THURSDAY, JULY 7, 2022
Insulting comments appear: A few weeks ago, we offered an award-winning report which carried this tough-talking headline:
Who lost Uvalde County?
We noted the fact that Uvalde County, Texas is very heavily Hispanic—but the county voted for Donald J. Trump in the last two White House elections.
At issue was an important demographic fact. Hispanic voters in South Texas may be trending in a conservative direction.
This flies in the face of conventional BlueTribeThink, according to which Hispanic voters were supposed to belong to us. This morning, a news report in the New York Times gives readers another chance to ponder this possible trend.
In her report, Jennifer Medina focuses on three Hispanic women who are running for Congress, as Republicans, in three South Texas districts. One of the three, Rep. Mayra Flores, has already won a special election and is currently serving in Congress. In this passage, Medina completes the roster, profiling the other two:
MEDINA (7/7/22): Two other Latina Republicans, Monica De La Cruz in McAllen and Cassy Garcia in Laredo, are also on the ballot in congressional races along the Mexican border. All three—G.O.P. officials have taken to calling them a “triple threat”—share right-wing views on immigration, the 2020 election and abortion, among other issues.
They share the same advisers, have held campaign rallies and fund-raisers together and have knocked on doors side by side. They accuse the Democratic Party of taking Hispanic voters for granted and view themselves, as do their supporters, as the embodiment of the American dream: Ms. Flores often speaks of working alongside her parents as a teenager in the cotton fields of the Texas Panhandle.
Ms. Flores, Ms. De La Cruz and Ms. Garcia grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, a working-class four-county region at the southernmost tip of Texas where Hispanics make up 93 percent of the population. All three are bilingual; Ms. Flores was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and the other two in South Texas. Only Ms. De La Cruz has been endorsed by Mr. Trump, yet they all remain outspoken advocates for him, his movement and his tough talk on restricting immigration and building the border wall.
Rep. Flores "worked alongside her parents in the cotton fields." We think of Woody Guthrie's lyrics:
I've mined in your mines, I've gathered in your corn.
I've been working, Mister, since the day I was born...
That said, do the three nominees actually share "right-wing views"—about abortion and immigration, to cite two of Medina's examples?
We don't know how to answer that question, in part because Medina never specifies their views. For our money, we'd be just as happy if Times reporters stayed away from such tangy language. We feel the same way about the language found in the report's dual headline:
The Rise of the Far-Right Latina
Representative Mayra Flores is one of three Republican Latinas vying to transform South Texas politics by shunning moderates and often embracing the extreme.
Based on Medina's report, Rep. Flores has embraced a lot of unfounded Trumpist views concerning stolen elections. But have she and the other nominees embraced "extreme" (or "far-right") views—about abortion and immigration, to again cite those two examples?
We have no idea. We think the Times should perhaps be a bit more careful about the language it uses in its news reports. Then again, we note the insulting remarks about these women found in comments to this news report—comments from members of our own largely infallible tribe.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our tribe is nowhere near as moral and good as we relentlessly claim we are. When push comes to shove, we may tend to lose our sense of respect for people with backgrounds like these:
MEDINA: Ms. Flores, Ms. De La Cruz and Ms. Garcia grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, a working-class four-county region at the southernmost tip of Texas where Hispanics make up 93 percent of the population. All three are bilingual; Ms. Flores was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, and the other two in South Texas. Only Ms. De La Cruz has been endorsed by Mr. Trump, yet they all remain outspoken advocates for him, his movement and his tough talk on restricting immigration and building the border wall.
The Rio Grande Valley has long been a politically liberal yet culturally conservative place. Church pews are packed on Sundays, American flags wave from their poles on front lawns and law enforcement is revered. Ms. Flores’s husband is a Border Patrol agent, a note she often emphasized on the campaign trail.
In 2020, the Valley’s conservative culture started to exert a greater influence on its politics. Mr. Trump flipped rural Zapata County and narrowed the Democratic margin of victory in the four Valley counties and in other border towns.
“Growing up down there, you always have closeted Republicans,” said Ms. Garcia, a former aide to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. “Now, the desire to embrace Republicans is really spreading. They feel a genuine sense of belonging.”
Are denizens of the Rio Grande Valley starting to feel a sense of belonging to the GOP? We don't know, but our tribe's frequent condescension toward South Texans and their cultural history could hurry that process along.
We tend to be especially shocked when such people support harder lines on immigration. In comments, we rarely wonder why they might hold such views. We just let the insults start.
Our tribe's condescension towards Others can sometimes tend to be strong. The Others can sometimes discern this.
South Texas Hispanics are real people too. They're entitled to disagree with our own tribe's always infallible views.
We wouldn't vote for Rep. Flores. We would be willing to show some respect for her region's cultural traditions. If we want Others to vote our way, we know that we have to persuade them.