Trump, the Wall and the Spanish Language

*Why you should read this: Because, as Ilan Stavans says, the decision “to bring down the Spanish-language side of the White House website is an egregious attack against an essential aspect of today’s America.” Because walls have been built and languages have been taken down in the past. VL


By Ilan Stavans, The New York Times (4.5 minute read)  

In an emblematic essay called “The Wall and the Books,” the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote about Shih Huang Ti (also known as Qin Shi Huang), the Chinese emperor who in 220-206 B.C. built the original Great Wall of China. In his essay Borges points out that the same emperor who implemented the project also banned all books from the kingdom. His intention was clear: The wall was meant to defend his people against enemy incursions; and the burning of all literature announced that all memory of the past needed to be erased. History for Shih Huang Ti started with him.

[pullquote]In the context of the Hispanic world, Spanish speakers in the United States are the fifth largest community after Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Argentina.[/pullquote]

President Trump is looking more and more like an emperor these days. The decision by his administration to bring down the Spanish-language side of the White House website is an egregious attack against an essential aspect of today’s America. And next comes the wall he has ordered along the United States-Mexican border.

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Ours, after all, is a multilingual culture. And in the last few decades, the Spanish language has become unquestionably one of the most significant in that plurality. It is the second most used tongue in the land, with about 38 million speakers. In the context of the Hispanic world, Spanish speakers in the United States are the fifth largest community after Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Argentina. Such is its ubiquity that calling it foreign no longer seems logical.

Read more stories about Trump and the Latino community in NewsTaco. >> 

The president is nefariously monolingual. At the beginning of the Republican primary, Mr. Trump admonished Jeb Bush for speaking in the native tongue of his wife, Columba, a Mexican-American. “This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish,” he said. READ MORE 

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