Santorum: If Puerto Rico wants to be a state, they need to speak more English

posted at 9:02 pm on March 16, 2012 by Allahpundit

From what I can tell, his position on this has evolved ever so slightly over the past two days. Wednesday:

“Like in every other state, it [must comply] with this and every other federal law,- and that is that English should be the main language,” Santorum said in an interview with the El Vocero newspaper Wednesday. “There are other states with more than one language, as is the case with Hawaii, but to be a state of the U.S., English should be the main language.”…

Santorum’s comments left one of his supporters, Oreste Ramos, so upset that the former Puerto Rican senator rescinded his endorsement.

I’m not sure which federal law he means, but his point about the “main language” has been misunderstood. He wasn’t saying English should be the official language; it already is one of the island’s two official languages. He was saying it should be the language that’s most commonly spoken by the population. Right now that’s Spanish. Puerto Rico’s school system would have to expand its commitment to teaching English dramatically in order to make kids there as conversant in English as they are in Spanish. Watch the clip below, which was filmed yesterday after his earlier comments inspired an obligatory round of outrageous outrage, and you’ll find him reiterating that point. What you won’t find, though, is him insisting that English be “the main language” spoken on the island. He wants it to be “universal” but not necessarily more common than Spanish. A fully bilingual population would now, it seems, be A-OK.

So, no English, no statehood. Romney counters with this:

Romney’s campaign issued a statement on Thursday contrasting his position on the issue with Santorum’s.

“Puerto Rico currently recognizes both English and Spanish as the official languages of the commonwealth,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Governor Romney believes that English is the language of opportunity and supports efforts to expand English proficiency in Puerto Rico and across America. However, he would not, as a prerequisite for statehood, require that the people of Puerto Rico cease using Spanish.”

That’s super, but I don’t think Santorum’s asking people to stop using Spanish. He wants people to learn English in order to promote greater integration with mainland American culture. If they know Spanish too and use it privately, fine. When asked about this, a Santorum spokesman said, “In Puerto Rico, Rick would encourage people to speak English in addition to Spanish.” Addition, not subtraction.

Whatever their other differences, both Romney and Santorum support making English the official language of the U.S. Exit question via Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno: Why isn’t this a states’ rights issue? Yeah, granted, PR isn’t a state yet, but what if it agreed to Santorum’s conditions on expanding English proficiency, was granted statehood, and then reneged? What would stop it from going back to Spanish? Given the growing importance of Latino voters, I’m skeptical that Congress would make universal English proficiency a condition of federal funding for education in Puerto Rico.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Comment pages: 1 2