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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Staff Editorial

Newt Gingrich has a language problem

Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich apparently has a problem with the Spanish language and its usage in the US.

When speaking to the National Federation of Republican Women in 2007, Gingrich highlighted his sentiments when he said that gaining a mastery of the English language is more beneficial to students.

“The American people believe English should be the official language of the government,” Gingrich said. “We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”

These comments were made during the 2008 presidential campaign, and Gingrich has apologized for the insensitivity of his comments since then. But whether or not he recanted his statements does not matter. His words show a feeling of superiority and that he believes speaking English fluently is some sort of class symbol. The statement itself is such a broad generalization — it seems Gingrich is implying only people who live in poverty know how to speak Spanish.

Besides how blatantly offensive the remarks were, it was also a ludicrous suggestion. The Daily Cougar supports universities and other academic institutions that require foreign language credits. In many professions, just being able to speak English is not too unique of a skill. In the same speech, Gingrich also criticized the government for creating voter ballots with multiple languages.

“The government should quit mandating that various documents be printed in any one of 700 languages, depending on who randomly shows up,” he said.

So not only are immigrants the product of ghettoes to Gingrich, their right to vote should also be limited because of their lack of language skills.

There is no room in the White House for this sort of arrogant, elitist attitude. Perhaps Gingrich has forgotten that the history of this country is to bring cultures together and acclimate to them accordingly. No politician, let alone a presidential candidate, should be resistant to Spanish speakers.

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