In this day and age of tweets, posts and Youtube clips forever etched in history, you would think officials would be more careful with what they let slip out. But in these ten instances, politicians’ and educators’ actions concerning Latinos left many scratching their heads and wondering, “Did they really just say that?”
Immigrants? Dogs? Oh no: One of the most recent examples comes from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who hasn’t previously sought to endear himself to Latinos with his tough talk on immigration. In this clip, King compares the selection of immigrants to be allowed in the United States to picking the right bird dog from a litter. As he says, “pick the one that is friskiest, the one that’s engaged the most – not the one that’s sleeping in the corner.”
The Taco Mayor: This one is a doozy. East Haven, Connecticut Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. found himself the target of tough questions from many who were outraged by the arrests of police officers for charges of discrimination against Latinos. Asked what he was doing for the Hispanic community in the wake of the arrests, Maturo Jr. shot back that he “might have tacos tonight.” Maturo Jr. was pressed by the reporter about how this may be deemed offensive and he remained steadfast in his comments. The lesson as always – when someone asks you about how you are protecting predominantly Ecuadorian citizens who may have been the target of discrimination – don’t respond by saying you might be eating a stereotypical Mexican dish.
Chimichanga-gate: Anytime you’re adding the ominous “-gate” suffix to a Mexican food item, it’s probably not going to end well for Latinos. It all started when Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina tweeted a borrowed line from The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank: “The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos,“ he wrote. Enter the outrage from GOP officials and Latinos who felt the comment was insensitive. Bettina Inclan, the Director of Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee (RNC), tweeted, “Hey @Messina2012, not to try and insult your intelligence or anything, but not all Hispanics are about chimichangas.”
Joe Arpaio – Latinos “love me.”: Some would say Joe Arpaio is simply enforcing the law. Others feel he has gone overboard and profiled Hispanics in Arizona. The allegations have gone as far as a May lawsuit from the Justice Department which charges him with racial profiling. Asked what he thinks about many Latinos seeing him as the “face of racism and discrimination” Arpaio had this to say.
“Well, I’m a pretty nice guy, having lived in Mexico City, South America, Texas and Arizona. I’ve never had any problems with a Latino. They love me.”
It’s not clear where Arpaio gleaned this information.
Texas Mayor on “A Bunch of Mexicans”: Arlington Texas Mayor Robert Cluck found himself embroiled in an ethics complaint after a remark he reportedly made to the only minority City Council member, Robert Rivera. The councilman told the mayor he was attending the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. The complaint alleges Cluck said, “Oh, a bunch of Mexicans?” For his part Gluck apologized, “if anyone was offended by something they thought they heard him say.” Gluck makes the list for apologizing for something he supposedly didn’t say but still feeling bad if someone thinks he did.
The Hispanics: No it’s not a new-age superhero team riding the coattails of The Avenger’s box office success. John McCain, on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown thoughtfully said, “I think that if not this election cycle, the demographics are that Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, even Texas will all be in play.” He then not so thoughtfully added, “We have to fix our problems with the Hispanics.” While no one would argue this flub was malicious, some said it was symptomatic of a larger tone-deaf nature to the GOP’s romancing of Latino voters.
RNC official’s gaffe on immigration: Hey, you know that guy Mitt Romney –seeking to be elected as the leader of the free world? According to an RNC official, he still hasn’t worked through what his position will be on one of the most polarizing issues in the country. The previously mentioned Bettina Inclan, speaking at an early-May event about the GOP’s aggressive effort to win Latinos in six battleground states, said she couldn’t speak to Romney’s immigration stance. “He’s still deciding what his position on immigration is,” she said. Inclan later backtracked, tweeting that she had misspoken about his positions.
I misspoke, Romney’s position on immigration is clear mi.tt/KiMi3x
— Bettina Inclan (@BettinaInclan) May 8, 2012
The Daily Show and Mexican American Studies in Arizona: Tucson school board member Michael Hicks was one of the people behind the drumbeat of opposition to Mexican American Studies courses, which led to them being scrapped. He said the course teaches students to overthrow white people through bloodshed. So did he sit in on the classes to witness these shocking lessons in person? Well, not so fast. “I chose not to go to any of their classes. Why even go? Why even go? I based my thoughts on…hearsay from others…so I based it off of those.”
Texas Teacher of the Year tries new learning techniques: Shirley Bunn, 63, a math teacher at Barnett Junior High School, was passing out forms to her eight grade students when she was hit with a request she didn’t appreciate. One of her students asked for a form in Spanish, justifying his request by saying, “I’m Mexican. I’m Mexican.” Bunn’s response? “Go back to Mexico.”
She explained her thinking afterwards. “It was almost instantaneous. I thought, ‘God, I don’t believe that came out of my mouth,’” Bunn told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It was a very, very hard week. It was late in the day. It was a Friday.” Naturally, the two-time “Teacher of the Year” was suspended – with pay.
A Latina student receives the “catastrophe” award?: It wasn’t a comment but the actions of a teacher, which caught our attention last week. Eight-year-old Cassandra Garcia was on the receiving end of a very odd gesture when her teacher gave her the “catastrophe” award for “most excuses for not having her homework.” The Arizona school eventually apologized, sparing itself the humiliation of its own much-deserved catastrophe award.
Tell us on Facebook: Have you heard any comments by officials about Latinos that you couldn’t believe?