The Corner

Elections

Trump’s ‘Racist’ Ad on Immigrant Crime

Trump has a new ad out featuring an illegal-alien cop killer and lots of profanity:

The ad certainly fearmongers about immigrant crime, an issue that gets far more attention than it warrants, but it’s produced comparisons to the Willie Horton ad and accusations of racism . . . despite the fact that the criminal featured is, uh, rather pale. This is sort of an inverted version of the time the media went out of its way to refer to George Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic.” If you have a Spanish-sounding name and kill cops, it’s racist for Donald Trump to put you in an ad; if you have a concealed-carry permit and kill a black teenager under dubious circumstances, you must be a white racist yourself.

Of course, the finer details of race and ethnicity are in fact pretty complicated, even when people aren’t twisting them to fit political ends. Here’s what I wrote about the issue regarding Zimmerman in this space back in 2012:

The term “Hispanic” is quite confusing, especially in a situation like this. It refers to an ethnicity, not a race — anyone who traces their roots to Latin America (many definitions include Spain as well) qualifies, be they descended from white Spanish conquerors, black African slaves, natives of the region, or some mix thereof. Further complicating the picture are the facts that Zimmerman is half-white, and that we don’t know the background of his Hispanic mother.

I’m not sure that Zimmerman’s race is all that relevant; it’s entirely possible for a Hispanic man to dislike black people. But it does seem to be throwing a wrench in the media’s preferred narrative. It’s not the typical white-against-black incident that the press longs for, which some outlets have tried to paper over by calling Zimmerman a “white Hispanic.” I’m not sure the term is wrong, necessarily, but I imagine that if a plain-vanilla white guy shot Zimmerman, he’d be considered just “Hispanic.”

In light of all this, I wonder if part of the thinking behind the ad was to goad liberals into making racism accusations that the GOP base would find ridiculous.

Update: Allegations of racism aside, it appears the choice to blame “Democrats” for this cop-killer’s presence is unsupported:

The Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Office has told The Sacramento Bee previously that he was first arrested in Phoenix in 1996 [after entering the country illegally in 1993]. Prosecutors in Phoenix say he was arrested Sept. 25, 1996, on deportable drug offenses related to marijuana possession and sentenced to four months in jail starting in January 1997.

Bracamontes served his time in then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent-city jail, then was handed over to federal immigration agents and deported on June 3, 1997, during Clinton’s second term.

He apparently did not stay in Mexico long. Records in Arizona show he was arrested on drug charges again in Phoenix in 1998, then released “for reasons unknown” by Arpaio’s office. Arpaio is a Republican.

Bracamontes was next arrested May 4, 2001, on marijuana charges in Maricopa County, and deported three days later. Republican George W. Bush was president at the time, and was president when Bracamontes slipped back into the United States a short time later.

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