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Who Exactly Qualifies as a “Bad Hombre”?

By Domingo Martinez—Oct 21, 2016

During Wednesday’s debate, Donald Trump used the phrase “bad hombres.” That got our commentator Domingo Martinez thinking. Who exactly is a bad hombre?

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Donald Trump had a few memorable lines in this week’s presidential debate, including this one when he was talking about border security. He said this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to get them out. We’re going to secure the border. And once the border is secured, at a later date we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.

SIEGEL: That’s the phrase that has commentator Domingo Martinez puzzled, wondering why and who exactly qualifies as a bad hombre.

DOMINGO MARTINEZ: I’ve never really considered myself a bad hombre until a couple of nights ago when the phrase sort of stuck out after the presidential debate. I mean, I guess my dad was kind of a bad hombre in that he was always just a little outside the law. He was a truck driver in Brownsville, Texas, and there were times when things like insurance kind of went by the wayside.

And his father was a pretty bad hombre because he never really needed to be inside the law. He lived in Texas and Mexico, and for him, the border was pretty fluid.

But my generation of kids was just a little too soft and Americanized to really be considered bad hombres, even by other Mexican-Americans who grew up on the border. So I was thinking, what would it take for me to be considered a real bad hombre these days? For starters, I’d probably have a limited comprehension of Spanish, my native tongue, just bad enough to get into trouble, using phrases like bad hombre. Then I’d probably be the type to put people into stereotypical boxes, deny their finer points, focus on their bad habits, maybe even insult them by accident or on purpose. I’ve certainly done this, as ex-girlfriends of mine would agree.

But even with that limited criteria, I would consider myself to be an OK sort of hombre. I mean, I’m not married and I don’t have kids, but I contribute what I can to culture and society. Certainly I’ve made my mistakes, but even then I’d only call myself a mildly annoying hombre, not a let’s call the cops type hombre or a let’s look at him with narrowed suspicious eyes hombre, which feels like is happening everywhere I go now.

I watched the debate with some friends. When we heard the phrase, they kind of looked at me for cues to see if I would become annoyed or maybe offended, and I was for a minute. But then I remembered this – there was one woman I knew. She was a loan shark, carried pistols. She was my grandmother, and she scared the living daylights out of me and everyone else who knew her. But you know what else? She was tough. She was a decision maker. She made her way in the world, a total outlaw in a pantsuit, the biggest, baddest hombre of them all.

SIEGEL: Domingo Martinez is the author of the book “My Heart Is A Drunken Compass.” He lives in Seattle.

Read more at NPR.

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