EspañolWe have to credit Salvador Dalí for coining the phrase “what’s important is that people talk about you, even if they only say good things,” but it’s safe to assume Donald Trump did not have the Spanish surrealism master in mind on June 16 when he announced he was running for president of the United States.
Although his campaign launch was itself surreal — he even had his grandson there with the same hairstyle, as some sort of “mini-me” that has become the butt of jokes on social media — the difference with Dalí is that the Republican hopeful thinks what’s important is that people talk about you, even if they only speak bad things.
There’s no other explanation for the real estate mogul’s unfortunate statements about Mexico and Mexicans. He had already sparked controversy when he said, weeks ago, that the US-Mexico border must be completely walled — all 3,185 kilometers.
During his speech, Trump said that Mexico is “sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs and they are bringing crime, and they’re rapists.” Then he added, or attempted to nuance his previous accusations, with the following: “I assume that some of them are good people.”
If his statements have any logic at all, it is aimed at producing a scandal. An early June Pew poll reported by PanAm Post noted that 72 percent of US citizens are open to the possibility of legalizing immigrants. Among under 30-year-old citizens, the approval rises to 80 percent.
Trump’s position is hardly a popular one. The number of US citizens who think immigration should decrease has fallen from 51 to 31 percent over the last decade. Of course, anti-immigration measures are more acceptable among Republicans, those whom Trump’s rhetoric is aimed at, than independents.
Trump might not be Dalí, but one cannot deny he’s a man with many talents: from his ability to make money and maintain a one-of-a-kind hairstyle to his passion for the show business, his beautiful wives, and the Miss Universe pageant contest.
Let’s not forget his successful role in The Apprentice, a program in which, incidentally, he shows that being hated does not represent the slightest concern. Perhaps this taste for the scandalous is what is driving his statements.
But Mexico was quick to criticize the businessman. Miguel Osorio, minister of Interior, called Trump’s speech “prejudiced and defamatory … Mexicans who are in the United States due to different circumstances are [precisely] those helping the country strengthen its position as a world power.”
Univisión pointed out that the billionaire number 405 in Forbes list had investments across Latin America: “from Uruguay to Puerto Rico, and from Mexico to Brazil.”
The Spanish newspaper El País said that major US investors such as Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton, who dwarf Trump’s fortune, invest huge amounts in the neighboring country. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, announced two days later he would fund the education of young illegal immigrants in California.
Two tweets from comedians Rob Schneider and Dave Rubin in response to Trump became viral:
Dear Donald Trump,
My daughter is half Mexican. It seems like her only "problem" is that she speaks 2 languages and she's not even 3!
— Rob Schneider (@RobSchneider) June 17, 2015
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) June 16, 2015
Beyond the implicit xenophobia in Trump’s statements, it is clear that he got the scandal he wanted. He is no threat to Jeb Bush or Rand Paul, and certainly not to Democratic candidates, but that doesn’t matter. Trump doesn’t want to become president; he wants to become an even more prominent public figure.
Unlike Dalí, former Argentinean President Carlos Menem is credited with the phrase “let them speak about me, even if they say bad things.” Unfortunately, “there is no such thing as bad publicity” seems to be the fashion of our times, on television, business, and politics — all areas of interest to Donald Trump.