Donald Trump is being slammed for racist tweets (again), but who cares? This isn’t about racism, it’s about maths, argues Joe Hildebrand.
Over the school holidays I paid a long overdue visit to an old friend of mine who lives in Mexico City. We laughed, we drank and we talked. And eventually the conversation turned, as all conversations seemingly do, to Donald Trump.
“It was crazy,” he said. “After he won I was scared to leave the house for three days.”
This was apparently on good advice. He told me that after Trump’s election one major Mexican newspaper carried the simple front page headline: “Be afraid”
This warning was obviously directed towards Mexicans, but my Australian friend had a different kind of fear: that he would be mistaken for an American.
So, I asked him, almost three years later, are Mexicans still scared of Donald Trump?
“Nah,” he laughed. “Now they just think he’s crazy.”
In this way, the Mexicans are light years ahead of their northern neighbours, especially those in the kamikaze — sorry, “progressive” — wing of the Democratic party.
For while the Mexicans, who are literally on the front line in the war of words and walls waged by El Loco Presidente, have learnt to laugh off his various verbal grenades, the very people who are charged with defeating him are instead consumed by a playground squabble over how offended they should be by what he says.
It is perhaps telling that whenever I perused the front pages of Mexico’s main paper Reforma during my stay I found little, if anything, about Trump. The stories were about the economy, jobs, a report warning of recession, stuff that actually mattered to people on the ground. Granted, my Spanish isn’t exactly perfecto but I don’t think I even saw Trump’s name on page one. Frankly, they have their own crazy president to deal with.
And in a megacity the population of Australia where millions don’t even have running water, they also have problems slightly more pressing than who might have been offended by a tweet or two.
But this hasn’t stopped the supposed champions of the poor complaining about their own hurt feelings on Capitol Hill, as I found out when I picked up a copy of the New York Times on the way home.
The latest round of hyperventilation and hand-wringing has been caused by Trump tweeting mean things about unnamed “Democrat Congresswomen”, prompting a quartet of them known as “the Squad” to self-declare that it was they whom he was intending to offend and that they were indeed offended.
For what it’s worth, here is what Trump originally tweeted:
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly … and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how …”
Notwithstanding the random punctuation and capitalisation which are Trump tweet trademarks, there is another rather critical error in the two posts. Assuming that Trump is indeed talking about “the Squad”, three out of the four of them were actually born in the USA. So not only is the country they would have to go back to the one they are currently living in, but the “complete and total catastrophe” of government he refers to would have to be his own.
For anyone with half a brain (or half a sense of humour) this would quickly be laughed off for the half-baked political grenade that it is — a dud that should never have gone off. But instead the humourless brigade it was aimlessly flung at picked it up, pulled out the pin and let it blow up in their face.
Instead of carving out their own campaign to win back the disaffected working-class voters who switched from Obama to Trump in 2016, the so-called progressive Dems are making it all about their own hurt feelings and — more tellingly — all about Trump. Once more the Donald is effortlessly setting the agenda and his loudest critics are mindlessly dancing to his tune.