As one of 54 million Latinos in America, I have a message for Donald Trump — and chances are it's not what you would think. In fact, all of us who describe ourselves as Hispanic Americans owe Donald Trump a debt of gratitude. Why? Because, he’s been able to do what nobody (and heaven knows many of us have tried) has ever been able to accomplish in America.
Donald Trump has single-handedly united Latinos from coast to coast.
Unintentional as it may have been, Trump has pulled off what may seem just short of a miracle. By insultingly describing people who cross the border as “bringing drugs... bringing crime... rapists,” he does what even Ann Coulter wasn’t able to accomplish when she called Mexicans “a deficient culture made up mostly of peasants who are much more dangerous than ISIS.”
The usual lines of cultural demarcation between Central and South Americans are gone, replaced by a spirit of unity in defiance of a man the majority of Latinos now see as offensive and repulsive.
Coulter and Trump’s one-two punch cuts to the core with Hispanics as much for what it says as what it doesn’t say. What their unsolicited Latino critique lacks, as documented recently on Fox News Latino, is perspective. By not mentioning Latino contributions to America, they make all those who have made those contributions feel disrespected. Latinos all throughout America, no matter which border they or their ancestors crossed to come here, seem to be taking Trump’s words personally—almost as if he’s calling every one of them “criminals and rapists.”
If you listen carefully, you can hear a collective “¡No más!” screamed all over America. Enough is enough. Hell hath no fury like 54 million people scorned. East coast Latinos like Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in New York; Cubans in South Florida and Mexicans in California have always blended, but never mixed. That is until now. Trump words have catalyzed some sense of solidarity and “I got your back mentality” among Hispanics.
Maybe it’s because we’ve heard it all before, but never so rudely stated by someone running as a Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States.
Suddenly, Cubans and Puerto Ricans are embracing for one cause. Venezuelans are dancing with Colombians. Argentinians, Uruguayans, Peruvians and Ecuadorans are all coming together. The usual lines of cultural demarcation between Central and South Americans are gone, replaced by a spirit of unity in defiance of a man the majority of Latinos now see as offensive and repulsive.
Remember after the 911 attacks, when the whole world seemed to be behind us? When even the French’s best paper often critical of U.S. policies wrote: “Today, we are all Americans”? Because of Donald Trump’s statement, Latinos everywhere seem to be saying “today we are all Mexicans!”
In Los Angeles, much of the talk is about Trump’s unwillingness to apologize and his apparent declaration of war against Univision and its anchorman Jorge Ramos. (Trump’s lowest blow may have been releasing Ramos’ personal cell phone to the public as a way of punishing the network that has chosen to cancel his Miss USA pageant.) By the way, Trump’s attacks on Ramos are the equivalent of LBJ attacking Cronkite. It’s a losing battle.
In Miami, the Pichy Boys, who are the Spanish digital equivalents of The Daily Show, are blasting a very un-Cuban message of solidarity with Mexicans and other Latinos across the U.S. Cubans tend to vote Republican and rarely see eye to eye with their counterparts out west. That is until now. Donald Trump’s slurs have most of Miami’s Hispanics incensed to the point where there’s even talk of boycotting the Doral Golf Resort, Trump’s crown jewel of golf.
In New York, it’s more of the same with even the late night shows getting in their blows. On “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez told Trump “where to stick it” while an audience cheered wildly.
Politically, Trump’s slurs can do one of two things. Because he’s running as a Republican and is now coming in second in some New Hampshire polls, he may set even further back the GOP’s chances of winning Latino voters, which are crucial to the upcoming 2016 general election.
But it could go the other way, Trump may be providing a huge opportunity for a Republican candidate who dares to take him on and call him out, thereby increasing his or her chances of carrying the Latino vote. It’s a softball right down the middle. All Bush, Walker, Rubio, Cruz, Fiorina or any other candidate has to do is swing, but will they have the nerve? Their electability may depend on it.