By Ed Diokno
Who knew that Donald Trump was bilingual?
Hillary Clinton and Trump finally got around debating immigration in the third and final presidential debate held last night in Las Vegas.
The GOP nominee continued to go after Mexicans and doubled down on building the wall on the U.S. southern border. Then he demonstrated his linguistic skills as he repeated one of his common refrains.
“They are bad, bad people. We’re going to get them out. We’re going to build a wall,” said Trump. “We have some bad hombres and we have to get them out.”
Latinos were greatly offended, but in Trump’s mind, all undocumented immigrants are “bad hombres” no matter where in the world they came from. The only Spanish word he has uttered in this year-long campaign and it had to be this word… in this context.
And as Jose Antonio Vargas, a Filipino American and perhaps the best known undocumented immigrant, pointed out, most immigrants today are coming from Asia, mainly China and India.
What was astonishing was how the Trump spinmeisters tried to defend their candidate with the usual defense, pooh-poohing “political correctness,” or as CNN commentator Van Jones said, what we used to call civility or politeness.
The use of “hombres” conjures up the bandito stereotype of Mexicans and the Twitterers quickly responded. It also reinforces that an entire ethnic group – whether citizen or undocumented – are lawbreakers when actually, the opposite is true.
In Trump’s eyes, most of us immigrants, are “hombres” … to be feared, demonized, hated and dehumanized.
Towards the end of the debate when the topic turned to taxes, more specifically Trump’s tax returns which he wouldn’t reveal, Clinton corrected Trump and reminded him that undocumented immigrants do indeed pay taxes. In fact, they pay more than Trump has apparently paid.
Come to think of it, – I – (little ol’ me) pay more taxes than Trump.
MOST OMINOUS ANSWER: Despite all the Tweets and memes about “bad hombres,” the scariest line of the night was Trump’s refusal to say he would follow the time-honored tradition of the loser graciously conceding.
“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. Then he added, “I will keep you in suspense.” When Fox News moderator Chris Wallace repeated his question to perhaps get a more measured response from the Republican candidate. No such luck. Trump repeated his answer.
In other words, he refuses to go along with the most amazing and uniquely American tradition, the bloodless revolution whenever there is a transfer of power from one president to the successor and the coming together of opposing viewpoints for the sake of democracy, for the sake of the country.
After the most divisive and hate-baiting campaigns in U.S. history, American needs to heal but Trump, apparently, would rather let the wounds fester than concede graciously.