Video: Sanders supporters yell “English only!” at Spanish translator

posted at 6:31 pm on February 21, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

Wait… I thought this was the Democrats’ caucus.

The running assumption in the Donkey Primary is that Bernie Sanders is driving out large numbers of young voters as well as doing quite well with working class white members of the base. Hillary Clinton is doing far better with minorities though, giving her an edge which is supposed to drag her across the finish line in a tight fight. Charges of the Sanders campaign being out of touch with minorities are dismissed by the candidate, but they may be bolstered a bit by some unpleasantness which took place on Saturday night. Civil rights and farm labor activist Dolores Huerta (who is incidentally also a Hillary supporter) was attending the local caucus and volunteered to help out the Sanders supporters by translating some of the instructions into Spanish. The response from the crowd was, shall we say, less than welcoming. (Washington Post)

The Washington Post’s Abby Phillip caught up with Huerta to find out what happened next.

“The person who was running the caucus … people were saying we need a translator, so he said the first person that comes to the stage can be the translator,” Huerta said. “So I went up to the front to be the translator.”

The video above shows that her appearance onstage wasn’t so well received. Some Sanders supporters may have been disturbed by the idea of a Clinton supporter interpreting events for the entire crowd. But that doesn’t explain everything Huerta said she heard from the crowd.

“It was mostly the organizers,” Huerta continued. “The Bernie organizers were shouting, ‘No, no, no.’ Then a Bernie person stood up and said said, ‘No, we need to have it, I can also do translation’ or whatever. The person who ran the caucus said, ‘Well, we won’t have a translator.’ The sad thing about this is that some of the organizers were shouting, ‘English only! English only!’ The Bernie organizers.”

This might seem like typical, outrageous accusations between one campaign and another in the heat of battle, but as indicated above, somebody caught it on video.

The WaPo coverage is from Janell Ross, so there’s the obvious and irresistible push to compare the Sanders campaign to Trump’s supporters, but this may be more of a revealing moment than anyone from the full breadth of the Democrats’ base would care to admit. There were no Republicans present, so this was a showdown between the Sanders and Clinton camps. Going after their candidate would be one thing – and completely understandable – but yelling at a translator in the middle of a crowd with a heavy Hispanic immigrant component to only speak English is demonstrating the sort of reflex they probably don’t care to own up to.

Actress America Ferrera was also on hand for the dust-up and provided some additional confirmation.

Conservatives are frequently seen supporting affirmations of English as the official language of the country and the default choice for official government forms, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard anyone shouting down a translator at one of our own events. This is some seriously uncharted territory for two groups of workers on election day when they’re all supposedly on the same “team” in terms of ideology. But then, some of the worst racism you’ve ever run into in American politics comes from liberals. It’s just not a story that the media likes to tell. Don’t expect to see Hillary or the cable news networks bringing this instance up too often or too loudly. It just spoils the narrative.


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