Here’s a memo to Rick Santorum: Alienating people by dismissing their culture is no way to win votes.
Santorum has spent the last couple of days campaigning in Puerto Rico in advance of the territory’s Republican primary this coming Sunday. While there, he discussed a referendum Puerto Ricans will vote on this November that will decide whether the island remains a self-governing territory or pursues full US statehood. Santorum chose to have this discussion in the least culturally-tolerant way possible.
Santorum said he did not support a state in which English was not the primary language.
“Like any other state, there has to be compliance with this and any other federal law,” Santorum said. “And that is that English has to be the principal language. There are other states with more than one language such as Hawaii but to be a state of the United States, English has to be the principal language.”
“With zero precincts reporting, I can now call Puerto Rico for Mitt Romney!” Jason Linkins at Huffington Post announced.
It seems that both English and Spanish are listed as official languages in Puerto Rico, where residents tend to be pretty proud of their heritage. Did we mention that there are 4.2 million Puerto Ricans who live on the U.S. mainland, including 1 million who live in the all-important swing state of Florida?
By the way, whether a territory speaks English when it is considering to become a state has nothing to do with “compliance” or federal law. According to Reuters, the US Constitution does not designate an official language, and there is no requirement that says a territory must adopt English as a primary language in order to become a state.