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FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, AUG. 28, 2015
ONWARD AND DOWNWARD
BY BOB FRANKEN
To show you how clueless I am: I thought the term “anchor babies” was a harmless way of referring to the very young kids of TV news readers. Now I discover that it’s a pejorative way to describe infants born to immigrant parents in the United States who automatically gain U.S. citizenship, a birthright guaranteed by the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
There are some really good, fairly obvious reasons for birthright, having to do with slaves and fairness, but that hasn’t dissuaded Donald Trump from pandering to the GOP hater base by turning it into something so sinister and such a danger to the nation that he and they are justified in using an epithet that is insulting to millions of Latinos.
In fairness, it is true that there is a thriving industry run by hustlers who arrange for very pregnant women to come to this country just before a little one pops out and immediately gains citizenship. But does that necessitate the use of a description that is widely offensive? The answer is, of course not.
Let’s say this again: There will always be language-church ladies who will go ridiculous lengths to get attention by trying to stifle any descriptive language. It’s really easy to differentiate between that silliness and ugliness, and ignore such mindless busybody prudishness. We simply need to rely on common sense.
To wit: Let’s consider the word “boy.” Obviously, it means male child. But the vicious bigots in our country, past and present, have used it over decades to debase black men to the degree that it remains a symbol of oppression. So it’s very simple: Never, ever use it when referring to African-Americans. What’s so hard about that? It’s no more difficult than rejecting the name of the Washington NFL team. It’s loathsome that any business, particularly a quasi-monopoly that represents a region in this country, would continue to use a name that offends so many million Native Americans. That, too, should be a no-brainer, but it isn’t, just like the term “anchor babies” isn’t.
What’s pathetic is watching how the other Republican candidates are so befuddled by “The Donald’s” crassness that they don’t want to offend their party’s xenophobic base -- a key to getting the GOP nomination in case Trump’s head explodes. It’s particularly pitiful to watch the flailing around of Jeb Bush.
There was Jeb, in McCallen, Texas -- the guy who presents himself as the grown-up voice on various issues -- trying to explain his use of “anchor babies”: “What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts, and, frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country having children.”
Wow! He managed to offend the Hispanics he has courted by presenting himself as an immigration moderate, and somehow gratuitously infuriated Asian-Americans. How’s that for finesse? And futility.
What he’s trying to do is reason with a Donald Trump fan club that is entirely unreasonable. All these masses know is they adore a guy who raises a middle finger and pokes all the fuddy-duddies in the eye. So when Trump tosses out a Univision star reporter from a news conference, they love it. Even when he trashes one of leading figures on their TV gospel network Fox News, they don’t seem to mind it a bit.
He just can’t stop insulting Fox host Megyn Kelly for the unforgivable sin of asking him tough questions, and he even retweeted a Twitter message calling her a “bimbo.” Obviously that’s right up there on the list of objectionable words. For the record, I’m a fan of Megyn’s. Still, it might be OK to use the term “anchor baby” in connection with her three children.
Meanwhile, we can’t let Donald Trump set the standards for debate, not just about the border with Mexico, but the borders of taste.
© 2015 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.