Candidate Newt Gingrich certainly knows his target audience of hispanics, in particular that immigrants come for the Yankee dollar only, not to become assimilated Americans as earlier generations did.
As an example, Pew researchers found that among young second-generation hispanics, 62 percent identified themselves according to their ancestral home country or as hispanic/latino, not as Americans. By the third generation, only half self-identify as Americans. Raza diversity is strong.
The recent kerfuffle about whether Gingrich called Spanish a ghetto language included a revealing explanation for why he wants newbies to learn English, namely so they can make more money.
Note how Gingrich carefully chose the words of his response to the controversy to reflect the focused concerns of hispanic immigrants, who want loads of money but don’t want to become Americans:
‘Language of the ghetto’ not Spanish, Newt says, Politico, January 29, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Sunday defended years-old remarks that have been interpreted as suggesting that Spanish is “the language of the ghetto,” saying they’ve been twisted by his opponent for political gain.
After a back-and-forth at a debate last week with rival Mitt Romney over the comments he made in 2007, Gingrich tried to make clear on “Fox News Sunday” that he wasn’t talking about Spanish. ”I never used the word Spanish in the conversation,” he said.
Still, Gingrich issued an apology in Spanish, creating the impression that he was talking about the language, which is spoken by a substantial proportion of the Florida primary electorate. “I wasn’t talking about any single language,” he said Sunday. “Go back and read the text. I didn’t reference any single language. English should be the language of every single student because it is the language” needed to “get ahead in America.”
“We don’t want anyone trapped in America not able to speak English because English is the language of commercial success and gives you a better job,” Gingrich said. Romney “turned that on its head and said something that was simply not true” in running an ad suggesting that Gingrich was specifically referring to Spanish.
Gingrich also tried to explain his use of the word “ghetto,” telling host Chris Wallace: “As you know well, ghetto was originally a term for Jewish neighborhoods in the Middle Ages.”
He could have said that knowledge of English is key to understanding and accepting American culture and values, but he didn’t.
It’s certainly true that speaking English opens up the employment universe to newbies, but that’s not the only reason to learn it.
Gingrich hopes that his little ruse won’t be noticed by the majority of citizens who actually believe that immigrants should join the national community of Americans and not be economic opportunists. A 2011 Rasmussen poll found “An overwhelming majority (73%) of voters say people who move to the United States from other parts of the world should adopt America’s culture, language and heritage.”
In addition, Gingrich uses his nuanced strategy to reach interested parties like Univision TV, Spanish-language radio, “bilingual” teachers and the Catholic church, all of which benefit from maintaining their piece of separate tribal turf.
If Gingrich genuinely does represent majority opinion, then he should state unequivocally that speaking English is basic to becoming an assimilated and loyal American citizen.