Donald Trump is under fire again after launching himself full-tilt into yet another bout of his trademark racism. At a rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico last night the president uncorked more of the anti-Hispanic bigotry that we have long known is constantly bubbling inside him. CNN’s Daniel Dale reported via Twitter that Trump addressed Steve Cortes, a member of the president’s Hispanic Advisory Board, and hit him with some very bizarre comments.
“He happens to be Hispanic, but I’ve never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do, so I haven’t figured that one out,” President Trump said, seemingly unaware that Hispanic is an ethnic distinction and white is a racial one. 53% of American Hispanics actually identified as racially white in the 2010 census.
Ignorance aside, the way in which Trump seemingly proudly stated that he looks like a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) is more than unsettling given his history of racism and flirtation with white nationalism. WASP is generally an innocuous term, but when employed by someone like this president it takes on a distinctly sinister bent.
The president went on rambling for a bit about how much Cortez “loves Hispanics” before turning to him and asking, “Who do you like more the country or the Hispanics?” The immediate implication would seem to be that the president doesn’t view Hispanics as part of the country but rather as a wholly separate, nonwhite faction.
Trump announced to the microphone that Cortez had responded that he likes the country more at which point Trump said, “I don’t know I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest.” The idea of Trump liking Hispanics at all is absurd since he originally rode into the White House with the use of explicitly xenophobic and hateful rhetoric against Mexicans specifically and Hispanics more broadly.
In the one single stretch of speaking about Cortes, President Trump managed to wed overt anti-Hispanic dog-whistling with hamfisted pandering to Hispanic voters. The latter objective was ostensibly why he held the rally in the first place, the former seems to be something that he can’t help but slip into doing even when it’s antithetical to his immediate stated goals. It’s as if he somehow thinks he can simultaneously demonize Hispanics and convince them to vote for him in 2020. It’s as hateful as it is delusional.
For a deeper dive into last night’s rally and the long list of lies that came tumbling out of the president’s mouth, check out Dale’s writeup here.
Trump then says "nobody loves the Hispanics more" than his supporter Steve Cortes. He then asks Cortes, "Who do you like more, the country or the Hispanics?" When Cortes apparently says "the country," Trump says, "I don't know." https://t.co/5zl7TnJL5o
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 17, 2019
President Trump on Hispanic Advisory Council member Steve Cortes: "He happens to be Hispanic, but I've never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do." https://t.co/HGN9CiBTrx pic.twitter.com/Colz9jktdb
— The Hill (@thehill) September 17, 2019
Follow Rob Haffey on Twitter.
Rob Haffey is a writer, filmmaker, and winner of the ScreenCraft Writing Fellowship. He is a graduate of Drexel University.