In last night’s debate, President Trump began an answer about immigration by declaring, “Children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels . . . and lots of bad people, cartels, and they’re brought here and they used to use them to get into our country.”
More than a few people on Twitter believed Trump was talking about animal coyotes, not human smugglers. Those who follow border issues are very familiar with the term “coyotes” to refer to human smugglers and human traffickers.*
It is not a new term, or one that is exclusively used locally. A New York Times article from May 21, 1973, declared, “In return for his half of the bribe money, the immigration officer allowed the investigator to use his two best coyotes—a Spanish term applied to Mexicans hired to find countrymen willing to pay to get the United States.” In the New York Times archives, 360 articles have used the term “coyote” and “immigration.”
Many of those blue-checked Twitter users are so convinced that Trump is an idiot that anything he says that is unfamiliar or strange to their ears is interpreted as further evidence of his idiocy. In a way, it’s a continuation of what we saw in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment. In the second debate in 2012, Romney said:
We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women. I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.
You would have to be an idiot to believe, in that context, that Romney was talking about physically binding women, rather than referring to binders full of women’s resumes.
There was nothing sexist, offensive, or even odd about it, but commentators on the left convinced themselves it was an unbelievable gaffe. Democratic strategist Maria Cardona wrote for CNN that it “sounds kind of kinky and certainly not something you want to be touting.” It didn’t really matter whether Romney said something sexist; they had a narrative that Romney was sexist, and anything he said was going to be shoehorned into that narrative. Once again, Democrats are convincing themselves that an accurate statement by Trump is a sign he believes in malevolent anthropomorphic canines. They have a remarkable ability to interpret their lack of knowledge as an indicator of other people’s ignorance.
*Human smugglers are distinct from human traffickers, even though many people use the terms interchangeably. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement defines the terms: “Human trafficking involves exploiting men, women, or children for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Human smuggling involves the provision of a service—typically, transportation or fraudulent documents—to an individual who voluntarily seeks to gain illegal entry into a foreign country.”