Has President Trump “learned his lesson” and stopped disrespecting Mexico and Mexican Americans (90 percent of the population of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas)?

Time will tell. (And he knows he needs some of the Latino vote in the fall—normally 78 percent against him.) But if “the past is prologue,” things don’t bode well in the near future for Mexicans and Mexican Americans he persists in insulting. Words do hurt. Data show that to be so.

The not-so-distant past includes a rise in hate crimes again Latinos. Latinos feel more vulnerable, especially after Trump’s speeches calling Mexicans “rapists” and especially after the horrendous El Paso shooting, the shooter echoing Trump’s false claims of a “Hispanic Invasion” (Dani Anguiano, The Guardian, 7 Oct 2019).

Add to the mix other bizarre threats:  “fill moats on the border with snakes and alligators”; “shoot to kill any crossing the river”; Trump, told that was illegal, then opined “shoot them in the legs.” The fall-out, the widespread fear resulting from disrespect and discrimination “emanates from the President;” so says Thomas Saenz, President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (Eugene Scott, Washington Post, 2 Oct 20 19). And, oh, yes, don’t forget: “send troops to Mexico” (Dov Zakhim, “War with Mexico?” The Hill, 12 Nov 2019).

The more recent past (the SOTU speech, 5 Feb 20, backed by cheering Republicans) includes the chilling put-down of (gasp!) “government” schools. That insult to public education was followed by an equally disturbing promise of new legislation to use more public monies to fund private and religious schools (via tax credits). If and when Trump should accomplish that, the ability to maintain and improve good public education for all will decrease. (Ready for each district, exclusively, to tax and fund? Didn’t thing so.)

The President’s ratings among Latinos are already only 22 percent. Imagine if Republicans get their way and the U.S. moves from public to private education! Then, for lack of national funds, one by one, public schools would shrink or close. Gone might be Veterans’ Memorial in Corpus Christi, Col. Rowe in McAllen, Freddy Gonzalez Primary School in Edinburg, and so many other cherished primary, middle, and secondary schools across south Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. Diminished, if not vanished, would be needed public education, so valuable to individuals, families, and businesses.

Final end to the story of Trump’s trashing of public education: Janiyah Davis, the little girl from Philadelphia in the galleries, upon whom Trump bestowed an uninvited scholarship (and to no one else), is doing well in a very well performing public school. (She had been, earlier, in a “Christian” school, but had transferred.) She neither needed nor sought the scholarship, nor to be back in the private school. The entire charade was a stunt. She was used! (Mark Sander, “Lie: Girl from Failing School,” Daily Kos, 8 Feb 20).

So, careful what you wish for, Republicans. Careful, any others who might entertain thoughts such as “bad ol’ Federal government; get out of our lives!” You mean it? Well, perhaps except for public education, Social Security, Medicare, and so many other helpful programs (e.g., Medicaid; aid to small businesses; welfare for farmers hurt by Trump trade wars, the US Postal Service; etc.)

So, again, our major question: “Has Trump stopped disrespecting Mexican Americans and harming the Rio Grande Valley?” Really? One needs time to consider? Well, yes, of course, it has only been a few days since the acquittal (and 50 or so since he was impeached). Therefore, for further data regarding economic damage, we will have to wait for, perhaps, quarterly reports of various sorts. (And, even then, it is often a matter of interpretation as to realities of claims of improvement or decline, or causes.) When might his anger and lust for vengeance subside?

But real, immediate damage to the psyche of men and women, boys and girls, that is, to the morale of many living in the Rio Grande Valley?–is palpable and severe. To cite (but to reverse) the children’s’ chant of old: “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but yes, words, too, can hurt me.”