities are going to have to look at.”
To say it’s “cause for concern” is the understatement of the century of course, but the bigger problem is what the Trump White House, the protesters, and the right wing media finds so concerning about it. Sadly, it’s not the simple fact that a crime was reported, or the culture of misogyny that encourages these crimes to happen, it’s that the accused in this particular case happen to be brown and undocumented.
These people didn’t show up for the survivor in the Stanford Case, or the Oklahoma Case, or the Steubenville Case. They weren’t there for the multiple women who have accused President Trump himself of sexual assault.
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