We are all very quick to call out hateful ethnic slurs when they are directed toward the Irish in the United States, but what about when they are directed at others?
Where is the chorus of outrage from our community leaders over billionaire developer and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's bigoted statements about Mexican immigrants, whom he suggested were mostly rapists and drug runners?
“When Mexico sends its people,” Trump said recently in his presidential announcement speech, “they're not sending their best; they're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems to us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
If Mexicans are ever decent hard working citizens it's the exception, not the rule, Trump's speech implied.
This is a Republican presidential candidate speaking in 2015, and not a hooded anti-Catholic Know Nothing blackguarding the Great Hunger Irish in 1846. You'd be forgiven for not noticing the difference, however.
“Trump's arrogance has never been questioned, but his disgusting views on Latinos and Mexicans in particular will forever mark him as the arrogant bigot that he is,” Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, told the press this week. “Our country deserves much more from its presidential candidates.”
Yes it does. At the very least we should hope they do not wish to build massive fortress like border walls to keep us from actually coming here in the first place.
This, however, is Trump's stated ambition. As president he suggested he would quickly cut off business or impose biting tariffs on Mexico until they pay for a massive border wall to keep their own undesirables out of America.
“I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall,” he told NBC. “I'd build it; I'd build it very nicely. I'm very good at building things.”
The only thing that Trump seems especially good at is building cheap outrage, however. Fall out from his shocking statements was almost immediate, of course. On Monday NBC announced it would no longer be working with him on his reality show The Apprentice. It added that it will also no longer air Trump-partnered pageants like Miss USA and Miss Universe.
Trump responded to his self-generated controversies the way he often does, with the threat of expensive law suits. “If NBC is so weak and so foolish to not understand the serious illegal immigration problem in the United States, coupled with the horrendous and unfair trade deals we are making with Mexico, then their contract violating closure of Miss Universe/Miss USA will be determined in court,” he said.
Looking and sounding like the bumptious billionaire bully he appears to be, Trump refused to back down on his incendiary remarks saying he had nothing to apologize for.
“I'm 100 percent correct about Mexicans,” he told the press, taking another opportunity to insult them. “There is nothing to apologize for. Everything that I said is correct.”
It manifestly is not correct though, and Irish community leaders should be among the first to say so. To live in New York is to be made aware of just how hard working and family orientated Mexican immigrants actually are.
They live alongside us, they work alongside us, they have done do for decades. We certainly know them much better that the high born one percenters that Trump pals around with.
So if we know the real truth, then why do our community leaders remain silent when they hear our neighbors, co-workers and friends vilified by a bloated plutocrat who apparently only wants to win votes from the most prejudiced people in our nation? Don't we remember what it feels like to be libeled in this way ourselves?
The Republican Party and its presidential candidates have remained mostly silent in the face of Trump's poisonous pronouncements, as have our own community leaders, recalling Martin Luther King's famous line that “in the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“The American Dream is dead,” Trump proclaimed last week, without noticing that he's one of the most explicit examples of why it might just be.
By tearing at the fabric of the nation he empowers himself at great cost to the vulnerable. We should tell him clearly that we won't stand for it.