Last Wednesday the golden-fleeced alpha wizard we call a president ignited yet another round of public pearl-clutching and vapor-sniffing after referring to members of the MS-13 gang as “animals.”
Trump was meeting with the Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims about California’s sanctuary laws—which violate federal laws—when Mims mentioned the legendarily bloodthirsty transnational criminal organization whose psychotically violent tactics have earned them the reputation as the world’s most dangerous street gang.
“These aren’t people,” Trump said, referring to MS-13. “These are animals.”
Leftist church ladies and, I presume, many of their house cats were appalled at Trump’s remarks. He was accused of being Basically Hitler again for alleging that a gang which rips out its victims’ hearts and chops off their hands behaves like animals.
As is his brassy wont, Trump doubled down when speaking to reporters the next day:
I’m referring, and you know I’m referring, to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in. We have laws that are laughed at on immigration. So when the MS-13 comes in, when the other gang members come into our country, I refer to them as animals. And guess what—I always will….You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.
That same day White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Trump of soft-pedaling the matter: “If the media and liberals want to defend MS-13, they’re more than welcome to. Frankly, I don’t think the term that the president used was strong enough.”
In July of last year Trump had also referred to MS-13’s members as “animals,” adding that their victims “die slowly because that way it’s more painful.”
To be fair, I believe the president’s statement is inaccurate. I’ve never known animals to cover their faces in tattoos. I’ve never heard of animals chopping off their victims’ heads with machetes because it happens so swiftly they don’t have time to scream.
MS-13 is shorthand for “Mara Salvatrucha,” whose name is thought to derive from Salvadoran slang denoting a vicious and fiercely loyal type of fighting ant. The group first emerged in the gang-addled streets of Los Angeles in the 1980s. Salvadoran refugees who found themselves in America for reasons that had quite a bit to do with US military meddling in their homeland found themselves surrounded by black and Mexican street gangs, and it was either fight or die.
Unlike LA’s gang members, who grew up in relative tranquility, many of those who’d eventually form MS-13 were already halfway psycho and shellshocked from having fought in El Salvador’s bloodbath of a civil war. Stylistically, their iconography differed from other Latin gangs in that they have roots in heavy metal “stoner” culture and satanism, with their “M” hand sign resembling an inverted “devil horns” hand symbol. And then, of course, there are the face tattoos, which alone give them the stony look of walking death. With a fondness for slowly torturing and mutilating their victims rather than shooting them cold, they quickly developed a reputation as the world’s most mercilessly violent street gang. Their motto is mata, viola, controla—“kill, rape, control.”
But please don’t call them animals.
MS-13’s more infamously violent acts include:
• A 2017 gang attack on a man in a public park in Maryland in which the victim was choked, stabbed over 100 times, decapitated, had his heart cut out, and was tossed into a grave they’d thoughtfully dug for him. One MS-13 member used a walkie-talkie to help orchestrate the carnage.
• In Houston last year, two teenaged MS-13 members were arrested for the Satanic ritual killing of a 15-year-old girl identified only as “Genesis.” She allegedly had bumped into a Satanic shrine in their apartment on accident. One of the gang members said a saint spoke to him and demanded her “soul” in return for her transgression. They shot her in the head and chest and left her body in a busy section of Houston’s Chinatown.