Jose B. Gonzalez
The surge in the popularity of presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, the Don Rickles of candidates, even after his never-ending routine of insulting women and Latinos, partly indicates our country’s view of how being “politically incorrect” is synonymous with being honest. But more than that, his growing appeal among voters who perceive him as sincere illustrates the advantage that he and others with his privileged background have in being praised rather than condemned for sexist and racist remarks.
Were Trump a comedian, his appeal would be less troublesome, but his words have somehow given him presidential street credits among Americans who agree with his self-assessment–that he “tells it like it is.” It is no coincidence that the target of his hate-filled speech has been those who do not have the same privilege he does; after all, those he persists on verbally shaming lack the genetic makeup necessary to play the game of being politically incorrect.
Perhaps no better example exists than that of Megyn Kelly, the anchor whom he crassly intimated was menstruating when she quizzed him in the first major GOP debate. After Trump’s cheap shot, Kelly took no verbal jabs at Trump; instead, she simply wished him luck in his campaign and indicated that she will continue to serve as a journalist. Even Rosie O’Donnell, whom Trump referred to as a “big, fat pig,” had no interest in reviving their feud. She reacted to his “telling it like it is” by simply putting up a white flag and tweeting, “try explaining that 2 ur kids.” Both Kelly and O’Donnell knew better than to attempt to play a politically incorrect game reserved for wealthy, privileged men like Trump.
Trump’s “politically incorrect” attacks on Latino immigrants have had similar results. Mexico, he said, is “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.” Despite the fact that according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll, 55% of Latinos found his comments, “insulting and racist,” no major public figure–i.e., has dared to use such language to condemn his remarks.
When Trump tweeted, “#JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife,” no one expected Jeb’s wife, who is of Mexican-American descent to fight back. And she didn’t. And rather than seize the moment and attack Trump for the hobby he has made of insulting Mexican Americans, Jeb simply pointed out that you can be for controlling the border and love your wife. Trump has mastered the art of being politically incorrect, intentionally making racially charged–yes, even racist statements–as a strategy for being recognized as sincere.
Where others would have politically died, Trump has thrived. He has been obsessed with “justice” in the case of the Central Park Five, in which four African-American and one Latino juvenile were wrongly convicted of crimes related to the rape of a jogger. Here is a presidential candidate who in 1989 bought a full-page ad at the time of the arrests, intimating that these young boys should be given the death penalty. Then, after New York admits to its mistreatment and settles with them out of court in 2014 Trump boldly writes an op-ed for The Daily News, denouncing the settlement. It’s impossible to imagine a Latino, or African-American candidate publicly rising to the field of presidential hopefuls after publicly and wrongly advocating for the deaths of innocent juveniles.
To its credit, the GOP has tried to distance itself from Trump, passively acknowledging the offensive nature of his language and recognizing that female and Latino voters can make or break candidates. But what they and their Democratic counterparts are failing to realize is that until they begin to condemn his words by incorporating the words, “sexist” and “racist,” they will simply continue to be players in Trump’s game of being politically incorrect. Until then, Trump will continue to deal his race and gender cards, telling it “like it is,” daring others to speak up for what he really is.
Jose B. Gonzalez is a Fulbright Scholar and the Edtitor of LatinoStories.Com