Meet the kinder, gentler Donald Trump.
“The Latinos love Trump,” the real estate tycoon told reporters last week. “And I love them.”
That’s funny. As a Latino, I don’t feel loved. I feel used. We have once again been cast as cultural bogeymen to help a Republican scare up votes.
This seems to be what Trump was doing a week earlier when, in announcing his presidential bid, he launched into an anti-Mexico tirade that caused an international incident.
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“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” Trump said to supporters. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Little wonder that Trump — while coming in second in a recent poll of GOP presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire, after Jeb Bush — is persona non grata south of the border. Univision, the Spanish-language television network, has canceled its telecast of the Miss USA pageant, which is partially owned by Trump, and said that it’s severing all other business ties to the billionaire. Mexican merchants are peddling toupee-wearing pinatas made in The Donald’s likeness. These works of art, made of papier mâché and cardboard, are filled with candy — unlike the original, which is full of hot air.
At parties and protests, as crowds cheer, these pinatas will be battered, broken and burned. What can I say? Love hurts.
Trump’s screed boiled down to this: “You had better vote Republican, or the big bad Latinos will come and get you.”
As for those being pandered to, I’m sure I speak for many of my fellow Latinos when I say: If you’re so terrified of us, and we’re so dangerous, could you please stop handing us your kids so we can feed them, bathe them and wipe their noses? Could you also stop giving us the private security code to access your gated community so we can cut your lawn and trim the bushes? If you’re going to insist on fearing us, could you please stop needing us so much — especially in ways that threaten your safety? Try doing your own chores.
By accusing Mexico of unloading the dregs of society on the United States, Trump is continuing an ugly American tradition.
Yet, Trump isn’t all wrong. We can assume that most of the Mexicans who come to the United States have struck out in Mexico. Why else would they come? Those folks for whom Mexico is working fine — politicians, businessmen, doctors, lawyers, engineers — are the least likely to leave their family and friends and venture north. The good news is that the people who do come, while down on their luck, are high on talent, ambition, optimism and hard work. They come to the United States – this land of second chances – to roll the dice just one last time.
Just like those who found their way to these shores in the last few centuries from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia and elsewhere, the Mexican migrants who come today are often the best of the best. They’re the daring ones, risk takers, strivers, dreamers. America always got the better end of the deal. And she still does.
It’s funny. Trump built a successful career, and amassed a fortune, by convincing people that he knows all about deals. Now it turns out he can’t even recognize a good one.
Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a Washington Post Writers Group columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.