Donald Trump has recently declared that Spanish should not be allowed to be spoken within the US and the majority of the Republican candidates have fallen in line with him and agreed. The sole exception was Jeb Bush who Trump had berated and harshly criticized after he gave a Florida campaign speech in Spanish. Donald scolded Bush and stated that he should not be “speaking Mexican as English is the language of the US”. Marco Rubio later gave a weak response that it is all right to use Spanish. Before opening one’s mouth and blurting out campaign policies and
The majority of GOP candidates supports dismantling the 14th Amendment.
inaccuracies, Trump needs to utilize the US Constitution as a point of reference to avoid sounding like a fool. Apparently, he did not heed the traditional advice of “no investigation, no right to speak”. Donald simply spouted more ignorant slanders by maligning the use of Spanish, opposing the right of US Latinos to speak it and even advocating a ban on its use within the US. The Spanish language is rooted in 500 years of history, culture, commerce and even geographical use within this country. Trump and the majority of other Republican candidates are also supporting another demand to restrict legal rights by either eliminating or fundamentally changing the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution which presently sanctions birthright citizenship to US-born children of immigrant parents. Extreme right-wing elements derisively call these children “anchor babies” and are demanding that their citizenship rights be eliminated and they be deported. Adding to this cesspool of bigotry is GOP front runner Ben Carson who just stated that a Muslim should not be president due to their religion, and yet, Carson is a die-hard Seventh Day Adventist. Meanwhile, Trump recently stated that perhaps Obama could be a secret Muslim and not an American. There are two opposing perspectives and positions regarding these issues of language rights and birthright citizenship. One perspective and its positions are in legal accordance and agreement with the US Constitution, while the positions which Trump’s white nationalists on the extreme political right are promoting are based upon unconstitutional grounds.
The historical struggle for the equality of languages continues
According to the Constitution and present-day law, there is no officially mandated language within the US. The people who led the struggle for independence in 1776 and organized the new US government were descendants of England and conveniently utilized that country’s language to communicate the affairs of government and commerce. Within the new US, English was only one of numerous European languages spoken in addition to the native tongues of the indigenous peoples and the different languages of newly-arrived African slaves. With the passage of time, newly acquired American colonies such as the US Southwest, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Guam, Hawaii
Language rights under the First & Fourteenth Amendments need to be protected.
and Alaska were populated by indigenous peoples who spoke their own native languages. Also throughout the 1800’s, many bilingual schools and newspapers thrived within the US and they coexisted with the use of English. The evolving governmental policy of forced language assimilation was eventually assigned to the public schools which directed teachers to pressure and punish children who spoke a language other than English. This policy even went to the extreme of forcefully taking away Native-American children from their families and placing them in English-speaking boarding schools. The Spanish language has been spoken within the Americas and what is now Florida and the US Southwest since the 1500’s. This was decades before the British colonies, the English language and the US even existed. Eventually, English descendants made English the common language of government, commerce and culture. Even with the US annexation of half of Mexico’s territory in 1848, the languages of Spanish and English were both equally recognized and used in California and New Mexico for a short period of time before the use of Spanish was finally repressed.
The US Constitution, language rights and freedom of speech Many people erroneously believe that English is the country’s legally sanctioned language, however, the Constitution does not mandate an official language for the country. Also, the First Amendment of the US Constitution recognizes freedom of speech and the Fourteenth Amendment’s “Equal protection” and “Due process” clauses protect language rights. If someone wishes to speak a
We must uphold equal protection under the law and due process from the anti- democratic forces.
language other than English or if Native-American peoples or those of US owned Puerto Rico, Alaska, Samoa or Hawaii wish to use and maintain their indigenous languages, then it is their basic right to freely express themselves and do so. National minorities have the inherent and historical right to their language and culture despite the past undemocratic efforts of national chauvinists to forcefully impose the dominant ones upon them. With time, people and particularly children within our society, will voluntarily learn English as it is a necessary element for survival and success in both school and work. However, using force to impose a language and repressing a minority group’s native tongue such as proposed by Trump’s extreme nationalist forces will only create resistance and be counter-productive and divisive in the long run.
