Santorum Tells Puerto Ricans They Must Speak English for Statehood

Gov. Luis Fortuño and Rick Santorum

What is it with Republicans and the Constitution? They can read the thing in Congress (well, sort of…) and still get it all wrong. We’re all too familiar by now with the GOP’s un-constitutional position that you have to be a Christian to hold public office. Well, Rick Santorum seems to think you have to speak English in order to achieve statehood; that’s what he told a crowd of Puerto Ricans on Wednesday. He seems as unaware of the Constitution as any of his fellow Republicans.

Why is this important? As Reuters reports, the Puerto Rican Republican primary is on Sunday, and on November 6 a referendum will address the question of statehood for the Commonwealth and its four million inhabitants. On previous occasions (1967, 1993, and 1998) the island has chosen to remain a territory. Nationalist sentiment on the island led to violence in the 1930s and 40s and again in the 70s and 80s. There are certain advantages for Puerto Ricans in the island’s existing status, as they do not pay income taxes and they receive federal funds. Oh, and Mitt Romney supports statehood, so what else can Santorum do? Well, okay, try to do in a bumbling Perry-esque fashion.

In an interview El Vocero newspaper, Santorum had this to say:

“We need to work together and determine what type of relationship we want to develop.”

So far so good. Short and simple.It is true that if Puerto Ricans opt for statehood in November, Congress would still have to approve that change in status. But then he had to go and attempt to elaborate:

“Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law. And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language.”

The Constitution says no such thing, of course. Not only does the Constitution not designate an official language for the United States, it does not demand an official language as a re-requisite for statehood.

As it is now, Puerto Rico recognizes English and Spanish as official languages, a not-unreasonable policy given the island’s long control by Spain. It was ceded to the U.S. by the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans became U.S. citizens in 1917.

Because Santorum doesn’t think Puerto Ricans should be allowed to vote for president – being only an unincorporated territory and not a state – he further risks the ire of Puerto Ricans at home and abroad: as many Puerto Ricans live on the mainland, a crucial million of them in Florida (where English IS the official language), as on Puerto Rico itself, It is hardly the only unpopular view Santorum holds of course, or the first time he has stuck his foot in his mouth. What better way to follow up a declaration of war on FOX News than to declare war on Puerto Rico?

The November referendum will have two questions, reports NewAmericaMedia: “Voters will be asked if they want to change the island’s status or keep it as a U.S. commonwealth. They will also be asked to choose from three options: statehood, independence or sovereign free association.”

Romney will be in Florida on Friday and Gingrich is sending as his plenipotentiary  Kathy Gingrich Lubbers, to lobby on his behalf. She, at least, speaks Spanish, but Gingrich is so far behind that it’s not likely to matter at this point.

Image from Vocero.com

20 Replies to “Santorum Tells Puerto Ricans They Must Speak English for Statehood”

  1. He reminds me of those wrestlers on WWE who come into a city and tell the crowd their city sucks and that they’re idiots and then acts surprised when they boo

  2. I was not aware that you had to speak english as your primary language. That must be on one of the pages of the constitution that the GOP tore out and hid

    I am shocked he didn’t say you had to be a christian and admit it

  3. …”I am shocked he didn’t say you had to be a christian and admit it…

    Well, when you’re a Catholic, you speak the same language as all Catholics, ya’ know…English.

    I’m sure the good Catholic people of Puerto Rico understood him just fine.

  4. …although, he probably had an American Catholic accent, sort of like if Sheriff Andy from Mayberry went down there to speak…

  5. Let us all count the ways this moron is unfit to be dog catcher.
    1. He is against Birth Control, it means that women can have sex for some fun, and not for what God (cue spooky music) designed sex for, procreation…ONLY!
    2. He is against Abortion…PERIOD! Under no circumstances is a woman to have an abortion, even after a rape in which she becomes pregnant. If her life is in danger giving birth, too bad, die! Along with this, he would most likely outlaw any pregnancy tests that would let the expectant parents know if there were any abnormalities to the fetus. Can’t have that!!
    3. Stop all forms of education funding from the Federal Government. Stop any form of financial assistance to students for College…College is for snobs, and our country is not a country of snobs.
    4. Formulate laws, policies and regulations based on a Biblical Interpretation. Oh, I forgot, a Christen Biblical Interpretation…ONLY!!!
    5. Interpret the Constitution along Christen Biblical policies, because that is what the founding fathers of our great country really meant when they designed the Constitution.
    I have taken some liberties here in my interpretation! I could list about 2 dozen more dangerous ideas this moron “vomits” but these are some of the more outrageous ideas out there. What is so dangerous is that these are ACCEPTED and endorsed and embraced ideas by a lot of people in the South.
    If these people have their way, and Santorum is elected president (a very real possibility), history will repeat itself, only it won’t be the Germany of the 1930’s, but American in the 2010’s…only this time we really do have the ability to destroy the entire world.
    It’s gonna get ugly come election season, and a well organized far right fringe element has the potential to highjack this whole country in the name of some sort of religious ideal that is very very dangerous to the basic freedoms we are use to living with in this Country.
    I just wonder what other garbage Santorum will vomit forth to continue the rape of our freedoms and basic rights. I can’t wait!!!

