Let’s be clear: When Donald Trump sees Judge Gonzalo Curiel, he does NOT see an American. It doesn’t matter that Curiel was born and raised in Indiana, went to college at Indiana University, or lived all his life in the United States. In Trump’s eyes, Curiel is Mexican. Full stop.
That’s why I think Trump doesn’t consider his OWN comments “racist.” To Trump, since Curiel is Mexican and since he (Trump) is showing hostility towards Mexico, of course there’s a conflict of interest. To Trump, certain broad categories of people who live in this country count as “real” Americans, and others don’t.
Again, listen to Trump’s language on tonight’s O’Reilly Factor: “I don’t care if the judge is Mexican or not. I’m going to do great with the Mexican people.” When he says “Mexican people” he’s talking about Hispanic American voters, who are by definition U.S. citizens. To Trump, these U.S. citizens are Mexicans first, Americans a distant second.