We need to defend the integrity of the Fourteenth Amendment The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was approved in 1868 in order to address a post Civil War problem encountered by African-Americans who were still being denied citizenship and full rights. This denial was based upon the US Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision of 1857 which ruled that US-born slaves could never become citizens. The traditional principle of jus solis that was
Trump & his white nationalists demand that citizenship for US-born children be repealed & that they be deported.
inherited by the US from England and which means citizenship defined by birthplace was legally incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868 and affirmed that any child born on US soil is a US citizen and entitled to full rights regardless of the parent’s legal status. Subsequent court rulings have stated that the clauses within the Fourteenth Amendment should not be limited solely to the issue of citizenship rights for African-Americans. For close to 200 years the US-born children of European immigrants automatically received birthright citizenship while Native-Americans were denied it as there was no legal distinction then between legal and illegal aliens. Now, Trump and his white nationalist movement along with the majority of Republican candidates, are attacking the intent and legality of the Fourteenth Amendment for supposedly creating what they label as “illegal anchor babies” or children born in the US to undocumented parents. The GOP candidates, with the exception of Bush and Rubio, want the US Constitution changed and the Amendment either eliminated or fundamentally altered in order to deny these children who were born in the US citizenship rights. Further, these Republican candidates and their extreme nativist followers are proposing that these children be deported en masse along with the rest of the eleven million undocumented people living within the US. Such a political attack demonizes the US-born children of immigrant parents, and if implemented, will end up creating a caste system that punishes innocent young people by restricting their freedom of movement, persecuting them at school and work and disenfranchising them for a supposed crime that they did not commit. These proposed policies of ethnic repression which are being advocated by political opportunists and nationalist demagogues within the GOP are merely being done to rile up the angry right-wing base and win their votes. However, the negative result of this type of inflammatory agitation is that it creating further antagonism and divisiveness within the country by using race-baiting and inciting ethnic groups against one another.
The language rights of national minorities, freedom of speech and jus solis Historically based national minorities have the right to use and practice their traditional languages and cultures and this human right which has been sanctioned by the United Nations needs to be respected and defended. The dominant ethnic group within our society should not have the right to restrict, oppress or persecute the democratic rights of national minorities. We must defend the principle of freedom of speech inherent within the First Amendment and the protective clauses within the Fourteenth Amendment which in practice means that people have the protected right to speak or not speak a certain language. The use of a common language in society such as English has to be utilized in a democratic and voluntarily manner which unites people and not through the use of coercion and force which creates resentment and disunity. A subjective and sweeping allegation has been made by the Trump-led white
English is not the official language of the Americas. www.CGPGrey.com
nationalist camp that allowing the use of any other language besides English will undermine our country. Yet, facts show that bilingual Canada, trilingual Switzerland and other similar countries seem to be united and prospering economically and politically. Contrary to Trump’s linguistic paranoia, there is no growing danger to the English language in our society as most immigrant adults and children learn it quickly and use it to communicate, study and work with others in society on a daily basis. Secondly, Trump and the other nativists are demanding that birthright citizenship embodied within the Fourteenth Amendment be repealed as they allege in language intended to inflame racial emotions that immigrant women are pouring into the US to primarily have children. However, facts are stubborn things as recent data and reality show that not only has immigration into the US from Mexico sharply decreased, but so has the birthrate for immigrant women. Somehow, for two centuries, it was all right for immigrant women from Europe to have children born here who automatically became citizens at birth. However, as racial and cultural demographics have recently begun to change within the country, such births by non-whites are suddenly an imminent danger to the country according to the Trump forces. The Constitutional and legal integrity of the Fourteenth Amendment and its principle of jus solis must be defended from the undemocratic attacks of national chauvinists.
We need to resolve the unfinished business within the realm of civil rights Many of the proposed rights that were promised by the American Revolution were not complied with and it took the victorious Civil War to implement many of them. Numerous other democratic rights continued to be denied to minorities and women for a century after this war and it took the struggles of the Civil Right’s and Women’s Movements of the 1960’s to finally achieve them. Presently, there are still a growing number of bigots and lawbreakers who promote the supremacy of state’s rights, incite ethnic and racial discord and encourage unlawful resistance to the US Constitution, Supreme Court decisions and civil rights laws. There now exist two
We must defend the gains of the Civil Rights Movement & move forward.
fundamental political sides within the country: those who support tolerance and respect for the US Constitution and Bill of Rights; and the extreme nationalist forces on the political right led by Trump who attack, disrespect and undermine Constitutional legality, the rule of law and minority rights. We must continue to push forward to ensure that all people are defended from the intolerance and slanders of the hatemongers and ensure that everyone’s full democratic rights under the Constitution are protected. This is the path to a diverse and united republic which is truly comprised of E-pluribus unum, out of many, one.