The Latinx social media world will never disappoint us. Within minutes of Mike Pence telling Tim Kaine that the Democratic vice presidential candidate had “whipped out that Mexican thing again” on Tuesday night, all was fair game on Twitter, as a quick search of the trending #ThatMexicanThing would easily confirm.
Still, outside of seeing Twitter profiles reminding Pence that his words just rubbed many people the wrong way, the “Mexican thing” exchange goes beyond just a hashtag. In essence, Pence’s insistence to move past “that Mexican thing” only serves to remind us how he and Donald Trump have been dismissive of Mexicans, Mexicans Americans, Latin Americans and Latinos ever since Trump said these words on June 16, 2015, the day he launched his campaign:
DONALD TRUMP: When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. And now they are beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.
The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.
Thank you. It’s true, and these are the best and the finest. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re 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. And some, I assume, are good people.
But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.
It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.
It is really important to look at all of Trump’s quote and not just focus solely on Pence insisting that Trump said that Mexicans are good people. (For the record, Pence forgot to add the “I assume” words by Trump, which have always suggested that the Republican presidential candidate never really believed that Mexicans are good people. And if we want to get accurate, Trump never said “many of them are good people.”) The Trump campaign has always based its campaign on the falsity of a chaotic border and invading Mexicans, and by setting up that fear, he then connected it to terrorism and crime: “It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East.” This has been the Trump Doctrine for everything else in his presidential run, and Pence will want us to believe that the whipping out of “that Mexican thing” is a non-issue.
But Pence is wrong. When you now have a Trump immigration platform that nows proudly cites “data” from the Center for Immigration Studies (just read this to see why CIS is a fraud), we should not be so dismissive. And unlike Pence and his supporters, we won’t stay silent, and we will remind everyone that we brought up this issue last summer.
What Trump said last June was based on racism, xenophobia and unfounded fear. “That Mexican thing” that Pence shrugged off last night will very likely be the end of a Trump-Pence 2016 ticket just like “self-deportation” was for Mitt Romney in 2012. The Republican Party just doesn’t get it and it looks like it never will.