During his 2016 campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump often reiterated that the US is a country where we speak English. The language is English. Basically, to live here, you have to speak English!
Although his statement was more to bring home his stance on immigration, he also used it to target his adversaries In his nomination for the Republican party. One of those adversaries that the statement was aimed at was the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. Bush has long been known to express himself with the use of the Spanish language.
Trump’s bold move paid off, as there are sectors in the electorate that share his same views and opinions—that if you are going to reside in the US, you need to be able to speak English. However, as the US has no official language declared, Trump’s claims and demands had little to no legal leg to stand on.
Recent videos that have been posted to various social media sites and networks show individuals in the footage criticizing others, in public places, for their speaking of Spanish. The message that these videos are sending is pretty clear—if you are going to reside in the US, you need to be able to speak the language.
What needs to be added here is that these types of viral attacks seem only to be aimed at those who speak Spanish. Generally, tourists who speak Dutch, French, or Italian are not being attacked for their speaking of their native language. The speculation is that the reason that those Spanish speaking are targeted may be simply because of how they appear that they are classified in the individual’s mind as an immigrant.
In a statement to BBC, Heidi Beirich, a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) researcher, stated: “These reactions against people who speak Spanish are probably not new. But, Donald Trump unleashed feelings that were not expressed publicly so often before.”
The ProEnglish group, for example, was created by John Tanton, a far-right nationalist. Tanton is listed as the founder of 12 anti-immigrant organizations, six of which the SPLC has officially designated as hate groups. ProEnglish is one of the organizations that advocate English needs to be officially designated as the language of the United States.
Part of the organization’s platform officially states: “In a pluralistic nation such as ours, the function of government should be to foster and support the similarities that unite us, rather than institutionalize the differences that divide us.”
Do you agree that if an individual lives in American, they need to be able to speak fluent English?