Friday, December 07, 2007

why tancredo is full of shit

tancredo explains why he won't participate in a spanish language presidential debate. i realize that trying to make sense of a guy like tancredo isn't necessarily possible, but how can you jive his reason for not doing the debate...
Any political debate is aimed at citizens. It is about issues of concern to the entire community, not a segment of the community. It is vital that all political debates and discussions take place in the public square, not in separate enclaves. Our democracy does not need different messages broadcast to different audiences in different languages that are not heard or understood by other groups.


Conducting political debates in any language other than English, whether Korean, French, Farsi or Spanish, is telling new immigrants that they need not take that particular requirement for naturalization seriously. The United States has a special need to have a common language because of the very diversity of its immigrants. Our parents and ancestors who were immigrants spoke many different languages on arrival. But they came here to become Americans, and as Americans, we conduct our political affairs in English.
...with this (from earlier in the same piece):
I have given many interviews to UnivisiĆ³n as well as local Spanish-language stations.
weren't tancredo's interviews with spanish language stations about "political affairs"? isn't univisiĆ³n just as much of a "separate enclave" when it is broadcasting an interview with tancredo in spanish as it is when it broadcast him answering questions as part of a political debate?

the distinction between the two makes no sense at all. aren't the presidential debates really just a form of interview with all the candidates at once? i mean, the "debates" often aren't real debates at all. many of them have ground rules that prohibit the candidates from directly arguing with each other. instead, everything has to go through the questioner. for all practical purposes the debates are interviews. having one's answers during a debate translated into spanish can no more "endorse the further Balkanization of American political life" than having one's answers translated into spanish during an interview. if one's okay, the other one must be too.

ADDING: mark krikorian asks: "is there anything in the op-ed that a conservative would disagree with?" i guess his brand of conservatism doesn't require consistency. and the bottom line is that drawing arbitrary lines over language can have a political cost.