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Trump's 'speaks perfect English' insult should offend all Americans

Mr. President, brown people speak English.At a White House event on Monday, ...

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 1:05 PM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 1:05 PM

Mr. President, brown people speak English.

At a White House event on Monday, billed as "Salute to the Heroes of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection," President Donald Trump called to the stage a Latino Border Patrol agent, Adrian Anzaldua.

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"Adrian, come here. I want to ask you a question," Trump said. "So how did you -- come here. Come here. You're not nervous, are you?" Addressing the audience, Trump then added, "speaks perfect English."

To put it bluntly, that's what it sounds like when someone as racist as Trump tries to give a compliment to a person of color.

Trump's remark speaks volumes about how he views Latinos. To him, members of the country's largest minority group will likely always seem foreign, even if they are US law enforcement officers. Over and over again, the attitude we've seen Trump display toward Latinos can be described as somewhere between ignorant and hostile.

For the record, most Latinos do speak English. Research from the Pew Hispanic Center shows that in 2013 more than 33 million US Latinos spoke English proficiently. That translated to 68% of Hispanics, up from 59% in 2000.

And not only is English usage on the rise among Latinos, but the share of Hispanics who speak Spanish at home is declining.

This reality seems to be lost on Trump, who was apparently surprised that a Hispanic person spoke fluent English. Never mind that being a US citizen is a requirement of being a Border Patrol agent -- or that immigration agents are required to learn Spanish while at the Border Patrol Academy as well.

If there is someone who does not speak (or spell) perfect English, it is Trump, who has given us words like "bigly" and "covfefe." He regularly mangles syntax and often speaks in a confusing mishmash of word salad. In fact, at the White House event, Trump repeatedly referred to CBP (Customs and Border Protection) as the "CBC" -- an acronym that is usually understood to refer to the Congressional Black Caucus.

Trump can't blame his saying "CBC" over and over on a speechwriter, because the teleprompter script correctly said "CBP." What kind of President holds an event to honor an agency and can't get the agency's name right?

The answer is a President who is out of touch. At Monday's event, Trump blasted what he called "open border" activists, who have criticized ICE and CBP, the agencies tasked with carrying out his immigration policies. He suggested such activists represent only a small fraction of Americans.

"The vast majority, they're all with you," he told the assembled ICE and CBP agents. "They have no courage, they have no guts, they just have big loud mouths. We don't want to put up with that."

Aside from the irony of Trump accusing others of having "big loud mouths," most Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling immigration policy -- even if they don't necessarily endorse the "abolish ICE" movement. A June CNN poll found that only 35% of Americans approve of how Trump is handling immigration, compared with 59% who disapprove.

There is nothing new about Trump's well-documented bias against Latinos. He has insulted prominent Latino journalists, politicians, and even a distinguished federal judge. But the disappointing thing about Monday's event was that Trump's remark overshadowed the whole point of the ceremony -- and the accomplishment of Anzaldua, the agent that Trump called to the stage.

"Speaks perfect English" trended on Twitter on Monday, not "Heroes of ICE and CBP."

Anzaldua found 78 immigrants who were being smuggled into the country. While they were discovered in good health, other migrants being smuggled under similar circumstances have been found dead.

Anzaldua may have helped save lives, and he deserved recognition. He did not deserve to be the focus of a racially-tinged comment -- just as Hispanic Americans do not deserve to be presumed non-English speakers.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 327477

Reported Deaths: 3751
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Hennepin688981130
Ramsey28948512
Anoka23196232
Dakota23102194
Washington14590120
Stearns14314121
St. Louis9280117
Scott881056
Wright827145
Olmsted702536
Sherburne608243
Clay521359
Carver501315
Kandiyohi432024
Rice427738
Blue Earth426617
Crow Wing376237
Otter Tail332725
Chisago326914
Benton317253
Nobles313731
Winona292031
Douglas278439
Mower270623
Polk266226
Morrison241730
Lyon228712
Beltrami227518
McLeod226517
Becker217619
Goodhue216930
Steele20568
Itasca202223
Isanti199517
Carlton198417
Todd187414
Nicollet169426
Mille Lacs161231
Freeborn15966
Le Sueur153511
Brown151015
Cass149910
Pine14298
Waseca141811
Meeker139011
Roseau12475
Martin121221
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Wabasha11041
Redwood101720
Chippewa9508
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Dodge9110
Watonwan8824
Wadena8537
Sibley8194
Rock8019
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Houston7694
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Kanabec67714
Yellow Medicine67612
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Murray6064
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Jackson5181
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Lac qui Parle3984
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Cook790

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 234817

Reported Deaths: 2486
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34631341
Linn14655168
Scott1166189
Black Hawk11194139
Woodbury10622133
Johnson979337
Dubuque941594
Story698323
Pottawattamie664871
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Sioux380529
Webster371639
Cerro Gordo367649
Marshall357647
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Des Moines298621
Muscatine298271
Warren291714
Plymouth284444
Wapello263772
Jones235917
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Lee225617
Marion210222
Carroll203624
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Henry19137
Crawford181016
Benton174023
Tama156641
Washington149715
Jackson148814
Delaware147021
Dickinson143811
Boone142412
Mahaska133328
Wright13007
Clay12254
Buchanan122010
Hardin121011
Hamilton117713
Page11664
Kossuth11608
Clayton11399
Cedar112513
Harrison110832
Floyd110219
Calhoun10907
Fayette108712
Mills10858
Lyon10619
Butler10576
Winneshiek102713
Poweshiek102013
Iowa100213
Winnebago94825
Cherokee9474
Chickasaw9084
Hancock9008
Sac8978
Louisa89321
Grundy88911
Allamakee87013
Mitchell8369
Cass83524
Union8166
Appanoose80713
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Shelby79511
Emmet78626
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Franklin76021
Jefferson7512
Madison7174
Unassigned7050
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Howard5809
Osceola5411
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