The resurgence of racism and xenophobia during Donald Trump’s presidency didn’t spring anew from a previously harmonious society.
As America’s long history of European invaders claiming Native American land as their own — and then deciding that the borders should be closed to further newcomers — demonstrates, Trump merely provided the ample fertilizer to help the hidden seeds of hatred prosper and grow during his intolerant regime.
The ascendency of a loud-mouthed bigot like the current president, however, has seemingly made public displays of ethnic animosity more frequent, if not more socially acceptable, in most parts of the country.
Unfortunately, Dr. Lia Franco — an Ecuadorian citizen completing her medical residency while treating coronavirus patients in New Orleans — and her husband Arturo Corovez were forced to deal with one of those threatening displays while taking a Memorial Day weekend shopping trip to Houston.
While driving to a newly reopened restaurant on their weekend trip, the couple noticed a woman following them in her car while brandishing a hammer and gesticulating angrily at them.
“She stopped behind us,” Cordovez said. “After that she started showing a hammer through the mirror. She was shaking her arm … and cursing at us, I think. I was thinking, what did I do?”
What Cordovez didn’t realize was that in this woman’s eyes they had committed the imaginary crime of existing in the United States while Hispanic.
Sensing trouble, the Ecuadorian doctor and her husband called 911 and pulled into the safety of a local gas station.
The furious woman followed them into the service station and began shouting at them in an angry, xenophobic rant.
“You Mexicans, get out of my f*cking country, go back to your f*cking country,” she screamed from her car window, according to Dr. Franco.
At that point, the woman — later identified as Constance Lynn Bono — exited her vehicle and began brandishing her hammer menacingly at the Hispanic couple whom she mistakenly assumed were of Mexican origin.
Luckily, the police that the couple had called earlier arrived and arrested Ms. Bono before she could assault anyone or cause any property damage, charging her with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony that could garner her up to 20 years in prison.
In even worse news for the jingoistic white American woman — who was ironically wearing a T-shirt bearing the coat of arms of Ireland while she verbally attacked the Ecuadorian couple — if prosecutors determine that her actions were motivated by racism, she could have her charges upgraded to a first-degree felony hate crime, with the possibility of a life sentence.
In another bit of irony that likely escaped Ms. Bono’s attention, Texas, the state where she was arrested for her threatening actions emulating the mighty Thor, was Mexican territory until 1836.
Despite being the victims of ethnic harassment, the couple was still concerned about the mental health of their attacker, particularly in light of Dr. Franco’s medical background.
“I think she needs help, she needs treatment, but that doesn’t justify the fact she needs to follow the laws of her country,” Franco said. “If she broke the laws here, she needs to pay for what she did. But for me as a physician, I think the most important thing is she needs treatment, she needs help.”
One has to ask if there is a Trump supporter in the nation who would demonstrate that kind of compassion towards someone who obviously bore them no goodwill.<
In a land made up primarily of immigrants of one generation or another, this woman’s xenophobia would be practically unAmerican, if it wasn’t so sadly predictable.
Still, it’s hard to believe that if Donald Trump wasn’t president right now that she would have felt that doing what she did wouldn’t be a violation of social norms that have fallen by the wayside under his example.
Original reporting by Travis Gettys at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.