Latinos have such contempt for Donald Trump that every little thing sets them off.
A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll found the Republican nominee trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 50 points among Latinos. Eighty percent expressed a negative view of Trump, while only 13 percent said they view him positively.
The latest little thing to rile up Latinos was a casual phrase that Trump used in the last debate in talking about deportations.
“We have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out,” Trump said.
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Bad hombres. Those two words were all it took to get Latinos fired up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I don’t see why. If I were to make a list of every insult that Trump has leveled at Latinos over the last 16 months, the innocuous phrase “bad hombres” wouldn’t even make the top 10.
Besides, Latinos are mistreated every day in America by both political parties. And yet what gets us up in arms? The zinger “bad hombres.” That’s silly.
Some Latinos are wearing the label as a badge of honor. Others are blowing the whole thing out of proportion.
Carolina Moreno, an editor at “Latino Voices” – the Huffington Post’s journalistic barrio for Latino writers and topics that are considered not interesting or valuable enough by a mostly white editing staff to be put on the main site – took it further.
What galled her about the “hombres” crack was that Trump “dared to use my native language and the language of Latinos’ ancestors to demean undocumented immigrants.” According to Moreno, Trump was trying to “use our own language against us” in a way that amounted to “a corruption of something I felt to be mine – my mother tongue.”
That’s a bit overdone. I take it Moreno wasn’t overwrought with cultural angst a few years ago when President Obama mistakenly welcomed a group of Latinos to the White House to celebrate “Cinco de Cuatro.”
My rundown of Trump’s worst affronts would include calling Mexican immigrants “criminals” and “rapists,” maintaining that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel couldn’t be fair because “he’s a Mexican,” and labeling former Miss Universe Alicia Machado of Venezuela “Miss Housekeeping.” The fact that Trump used the word “hombres” to describe illegal immigrants with criminal records isn’t in the same league.
Latinos might be taken more seriously if we were less selective in our outrage, and if we weren’t so quick to cut Democrats so much slack.
In trying to justify mass deportations, Obama has insisted that his priority is to remove “gang-bangers or criminals.” While stumping for an anti-crime bill in the 1990s, Hillary Clinton – in an apparent reference to African-American teenagers – referred to them as “the kinds of kids who are called ‘super predators’” and said “we have to bring them to heel.”
Clearly, Democrats can be as offensive and tone-deaf as the next guy – especially when it comes to race. And we need to call them on it.
But being offended is easy. Let’s just hope everyone who got their feelings hurt by something that Trump said or did during this campaign shows up at the polls and votes.
Jan Brewer doesn’t think that will happen. The intensely unlikable former Arizona governor – who signed into law an immigration measure that required local and state law enforcement officers to ethnically profile Latinos – claimed last week that Clinton would have a tough time winning Arizona on the support of Latino Democrats because, as Brewer told The Boston Globe, “they don’t get out and vote.”
I hope Latinos prove her wrong. This election is too important. How you vote is your business. Write in someone, or vote for a third party. But vote.
The best reason to vote for Clinton is not because you believe that she cares about you or will keep her promises; it’s to stop Trump. And the best reason to vote for Trump is not because you believe that he'll change a system that made him rich and famous or will keep his promises; it’s to defeat Clinton.
As for me, I remain “Never, Never.” I’ve chosen this path because I see the truth in the meme I read recently that described Trump as representing “everything that is wrong with our culture” and Clinton as embodying “everything that is wrong with our government.” That about covers it.
Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a Washington Post Writers Group columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org