Zero Tolerance

Part 2 Disucussion

Before answering the discussion questions, make sure you have watched the documentary “Zero Tolerance.”

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“Zero Tolerance.” Frontline, season 2019, episode 3, PBS, 22 October 2019. Films On

  1. How does President Trump use the lyrics of “The Snake” (Links to an external site.)—written by the civil-rights activist Oscar Brown in 1963 and released as a single by American singer Al Wilson in 1968—as a rhetorical strategy to persuade the audience at his 2016 election rally?
  2. The narrator of “Zero Tolerance” says, “How Donald Trump came to use resentment over immigration as a political weapon is a central defining aspect of his presidency.” We see in the documentary that, on the one hand, there is Trump’s rhetoric about immigration, such as “Build the wall!” and “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” On the other hand, there are the Trump administration’s actual immigration policies, including the travel ban, rolling back DACA, zero tolerance, and family separation. Trump realizes that immigration-related rhetoric is powerful in motivating his supporters at rallies. However, the documentary shows that Trump backpedaled on several of his administration’s controversial immigration policies in the face of angry backlash and protests all over the country. Reflecting on the documentary, do you think the actual immigration policies enacted under the Trump administration are as effective at energizing Trump’s base as his immigration rhetoric? Explain your response.
  3. Finally, did you learn something new from this documentary about immigration as a rhetorical and/or political issue in the United States? Explain your answer.


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