Fort Huachuca City is a small community in Arizona (pop. 1900) located approximately 20 miles from the Mexican Border. Mayor Ken Taylor was upset when he received an invitation to a meeting of U.S. and Mexican border city mayors because it was written in both English and Spanish, or “Spanish/Mexican,” as he put it in an email to John Cook, executive director of the U.S.-Mexico Border Mayors Association in El Paso:
I will NOT attend a function that is sent to me in Spanish/Mexican. One nation means one language and I am insulted by the division caused by language.
Cook’s reply to Taylor’s email was sharp:
I will certainly remove you from our email list. The purpose of the Border Mayors Association is to speak with one voice in Washington, D.C., and Mexico City about issues that impact our communities, not to speak in one language. My humble apologies if I ruffled your feathers.
Taylor, in turn, responded in a manner reminiscent of developer-candidate Donald Trump:
America is going ‘Down Hill’ fast because we spend more time catering to others that are concerned with their own self interests. It is far past time to remember that we should be ‘America First’ … there is NOTHING wrong with that. My feathers are ruffled anytime I see anything American putting other countries First. If I was receiving correspondence from Mexican interests, I would expect to see them listed First. Likewise, when I see things produced from America, I EXPECT to see America First.
Mr. Taylor’s reaction is rooted in a portion of the White Racial Frame that vilifies Latinos and their culture and language. It was early developed by Southern slaveholders and other white elites to justify the US seizure of sovereign Mexican territory in the mid 1800’s. This segment of the White Racial Frame received a “shot in the arm” as a result of the spread of Trump’s blatant anti-Latino rhetoric.
Mr. Taylor should be aware of two things:
First, to call Spanish “foreign” is ignorant of history. The presence of Spanish in what is known today as “the Southwest” precedes the arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth Colony in 1620.
Second, with the growth of the Latino population, Spanish has become indispensable for businesses and government, maybe not in Fort Huachuca City but definitely everywhere else. Spanish is here to stay.