‘Do you speak English?’: Twitter erupts after Mike Coffman tweets about DACA in Spanish

Author: Ernest Luning - December 11, 2017 - Updated: December 11, 2017

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman for veterans
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, smiles at the conclusion of a debate conducted entirely in Spanish on Oct. 4, 2016, in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman must have struck a nerve when he tweeted Friday that he planned to appear on a Spanish-language radio talk show to discuss legislation he supports to protect certain young immigrants from deportation.

In the tweet, the Aurora Republican urged listeners to tune in — his tweet even included an emoji of an old-fashioned transistor radio — to hear the latest on a letter he wrote along with other Republicans demanding Congress come up with a fix for immigrants using the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, before the end of the year.

The problem, according to dozens of Twitter users who castigated Coffman? He’s a Republican, and he tweeted his message in Spanish.

“En solo minutos estaré en @hablemoshoyradi con @RJCVen para hablar sobre la #ReformaTributaria y la carta de #DACA como reportado en @ComercioCO ayer! Los espero,” read Coffman’s Spanish-language Twitter account, which he launched in July to reach the 6th Congressional District’s growing Hispanic community.

Coffman started learning Spanish about five years ago, after his congressional district was redrawn from a safely Republican one mostly south of the metro area to an evenly divided seat anchored around Aurora and its large immigrant and multicultural populations.

(In English, the tweet, translated by Twitter, read: “In just minutes I will be on @hablemoshoyradi with @RJCVen to talk about #TaxReform and the #DACA letter as reported yesterday in @ComercioCO (El Comerciode Colorado, a bilingual Colorado newspaper)! Hope.”)

Before long, legions of far-right tweeters — none located in Colorado, according to their Twitter profiles — were delivering a similar message in reply.

“WE SPEAK ENGLISH IN THIS COUNTRY SIR,” read a tweet by someone named Lucid Hurricane X.

“(No) deal on DACA, they all have to go back,” tweeted someone known as Parabellum, who uses a helicopter emoji in his or her Twitter handle.

“Maybe you should move to Mexico,” suggested USA First, a Twitter user whose only listed characteristic, other than apparently believing the USA should be first, is that he’s “male.”

A Twitter user called 9-3 posted a picture of a smiling Coffman standing between two woman who appear to be Latinas — it’s a cropped and enlarged version of his Twitter account’s background picture — along with the observation, “Really makes you think tbh fam,” using the abbreviation for “to be honest” and a common shorthand phrase for family, or colleagues.

While there are plenty more along those lines, a good share of the responses posted graphics, gifs and internet memes, including a couple that can even be quoted in our publication.

“Do you speak English?” roars a dapper blonde youngster into a bullhorn in front of a chalkboard, in one.

It was among several replies to Coffman’s tweet posted by a prolific Twitter user going by the name Dangerous Groyper, who uses an avatar depicting a grotesque smiling toad dubbed a Groyper — what’s been described as an even more racist counterpart of Pepe the Frog, the cartoon character adopted as a mascot in recent years by white supremacists and members of the alt-right.

That wasn’t the only Groyper weighing in on Coffman’s tweet.

“How does one say ‘cuck’ in spanish?” asked a user called Groyper Rokossovsky, although “Groyper” is rendered in Cyrillic characters. The word, short for “cuckold,” has been used as an insult in some alt-right and conservative circles in recent years, implying an establishment or mainstream conservative is weak or has been emasculated.

“El cuck,” replies a user whose name has something to do with crabs. “El cucko grande,” replies another in a tweet that Twitter helpfully offers to “translate from Spanish.”

Coffman has been tweeting for some time — in both English and Spanish — about a DACA fix and his support for pending legislation, including the DREAM Act of 2017, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for some immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors. But none of those tweets attracted the kind of vituperative scolding Friday’s tweet drew.

As it turns out, the tweet about Coffman’s radio appearance somehow drew the attention of Battle Beagle, a conservative Twitter user with a relatively large following, who describes himself as an “American Nationalist & Defender of Western Civilization” and a dog lover. The user called out Coffman in a tweet late Friday.

“Michael Howard Coffman is the U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 6th congressional district, serving since 2009,” tweeted the dog lover while quoting Coffman’s tweet. Then he added, in the Twitter equivalent of bullet points, “> A member of the Republican Party > Republican Party > Republican,” followed by an emoji indicating “would you look at that?”

Colorado Politics was unable to reach Coffman over the weekend, but his longtime campaign strategist and spokesman Tyler Sandberg had some thoughts about the responses to the tweet.

“As my grandmother always told me,” Sandberg said, “all you can expect from a pig is a grunt.”

Or, in Spanish, “Como mi abuela siempre me dijo, todo lo que puedes esperar de un cerdo es un gruñido.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.

One comment

  • Daryl

    December 11, 2017 at 8:19 am

    We should stop publishing stories about what the Internet trolls are up to. That only encourages them, and doesn’t reflect the rest of society.

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