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Here's Why Right-Wingers Are So Threatened by Hearing Foreign Languages in the Trump Era

July 10, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Xenophobia runs deep among the far-right.

In many countries, studying foreign languages in public school systems is not only encouraged—it is mandatory, which is why so many Swedish, German, Norwegian and Dutch high school students have learned to speak English fluently even though it isn’t their native language. But among many right-wing Republicans in the U.S., being monolingual is considered a badge of honor. And in the Trump era, some ugly racial incidents demonstrate that speaking a language other than English in public can be met with verbal abuse.

In May, New York City-based attorney and strong Trump supporter Aaron Schlossberg went into a xenophobic anti-immigrant tirade in a Mid-town Manhattan restaurant, the Fresh Kitchen, when he overheard an employee speaking Spanish with two of the customers. Angrily, Schlossberg ranted, “My guess is they’re not documented; so, my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country. If they have the balls to come here and live off of my money—I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here—the least they can do is speak English.”

More recently on July 4, a Petaluma, California man named Larry Lappin showed his ignorance when he heard the family of his neighbor, Ivette Celedon—a third-generation U.S. citizen of Mexican descent—enjoying some Latin music in their backyard. Lappin was furious; as he saw it, listening to music that was performed in Spanish on the 4th of July was disrespectful and unpatriotic. And he angrily confronted them, insisting they had no right to “disrespect my fucking country” by listening to Spanish-language music on America’s Independence Day.

Lappin later apologized after a smartphone video of his rant went viral. But he certainly wasn’t the first American xenophobe to feel threatened by the use of Spanish in public, and he won’t be the last. To some racists, using any language other than English in the U.S.—even as a secondary or tertiary language—is akin to burning the flag.

Democrat Barack Obama found out that out during his first presidential campaign …read more


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