Patterico's Pontifications


Tancredo Won’t Participate in Spanish Language Debate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:14 pm

Via Hot Air, it appears that Tom Tancredo won’t be participating in the Spanish language debate:

I declined the invitation to participate in the Spanish-language Republican presidential debate on Sunday because I do not want to endorse the further Balkanization of American political life…

I do not believe it is proper to appeal to the ‘‘Hispanic vote” or the “Asian vote” or the “Black vote.” I believe we must appeal only for American votes.

Any political debate is aimed at citizens. It is about issues of concern to the entire community, not a segment of the community. It is vital that all political debates and discussions take place in the public square, not in separate enclaves. Our democracy does not need different messages broadcast to different audiences in different languages that are not heard or understood by other groups.

There goes his shot at the Hispanic vote.

Tancredo also says:

Our children learn in school that all registered voters are either native-born citizens or naturalized citizens, and all applicants for citizenship must pass an English-proficiency test. This test is included in the naturalization exam for a good reason.

Conducting political debates in any language other than English, whether Korean, French, Farsi or Spanish, is telling new immigrants that they need not take that particular requirement for naturalization seriously. The United States has a special need to have a common language because of the very diversity of its immigrants. Our parents and ancestors who were immigrants spoke many different languages on arrival. But they came here to become Americans, and as Americans, we conduct our political affairs in English.

This argument ignores the fact that some native-born citizens don’t speak English. Puerto Ricans are an obvious example, but residents of Los Angeles know that there are many enclaves where people can spend their whole lives living and working while speaking another language.

Whether this is a good thing is an entirely different question.

16 Responses to “Tancredo Won’t Participate in Spanish Language Debate”

  1. This isn’t surprising considering his strong stands against illegal immigration and the trickle downs of the issue…I personally repsect him for sticking to his guns while knowing it will sink his ship with the Hispanics…but he never had them in the first place.

    And working in a public school, I am pretty tired of frequently having angry Spansh speaking parents in my face because I do not speak Spanish, so I’m thinking one commmon language for political/public discourse is indeed a very good thing.

    Dana (5466ea)

  2. There goes his shot at the Hispanic vote.

    Only if all Hispanics want to be pandered to on the basis of their heritage. Maybe that is the case, I’m not sure.

    j curtis (8bcca6)

  3. Abe Lincoln had campaign literature in German. Times change.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (3ba21d)

  4. I don’t like the idea of conducting any part of a campaign in anything but English — and I found the exchange in the Democratic debate where Christopher Dodd gave an extended, look-at-me-I’m-speaking-Spanish answer, simply infuriating.

    Nothing unifies a nation like a common language; speak Latin and you were a part of Rome. Learn to speak English and you cease to be a foreigner.

    Immigrants have come to the U.S. and learned to speak American English in short order. My maternal grandparents did it, arriving at Ellis Island speaking nothing but Polish and Yiddish.

    My post-college roommate fled Vietnam and taught himself English in a refugee camp in Thailand, before finally arriving in the U.S., graduating high school, then college, becoming a member of Rotary and living the American dream.

    I don’t think it’s asking too much that the U.S. citizens who are going to cast ballots make an effort to learn English. Hell, they had to demonstrate some proficiency in it in order to become citizens.

    A debate in Spanish is a terrible idea.

    Mike Lief (e6260e)

  5. Residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote. Puerto Ricans who were born in the states and CAN vote all speak English. The Tanc didn’t lose anything here. He probably gained a bit from the people who are not interested in seeing the US become bilingual.

    Kevin (4890ef)

  6. In today’s rampant PC and diversity world, it is surprising any debates are in English. English is the language of yucky dead white men who oppressed minorities and women.


    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  7. Hey…
    Who told you I was dead?

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  8. I agree with him. I dunno if it’s pandering to the Hispanics, but there’s a more established and longer-suffering minority in America who deserve a debate in their language.

    nk (c4bc11)

  9. I love that scene from Airport, NK, and what’s even funnier is the YouTube description:

    An old lady translates for the jive dudes.”

    I’m sure we both remember Barbara Billingsley under her “real” name – Beaver’s Mom.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  10. Would patterico concede to a trial where only Spanish was spoken?

    Any pilot in command of an aircraft desiring to land the USA you had best speak English. Sans you can hover till you exhaust your fuel supply and disappear from the scope!

    The only reason the Spanish speaking population, legal or not, have thrived in this nation is because we do not enforce that they speak English! We print and or provide translation to Hispaniola for almost everything available from our government. Such was our first social mistake concerning illegals.

    Press one for English!!! WHY and phuk you! How about the entire menu in English then if some ignorant can’t understand they provide an option!

    Make it a federal guideline, 8 fer ignorant to English, then a menu of ALL possible languages spoken within these borders! Let the ignorants spend the phone time.

