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Memo From Middle America (Formerly Known As Memo From Mexico) | Is Hispandering Necessary?
ANTI-IMMIGRATION TONE ALIENATING HISPANICS declares the title of an Associated Press article, dispensing the conventional wisdom on the All-Important-Hispanic-Vote-and-Why-Republicans-Must-Kowtow-To-It. Here’s how it begins:
The Republican Party is beefing up its minority outreach nationwide and preparing to put its rising Latino stars on the campaign trail amid concerns that tough immigration rhetoric in the presidential primary is taking on an increasingly anti-Hispanic tone.
But immigrant-rights groups and some political watchers say the damage may be irreversible. They argue that the GOP has severely hampered itself as it looks to woo the critical Latino voting bloc that could decide who wins key states like New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida next fall.
Anti-Immigration Tone Alienating Hispanics [By Jeri Clausings, Associated Press, January 15, 2012]
Yes, well, how many times have we heard this before? So much so that VDARE.com just set up a new “Hispanic Hype” blog category.
It’s all baloney of course. It’s already looking like most Hispanics are voting for Obama. That’s what the Pew Hispanic Center poll reported last month. [Survey Says Latino Voters Sticking with Obama, Democrats By Tom Cohen, CNN, December 28, 2011).
Latino respondents would vote for Obama over either Romney or Perry by a margin of 2 to 1. (The survey also reported that 90% of those polled support the DREAM Act.)
The plain fact is that Republicans are likely to lose the Hispanic vote no matter what they do.
Newt Gingrich is already Hispandering, and has been doing so for years. The Washington Post even ran an article claiming Some Democratic Strategists Worry about Gingrich’s Potential Appeal (by Peter Wallsten and Anne E. Kornblut, December 4, 2011).
According to the article
“….Gingrich has an extensive Hispanic outreach organization, which he has been building for years. …. Gingrich is distributing a weekly Spanish-language newsletter to Hispanic voters (the subject line is ´Newt con nosotros,´ or ´Newt with us´), holding a monthly call with community leaders, even studying Spanish and using it in appearances on Univision, the Spanish-language network.”[VDARE.com note: He also has an official campaign website called NewtPresidente.com.]
Gingrich says he would legalize illegal aliens without granting them citizenship. But how long would that last? If they’re here in U.S. territory, the same arguments utilized to legalize them can eventually be used to naturalize them.
Here’s a vignette that’s pure Gingrich: In 2007, in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, he spoke forcefully of the need for official English. The speech was well-received by the audience, who cheered when they heard it. Newt Gingrich Decries 'Ghetto' Nature of Bilingual Education Associated Press, April 1, 2007
Gingrich said some things in that speech that VDARE.COM readers would heartily agree with:
- "The government should quit mandating that various documents be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up.”
- "Citizenship requires passing a test on American history in English. If that's true, then we do not have to create ballots in any language except English.”
- "The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. ...
- “We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto."
That bit about “the ghetto” got Newt into trouble.
If you parse the sentence carefully, you can see that Gingrich said nothing derogatory about the Spanish language per se. As a speaker and teacher of Spanish myself, I can affirm that it’s a rich and complex language. But that’s not the issue here.
So, in an American context, Gingrich was not wrong. Clinging to Spanish in the U.S. suggests a minority that self-identifies as not being part of the American mainstream. But professional Hispanics went ballistic.
And Gingrich crumpled and dutifully apologized on YouTube. In Spanish.
That’s a problem with Gingrich. He says good things but can surrender in an instant.
Then there’s Gingrich’s website “The Americano”—another form of pandering.
“The Americano”? Does Gingrich not realize that the Spanish term “Americano” is not equivalent to the English term “American”? Did he not read my article Is it Wrong for us to Call Ourselves Americans? In Spanish, “Americano” refers to anyone from the western hemisphere—not just citizens of the U.S.
Is Gingrich unaware of that fact? Or maybe he is. On the Americano website, the logo has a map of the whole western hemisphere:
(See also Newt Gingrich: The Aspiring Americano President, By Matthew Richer )
My conclusion: If Gingrich were to win the nomination, he’ll hispander.
But what about the front-runner Romney? Romney has talked a better game on the subject of illegal immigration than Gingrich or Perry, that’s for sure.
But Romney has already done some Hispandering of his own. Indeed, one of Romney’s pandering points is that his father was born in Mexico! He was in Florida in late November, and this is what happened:
Standing amid boxes of agua de coco and guava bites, Mitt Romney came to southern Florida and imbued his usual speech with some Spanish flair. Referring to Conchita, the family-owned grocery wholesaler here where he held his event, Mr. Romney said it felt appropriate to start off by talking about his own family.
“You probably did not know that my dad was not born in this country — he was born in Mexico,” Mr. Romney said. “And at age 5- or 6-year-old, because of revolution in Mexico, my dad’s dad came back to the United States and began a construction business. Didn’t go so well, actually, not as well as Conchita has gone. He went bankrupt more than once.”
Moments later, Mr. Romney called a member of his own family, his youngest son, Craig, up on stage.
“He’s not always on the campaign trail, but I scooped him up from California, asked him to come join me today,” Mr. Romney said. “He took a couple of years of Spanish in high school, so his Spanish wouldn’t be terribly good, but he also lived in Chile for a couple of years. So I’m going to ask, you can you still speak a little Spanish?”
A bit bashfully, Craig took the microphone and offered a few words in Spanish to the crowd, which applauded loudly.
Romney Nabs Influential Endorsements in Florida Ashley Parker, New York Times, November 29, 2011. VDARE.com links added.
To put this in context, remember that in the U.S. you aren’t supposed to be eligible for citizenship if you can’t speak English.
Of course, whoever wins the nomination will pander to Hispanics to some extent. But some candidates are likely to be worse than others.
My view, as a teacher of Spanish, long-time resident of Mexico and husband to a Mexican woman: The GOP’s best strategy would be to run on a platform of ending illegal immigration, drastically curtailing legal immigration, closing the anchor baby loophole, making English the official language and ending Affirmative Action.
Not only would such a strategy fire up the GOP base and win the 2012 election—I believe it would pick up the votes of Hispanic Americans who identify with this country and its interests, and not with La Raza.
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.