  6. But the Catholic Church wants to go back saying the Mass in…wait for it…Latin. Now what’s he gonna do???

  7. I don’t think it’s that big a deal to require Puerto Rico to adopt English as its official language. I think anyone living here, desiring to integrate into our culture should actually WANT to. Puerto Rico should also not be able to vote in National elections until such a time as they become a state. That’s just common sense. Anyone that says otherwise is just pandering for votes of those already here. We have enough BS politics going around already. This is all a moot point however, as Puerto Rico does not want to be a state. If I was in there shoes I wouldn’t either.

  8. “Puerto Rico should also not be able to vote in National elections until such a time as they become a state. ”

    Ah, but they pay taxes without being a State.
    Taxation without representation? No.

  9. The “English Only” (or “English First”) movement is pure racist bigotry. It’s bigotry with a suit and tie. Requiring English is about as wrong as requiring people to become Christian if they want to become American, and the same thinking is behind both.

    The reality is that America is one of the rare nations that is mostly monolingual, and that really poses a lot of problems for the world. It makes it easy to push the idea that everyone thinks the same and everyone IS the same, thus adding an additional impetus for the dominionists who want to take over the world. Most of the world is actually bilingual or multilingual (and I envy them… it is hard as hell to learn a language when you’re older). Requiring the rest of the world to be like America is the height of hubris and part of the reason why this country is so disliked by people in other ports of the world.

  10. Dan, do you know that German was considered at one time in our history to be the countries main language. Before you sprout your bigotry you should read some history. A good book to start should be Howard Zinn’s A people’s history of the United States. It might enlighten you. It appears you have become a limbaughtimized foxite who needs to get educated with the facts.

  11. Actually, those on the Island are exempted from United States income taxes, but not the draft. They cannot vote in national elections. As soon as they come to the mainland, they are subject to taxes and enfranchised with the vote. In all of this, their position is not unlike that of those who live in D. C.

    We never had the experience of incorporating a *large* linguistically different population into the States before, as Florida and the Southwest were sparsely peopled and California already had a proportionately high Anglo population. Though English was the official language in Louisiana after statehood, its legal system, a Napoleonic type, remained largely intact, and its non-Anglophonic populations were already a mix of French, Spanish, Creole, and Criollo speakers. Puerto Rico, on the other hand, has a linguistic population that is clearly Spanish-speaking and in steady contact with South America via radio, television, Internet, and commerce besides. This is an advantage, not a drawback. So is a legal system compatable with that of the Southern Hemisphere, to say nothing of a state near at hand that can grow the excellent tropical products we all enjoy under standards compatible with what most of us think of as fair. And in receiving their votes, we would also receive their tax revenues. It’s up to the people of *Borinquén*, but if they want to throw in their lot with ours, it’s well worth our while, and the cultural punitiveness of a Rick Santorum must have no part in it.

  12. FYI: Puerto Rico has two OFFICIAL languages: Spanish and English. The majority of its citizens are bilingual in that they speak BOTH languages, so it’s not a matter of them not being English speakers.

  13. What’s so interesting about the discussion in this forum is the bilingual stance taken by most of us. Dan being the exception, with some interesting questions asked of him.
    What is so crazy about Santorum and his toxic idea is what is happening in this country. How many times do I make a phone call, get a automated voice response, and with that, a Spanish voice prompt as well? Although we have always been an English speaking nation, as our population has grown, so has the Spanish speaking population grown, and these are American Spanish speaking bilingual people.
    Spanish is this country’s second language. To understand that, just go anywhere these days and you will find both English and Spanish language on signs, products we buy, places we go, phone calls we make…you get the idea. So for Santorum to say what he just said is beyond absurd, or maybe he doesn’t really live on this planet, and what we see on TV is actually a Robot from Zardon…no disrespect to Zardon. Wonder what language they speak???
    I’ll close with this: Kurk Vonnegut closed with this statment about the Governor of New York (Nelson Rockefeller). “I think the Governor Rockefeller is a no good son of a bitch”…add Santorum to that statement. (By the way, my dad gave me Slaughterhouse 5 to read, and when I read that last sentence, I was on the floor laughing a good 10 minuets…you had to be living in New York City at the time to understand my laughter).

  14. I was there in 2006… presented a poster at a conference. I had a blast and really got along well with the people there (as did my colleagues – even when there was a protest going, they’d stop and let us through).

    There were a many American tourists there too… of the “English Only” type. I nearly got into a fight – physical – with a couple who tried to tell me “how to properly treat these natives” or something like that and then preceded to try to get an innocent taxi driver fired. The locals and I commiserated and made fun of them once the jackasses walked off in a huff.

    I might add that the tourists didn’t have nearly as easy a time getting around than we archaeologists did. The protesters? I’ve got a little flag that one of them gave me hanging in our bedroom and they said they were glad we were there.

    I still run into people here in Florida who never learned that Puerto Ricans are American citizens as much as they are – or they ignored the information when it was presented.

  15. My jurat brother and co-author, Joe Sanchez, likes to go into local convenience stores and fast-food emporia and offer to pay for puchases with Puerto Rican money. About the time the manager is being called, he flashes greenbacks. Someone falls for it every time.

  16. ROFLMAO!!!

    I’d love to meet him someday! What a fantastic sense of humor!!! (And an even better “teachable moment”!)

    (I’m going to share that with my other half… she’ll get as much of a laugh out of it as I did.)

  17. You can look him up in Wikipedia, under Puerto Rican authors; I am his co-author, under the pseudonym, Mo Dhania. We wrote Latin Blues, a tale of police omerta, and True Blue, a tale of the enemy within.

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