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Memo From Middle America | Dialoguing Puerto Rico’s Destiny With Puerto Ricans
Recently on VDARE.com, I discussed the Puerto Rican question (¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre! Free Puerto Rico (and the U.S.) Now! My position: Puerto Rico is a distinctly different society from the U.S.—so it should not become the 51st state (as Mitt Romney has foolishly said) but, instead, should be granted its independence.
My column received a lot of publicity thanks to an article about it posted on the website of El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico´s most widely read newspaper.
This article, by the periodical’s Washington correspondent Jose A. Delgado (email him), was entitled Puerto Rico sería el Caballo de Troya de la hispanización de EE.UU. [“Puerto Rico would be the Trojan Horse of the Hispanicization of the United States”] (February 10, 2012).
Here’s how Delgado began (my translation):
Allan Wall, columnist of the internet page VDARE.com has indicated that Puerto Rico would be the Trojan Horse of the Hispanicization of the United States if the island were accepted as the 51st state. Considering that Puerto Rico has a national identity and distinct culture, Wall wrote an essay against statehood entitled “¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre! Free Puerto Rico (And The U.S.) Now!.
Delgado also discussed Peter Brimelow’s appearance at CPAC:
Wall’s column was published yesterday, the same day that the founder of VDARE.COM, Peter Brimelow, participated in a forum about ‘English Only’ in the annual conference of the American Conservative Union (ACU), which meets this weekend in Washington.
Of course, he had to include something like this:
Brimelow has been described by civil rights groups as a "white nationalist" and "anti-immigrant".
Other than that, though, I have to say that the Delgado article fairly summarized my column and quoted it without distortion. (It was fairer, in other words, than a typical hit piece by Media Matters or the SPLC). And the article provided a link to my article.
Thus the floodgates were opened. I received mail from Puerto Ricans on the island and on the mainland. I heard from pro-statehood Puerto Ricans, pro-independence Puerto Ricans, Puerto Ricans who support the status quo, and a few who seem to be open to anything.
I’d like to say thank you to all of them.
All of them argued their respective points of view with strong feeling. This indicates to me that Puerto Ricans feel strongly about their future, though they may not agree on it.
To preserve their flavor, I present these letters without correcting grammar, etc.
A Puerto Rican living stateside told me I was ignorant.
You need to educate yourself before going on trying to discuss and inform your readers about Puerto Rico.
I wrote back asking him to “educate” me, but we never got anywhere.
Then there was this classic, entitled “Stupid expressions of Allan Wall” that was sent directly to VDARE.COM. See if you can decipher it:
I communicate with you to express my sense of rejection Allan expressions about what he said from Puerto Rico when talking about the Puerto Rican should first read the history of Puerto Rico and who their leaders and see what people really want of Puerto Rico ... First of all decide on the status of the island Puerto Ricans are not Americans when making a blog on Puerto Rico report first before launching astupidity like that ...
This gentleman feels strongly about something, though it’s not clear what. I wrote offering to dialogue in Spanish, but didn’t hear back.
The other letters though, were much better argued than these two. Even those who disagreed with me were, for the most part, civil.
The pro-statehood Puerto Ricans advanced several arguments in favor of Puerto Rico’s becoming the 51st state.
One common argument: it’s just wrong to deny statehood if Puerto Rico wants it.
As one Puerto Rican wrote,
...if we the residents of Puerto Rico choose to become a state it would be not only discriminatory but dramatically IMMORAL for the United States to deny their citizens their Right for full fledge representation based on economical or racial issues….. If the majority of the us citizens in Puerto Rico choose to be state it is because we have EARN IT.
The US has a moral obligation to let us decide the outcome of our future destiny.
They are saying that if Puerto Rico votes for statehood, the U.S. is duty-bound to accept it.
But I totally disagree. The United States of America needs a say in the matter. Ordinary Americans need to be educated on the issues. We shouldn’t allow our elites to ram it down our throat as has happened with mass immigration and multiculturalism.
A Puerto Rican National Guardsman wrote me that
Like you I am a member of the army national guard branch in PR I also went on a deployment, sent to a war by Presidents I cant vote for, approved by a congress which I cant have full representation and look down by other american citizens like you. I hope that dumb for not calling racist are the minority in this great nation.
I thought I made it clear in my article that commitments to Puerto Rican veterans are to be honored, regardless of their eventual citizenship. As a veteran myself who has served with Puerto Ricans, I appreciate their service.
However, the fact that Puerto Ricans have served in our military does not in itself prove that the island should be a state—any more than the numbers of foreign-born servicemen mean we should extend statehood to their native lands.
Another argument I was presented with: Puerto Rico is no more distinct than any of the fifty states.
What about the language issues? Pro-statehood Puerto Ricans had several arguments for that.
You write that the Senators and congressmen representing Puerto Rico might speak spanish instead of english, sir with all do respect are you that dumb…
Of course there are many Puerto Ricans who speak good English. That’s not the issue. But in this day and age, it’s highly likely that Puerto Rico would elect some representatives and senators with limited English skills, and given the current creeping bilingualism, they would probably be encouraged in this.
