Wait, what? thought I; "Whipped out that Mexican thing"?! Did Mike Pence really just say "whipped out that Mexican thing??!! Is he allowed to say that? Is it okay with everybody that he just said that?
But there was no indication at the moment that it wasn't okay, and later during the post-debate analysis that I watched on NPR none of the commentators mentioned the "Mexican thing" remark. Apparently none of them found it unbelievably offensive, but rather talked more about how calm Mike Pence was, how his form, if not his substance, was better than Tim Kaine's and how he came across as more likable than Tim Kaine.
So apparently it was okay that a candidate for Vice-President of the United States said "whipped out that Mexican thing" on a nationally televised debate. He could even come out as very likable afterwards.
The following morning there was an article about the debate in The Columbus Dispatch that made no mention of Pence's "That Mexican Thing" remark. The online news editorial sites and opinion polls were declaring Pence the winner for his calm, pleasant demeanor in contrast to Kaine's agitated one.
Kaine was being called rude for frequently interrupting Pence during the debate.
No one called Pence rude. No one seemed to find his rudeness to Mexican Americans beyond appalling. No one seemed to wonder how he didn't lose the debate on the spot from that ignorant slur that dismissed a group of human beings as a thing, no matter the smooth, dulcet tone in which the slur was delivered.
But by this afternoon there was a stirring among the online news sites. It turned out that the sting of Mike Pence's "That Mexican Thing" insult did not go unfelt by the people at whom it was carelessly aimed. Pence's remark, though given a pass initially by the mainstream media, drew immediate - and huge - outrage on social media and Twitter has been on fire since with criticism of Pence.
And yet, as sometimes wonderfully happens, that which began as a slur has - already - been liberated of its original intent and within the last 24 hours "That Mexican Thing" has been snatched up by Mexican Americans as a slogan of pride and adopted as a hash tag to share on Twitter what it means to be of Mexican descent in this country:
#thatmexicanthing is my mom who immigrated to this country, pays her taxes and put two kids through college while managing a business
#ThatMexicanThing is being born in the US but still told by racists to "Go back to Mexico"
#ThatMexicanThing is my abuelita who moved to San Antonio without speaking English & slept in a barn while picking lettuce every summer.
#ThatMexicanThing being proud of my heritage, becoming a citizen, & showing up to vote against hate this November #ImWithHer
#ThatMexicanThing is when we vote... all 27.3 million eligible voters.
#ThatMexicanThing where my mom has worked as a housekeeper for 25 yrs because her dream is to see her family's dreams come true.
#ThatMexicanThing pays 12 billion in taxes. The orange thing pays ZERO
And so, Mike Pence, though you accused Tim Kaine of whipping out That Mexican Thing,