Some days I wake up and wish I could just crawl back under the covers and sleep away the stupidity I see all around me. I really should watch less of the “news” on television. I, for one, will be glad to stop watching all of the coverage of this carnival sideshow parading itself around as a presidential election. It really has made me begin to question the fundamental nature of humanity and whether or not we deserve all the oxygen we are consuming.
A few weeks back, I spent my weekly diatribe berating the Republicans who had made a walking hair troll their presidential nominee, holding their feet to the proverbial fire for voting for a man whose ideas on women and minorities are about as enlightened as a deeply flawed character from Mad Men. When just a few days later, I had the rare delight to witness firsthand a “Women for Trump” rally where women, apparently so disgusted with Hilary Clinton that even Donald Trump seemed like a reasonable alternative, marched collectively in support of their right to have their pussies grabbed by a lecherous embodiment of greed incarnate, all I could think to myself was that these folks had just plain lost their everlasting minds, or never really had them in the first place. I was raised to respect all people, regardless of personal or political belief, but the fact that Donald Trump had become a presidential nominee for a major party was severely testing that postulation.
And then I was reminded that liberals too have their moments that make me shake my head in silent reverie for the death of common sense in the political arena. As I listened to media coverage immediately following the final presidential debate, I heard a number of left-leaning political commentators seize upon Donald Trump’s use of the term “bad hombres” to refer to some of the illegal immigrants who have come to this country and committed crimes here. They were “shocked and outraged” to hear Trump use a term that they found “deeply offensive and divisive”. And with that, I started looking around my house for something that I could throw at them to knock them off the ridiculous high horse they were parading around upon.
Now listen, I am all about being attentive to language and the implied subtleties it imposes of discrimination, debasement, and subjugation. What we say matters, and you don’t have to preach to this choir about the power of our words, especially when it comes to politics and social justice. But come on, as liberals we really do get carried away with ourselves sometimes, and it is in moments such as this that the people not living in the uber-liberal enclaves of our nation scoff at the air of pretension that we occasionally cloak ourselves in.
Please explain to me how Trump’s use of the widely uttered phrase “bad hombre” deeply shakes your sensibilities. We already knew Trump was a racist, but this somehow made you “gasp”? Really? I’ll admit it is a horrible implementation of Spanglish, but we do realize that term “hombre” simply means “man” in Spanish, right? There is no long-standing historical connotation associated with the term, nor does it have any implied racial undertones, negative or otherwise. It simply means “person with a penis”, which I figured was fairly well understood verbiage, at least outside the state of North Carolina.
But some liberals had to pounce on that like Chris Christie spying a filet mignon out of the corner of his eye- they just couldn’t help themselves. Was it because the term involves a word in Spanish? It’s a pretty common phrase that does not generally refer to any ethnicity per se but instead suggests a tough dude with the potential to be a bad ass- usually in a good way such as referring to an NFL linebacker or Clint Eastwood in every spaghetti Western ever made. Just because Trump employed a phrase containing a word in Spanish is a not a de facto representation of Trump’s racism. We have plenty of his words in (at least what he claims to be) English to do that.
Or were people upset because he was specifically referring to folks who were born in Mexico? I would agree if he was referring to the population in general, but Trump (and I cannot believe liberals are putting me in the unfortunate position of defending this man’s language choices) clearly specified that he was speaking about people who had come here and committed crimes in the United States, a subset of the immigrant population that by definition are “bad hombres”. Would it have been my language choice? No, but neither would that ghastly combover of his be my hairstyle go-to. Both suggest poor aesthetic judgment, but that doesn’t mean they are racist.
As liberals, the defenders of free thought and even freer speech, we too often sacrifice the principles we purport to advocate upon an agenda-driven altar of false moral superiority. C’mon liberals, we’re supposed to be the cool kids, not those fuddy duddy Republicans with the stick of social conservatism stuck deeply up their asses. But when we go searching for any mildly offensive term, just waiting for the next insult to overreact to, we abdicate the moral high ground and come off as a bunch of whining posers who are more interested in pointing fingers than creating meaningful solutions to the very real social injustices impacting people each and every day.
After all, the beauty of the first amendment, you know that simply-worded gem from the Bill of Rights, is that everyone’s words and opinions are protected from the legal scrutiny of the mass populace. In other words, in this great country, you always have the right to be an asshole. And I, for one, avail myself of that protection often.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com