On February 5, a commercial aired for 84 Lumber during the Super Bowl that has been alternately described as "pro-Trump" and "anti-Trump." On Super Bowl Sunday and in the following days, it elicited a lot of attention. While an edited, less controversial version made it on the Super Bowl, the longer version was easily available on You Tube. My liberal acquaintances are still talking about how it touched them. My immigrant friends feel that the ad manipulated people's emotions.
The ad features a mother and a young girl walking through fields and desert scenes. The young girl picks up fragments of textiles along the way-- red, white, and blue fragments that she ultimately makes into a US flag by the time they reach the wall.
When the mother and daughter reach the border, they encounter a giant wall, the kind that Trump wants to build. As they walk along the wall, they come to a door that opens for them. A beautiful ending. A touching ending. And one that is based on speeches by Trump during last year's campaign. In August, he promised to build "a big beautiful door," a promise he re-iterated in a November 2 speech in Pensacola, Florida. "We're going to have that big beautiful door in the wall but you know what? They are going to have to come in through a process. They have to come in legally."
84 Lumber's owner and CEO Maggie Hardy Magerko says she voted for Trump and the ad was about letting in legal immigrants.
Perhaps the journey was not actually about walking across the desert at all. Perhaps it didn't purport to actually represent the true life experiences of thousands of migrants who risk their lives in order to survive. The journey is actually one of assimilation as the child picks up pieces of textile representing the US flag. It is not about compassion nor letting in a suffering mother and child. It is about packaging Trump's message of a wall and a "big beautiful door" in a way that is palatable and heart-warming. It makes us feel good at a time when Trump is considering separating mothers from their children at the border as a way to deter others from making the journey.