4 January 2016

Donald Trump TV ad shows Morocco, not Mexico


Donald Trump’s new TV advert includes a reiteration of his call for a ban on Muslims entering the US, and also features footage of migrants streaming across the border to show that Trump will supposedly build a giant wall and make Mexico pay for it.

Put to one side the demagogic claims and 1930s-style propagandising for a second. There seems to be a basic problem with the footage. PolitiFact did some digging and claims that the film is not of Mexicans crossing into the US.

“PolitiFact was able to trace the footage back to the Italian television network RepubblicaTV. On May 3, 2014, the network posted footage of Moroccans crossing the border into Melilla, one of two enclaves on the Moroccan coast that are held by Spain. Migrants who cross the border there are essentially entering territory held by a European Union nation, even though they are still on the African continent.”

Will this potential fraud matter? If the footage is nothing to do with Mexico or the US will pro-Trump voters even care? Possibly not. After all, this is an era in which many angry voters are more interested in whether something feels right and fits their prejudices than in whether it is authentic or even true.

This is what is most worrying about the ongoing spread of populist politics, that is often accompanied by protectionist economic rhetoric. Whereas it used to be that there was broad agreement about the facts of a problem, but a disagreement on what to do about it, that no longer seems to count.

This is most definitely not a uniquely American phenomenon. It is there in Europe, in the resurgence of the Front National in France, and in the UK on the left and right (often it is post-left/right) among some supporters of parties such as UKIP, the Scottish National Party or the far-left members of the Labour party as led by Jeremy Corbyn. It is not enough for true believers to disagree with opponents, one must believe that they are alien, always lying and somehow evil in intent.

Whatever the reasons, this fragmentation and alienation is going to be one of the biggest themes of the year ahead, until (if the Republicans carry on like this) Hillary Clinton wins by a landslide.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX.