Memo From Middle America | Why Did Ted Cruz Make A Spanish-Language Ad, Anyway?
March 27, 2015, 07:14 PM
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Cruz-Headshot[1]No doubt all the major candidates will run Spanish-language ads, even though proficiency in English is allegedly a condition for citizenship. But, despite being a teacher of Spanish, I’d love to see one prove me wrong and not do it. English should remain the political language of this nation. Alas, even Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who has a number of positive characteristics including knowledge, courage, skillful oratory and a willingness to strike his own path, has now joined the ranks of politicians who say one thing in English and another in Spanish. Worse, this apparently represents a retreat from his former position of standing up for an English-speaking America.

Back in 2012, Ted Cruz actually refused to debate in Spanish. As Time reported:

In 2012, then-Senate candidate Ted Cruz refused to debate his opponent in Spanish. Aside from being a “lousy” Spanish speaker, Cruz argued it was a bad idea: “Most Texans speak English … [My opponent] wants to do a debate in a language where the vast majority of primary voters don’t understand it, because he doesn’t want them to hear about his record.”

[How Ted Cruz is Using Spanish in His Presidential Campaign, by Tessa Berenson, March 23rd, 2015]

Also as a senatorial candidate in 2012, Cruz warned of “a language ghetto” and contrasted it with the situation facing his immigrant Cuban father back in 1957:
“When my father came over here penniless with $100 sewn into his underwear, thank God some well-meaning liberal didn’t come put his arm around him and say, ‘Let me take care of you. Let me put you on the government dole [and] rob you of your self-respect. And by the way, don’t bother to learn English. Let me keep you in a language ghetto,’” Cruz said. He said the traditional “American dream” is being destroyed by letting people use their native languages and grow dependent on government aid.

[Cruz, like Gingrich, warns of ‘language ghetto’ created by bilingual ed, by Robert T. Garrett, Dallas Morning News, February 2, 2012]

Following this speech, the Dallas Morning News’ Garrett spoke to Cruz, and reported he wanted “to restore the old ways, in which immigrants felt great pressure to begin picking up English, pronto.”

But today, Cruz seems to be falling into the same trap as so many other Republican politicians, as we can see with the first ads he produced for his campaign.

His English-language video lasts 2 minutes and 20 seconds and at least mentions some real issues, including Cruz’s opposition an illegal alien amnesty. (No mention of legal immigration, alas). But the Spanish-language video, which is much shorter, eschews policy discussions and presents Cruz chiefly as someone who is important because of his various Hispanic “firsts” (first to clerk for a U.S. Chief Justice, first to be a Texas Senator).

Of course it touts “el sueño americano” (the American Dream), an expression which is bandied about so much these days, you wonder how it was left out of the Constitution. But, unlike the English video, the Spanish video has no mention of Obamacare nor of illegal alien Amnesty.

Just as objectionable as the use of Spanish, in my opinion, is the use of the artificial “Hispanic” classification, which isn’t a racial category or even a linguistic one, but has been defined as widely as possible with the obvious intention of maximizing the constituency.

According to the U.S. government, a Hispanic is “A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.” (Source: National Center for Education Statistics). If the world’s fourth-wealthiest man, billionaire Spaniard Amancio Ortega (worth $61.9 billion) migrated to the U.S., his children and grandchildren would be eligible for affirmative action and would be favored over your children and grandchildren if they are “non-Hispanic whites.”

According to law professor David Bernstein:

Hispanics can be the direct descendants of Spanish conquistadors, their indigenous victims, African slaves, immigrants from anywhere in the world, or any combination of these. Hispanics’ ancestors have come to the U.S. from any one of twenty-one very diverse Spanish-speaking countries, plus possibly Portugal, Brazil, and other countries, depending on exactly how the category is defined. So what exactly justifies singling out Hispanics for preferences, but not members of other groups?

Hispanics and affirmative action in state universities after Fisher, ScotusBlog, June 25th, 2013

My own half-Mexican sons are racially white and native speakers of both English and Spanish, but at our school they are listed as “Hispanic”. My side of the family has been in this country since the 1600s, but I guess that no longer counts for anything.

Given the preferential treatment that is accorded Hispanic identity, this serves as a way to deconstruct the historic American nation. The social, political and monetary awards available to Latinos encourage even white Hispanics to embrace Latino Identity Politics.

Ted Cruz is racially white. As is well-known, his father, Rafael Cruz, emigrated from Cuba in the 1950s, and seems from his appearance to be Euro-Cuban, probably mostly of Spanish descent. On his mother’s side (usually ignored), Ted Cruz is, according to the website EthniCelebs, 37.5% Irish and 12.5% Italian. Yet Cruz is now trying to present himself as a “Hispanic” in order to gain political advantage.

The problem, however, is that more skilled racial profiteers are demanding more from him.

Thus over at Fusion.net, a joint Disney-ABC/Univision media project, Juan Vidal [Twitter] penned a Memo to Ted Cruz: It’s time to get better at speaking Spanish [March 23, 2015] that brings out many of the arguments that are going to dog the Cruz campaign. Vidal writes:

While there are many fascinating aspects to Cruz’s candidacy announcement…there is one question that immediately arises in my mind: What will he, a Cuban-American, do to speak directly to Latino voters over the next several months?
Because he has now decided to make his appeal as a Hispanic, Cruz can’t make my preferred retort: that he will appeal to everyone as “Americans.”

And what does it mean to “speak directly to Latino voters” anyway? Vidal does say:

There is a misconception that all Latinos pay attention to is immigration. But as important of an issue as immigration is, Latino voters also care deeply about education, health care, and jobs—and in many cases they care about these issues more….
Maybe so, but when it comes to the professional/activist Hispanics, it’s immigration, immigration, immigration. Univision’s Jorge Ramos says it’s the litmus test. And the GOP is constantly told to surrender on immigration in order to please Latinos.

Another problem: when it comes to the issues of education, health, jobs and other issues, polling indicates that most Hispanics tend to support leftist, Big Government solutions. Ted Cruz is telling us that he’s a conservative. So how compatible is American-style conservatism and Hispanic Leftism?

This gets us back to the fundamental question: Do Hispanics have the same interests as other Americans?

If the answer is YES, there’s no problem.

But if the answer is NO, then it’s fair to ask two other questions:

1) How do the interests of Hispanics differ from those of other Americans?

and

2) Do non-Hispanics have any say in the future of this country?

Vidal implies the latter when he condemns Cruz for not speaking Spanish fluently:
Sure, it’s not the most important thing, but it’s certainly not unimportant. Of course it would be erroneous to think that one’s authenticity should be based on whether or not one speaks a certain language well enough or is hypothetically “real” enough.
But why should the prospective leader of an English-speaking nation-state not speak in the very language of our founding documents?

Language balkanization doesn’t just divide our people; it cheapens democracy. After all, at least if politicians are lying in one language, we can figure that out. But now even politicians like Ted Cruz are saying one thing to one audience and something else to another.

But to Vidal, expressing national unity is less important than tribal chest-beating:

…being able to at the very least defend oneself in a language that 45 million people in the United States speak can only improve a Latino politician’s chances at winning over the fastest-growing group of voters. In fact, they could potentially seal a candidate’s fate in 2016. So while he’s out courting donors and making his rounds, it wouldn’t hurt Cruz to practice rolling his r’s and getting a little personal. It matters.
Sure it matters. It matters if “our people” don’t even speak the same language anymore. And the best way to ensure national unity is an immigration shutdown and enforcement of our existing laws.

The worst part of Cruz’s pandering: he is unlikely to receive any credit for his Hispanic heritage. But there’s something more fundamental at stake than a politician’s miscalculations. Cruz needs to learn, if only through political failure, that even his treasured legal immigration is leading to the cultural fragmentation of our country. And if immigration, legal and illegal, is not shut down soon, then conservatives like Cruz will be irrelevant.

Even if they cut ads in Spanish.

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. in 2008 after many years residing in Mexico. Allan's wife is Mexican, and their two sons are bilingual. 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.