    TC (1cf350)

  11. How do we know he has lost the Hispanic vote? No politician has tried this tack since the illegal alien pandering madness began. Maybe the citizens of Hispanic origin will appreciate his stand as respect to those like them who did follow the rules.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  12. RE: #10

    Should Patterico insist trials be conducted 100% in English?
    Or maybe if he has a Spanish speaking witness with something very important to say that can put some very bad people away can he use the testimony and a translator?
    He does live and work in a town (Los Angeles) where 3/4 of the street names are in Spanish and where Mexicans have been there since before English speakers got there.
    So there is a significant entrenchment within the culture.
    Early California used to hold trials entirely in Spanish even after it changed hands.
    To repeat, there is a significant entrenchment within our Southern California culture.
    Family anecdotes from Italians, Poles whomever are interesting and somewhat instructive, but their native land was across the Atlantic. Mexico is 100 yards away. The border has only really been closed with any measure of effectiveness for about 30 years. Border towns have always had fluid situations with families on both sides, businesses on the opposite which in turn led to waves of walk in illegal immigrants who weren’t out to break any laws, they just wanted a better life and there was no Ellis Island for them. No place in Mexico to sign up to immigrate. So they took a bus to the border and walked.

    Look at it this way:
    If I took a boat to Ellis Island, I am surrounded by water. The people processing don’t speak my language, they can’t spell my name and there are twenty other languages being spoken all around me.
    NYC is the same.
    If I am Mexican I go to San Diego, who I know to have been a nice guy and how nice to walk into a town where I already know the name and history of it’s namesake. People there have been speaking Spanish for centuries so it is easy to find directions, places that sell Mexican stuff in enclaves that freely flow from one side of the border to the other.
    I would find myself in a cross border culture where in the near term, Spanish has more utility than English. No matter where I would move within the southwest… or even 500 miles north to Sacramento (as a Mexican Catholic the name of the place would lead me to expect a little more from the place) where all along my journey Spanish would be of much more immediate utility than English.
    If I get a job, my fellow workers will speak Spanish. My foreman will speak Spanish. The white guy that owns the farm speaks better Spanish than I do English so we go with the Spanish.
    If I get homesick, I take a bus to San Diego that leaves me right next to Tijuana from where I can take a bus home.
    If I go to the bank or the supermarket I can find one with hispanic bilingual tellers and cashiers. They are everywhere.
    English is of no immediate utility unless I want to drive, buy a home, or run afoul of the law.
    If I want to be a foreman or start my own lawn care business I will need rudimentary english skills and I start to develop those, but find that my vocabulary is very work specific and I tend to only use the words that work phonetically for me. My English is “Me Tarzan, you Jane”.
    I quickly learn to say “only two beers” and “me go working” if pulled over by the police..

    Anyway, I could go on and on, but eventually people get by in English, but under the pressure of a transaction or anything important they tend to look to a translator… and in California the culture of tranlators is well entrenched and has been since the conquistadores. When the gringos took over the need increased as Spanish laws and land grants were unravelled

    SteveG (4e16fc)

  13. Residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote

    Sure they can: Puerto Rico has its own legislature, and they can vote for that.

    I believe their nonvoting delegate to the House is also elected.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  14. #10…
    Also, to clarify, the common language of air-traffic control throughout the world, is English.
    All aircraft in international commerce must have a flight-deck officer who is fluent in English.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  15. “Make it a federal guideline, 8 fer ignorant to English, then a menu of ALL possible languages spoken within these borders! Let the ignorants spend the phone time.”

    That might violate the first amendment.

    whitd (10527e)

  16. #12, good points. Thanks for the thoughtful approach.

    Patterico writes: Whether [Spanish-only areas in America] is a good thing is an entirely different question.

    Maybe it’s not actually “good” or “bad,” but rather simply is, with mixed results under different circumstances. We did not ask to come into being in a society as pluralistic as ours, but now that we are here, it’s not like we don’t have options. I speak as somebody who has worked to develop Spanish as a second language.

    In the same way that gun proponents believe in actively taking responsibility for their own defense, I believe that part of taking responsibility for one’s own education means being able to communicate across language barriers that effect oneself domestically and internationally. By learning Spanish, I have armed myself with the communication skills I need; I am taking the active path, rather than the passive one. Taking responsibility for one’s own communication needs often means being able to deal in Spanish here, and in other languages abroad. We don’t gain anything from struggling against the current–instead, we adapt and take control of our situation. Business people understand this.

    On the contrary, complaining about how bad things are and trying to revert back to the simpler days of just one language doesn’t strike me as a good use of time or energy. Things are how they are, and we can either take the initiative to do something about it–or we can sit back, pine for the past, and thus render ourselves irrelevant in this debate.

    Tom (4ee15d)

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