Other writers though saw Puerto Rican Spanish as an advantage:
Mr. Walls Speaking Spanish does not pose a treat to the US, look at Europe, people from Italy, France and many other countries teach their kids other languages.
Get a load of this argument:
The language should not be an obstacle to be granted statehood for Puerto Rico. I remind you that in Texas there is a county that adopted Spanish as official language of the council.
And he thinks that’s a selling point for Puerto Rican statehood! An El Cenizo writ large!
Several writers brought up some form of this argument:
You said in your article that we are culturally different, and what is the big problem? Let not forget that before California, Hawaii, Texas, New Mexico, Florida, Arizona, Alaska to name just a few, these territories had large population of people that were culturally different from the rest of the Nation. At the end of the day what makes America great is that, we are different yet we unite in the same principals.
As far as the U.S. Southwest, sparsely inhabited when annexed by the U.S., I’ve written about how the U.S. acquired it here. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, is not sparsely inhabited. Its inhabitants and its institutions operate in the Spanish language.
Another pro-statehood writer, over the course of several letters, resorted to attacking me and crowing triumphantly:
Your article is splattered by the cruelest and dirtiest bigotry I, unfortunately, find in the most mediocre minds of some of my fellow countrymen (american citizens).
In his second letter he waxed triumphant:
Hawaiian natives, blacks, chicanos what do they have in common with a WASP? As a society the cultural backgrounds of each group nationals that comprise the United States of America is so different nevertheless they all have assimilated, evolved, and adapted into a common society through a melting pot process. But I got news for you now that melting pot process is being replaced with a " mosaic" type one where each group conserve its own cultural and societal identity. Wait until 3 of the 4 million puertorricans living in the Caribbean decide to abandon the ship and establish themselves in the other 50 states. Probably the vast majority will settle in Florida and nobody can kick them out of their nation because they are not technical US citizens they are full fledged american citizens! The governor, the senators in congress of Florida will probably be a Puertorrican native and the majority of the big cities of the state will never be the same again. Rest my case.
And this is supposed to convince us to make Puerto Rico a state?
The next letter asserted that
Obviously you are part of a white supremacy group... Grow up midget!
I replied, but he stopped writing.
I received a letter from a Puerto Rican veteran residing stateside which chided me thusly
It is so sad to read articles such as yours to argue on such archaic and baseless rumbling of culture, language, and even how elected officials if we ever became a state on what language they would use in Congress! Do we not have different cultures within our own land? Native American cultures with their own languages, Cajuns in Louisiana, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Norwegian, etc, etc, throughout this great country of ours? If there is anything we can say is that it has enriched our great nation.
It’s the hodge-podge theory of American culture. But none of these groups were the founding culture of the entity we now know as the U.S.A., which was founded by Englishmen 400+ years ago. That’s why we have the 13 stripes in our flag—for the 13 English colonies. If we cease being an English-based nation, we will simply not be the same.
Another writer wrote me, in Spanish, that
The Union cannot ask a state to speak a certain language because that would be unconstitutional. Puerto Rico will have its two official languages when we enter the Union.
Who knows, maybe he could find a legislating liberal judge (Sotomayor?) to decree this. But, to me, that’s an argument to keep Puerto Rico out of the Union.
Another writer made an eloquent defense of Puerto Rican identity and a continuance of the status quo (neither statehood nor independence):
As you well mention, we Puerto Ricans are a Latin American and Caribbean nation, with our own language, history, and culture. Our entire political, legal, educational, and societal structure operates in Spanish (even if pro-statehooders try to hide that fact by having English as a co-official language by law). Most Puerto Ricans identify first and foremost as Puerto Ricans, our nationality. Such fact must be taken into account in any statehood discussion. Ignoring it could lead to great complications for both the US and PR if history is any guide (ie Quebec, Kosovo, Tibet etc). Statehood, in my view, is unacceptable as a Puerto Rican.…. Free association seems to offer the perfect solution for the US and PR.
Remember, this option always polls well in Puerto Rico. In the last referendum statehood only got 45 percent, and independence 2.5 percent. (The third option was not precisely the status quo, but some unknown “none of the above” option.)
I also received mail from several committed Puerto Rican independence supporters.
One of them is trying to get Ron Paul to support Puerto Rican independence. Do any of our readers have some solid contacts with the Ron Paul camp?
Another independence supporter suggested the formation of an American organization to work for Puerto Rican independence “that could educate and promote a sovereign Puerto Rico.”
Would any of our readers be interested in that?
I still support Puerto Rican independence, and I think it’s time for it. Of course, we need to transition the island to independence in a fair and efficient manner.
Allow me to close with a message I received from a Puerto Rican independence supporter, who wrote:
God bless, ¡Que viva Puerto Rico libre!, with liberty and justice for all.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. after many years residing in Mexico. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.