Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE has unleashed dark, anti-Hispanic forces in our country. Calling us "criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.," he has pummeled American Latinos.

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Trump's made it acceptable to stereotype us. He's made it OK to openly insult us, to communicate the lie that we are a suspect group, prone to general criminality and directly responsible for a rash of murders and rapes.

In Trump's telling, white people without college degrees are suffering because immigrants are stealing their jobs. He provides an easy-to-swallow pill that explains the plight of workers abandoned by big corporations and ignored by the government.

Trump's repeated degradation of 60 million Americans of Latin descent is a welcome sign for racists and white supremacists, validating prejudice and hate. Yes, out with "political correctness," in with naked racism. Previously whispering voices of hate can now trumpet their views.

In the Nevada Senate race, for example, Rep. Joe Heck (R) is competing against former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D). For both of them, the stakes are high — Heck would win retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Webb: Questions for Robert Mueller Steyer's impeachment solution is dead wrong MORE's (D) seat, flipping it to the Republicans with a big dollop of revenge, and Cortez Masto would be the first Latina elected to the U.S. Senate and, crucially, help Democrats gain control of the upper chamber.

Their race for Senate has degenerated, Trump-style, into an ugly, racist fight. Heck's advisers have mystifyingly questioned whether Cortez Masto is really Latina, claiming she identifies as Hispanic for political convenience. Like President Obama, she has been forced to "prove" her heritage — to present papers, as it were.

Cortez Masto has responded to these attacks by saying:

"It starts with Donald Trump, his message of hate, racism and discrimination. ...People need to stand up to that type of rhetoric and just call it what it is. And ... Congressman Heck, by not even being willing to stand up, by not saying anything, then he's complicit in perpetuating that type of divisive rhetoric. That's not somebody who should be representing the state of Nevada, or our country in general."

Trickle-down, indeed — if Trump can assert that Mexican immigrants are heinous criminals and still win the GOP nomination, what's to stop Heck's campaign from attacking Cortez Masto about her ethnicity? Heck, in fact, has endorsed Trump. In other words, he is a supporter and legitimizer of Trump's anti-Latino rhetoric and mass deportation plans.

But when it comes to Hispanics, many in the media are happy to play along. It seems normal to repeat Trump's degrading comments with cursory acknowledgement, many times without a definitive rejection.

And what's obvious to most Latinos, but not to many big media executives, is that Latino-erasure across American media renders the Hispanic community mute. Such attacks go largely unanswered because of a paucity of authoritative, Hispanic voices in the mainstream.

It would seem that unless Trump shoots a Latino on Fifth Avenue — to paraphrase the candidate — the media will not really call out the unacceptable, will not report that truth about immigrants and crime, and a blatant anti-Latina attack against Cortez Masto will be ignored by the national press corps.

Will Heck disavow his associates' racist attacks against Cortez Masto? Or will he be a mini-Trump wallowing in the filth of racism for political gain? The congressman should think about his legacy. Either he disavows the anti-Hispanic attacks against his opponent, or risks being labeled in history as a racist — just like the presidential candidate he endorsed and emulates.

Espuelas is a Washington-based political journalist working in broadcast, digital and print media. He can be reached at contact@espuelas.com. Follow him on Twitter @EspuelasVox.


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